CNET: Best DSLR cameras for beginners

Very good photo quality for its class plus performance fast enough to capture kids and pets make the Nikon D3400 A solid choice for a first DSLR. (CNET/TNS)
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Very good photo quality for its class plus performance fast enough to capture kids and pets make the Nikon D3400 A solid choice for a first DSLR. (CNET/TNS)

If you’re passionate about photography, you already know there are better ways to take pictures than with your phone. And if you haven’t yet upgraded to a digital single lens reflex camera, what are you waiting for? The amount of control over your images you’ll gain with a DSLR will be worth it. We’ve got four great DSLRs here for the enthusiast photographer.

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Nikon D5300

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/nikon-d5300/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4.0 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: Excellent photo quality, a great feature set, and speedy performance put the Nikon D5300 ahead of the pack.

The bad: The default settings could be better and Live View is still really slow to use.

The cost: $399.95 (body only) to $481.94 (body only)

The bottom line: The Nikon D5300 is a great choice as a general-purpose DSLR.

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Nikon D5600

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/nikon-d5600/review/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4.0 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The Nikon D5600 delivers excellent photo quality for its price class, as well as performance that can keep up with your kids and pets.

The bad: It may be too small for people with larger hands and it turns off the self-timer after every shot in single-shot mode.

The cost: $879.00 (w/ 18-140mm lens) to $949.95 (w/ 18-140mm lens)

The bottom line: Lightweight and compact with everything the family photographer needs, the Nikon D5600 maintains its position as a great general-purpose DSLR for its price class.

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Canon EOS Rebel T7i/800D

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/canon-eos-rebel-t7i/review/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: The Canon EOS Rebel T7i/800D delivers reasonable photo and video quality and respectable performance in a time-tested body.

The bad: Relatively large compared to other cameras in its class, and its photos aren’t as sharp as competitors’.

The cost: $729.00 (w/ 18-55mm lens) to $849.00 (w/ 18-55mm lens)

The bottom line: For a step up in photo quality or performance from a phone or compact, the Canon EOS Rebel T7i/800D remains a fan favorite.

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Nikon D3400

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/nikon-d3400/review/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: The Nikon D3400 delivers the image quality and speed that a first-time DSLR buyer should expect.

The bad: A lot of the small annoyances from previous models remain, including tiny autofocus points in the viewfinder and a non-persistent self-timer mode. Plus, its Bluetooth-only wireless solution isn’t very good.

The cost: $399.00 (w/ 18-55mm lens) to $499.95 (w/ 18-55mm lens)

The bottom line: Very good photo quality for its class plus performance fast enough to capture kids and pets make the Nikon D3400 A solid choice for a first DSLR.

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The following CNET staff contributed to this story: Senior Editor Lori Grunin and Senior Editor Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit www.cnet.com.