Top five best cheap DSLRs for 2020
By Hollie Hennessy
We round up our pick of the first-class DSLR cameras costing less than £500, to help you find the best bargain model for your needs.
If you’re looking to take top-notch pictures and record high-definition video, you need to get your hands on a DSLR camera. However, you’re not just buying a camera, but investing in a system of lenses and accessories you may be using for many years to come. That's why it's important to pick the right model at the right price.
If you're not looking to spend a lot, there are plenty of affordable, entry-level models available, some with more advanced features than others. We've handpicked our top-five bargain DSLR cameras available for less than £500 in the table below, from models with a large optical zoom to blistering shutter speed and Full-HD video recording.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get great-quality photos and video, either – decent models start from around £300, as you can see from our rundown of interchangeable-lens cameras. While the best models have simple controls, are easy to use and produce the pictures of your dreams, the worst are poorly designed, cheaply built or have poor battery life.
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Best cheap DSLRs
This budget model may not do enough to fend off competition, but if you’re looking for your first DSLR it’s a pretty decent all-rounder. It’s got above-average specs and features, but it can’t quite match the higher resolution and faster continuous shooting rate of more expensive rival models.
This is another good, cheap DSLR that takes brilliant photos and video. It's packed with features, yet easy to use, and we like the high-resolution swivelling display. However, we came away disappointed with the bundled lens. Still, it’s a fine choice, even if it’s not quite up there the very best.
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of October 2019.
Not found the right product for you? Browse all our DSLR camera reviews.
Cheap DSLR cameras to avoid
The worst DSLRs from our testing not only take poor-quality photos and video, but they're difficult to use and have limited features. We've seen DSLR models with flimsy plastic camera bodies that can easily break, low-resolution and fuzzy LCD screens that make it hard to review your shots, and snail-like shutter speed. Make sure you don't waste your money on an inferior DSLR camera.
How to choose the best DSLR camera
- Sensor size - The larger camera body of a DSLR means it can house a bigger image sensor than both compact and bridge cameras. A camera’s sensor is designed to capture as much light as possible: the bigger the sensor, the more light it can capture. See our camera sensor sizes explained guide for more information.
- ISO range - The ISO value of a DSLR determines how sensitive the sensor is to light. A higher ISO range of 1,600 and upwards is particularly useful for night photography or shooting in low light , as it will allow you to capture more light.
- Interchangeable lenses - Most budget-level DSLR and CSC cameras come with a starter 'kit lens'. Frequently, this will be an 18-55mm lens, as this is the normal focal length for DSLR cameras. By buying different camera lenses, such as a wide-angle or fisheye lens, you'll achieve different effects in your shots.
- Image stabilisation - If you’ve got a shaky grip on your camera, image stabilisation in a DSLR will counteract photo blur. Because image stabilisation is often built into the lens, it’s a lot more effective when compared with compact digital cameras.
- Weatherproofing - The best DSLRs are weatherproofed, making them resistant to conditions such as rain and snow, as well as protecting the internal parts from dust and moisture. This means you can keep on shooting, no matter the conditions.