In the past few years, DSLR cameras have become increasingly popular and are being used by professional photographers and cinematographers around the world. If you’re moving out of the consumer-level DSLR market and into more professional DSLRs, be ready to pay a premium price for the increase in features and performance.
The following list was compiled to give you an idea of how expensive a professional-grade DSLR camera can run for without a sometimes equally expensive lens. Of course, there are higher priced camera models (especially medium format) although this article will focus primarily on Digital SLRs.
The list depicts the current prices of these camera bodies (no lens) during the time this article was written (January 2014). Keep in mind, these prices may have fluctuated by the time you read this article, bur model has links to an active product page which can help you find their current market price.
The Nikon D3x has been out for quite a long time, but still holds the top reign for the most expensive DSLR body currently on the market. Some of the specs may seem a bit outdated such a max ISO of 6400 (on Hi-2) or the 5 fps burst capabilities, but this model still packs a serious punch and is often found within a professional’s gear bag. Some advanced features that are still highly competitive include the 24.5 MP CMOS sensor, dual CF card slots, rugged build construction, and fast 51-point AF system.
The Pentax 645D is a heck of a DSLR with a 40MP CCD sensor, 77-segment metering system, 11-point autofocusing system, and a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. While it suffers from worse performance in some area such as low fps (only 1.1 per second at full resolution), it has some serious potential with the 40MP sensor which is ideal for super-sized print work or ultra-high resolution imaging. This model utilizes dual SD/SDHC memory card slots and does not opt to use the compact flash variant which is more common in the high-end market.
The 1D X is the highest DSLR offered by Canon and packs some serious performance for the price. With a full-frame design and an 18.1 MP CMOS sensor, the EOS-1D X is capable of shooting a whopping 14 frames per second (in high speed mode). The body is constructed to be durable and the shutter life is rated for over 400,000 cycles. For the top tier price, you also get phenomenal low-light performance with ISO ranges from 100-51,200 (up to 204,800 in H2 mode). Lastly, the 61-point autofocus helps capture picture perfect still images time after time.
The D4 is what Nikon considers to be a “total professional imaging machine”. Of course it is a full-frame camera and has a 16.6 MP CMOS sensor with ISO ranges from 100-12,800 (50-204,800 in extended mode). The D4 features 51 autofocus points, 10 fps burst shooting, and a Magnesium Alloy body that is sealed for weather. Like most DSLRs in this price range, the video capabilities are top-notch and capture full 1080P HD with stunning clarity.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is ultra popular with professional photographers and cinematographers due its high performance for a somewhat reasonable price. It is the successor to the ultra-popular Canon 5D Mark II. Packing advanced features like a 22.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor, 100-25,600 ISO range, 61 AF points (41 cross-type), and a new DIGIC 5+ Image Processor for enhanced noise reduction/processing speeds. We picked up a 5D Mark III for use with product photos as well as future YouTube videos and have been blown away by its performance.
The Nikon D800E is a close competitor to the Canon 5D Mark III and harnesses some serious technology. It has a 36.3 MP CMOS sensor, full 1080P with minimized rolling shutter, high fidelity audio recording, and is optimized for photographers who want to shoot RAW. The D800E is the sibling to the standard D800 which is priced lower, but is still an ultra-competitive body for the price.