The last time I compiled a round-up of the best DSLR cameras priced under $1000, the article received a heavy amount of traffic and helped thousands of readers choose the right entry-level camera for their specific needs.
It is about time we update this list with the newest models falling under this price range, but I have also included mirrorless models as they have quickly invaded the market and are in direct competition with traditional DSLRs. This list takes into consideration the pricing of a new camera body only without any included lens so be sure to factor this additional cost into your final budget.
Keep in mind, the cost listed next to each model is the given price of each model on the day that I wrote this article (8/23/16) and this pricing could vary in the future depending on market conditions. I’ve included a link to each model on both Amazon and B&H Photo for easy access to current pricing.
If you are really torn as to which is the right model for your needs, I also included a rental link via our friends over at BorrowLenses so you can set up a short rental period for some hands-on use before deciding to go through with your purchase.
Canon is one of the most popular DSLR brands in the world, and their Rebel series has been a popular choice among the entry-level crowd for almost a decade. The T6s is the latest iteration from Canon for DSLR shooters on a budget, while still offering rather competitive specs including a 24.2 MP sensor, 1080P video capabilities, ISO performance up to 12,800 (expandable to 25,600), 5 fps shooting and connectivity such as WiFi/NFC.
The 70D is the older, more mature brother to the T6s. Besides an increase in size, this model offers improved performance with faster still burst shooting and better video capabilities thanks to the dual-pixel autofocus technology. If you’ve ever seen the popular YouTube Vlogger, Casey Neistat, this is the exact camera he shot the vast majority of his episodes on thus far. This model has been since replaced by the new 80D which is slightly more equipped at an additional $200 cost.
Nikon’s D5300 is an attractive option in the sub $750 market thanks to its competitive specs and lack of an optical low-pass filter. Unlike the Canon options above, the D5300 is capable of shooting 60fps at 1o80P although the brand is less preferred for many video shooters. The 39-point AF system and 5fps shooting capabilities make this a great option for entry-level sports shooting.
Similar to the D5300, the D7100 harnesses many similarities, but also many improvements. With a weather-resistant magnesium alloy body, the D7100 is built to withstand plenty of time in the field among the various elements that nature could throw at it. With an AF system that harnesses 51-points and 6fps burst shooting, the D7100 is an even better choice for capturing fast-paced sports action though considerably more expensive than the D5300.
Sony’s mirrorless camera bodies have taken the photo and video world by storm, packing more features than a traditional DSLR while minimizing the bulk factor. Their a6000 model is a few years old by now, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t an excellent choice for some users. With a small, sleek form-factor and impressive capabilities such as 1080P video at 60fps, fast AF with 149 phase-detect points, 11 fps burst shooting, max ISO of 25,600 and WiFi/NFC support it is no surprise why this model has been a top seller for Sony. Remember, you can utilize almost any lens mount to Sony’s mirrorless lineup with an adapter including Nikon, Canon, Leica, etc.
Recently released, the a6300 is the successor to the previous a6000 model and packs some serious upgrades. Most notably is the support for 4K UHD video capabilities, but you also get a better 4D Focus system with a whopping 425 phase detection points and a maximum ISO of 51,200. Beyond the 4K UHD, video shooters will enjoy benefits like the ultra-flat sLog 3 picture profile and the ability to shoot 1080P video up to 120 frames per second. As always, Sony’s mirrorless camera models can utilize other lens mounts, and the a6300 has the advantage of almost native autofocusing performance with Canon EF lenses and a Metabones Mark IV adapter (very limited AF performance with the a6000).
The little brother to the ultra-popular GH4, Panasonic’s G7 packs a punch offering 4K UHD recording up to 30fps, 8fps burst shooting with AF, a vari-angle touch screen, excellent OLED viewfinder and more. This model harnesses a smaller MFT sensor than the APS-C models that I’ve mentioned so far, so it traditionally will suffer greater in low-light, but this also works to an advantage as you get all the potential lens mounting options of larger sensors plus a wide array of affordable and compact lenses native to the MFT mount.
Panasonic’s GX8 is another excellent mirrorless model from the company, with some similarities as well as some improvements when compared to the G7. The most notable advantage is the in-camera stabilization feature which makes any photo/video shot with the GX8 more stable despite any lack of optical image stabilization on the lens itself. Another improvement includes 10fps burst shooting with AF-S support and a maximum ISO of 25,600.
Fuji’s been in the mirrorless game for quite some time, and their X-T10 model has gotten a lot of positive press since its launch. With a more traditional design, the X-T10 offers some competitive specs including a 1080P video up to 60fps, WiFi, hybrid AF with 77 focus areas, 8 fps burst capabilities, electronic shutter and 51,200 max ISO. You won’t find Fuji cameras in most professional photographers in this day and age, but that isn’t to say they are bad by any means. The company has played an iconic role in the evolution of photography and owning a model like the X-T10 allows you to experience the best of both the past and the present.
Similar to the Fuji model above, Olympus’s E-M5 Mark II is a popular choice for photography enthusiasts especially street photographers. The camera’s design offers both traditional elements mixed with a sleek flair that results in an elegant body. This is a mirrorless model built for a professional photographer with 5-axis image stabilization, rugged construction, 3″ OLED monitor, built-in WiFi, 10 fps burst shooting and a highly regarded EVF.