Best budget digital SLR cameras

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So it's time to step up from the camera phone to something that is more powerful and with full creative control over the photos you want. DSLRs are much more powerful than camera phones as they are equipped with a larger imaging sensor which allows better low light compatibility and higher image quality.

All DSLR cameras give you the power to control the scene, whether it be the shutter speed so you can freeze your subject or that beautiful background bokeh that makes your images stand out. The good news is that even with the cheapest DSLR on the market you can accomplish these tasks with ease.

ISO

The major features that you should be looking for are ISO, sensor size and of course real reviews from people who actually own the camera. ISO range for an entry level DSLR really dictates how well the imaging sensor performs, even in bright well lit areas. The ISO range of the Canon 1100D (Rebel T3) is the standard 100 ISO to only 6400, which indicates the fall off of image quality would start around 1600 ISO whereas the Nikon D3200 and Sony Alpha SLT-A37 which are limited to 25,600 ISO which image quality begin to decay around 3200 ISO but still useable up until 6400 ISO and beyond.

Sensor Size

The best entry level cameras are all crop body digital SLRs, which means they do not use a 35mm sized sensor, rather a smaller sized sensor that are commonly around the 23mm x 15.5mm size. However this isn't a bad thing when compared to a mobile phone's camera sensor size they're up to 3 times larger, which means much better low light compatibility as the larger sensor can capture more light and overall higher image quality due to the extra size.

Battery Life

Battery life on DSLRs are much higher than camera phones and point and shoot style cameras, because they're larger in size it allows the manufacturers to increase the battery capacity. The recommended cameras in this comparison article all have around 500 shot minimum from the standard charged battery. You can extend the life by not using the rear LCD as often and limiting the use of the flash, as with any camera.

Budget digital SLR camera index list

Whirlwire comparison chart
ProductsEOS 1100D
Canon EOS 1100D
D3200
Nikon D3200
Alpha SLT-A37
Sony Alpha SLT-A37
K30
Pentax K30
Prices



Whirlwire Rating654313102830413562
Video Features
FormatMP4 MP4
  • MP4
  • AVCHD
  • H.264
MJPEG
MicrophoneStereo Stereo Mono
Resolutions
  • 720p @ 30fps
  • 720p @ 25fps
  • 1080p @ 30fps
  • 1080p @ 25fps
  • 1080p @ 24fps
  • 720p @ 60fps
  • 720p @ 50fps
  • 424p @ 25fps
  • 424p @ 30fps
  • 1080i @ 60fps
  • 1080i @ 50fps
  • 1080p @ 30fps
  • 1080p @ 25fps
  • 720p @ 25fps
  • 480p @ 25fps
SpeakerN/A Mono N/A
External mic inputN/A N/A
Storage
Storage Slot
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
SD
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
  • Memory Stick Duo
  • SD
  • SDHC
Storage Slot Amount1 1 1 1
Sensor
Max Resolution4272 x 2848 6016 x 4000 4912 x 3264 4288 x 2848
Other Resolutions
  • 3088 x 2056
  • 2256 x 1504
  • 1920 x 1280
  • 720 x 480
4512 x 3000
  • 4912 x 2760
  • 3568 x 2368
  • 3568 x 2000
  • 2448 x 1624
  • 2448 x 1376
  • 3936 x 2624
  • 3072 x 2048
  • 1728 x 1152
Image Ratio3:2 3:2
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
3:2
Megapixels12.2 24.2 16.1 16.3
SizeAPS-C (22.2 x 14.8 mm) APS-C (23.2 x 15.4 mm) APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm) APS-C (23.6 x 15.8 mm)
TypeCMOS CMOS CMOS CMOS
ProcessorDigic 4 EXPEED 3 N/A Prime II
Screen / Viewfinder
Screen Size2.7 3.0 2.6 3.0
Screen Pixels230,000 921,000 230,400 921,000
Screen TypeTFT color LCD TFT LCD with 160° viewing angle TFT LCD TFT LCD
Live View
Viewfinder TypeOptical (pentamirror) Optical (pentamirror) Electronic Optical (pentamirror)
Viewfinder Coverage95% 95% 100% 96%
Viewfinder magnification0.8x 0.8x 1.09 0.85
Articulated LCDN/A N/A N/A
Viewfinder resolutionN/A N/A 1,440,000 N/A
Physical
BatteryBattery Pack Battery Pack Battery Pack Battery Pack
Battery ModelLithium-Ion LP-E10 Lithium-Ion EN-EL14 NP-Fw50 battery Lithium-Ion D-LI109
Battery Life (shots)700 540 500 470
Weight (grams)495 505 506 598
Dimensions130 x 100 x 78 mm 125 x 96 x 77 mm 124 x 92 x 85 mm 125 x 97 x 68 mm
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Manual Focus
Number of Focus Points9 11 15 11
Lens MountCanon EF mount Nikon F mount Sony/Minolta Alpha Pentax KAF2
Crop1.6x 1.5x 1.5 1.5
Image
ISO Range100-6400 100-12800 100-25600 200-12800
ISO Minimum100 100 100 100
ISO Maximum6,400 12,800 25,600 25,600
White Balance Presets6 12 6 10
Custom White Balance
Uncompressed FormatRAW RAW RAW RAW
JPEG Quality Levels
  • Fine
  • Normal
Fine
  • Fine
  • Normal
  • Good
  • Better
  • Best
File FormatMP4 NEF N/A RAW
Image StabilisationN/A N/A
Features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec 30 sec 30 sec 30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec 1/4000 sec 1/4000 sec 1/6000 sec
Aperture Priority
Shutter Priority
Manual Exposure Mode
Built-in Flash
Flash Range (M)9.2 12.0 12.0 12.0
External Flash
Flash Modes
  • Auto
  • On
  • Off
  • Red-Eye
N/A
  • Auto
  • On
  • Off
  • Red-Eye
  • Slow Sync
  • High Speed Sync
  • Rear Curtain
  • Fill-in
  • Wireless
  • Auto
  • Red-eye Reduction
  • Slow-speed Sync
  • Trailing Curtain Sync
  • High-Speed Sync and Wireless Sync
Flash X Sync Speed1/200 sec N/A 1/200 sec 1/180 sec
FPS3 4 6 6
Self-timer
Metering Modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Partial
N/A
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure Compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV-1/2 EV steps) ±5 (at 1/3 EV steps) ±3 (at 1/3 EV steps) ±3 (at 1/3 EV - 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±2 (3 frames at 1/3 EV-1/2 EV steps) N/A 3 frames at 1/3 EV - 2/3 EV step
WB Bracketing N/A N/A
Orientation Sensor
Timelapse Recording N/A N/A
GPSN/A Optional N/A Optional
Exposure ModesN/A N/A N/A
Scene ModesN/A N/A N/A
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Macro
  • Moving Object
  • Night Scene Portrait
  • Sunset
  • Blue Sky
  • Forest
  • Night Scene
  • Night Scene HDR (JPG)
  • Night Snap
  • Food
  • Pet
  • Kids
  • Surf & Snow
  • Backlight Silhouette
  • Candlelight
  • Stage Lighting
  • Museum
Connectivity
USB
HDMI N/A
WirelessOptional N/A N/A N/A
Remote ControlOptional
Body Type
Body TypeCompact SLR Compact SLR Compact SLR Compact SLR


Best budget digital SLR cameras