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Best DSLR Cameras of 2024: The top options we’ve tested

Choosing a new DSLR can be tricky. With so many great cameras available with different designs, features and price points, finding the perfect DSLR for you isn’t always as easy as snapping up the latest model. 

A DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera) is a more modern take on the SLR that takes the mirroring mechanism from the film camera and pairs it with a modern digital imaging sensor, allowing photographers to capture their images on a memory card. This solidified DSLRs as the professional photography standard for many years. 

Mirrorless cameras have begun to supersede DSLRs in popularity in recent years, thanks to their compact designs, faster shooting speeds and more impressive video quality. However, that doesn’t mean the DSLR is dead. 

DSLRs still carry a handful of perks over the newer standard. The battery life on a DSLR is often a bit longer than that on a mirrorless camera as there’s no need to power an electronic viewfinder and you can power off the LCD monitor to push the battery even further. 

Many people simply prefer to peer through an optical viewfinder and that isn’t even to mention the large collection of DSLR-compatible lenses you might have built up over the years. If you’re not keen to start from scratch buying mirrorless lenses and can’t find an appropriate lens adapter, you may wish to stick with a DSLR for convenience. 

That brings us back to the dilemma of finding the perfect camera. Luckily for you, we’ve tried and tested a wide range of DSLRs from brands like Canon, Nikon and Pentax. We scrutinise the design, performance, image quality and video resolution of each camera that passes through our office in detail, taking each out into the real world to test them in a variety of settings and light conditions. We also make sure to include sample photos with every review, allowing you to inspect the details and colours with your own eyes.

Stay on this page to read more about the best DSLRs we’ve reviewed in recent years, or head to our best mirrorless cameras and best cameras lists for even more great options. We’ve also put together this guide to mirrorless vs DSLR cameras for anyone stuck between the two camera formats.

Best DSLRs at a glance 

How we test

Learn more about how we test cameras

We test every camera we review thoroughly. We use set tests to compare features properly and we use it as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Nikon D850

Best DSLR overall
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  • 45.7-megapixel sensor captures exceptionally fine detail
  • Fast viewfinder autofocus with silent shooting option in Live View
  • Rear thumb-operated sub-selector for fast AF point positioning
  • Extremely good 1840-shot battery life


  • No phase detection AF in Live View
  • Touchscreen operation doesn’t include key exposure settings
  • Wireless SnapBridge connectivity needs improvement

The Nikon D850 is a full-frame DSLR aimed at professional photographers and the successor to 2014’s D810. 

The camera features a 45.7-megapixel sensor – an upgrade from the D810’s 36.3-megapixel one – that brought the camera line with the 50.6-megapixel Canon 5DS  and the 42-megapixel Sony A7R II when it was released. 

The D850 is powered by the EXPEED 5 processor found in the D500 and the D5, which along with the sensor, helps keep noise to a minimum when using higher sensitivity settings. 

The camera also takes advantage of the same 153-point Multi-CAM 20K autofocus system found on these cameras, which we found to be fast and accurate when we tested it.

Continuous shooting is limited to 7fps, but you can connect the optional battery grip to increase this to 9fps (though this will, of course, cost extra). 

The camera features a weather-sealed magnesium alloy design with plenty of buttons, controls and customisation options. There’s a 3.2-inch, 2.36m-dot tiltable touchscreen and a large 100% viewfinder for lining up shots. 

When it comes to video, the D850 includes separate microphone and headphone inputs and was the first Nikon DSLR to support 4K video at up to 30fps. 

Reviewer: Michael Topham

Full review: Nikon D850

Nikon D3500

The best choice for beginners
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  • Good quality kit lens
  • Very good image quality
  • Fast and silent autofocus
  • Unexpectedly snappy live view
  • Great for keen learners
  • Value for money


  • Fixed rear screen
  • Video is HD rather than 4K
  • Chunky compared to a mirrorless camera

The Nikon D3500 is the best DSLR we’ve tested for anyone new to photography, though it has fierce competition with the Canon 250D

The D3500 is small for a DSLR (though not as compact as a mirrorless camera) and offers the advantage of the extra grip and balance of a DSLR. The screen is limited to a fixed 921K-dot display, but the camera comes with a fantastic 18-55mm AF-P kit lens that we found to be sharp and consistent across its focal range. 

The D3500 packs a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor and, though this camera is beginner-friendly, it isn’t simplistic. The D3500 features all the features you’d expect from a more serious DSLR, including the full set of program AE, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual modes. 

It has an ISO range of 100-25,600 for decent low-light performance and can capture 5fps in its burst mode, making it easier to snap photos of energetic kids and pets. 

Video capture is limited to HD (all of our best mirrorless cameras right now support 4K shooting) but image quality is good, offering realistic colours both indoors and outdoors. 

Perhaps the biggest benefit to the D3500 over its mirrorless rivals is the camera’s excellent 1,550-shot battery life, which will keep you shooting for significantly longer without having to stop and recharge.

Reviewer: Rod Lawton

Full review: Nikon D3500

Pentax K-1 II

The most capable DSLR below £2000
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  • Huge degree of external control
  • Excellent rugged, weather-sealed build quality
  • Superb image quality, with high resolution and dynamic range
  • In-body stabilisation gives sharper images with almost any lens
  • Compatible with vast range of new and used K-mount lenses


  • Heavy and bulky body
  • Slow wake-up from auto power-off
  • Screen isn’t touch-sensitive
  • Sluggish live view autofocus

The Pentax K-1 II is the update to 2016’s Pentax K-1, the camera company’s first full-frame DSLR, and is the best value DSLR we’ve tested if you’ve got less than £2000 to spend on your next camera. 

The K-1 II boasts a durable, weatherproof magnesium alloy body that’s slightly heavier than even the D850. The large grip is coated with textured rubber for a secure hold and there are a large number of buttons, dials and switches, including customisable dials on the front and rear. 

There’s a 3.2-inch tilting LCD display that we found to be sharp and accurately colour calibrated, as well as an optical viewfinder with a magnification of 0.7x and almost 100% coverage of the scene. 

Inside, the camera packs a 36-megapixel full-frame sensor, fast autofocus and built-in image stabilisation. 

Image quality is excellent – we found the camera to be especially well suited to photographers looking to shoot static subjects like landscapes – and the ISO can go as high as 12,800 with acceptable results (we would avoid the ISO 409, 600 and ISO 819,200 settings). 

As far as video goes, the K-1 II can capture Full HD resolution at 30fps and the camera offers both microphone and headphone inputs. However, if video is your priority, we would recommend opting for a camera that supports 4K instead. 

Reviewer: Andy Westlake

Full review: Pentax K-1 II

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

A fantastic full-frame Canon DSLR
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  • Full-frame sensor
  • Touchscreen is useful
  • Solid 4K video recording
  • Built-in Wi-Fi


  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Frame rate isn’t particularly high

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is the fourth iteration of the 5D and an excellent DSLR if you’re looking for a full-frame Canon model. 

The design will be familiar for 5D Mark III users, though the hump where the viewfinder lives is larger to make room for the Wi-Fi and GPS unit and the grip is deeper for added security. 

The camera also replaces the Mark III’s 22.3-megapixel sensor with a 30.4-megapixel one and brings the native ISO up to 50-102,400 for improved low-light performance. 

There’s an optical viewfinder with Intelligent Viewfinder II to show information like shooting modes, a level and a grid to help with composition. There’s also a 3.2-inch, 1.62m-dot touch-sensitive display but isn’t an articulating one, meaning you can’t tilt it. 

The camera features two image processors: a DIGIC 6 chip for metering and a DIGIC 6+ for high-speed image processing. There’s also support for Canon’s Dual-Pixel AF technology and Dual-Pixel RAW and the AF points cover a greater area of the viewfinder than that on their predecessor and are sensitive down to -3EV. 

Images captured with this camera are sharp and colours are well-saturated and relatively noise-free up to around 25,600.

There’s also support for 4K video capture, putting this camera in line with many of our best mirrorless cameras when it comes to videography. That said, those interested in a mirrorless equivalent will want to check out the Canon EOS R.

Reviewer: Amy Davies

Full review: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

We also considered…

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Which DSLR brand is better?

Right now, our favourite DSLR is by Nikon. However, there are plenty of great DSLRs by camera makers like Canon, Pentax and more.

Do DSLRs come with lenses?

You can buy DSLRs as body-only, but many manufacturers will offer them bundled with a kit lens but a bit more.

What is a full-frame DSLR?

A full-frame DSLR is any DSLR with a full-frame sensor. This means the image isn’t cropped and full-frame sensors offer additional benefits, like better low-light performance.

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