|1. Nikon D3500||2. Nikon D5600||3. Nikon D7500|
It is not that easy to select the best Nikon DSLR camera because the brand manufactures a plethora of models, each equipped with unique features. Nikon is a renowned name in the camera industry and is known for its mirrorless cameras and interchangeable-lens DSLRs. These range from the affordable best cameras such as the beginner-friendly Nikon D3500 to the high-end Nikon D850.
There are a lot of best DLSR cameras that are popular, for example, the Nikon Z mirrorless camera range and the fixed-lens Nikon Coolpix range. But in this guide, we will solely be focusing on DSLR cameras produced by Nikon.
They are available in 2 sizes; the smaller format APS-C (DX) models specially designed for beginners and novice photographers, and larger full-frame (FX) models designed for professionals and advanced enthusiasts Our guide includes both.
In the first section of our guide, we will be highlighting a few factors to consider before buying the best Nikon DSLR camera. The next section includes detailed reviews of some of the most popular models available on the market. This guide aims to help you choose a suitable DSLR camera that falls within your budget.
Essential Factors To Consider When Buying A DSLR Camera
If you’ve been waiting to purchase your first DSLR model for a long time, but haven’t made any decision yet, we are here to make it easy for you to select a suitable model. The combination of sensor size, megapixels, performance, and price offered by many models is good enough to satisfy the demands of a photography enthusiast.
However, if you are willing to shed more than a thousand dollars or more on a DSLR, you need to make sure that you’re receiving an exceptional product. Listed below are few factors you should consider before buying the best Nikon DSLR camera.
1. Sensor Size
When looking for a DSLR camera, people are most concerned about picture quality and exposure flexibility. But what most people do not know is that the size of the sensor and each photosite on it determines the picture quality delivered by the camera. The amount of light it can capture as well as the information it can record, depends on the photosite’s surface area.
The more information that enters the camera’s image processor, the more will be the dynamic range in the resulting picture. This results in better image quality. The differences can be spotted in shots taken in bright conditions and low lighting. In the former, the small sensors of compact cameras are not able to record details in the bright and dark areas. As a result, the images clicked have blocked-up shadows and blown-out highlights.
2. Megapixel Resolution
Almost every mainstream camera advertisement and media’s hype focuses on the number of megapixels a camera supports. Well, in fact, the megapixel count is relatively insignificant when buying a DSLR. Theoretically, the number of megapixels in a picture dictates the size to which it can be printed.
You can get amazing A3-sized prints from a 5 or 6-megapixel DSLR camera, but only if the original shot was correctly exposed and carefully edited.
You also need to know that getting an 8-megapixel camera instead of a 6-megapixel one will make a negligible difference as the former features only 30% more photosites that the latter.
You won’t find any difference at the correct viewing distance for A3 prints. Some professional photographers get their images printed in sizes bigger than A3, which is well within the capacities of most models.
Most DSLRs that are designed for beginners come with at least one medium-sized zoom lens, but now a lot of recently launched models come with 2 lenses. The extra lens is generally a tele zoom with a focal length range of 70-200mm in 35mm format.
While the optics are usually made of plastic in order to minimize weight, the main compromise is lens speed (maximum aperture) instead of actual performance. The plastic bodies are not as sturdy as metal bodies, but they are tough enough for manual handling and enable easy carry and use due to their lightweight.
4. Video Recording
If you are looking for a DSLR to click not only pictures, but also record videos, then you’ll need to check the video capabilities that a model provides. Some novice-friendly cameras can record in full HD 1080p, while others can record in 720p or are limited to non-HD recording. Various recording frame rates are available, with higher rates smoothing out motion better than lower ones.
This may or may not matter to you, depending on how much you want to engage in recording. Still, we recommend you to look at it when buying the best Nikon DSLR camera if you’re not sure if you’ll be recording videos. Sometimes people don’t plan to record videos, but a camera with better video recording features helps a lot, should a need arise in the future.
If you are specifically looking for the best Nikon DSLR camera for recording videos, then you also need to know that filming with a DSLR is quite different. It is recommended that you check out a few resources on how to get splendid videos from your DSLR.
5. Modes And Editing Features
All DSLRs feature a variety of modes, for example, action, night, landscape, portrait, etc. Bu some entry-level cameras feature other modes that are exclusive to the brand or model. Examples of such modes include; Panorama, Scene Intelligent Auto, Guide, or Food, etc. Learning to shoot in aperture or shutter or even manual mode is the right way to go.
However, when you are just getting started, having a DSLR that is easy to operate and can help you with specific modes can be a big help. Check out the modes available on the cameras you’re comparing to see if there are any that stand out.
Some cameras also include quick editing abilities so you can right away edit pictures from the screen by applying filters, altering the exposure stings, or automatically adjusting. It is a lot easier to make these edits using photo editing software on your computer, but being able to edit your images without connecting your camera to your PC or laptop is fun.
6. Body Details
Most entry-level DSLRs may appear the same, but there are a few considerations that need to be kept in mind. For example, some models feature LCD view-screens that are better than the screens included on cheaper models. This view-screens help you get a better look at the photos. Some best Nikon DSLR cameras feature screens that pop out of the back of the camera and rotate.
A few of the recent models feature a touchscreen, which is usually easier to navigate than using the tiny buttons on the back of the device. Some people do not like struggling with a small screen and even smaller buttons. In such a case, it is better to opt for a bigger camera to relieve some of the discomforts.
Most entry-level cameras feature polycarbonate bodies, which are lightweight but not very sturdy or well-built. The more you pay, the better the camera body you’ll get. If you prioritize extra durability and sturdiness, you’ll have to spend a bit more.
We want you to make an informed decision as deciding to buy a DSLR for the first time can be a daunting task. You need to make sure that you’ve selected the best camera for your particular situation. By comparing the above listed features like the sensor size, lenses, LCD viewscreen, megapixels, etc., you’ll get a better idea of what you’re getting for your money.
The grip of a camera should feel right for your hands, and you shouldn’t get wrist aches when shooting with the camera continuously for a couple of hours. Some people prefer lightweight cameras that are easy to handle and carry for longer periods, while some prefer sturdier models with solid metal bodies.
Autofocus is another crucial feature that shouldn’t be neglected. If you shoot a variety of subjects like wildlife, sporting events, etc. AF speed and reliability are essential. Nikon puts its best AF system on its DSLRs and also keeps updating according to the needs of the photographers. DSLR cameras belonging to
Nikon D7000 series offer great AF systems, and we have reviewed some of the models from that range. If you are into wildlife photography, it is better to consider one of those models.
9. Battery Life
Nikon has made some big improvements when it comes to battery life. The earlier models used to drain a lot of battery during shooting, but now cameras are equipped with new technologies and more efficient batteries. Rated at 1230 shots (CIPA), Nikon D750 is considered one of the best DSLRs with regards to battery life.
If you are a frequent traveler, then you need to make sure that you purchase a camera that offers a good battery life. It is difficult to carry extra batteries to all the places you visit for shooting. Thus, it is better to invest in a camera that comes with good battery life so that you don’t need to keep charging your batteries throughout the tour.
10. Price And Value
The last but not the least, considering the price and value of a DSLR camera are extremely important. It is not necessary that a camera will work the best just because it is outrageously expensive. You can get a decent model with plenty of features at an affordable cost. All you need to do is prioritize your needs, look thoroughly, and select a model according to your purpose.
Nikon offers many value-driven models, and most of those models are listed on our list of best Nikon DSLR cameras. Those who are professionals and photography enthusiasts don’t mind spending a lot when it comes to buying a camera lens or a new DSLR. But a first-time buyer needs to think carefully. If you see yourself pursuing the hobby further down the line, make sure you get a model that can be upgraded in the future, this way you’ll save more money.
We have compiled a list of some of the best Nikon DSLR cameras, listing each model’s features and drawbacks in detail. Full-frame DSLRs are often available in the professional category, but our list also includes some of the best DSLRs for beginners that easy to operate.
Top 15 Best Nikon DSLR Cameras 2021
1. Nikon D3500
The first model on our list of best Nikon DSLR cameras is the Nikon D3500. If you’ve recently developed an interest in professional photography, you’re probably confused by all the competing cameras and brands on offer. Advice from different people can also add to the confusion.
While you are still learning the basics and deciding what kind of camera will work best for you, it is recommended that you choose a camera that is easy to operate. It is better to select an affordable model so that after a few years of practice, you can swap if you decide you need something different and more professional.
The D3500 is a popular entry-level model manufactured by Nikon. It offers excellent image quality, 24.2MP sensor (as good as those in high-end cameras), and 5fps continuous shooting speed. This beginner-friendly camera includes Guide mode, which will help you get started and understand the basic principles.
The D3500 features all the manual controls you need to learn and will help improve your photography skills. It comes with a neat retracting kit but doesn’t offer a touch-sensitive fixed screen. It is sometimes available at cheaper rates with a non-VR kit lens, but it’s worth spending a couple more dollars on the VR version.
2. Nikon D5600
The Nikon D3000 range is specially designed for beginners, like the previously listed model. While its D5000-series cameras are one level up, offering advanced functions and more adaptable design. One of the best features of this camera is its flip-out rear screen that can be angled in any direction for clicking low-level shots.
Once you get the hang of this screen, you won’t want to use any other. The D6500 features the brand’s tried-and-tested 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, which delivers extra-sharp images. It features a retracting 18-55mm AF-P lens, which is also found in D3500. Nikon AF-P lenses offer fast and silent autofocus, plus they speed up the live view autofocus.
If you are on tour, we recommend you to get Nikon’s small and light AF-P 10024mm ultra-wide lens as it is one of the best Nikon DSLR cameras for interiors, crowded city streets, and tall buildings. The only downside of this model is that it lacks the D3500’s Guide mode.
3. Nikon D7500
This model belongs to Nikon’s D7000 series. This camera features some of the best bits from the D500. If you want to step up from a beginner-friendly model, you should check out this one. It is a bigger, rugged camera that offers 8fps continuous shooting, the ability to capture 4K video, and a 51-point autofocus system.
It features a tilting rear screen instead of the fully-articulated design on the Nikon 5600. Thereby, capturing vertical shots gets trickier, but it’s ideal for video and horizontal shooting. It is a lightweight model, suitable for travelling, but less robust than the D500 and features a downgraded autofocus system.
The other drawback is that it has a lower resolution sensor than the D5600, but it’s a newer design that compromises a little on megapixels in exchange for higher image quality at high ISO settings as well as faster all-round image capture.
4. Nikon D500
The Nikon D500 is built for quick action, wildlife, and sports photography. It is sturdy enough to handle rough use and tough conditions posed by external working environments. It appears costlier than the Nikon D7500, and there’s a reason for it. You need fast continuous shooting speeds, a big memory buffer capacity to capture lots of shot in a moment, a good viewfinder, and a powerful autofocus system for action photography.
The D500 offers all these features, ticking every box. Being an APS-C format camera, it costs less than the full-frame Nikon D5 pro sports DSLR. It offers great build quality plus handling, and the smaller sensor adds 1.5x focal length magnification, which impressively maximizes the ‘reach’ of telephoto lenses.
This camera uses Nikon’s latest and highly-rated 153-point autofocus system. Its optical viewfinder offers the delay-free viewing you need for capturing fast-paced subjects. It is the best Nikon DSLR camera for capturing wildlife creatures, insects, and for covering a sporting event. The only drawback being its price, as some people think it’s a little pricey for an APS-C camera.
5. Nikon D850
Nikon D850 features high MP and fast burst shooting. It boasts a solid, weather-sealed body that makes it ideal for shoots conducted in the open. It is somewhat more expensive than other models, probably not the best choice if you have a low budget.
Those who acquainted to using mirrorless cameras often complain about the size and weight of DSLRs. The Nikon D850 is a heavy camera compared to the latest Nikon Z models. But the big size helps a lot when shooting with big, heavy lenses, and most professional lenses are heavy. This is a factor that a lot of mirrorless camera users don’t consider.
Being a DSLR, this model features a bright, clear optical viewfinder that many photographers prefer, instead of a digital display. The D850 features a 45.7-megapizxel sensor that delivers great image quality, yet it can still maintain a shooting speed of 7fps or 9fps with the optional battery grip.
Even without the grip, it has a battery life of 1840 shots, much better than many mirrorless models. It comes with 2 memory card slots; one is for regular SD/SDXC, and one for the new XQD card format.
6. Nikon D5300
The Nikon D5300 is another best Nikon DSLR camera that offers plenty of physical control and excellent image quality. It has been 5 years since it was launched, which is quite a number for a DSLR of any level. It has been updated by the D5500 and D5600. However, it finds a mention in this list because it’s still a great option for beginners, with a feature-set that gives tough competition to the latest models at the same price point.
It may not be equipped with the latest sensor technology, but the lack of an anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor implies that it records a plethora of fine details. It features a 24MP APS-C sensor and a 39-point AF system that is very comprehensive. The 3.2-inch vari-angle LCD viewscreen is also bigger than what is mostly found in entry-level cameras.
It is an ideal choice for a photographer who frequently travels as it features GPS and Wi-Fi. It doesn’t feature a touchscreen, which is a notable disadvantage as nowadays this feature is expected as standard. It lacks 4K video capture, and the 5fps is a little pedestrian. Still, it is a decent choice if you want good image quality.
7. Nikon D750
The Nikon D750 is a lightweight DSLR camera with a superb dynamic range. It features 51-point AF system and video recording topping out at full HD quality. As it was launched a few years back, it may not appear as advanced as its newer rivals. However, it is a good option for those looking for an affordable full-frame solution to the likes of the D800 series.
It is a compact and lightweight model, ideal for photographers who like to travel. It lacks 4k video, but if you’re not fussed about it, there’s a lot to love. The sensor offers a splendid dynamic range and noise control.
Its AF system delivers great performance against both static and moving subjects. It clicks sharp pictures even when lighting conditions worsen. The viewfinder is large, while the 3.2-inch LCD viewscreen tilts to enable shooting from all kinds of positions. The only downside is that the LCD screen isn’t touch-sensitive.
Its body is smaller than other full-frame cameras, but it doesn’t affect handling. Supported by a 6.5fps burst mode, Wi-Fi, amazing in-camera Raw processing, and 2 card slots, this DSLR serves well as a primary body and is also a great option as a backup to a camera like the Nikon D850.
8. Nikon D5
The Nikon D5 features a brilliant AF system and delivers a beautifully high-ISO performance. It is one of the best Nikon DSLR cameras in Nikon’s current DSLR lineup. It works pretty well with regards to speed and response for the action-shooting photographer.
The Nikon D5 is better than its Canon counterpart (Canon EOS01D X Mark II) because of its greater battery life and autofocus points. It features a high-resolution LCD viewscreen, fixed inside a lightweight body that has a 20Mp full-frame sensor. What makes it ideal for sports and wildlife photography is its incredible autofocus tackling, low image noise levels at higher sensitivities, and a body that can withstand any weather condition.
There are a few models similar to it, produced by other brands like Sony and Canon. Still, this one is definitely worth considering if you prioritize speed rather than outright resolution.
9. Nikon D3400
For those who have a limited budget and do not want to spend a lot of dollars on their first best Nikon DSLR camera, look no further than Nikon D3400. It is an affordable model with a 24MP sensor plus basic external controls. It features one of the sharpest APS-C sensors there is and a retracting kit lens.
This camera is proof that you don’t need to shed a lot of dollars to buy a decent camera. We believe that its sheer value for money makes it just as splendid as much more advanced and expensive models. It features a great 24MP sensor and is a beginner-friendly model as its controls are designed for novice photographers.
It is worth considering if you’re looking for a cheap and best option. In the right hands, this model is a match for high-end cameras.
10. Nikon D3300 DSLR
The Nikon D3300 is another model belonging to the brand’s D3000 series. It comes with a 24.2 MP CMOS DX-format sensor, offers 5 frames per second continuous shooting, and 11 autofocus points with 3D tracking. It is equipped with a 3-inch LCD screen with 921,000 dots. Its optical viewfinder enables lag-free viewing, required to capture fast-paced subjects.
11. Nikon D3100
This is another best Nikon DSLR camera from the brand’s D3000 series. It was launched a few years ago, and hence, it may appear a bit dated, but it makes for a great entry-level DSLR. It offers 14.2 megapixels and features CMOS sensor with 11.0 X zoom. It features full manual controls, vibration reduction technology, Auto scene selector, live view, and automatic image sensor cleaning.
It offers different types of flash; Sync flash, Rear-Curtain flash, Red-Eye Reduction flash, Flash cancel. Pop-up flash, etc. The D3100 is equipped with a 3-inch display screen and offers an amazing battery life. It is a lightweight camera which comes with 1- year limited manufacturer’s warranty.
12. Nikon D850 FX-Format DSLR
This DSLR includes Nikon’s exclusive backside illuminated (BSI) full-frame image sensor without an optical low pass filter. It offers 45.7 megapixels of impressive resolution, extraordinary dynamic range, and virtually no risk of moiré.
It offers 9fps continuous shooting at full resolution. It delivers full AF performance plus allows you to record 8k6 and 4k time-lapse movies with advanced levels of sharpness and detail. It features a tilting touchscreen, delivers outstanding battery performance, and includes Focus Shift shooting mode. You can record 4K ultra HD videos (which is not available in many models) and slow-motion videos up to 120 fps at 1080p.
13. Nikon D60 DSLR Camera
With the Nikon D60 DSLR camera, you can capture images and transfer them to SD/SDHC memory cards. It allows continuous shooting at 3 fps with Airflow control and Active Dust Reduction System. It features vibration reduction lens, 2.5-inch LCD viewscreen, and delivers impressive 10.2-megapixel DX-format Image quality. Horizontal and vertical orientation are detected automatically because of its LCD screen.
14. Nikon D3000
This is the second last model on our list of top 15 best Nikon DSLR cameras. This 10.2-megapixel camera with DX-format imaging sensor prints up to 20×30-inches. It is equipped with Nikon EXPEED image processing which enables in-camera image editing and active D-lighting. It features a 3-inch color LCD screen with 170-degree wide-angle viewing. It includes 3x 18-55mm Zoom-Nikon VR image stabilization lens.
15. Nikon D610
The last model on our list of best Nikon DSLR cameras is Nikon D610 which comes with 24.3MP full frame CMOS sensor. It features a 39-point autofocus system with 3.2-inch LCD with 921,000 dots. You can record HD videos at different resolutions like 1080/30p or 24p, or 720/60p or 30p.
It offers 6 frames per second continuous shooting with 100% viewfinder coverage. It features 2.016-pixel RGB TTL metering sensor, single axis level in viewfinder, dual axis level in live view, and 10.5MP DX-format crop mode. It is affordable, lightweight and a good option to consider if you’re looking for an entry-level DSLR.
1) What Brand DSLR Should I Buy?
This is a query that keeps many confused for a long time because there are plenty of brands on the market. Canon, Nikon, Sony, FujiFilm, Pentax, Olympus, etc. are some of the popular ones. Once you purchase a new DSLR and begin cultivating photography skills, it will not stop there. After sometime, you’ll need to buy more tools and lenses to capture varied images.
You’ll also be spending money on accessories like camera bag, an additional battery and memory card, tripod, external flash, filters, and many other things. So, why is considering the right brand important? Because each brand makes its tools propriety! You cannot mount a Canon lens on a Sony body and vice versa. This means that if you buy a Nikon DSLR, you can only use lenses that are compatible with the Nikon lens mount
It also applies to other tools such as body grips, batteries, external flash units, etc. Thus, choosing a suitable brand is a critical decision as once you buy a DSLR, it will be extremely difficult to switch to another one. You’ll have to get rid of all the tools and accessories before switching to another brand, which will cost you a lot.
We recommend you to go for either Canon or Nikon. Despite the immense growth in the DSLR market and the emergence of new brands. Still, both Nikon and Canon sell more cameras than any other brand. Both these brands provide a varied choice of lenses, accessories, and offer excellent customer service. You would not go wrong with Nikon because it has solid records of outstanding performance.
2) What Other Accessories/Tools Should I Purchase With The Camera Or After I Buy The Camera?
When it comes to accessories, certain things are must-haves, while others are optional. The must-have include; a durable camera bag that can hold your DSLR along with additional batteries, one or two lenses, and other tools. When it comes to entry-level or professional bag, Lowepro and Tamrac are the best options.
You should carry at least one extra camera battery with you and a memory card (preferably 2 Gb). A clear filter is important to protect your lenses plus a good lens cleaning kit. It is recommended that along with a cleaning fluid you keep a microfiber cloth to keep your camera gear clean. Cleaning kits do not even cost much.
The optional gear includes; external flash units, a sturdy tripod for landscape or night photography, and a circular polarizing filter. Macro, Telephoto, Fisheye are specialty lenses that allow you to create the kinds of pictures.
3) Is Considering Megapixels Important?
Megapixels have become a marketing tool now, because a lot of people think they are linked to image quality. The more megapixels, the better the image quality is a myth because image sharpness has nothing to do with the number of pixels. A 12-megapixel blurred picture (due to focusing error) will appear worse on a print than a 5-megapixel sharp image.
4) What Are The Best Books/Resources To Learn About Photography?
Some of the popular books on digital photography are written by Bryan Peterson, Ansel Adams, Joe McNally, and Scott Kelby. These writers are worth reading. If you don’t want to buy money on traditional books, you can find a wealth of information online. some of the best sites on digital photography are; Photo.net, Digital Photography Review, The Luminous Landscape, etc.
Best Nikon DSLR Cameras – Tired Yet?
At the end of the day, the camera you choose is a personal decision based on your needs and individual choice. Even if you take advice from a couple of photographers, you’ll get varied responses as everyone has different choices. So, it all comes down to which functions and features you prioritize.
Make sure you keep in mind all the important considerations before shortlisting any model. Draw a budget, search for different models online, and then select the best Nikon DSLR camera that matches your requirements. We recommend you to read online reviews of the models you select as they can be of great help. All the best for your search, choose wisely!