Best entry level DSLR camera?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by saintforlife, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. saintforlife macrumors 65816

    Feb 25, 2011
    I am in the market for an entry level DSLR camera. I have narrowed down my selection to the following cameras for their compact size and weight. Portability is very important to me.

    1. Canon Rebel SL1
    2. Nikon D3300

    Between the two, which is a better starter DSLR camera? Any camera experts want to weigh-in?
  2. I7guy macrumors P6


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    Hopefully the mods will move this thread to the right forum under visual media. Having said that you can't go wrong with either as each have their pros and cons.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    [MOD NOTE]
    Thread moved to the correct forum.
  4. tomnavratil macrumors 6502a


    Oct 2, 2013
    Litovel, Czech Republic
    I cannot speak for these two specific models however choose between Nikon vs Canon carefully as switching systems later on will be costly, especially if you ever go full-frame. Both have certain advantages and excel in some areas. What are your other priorities - video / lens selection / usage of old lenses / IQ / dynamic range etc.? This will influence the selection.

    Just being a devil's advocate but you mention portability, have you considered mirrorless at all? I'm not a user of these however they do offer really good IQ with less weight than DSLRs in many cases - just an idea.
  5. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    All the experts will be a little biased. I owned a nikon D3200 (predecessor of the D3300) and have never used a Cannon.
    Truth is they are both great cameras when compared to an iPhone. Go with whichever is best for you. A couple of things to consider
    Do you have any friends with DSLR's? If so and they are willing to loan you stuff, select the same brand as them.
    Think more about the lens you get with the camera than the body.
  6. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    If portability is very important to you, have you considered mirorless cameras? They will give you the similar image quality and versatility in a much smaller package. For example, the Sony nex-7 is in the same price range, has the same sensor size so it should deliver similar image quality but is a much smaller camera.

    Though between your two mentioned choices, I'd go with the Nikon. The sensor in the SL1 is ancient - the same I got in my Canon t2i 5 years ago. I'd also look into the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 as a second lens acquisition, Canon doesn't have a similar lens. But obviously lens choice is very dependant on your use.
  7. Miltz macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2013
    New York
    Having used both I doesn't really matter which camera you pick. The lens is more important. If portability is important, go with the Canon. Those new Pancake lens are amazing... and you'll be able to use full size lens without any stupid adapters.
  8. mofunk macrumors 68020


    Aug 26, 2009
    If you think you will continue shooting after a year or so and that down the road want to grow more in photography, skip the entry and go midrange. Spend a little more money and get more. They are few more ounces heavier than the entry level. You still get the same auto settings.

    Nikon D7100.
  9. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'm partial to Nikon but I can see the logic in recommending Canon. Either one will be fine imo. Both are fine cameras.
  10. Blackstick macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2014
    Sunny South Florida
    Consider mirrorless. The best camera you have is the one you have with you, and the bigger your camera is, the less likely you'll specifically take it- anywhere. That's why smartphone cameras are the most popular today.

    I got a Panasonic Leica GM1, takes phenomenal pics with the kit 12-32mm, and also a pancake 20mm f1.7 prime I got for it. When I want long shots, I can snap on the 14-140mm (28-280 ff equiv) and get those shots at the zoo.

    I had a Nikon D series, and it stayed home- my GM1 gets tossed in my messenger and is always there- and beats the crap out of any iPhone.
  11. I7guy macrumors P6


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    My advice is to try each one out in a store and buy what you like. I'm partial to canon equipment and I ended up with canon because I did exactly this.
  12. tgara macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2012
    Connecticut, USA
    I don't think you can go wrong with either of those choices, but since I'm a Canon shooter, I'm biased towards Canon. :D

    Anyway, I have a Canon Rebel SL1 (in addition to a 5D Mark III). It's a fantastic little camera -- lightweight and very portable. The images it produces are outstanding, and it is very easy to use. It is the camera I use when portability is desired. I can carry the SL1 with the 18-55 kit lens, plus an additional 55-250 lens and a flash in Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home bag. The whole thing weighs about 5 pounds.

    Keep in mind, while it is shaped like a DSLR, it is a bit smaller than the other Rebels. You should try one in your hands before you decide to check the ergonomics, especially if you have large hands.
  13. willentrekin macrumors regular


    Jun 12, 2013
    Another "Have you considered mirrorless?"

    I was looking for a step beyond both my iPhone and a point and shoot, and so I ended up going with a Sony in the NEX series (the 5). It was on sale, and I was really happy with the purchase. It's a great little camera.

    Newegg currently has a refurbished a6000 on sale for less than $700 for the body and two lenses. It's a ridiculous deal, from what I understand.
  14. dwig macrumors 6502

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    Both are good choices. Which is the best for you, as opposed to being the best for someone else, depends a lot on your usage.

    I would recommend considering the following:
    • A "mirrorless" model, specifically the micro4/3 format Panasonic G-6 which has a very "DSLR" configuration and is small, light, and performs as well as the OP's two target models. Most m4/3 lenses are noticably smaller than the APS-c (aka Nikon DX) format Canon and Nikon equivalents.
    • Think hard about your usage and possible "growth". Look at other models in the same camera line to see which brand/mount series offers the best fit for future growth in the direction you expect to go.
  15. AllergyDoc macrumors 65816


    Mar 17, 2013
    Utah, USA
    I've owned a D3300 for about a year now. It's a fantastic camera that takes beautiful images. I owned a D70s and D80 before and D3300 is far superior to both. I do miss having dedicated controls for commonly used settings, but a D7200 is hundreds more and much heavier. Costco sells the D3300 with 2 VR lens for dirt cheap.
  16. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Both cameras work quite well and perhaps you should go into a store where you can handle both cameras so you can at least -

    1) feel the camera in your hands for what feels good to handle when shooting.
    2) see the menu systems of each so you can understand what works for you.
    3) compare to some mirrorless cameras

    Since you are beginning, there is no foul in picking from either makers. Some stated about the lens being a crucial factor in selection. I tend to agree as that is where most of the investment will go over time for most photo hobbyists.

    My personal preference is for mirrorless for non full frame use. I happen to belong to the Fuji X series camp but certainly Sony, Olympus, and a myriad of other makers have superb offerings.
  17. Mavimao macrumors 6502a


    Feb 16, 2005
    Lyon, France
    If portability is a big issue, you should really look into mirrorless.

    M4/3 has a load of different, excellent lenses and a lot of models to choose from.

    If you need a bigger sensor, look into Sony's offerings. The a5100/a6000 have the same size sensor as many DSLRs from Nikon and Canon (including the choices you asked about) but are MUCH smaller. They also have a full-frame offering with the A7 series. The negative side with Sony is that they don't have nearly as many lens offerings as Canon/Nikon/m4.3.

    However! the great thing about mirrorless is that, with adapters that cost next to nothing, you can use about every 35mm lens in existence.

    The following is my own personal opinion that might grate others: DSLRs are going the way of the dodo. They do have their pluses (bigger batteries, some prefer the old viewfinder, and you do have a certain caché holding a monster in your hands), but 90 percent of people do not need to lug around a huge camera with them to take nice pictures. I see tourists all the time with their huge DSLRs and bulking, horrible kit zoom lenses when my Sony a6000 with an old Minolta manual prime lens can take pictures that are just as beautiful (if not more, but that's always subjective) AND fit in my little man purse.
  18. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    This. for me Canon didn't feel right in my hands compared to the Nikon D90 at the time. Now a D7100. Any modern day DSLR is fine. If you have friends that have some nice lenses you can borrow odv go that route.
  19. ChrisA, Apr 8, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You are not going to buy an SLR body, you are buying a lens too. Then a second lens ad so on. Most of the value eventually will be in the lenses an other parts of the system.

    Why not buy a used SLR? You can move up a little at the same price?

    Both are good, so think about other things like what lens you will buy and the next one and the size of the used market for each brand

    If you buy a starter Nikon then when you upgrade the next SLR will have to be a Nikon also or you can't use any of those Nikon Lenses. SO,... your decision on a starter body determiners your next body. You become married to the brand, divorce is expensive.

    How are you going to use this camera? What subjects will you shoot and where and what is the light like? SLR bodies don't matter much, bigger decision is which lens to put on that body.

    Don't listen to all the advice about sensor size and SLR vs. mirrors. What maters is the (1) the lens you place on that body and (2) how quick the camera is to handle. The reason you buy an SLR is because of the DIRECT OPTICAL VIEWFINDER. You don't use the LCD screen on an SLR you look through the lens with no electronics. it is fast and direct. SLR have almost zero shutter lag and all the control are on buttons and dials, not menus. You buy and SLR because you LIKE the mirror and don't want to look at a screen. If yu don't want to look through the optical reflex viewfinder and take mostly posed or static shots with little action then use your phone camera. But if you are shooing indoor basketball you want the SLR with a "fast" lens.

    If you buy the Canon then likely you next and more expensive camera body will be a Canon. But you can't see or touch is yet to be build future Canon SLR. SO you need mohave some faith in the company. Between Canon and Nikon, Nikon is the conservative one. They don't change the user interface and are not quick to jump on new ideas. Canon is quicker but many times keeping what wrks is better. Canon an Nikon are #1 and #2, we just don't know which is which.
  20. LERsince1991 macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2008
    I have just sold my Canon 60D, I just never used it anymore as it was always too big and too much effort to take anywhere so I missed every photo.

    I'm now using a Canon EOS M with some of the M lenses as well as my lenses from my 60D with the adapter. Best purchase I've ever made. Image quality is pretty much identical with a very similar sensor to the 60D, there are some issues but I'm not bothered as I'm loving taking photos again and always getting the moments I need as its small enough to take with me anywhere.

    They have just brought out the M3 which seems to be a large improvement, but at £400 more than the M, I will not upgrade for a while. (M=£200, M3=£600).

    Mirrorless is the way to go, but do have a look at the other competitors to the M such as the Nikon, sony and Fuji offerings.
  21. equilibrium17 macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2007
    If portability is high priority for you, you should definitely consider mirrorless. This said, there are some trade-offs with current mirrorless technology that may make a small SLR body a better fit for your needs; it depends a lot on what you want to shoot. I shoot a lot of wildlife and action, so a true TTL OVF is important for me. This pretty much eliminates mirrorless as an option for my primary body. Mirrorless bodies also generally lag SLRs in autofocus speed, which is another important feature for wildlife and action shooting. It doesn't matter how good the IQ is otherwise if the AF didn't rack fast enough to keep that flying bird in focus…

    This said, if I could afford it, I'd love to have a decent mirrorless as a complementary body to my DSLR, but my budget doesn't allow this at present.

    Assuming your choice remains between the SL1 and the D3300, the best thing do is go to a good store that will let you handle and shoot with the demo models (or, even better, find one of each that you can borrow or rent for a day). Stats like megapixels, fps, and dynamic range are all well and good, but there are also some important differences to the way Canon and Nikon do the physical layout and UI; you may find that you have a distinct preference for one system or the other.

    Beyond this, I will speak only to the Canon since I'm a Canon shooter and don't have much experience with Nikons. The SL1 is basically a T2i shrunk down into a smaller body. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; the T2i was (and still is) as solid beginner SLR. If I could afford it, I'd love to have an SL1 body to use as a smaller, lighter secondary body, especially since the SL1 can use my current Canon EF lenses without having to fiddle with an adapter or anything like that.

    I think whether the SL1 a good choice as a beginner SLR depends a lot on where you imagine yourself going in the future. If you like the Canon system and see yourself investing in multiple lenses, and down the road a larger, higher performance body either as an upgrade or in addition to the SL1, then I think the SL1 is a good place to start as you'll be able to trade up bodies without changing your entire lens collection as well, or having to deal with adapters. But I'm not sure it's a particularly strong choice if you anticipate just buying the SL1 and sticking with it as your one-and-only camera body for many years to come.
  22. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    Go try them out. A lot will come down to personal preference. Also don't be drawn into buying a kit because it is cheap. Invest in a 50mm lens - it will give you fantastic results, is light and will last years. You will also learn more about photography by not having a zoom lens.

    Hope this helps
  23. kwikdeth macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tempe, AZ
    agree with this. for the entry-level stuff, it really comes down to personal preference. its kind of a beatles vs stones kind of thing, some people prefer how one operates over the other. spec wise you're really not gonna find much difference.

    if you plan on growing out your lens collection, i'd skip the mirrorless. also if you plan on growing out your lens collection, i'd suggest saving up more and maybe getting like a used D7000. the more mid-range bodies have functions to add capabilities to some older lenses. I have a 1980s period 24-120mm for my D7100, using it on that body allows me to have autofocus because the 7100 has an in-body lens focus motor.

    in my experience, nikon is better for older lens compatibility. F-mount has been in use in some form or another since the mid-50s.
  24. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I am unsure why you would suggest skipping mirrorless cameras with respect to lenses. I can see where one might suggest getting FF lenses for smaller sensor Nikons so that later, if they prefer a FF Nikon, the lenses are compatible.

    The reason I perhaps differ in opinion is that various mirrorless camera makers offer some truly excellent lenses AND not only do 3rd party lens makers add to the mix, but it is possible to use Nikon lenses on them as well as other makes. As example, Fuji X series has a very respectable family of lenses and some people attach older tried and true lenses ranging from Nikon to obscure brands.

    If I were today to get a small sensor Nikon, I would perhaps get 1-2 lenses made for that size sensor and invest in FF Nikon lenses where serious investment is concerned. To be fair, many mirrorless cameras exceed the needs of hobbyist photographers unless they also consider the hobby as being "gear heads" who are in the never ending quest for more/better hardware rather than just shooting. (Mea culpa, I was that way in my earliest of film camera days.)

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