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Cheap Digital SLR Cameras Dominate the Camera Market

Updated on May 27, 2013
Colby - THE dog - taken with a Digital SLR camera
Colby - THE dog - taken with a Digital SLR camera

Canon and Nikon "Cheap" Digital SLR Cameras Dominate

All top 10 spots in the Digital SLR camera retail market are either Canon or Nikon, with a fairly even distribution between the two manufacturers.

In addition, there is only one camera in the top ten that retails for more than $1000. That is the Canon 7D in the number 8 spot as of this writing.

Without doing any real research, it makes sense that cheap digital SLR cameras are selling better for a couple of reasons. In fact new cameras, like the newest Canon Rebel may skyrocket to the top of sales just because it's cheap and it's a Canon.

First is the all-powerful dollar. There are far fewer serious photographers - the ones who actually make money with their Digital SLR camera - than there are amateur photographers who want to take better pictures than are possible with compact digital cameras. These amateur photographers are willing and able to pay a few hundred dollars more to get a digital SLR rather than a compact digital point and shoot camera.

The second reason is sort of related to the first. The higher end, more expensive Digital SLR cameras are more powerful and, thus, more complicated to use than the cheap digital SLR cameras. Photographers venturing into the DSLR camera category are not so sure that the complicated camera is what they need or what they can master. Once they have used the entry level camera, a few may move on to the higher end cameras, but that number is not nearly as great as those who stick with the entry level models.

After all, considering the quality of images and camera performance, the cheap Digital SLR cameras really do give the satisfaction that photographers are looking for in their final results.

OK, so let's take a look at the Top 5 Cheap Digital SLR Cameras

(Note: the list is dynamic due to the rapid development of equipment by manufacturers - changes have occurred since the original article was written, but those changes are now reflected in the list below - updated on Dec. 22, 2011)

Canon Rebel T3i

As of December, 2011, the Canon Rebel T3i is at the top of the list.

This just makes sense. This camera is really amazing for the price. It has the same features as the more expensive Canon 60D and 7D as far as the 18-megapixel image sensor and DIGIC 4 image processor. Plus, it has the swivel LCD screen.

Of course, it does not have all the other benefits of the more expensive cameras, but for a cheap DSLR, especially if you are new to this type of camera, this one really rocks.

Take a look at the Canon Rebel T3i review site for all the details.

Nikon D3100

Grabbing the #2 spot in the Cheap Digital SLR Camera category, the Nikon D3100 is a newer model than the XS. It was intended by Nikon to nab the "cheapest" spot in the DSLR camera lineup, and it is doing pretty much what Nikon had hoped.

It has replaced the Nikon D3000 which was not getting raving reviews from all the camera review sites (unlike the Canon Rebels which have been very popular among the experts).

This entry level DSLR is quite capable of bringing lots of pleasure to almost any amateur photographer.

  • 14.2-megapixel DX-format imaging sensor for prints up to 20 x 30 inches
  • Includes 3x 18-55mm Zoom-Nikkor VR Image Stabilization lens
  • Nikon EXPEED image processing; in-camera image editing and Active D-Lighting
  • 3.0-inch color LCD screen; 170-degree wide-angle viewing
  • Capture images to SD/SDHC memory cards

Nikon D90

At #3 on the hit parade, the Nikon D90 is a marvel in Digital SLR camera technology.

This mid-level DSLR has many of the features of much more expensive cameras, while still holding a price of under $1000 (just).

The D90 was one of the first DSLR cameras to have HD Video. Other cameras now have better video quality, but the D90 will still give adequate video. However, that is not why you would buy this Digital SLR camera. You would buy it because it is an overall excellent still-image camera with features similar to much more expensive models and image quality that really rocks.

Canon Rebel T2i

Number 4 in the top selling Cheap Digital SLR Cameras is the Canon EOS Rebel T2i (aka 550D).

As previously mentioned, the Canon Rebel line of cameras has been hugely successful. Not only has Canon done an excellent job of improving technology over the last 6+ years since the introduction of the Rebel line, but they have also done a superior job of advertising and promotion.

The T2i follows in the newest tradition of Rebel cameras with super quality HD video. Even though you would not buy a Digital SLR camera just for video capture, it is a great bonus feature that is now common to almost all DSLR cameras.

Product description:

18-megapixel * EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens * 3" color LCD screen (920,000 dots) with two Live View modes * HD movie mode with up to 1080p resolution and mono audio * Auto Lighting Optimizer * Highlight Tone Priority for preserving highlights in very bright, light areas of a photograph * DIGIC 4 image processor * EOS Integrated Cleaning System (for cleaning image sensor) * wide-area 9-point autofocus *

Nikon D5100

Filling out the top 5 is the Nikon D5100, but this is a very unique situation. While the D5100 holds down this top spot, it has not even been released in bulk yet. That's right, if you want one of these DSLR cameras, you will have to wait (at least as of this writing). This may be a first in camera sales... the sales putting the camera in the top slot before its release.

The D5100 is obviously being highly anticipated and it has already received high recommendations from the camera review sites in its pre-sale status.

This nifty little DSLR has similar features and price tag as the Canon Rebel T2i.

  • 16.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor
  • 3-inch, 921,000-dot Super-Density horizontal type Vari-Angle LCD Monitor
  • In-camera Special Effects Mode
  • In-camera HDR (High Dynamic Range)
  • Stunning Full 1080p HD Movies with Full Time Autofocus
  • Capture images to SD/SDHC memory cards

Bottom Line

Which one should you buy?

That is the really wonderful part about this Cheap Digital SLR camera buying situation -

You Can't Miss

There is really no way to make a mistake if you are in the market for a DSLR camera right now. The choices are all really good among the top sellers.

Happy Shooting!


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    • thewayeyeseeit profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      dsmythe, when does your new budget year start? Or maybe you can renegotiate your budget like the government does :-)

      Thanks for the comment.

    • dsmythe profile image


      7 years ago

      I really want to get an SLR but unfortunately it's not in my budget right now. I took a photo class when I went to the Art Institute. I almost switched my major because I found that class very interesting. Thanks for posting this hub.

    • thewayeyeseeit profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      Abbie, the emergence of new technology is going to change the playing field. Micro 4/3 and mirrorless models are making a difference right now. Once all the major manufacturers get into the game, the price on those should start coming down, too.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • AbbieWaters profile image


      7 years ago from Denver CO

      Great reviews of the affordable cameras. I'm thinking about a micro four thirds, but they're so much more expensive than a cheap dslr!

    • thewayeyeseeit profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      Thanks Jake, glad to be of service :-)

    • DPJake profile image


      7 years ago from Manchester, New Hampshire

      Finding a new camera is tough......the competition is insane and without reviews like your hub to give me guidance....I'd be lost forever....Thank you! :) Excellent hub!

    • thewayeyeseeit profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      TPSicotte, that is the beauty of the Sony DSLR, as well as Pentax. If you have older lenses, it's definitely the way to go. When buying new, Sony and Pentax (and Panasonic) have some fine products. However, when considering your FIRST DSLR, Canon and Nikon offer the widest variety of lenses. That being said, if I were buying a new DSLR right now, I would give the Sony A55 a strong look.

    • TPSicotte profile image


      7 years ago from The Great White North

      I have a sony a380 that I like cuz the image stabilization is in the body, which means I can use old minolta lenses. Still playing with it. Thanks for the article.

    • thewayeyeseeit profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      Thanks Eric.

      Digital SLRs are really cool, but finding the right one is not always easy. It's best to do lots of research in order to avoid that "buyer's remorse" that so many of us experience after making the wrong choice.

    • Eric Saville profile image

      Eric Saville 

      8 years ago from London, England

      Great hub, the links at the bottom were very helpful

    • thewayeyeseeit profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      You will not be disappointed, Yenajeon. It's a great camera, especially if you are a beginner in Digital SLR photography.

      Good Luck!

    • yenajeon profile image

      Yena Williams 

      8 years ago from California

      Very informative! Currently in the market for one, leaning towards the nikond3000!

    • thewayeyeseeit profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      Thanks for stopping by Guard, I don't know anything about those two cameras except that they are cheap, and I guess that relates to this article. But I had "cheap digital SLR" in mind, which are in the price range of a few hundred dollars, not the $40 cameras that you are considering.

      By the way, they are both out of production, so, good luck. :-)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have been scouring the web for reviews and the selection is overwhelming.

      At first I was going to buy the Canon s110, very small but the proprietary battery and small zoom (only X2) plus I read the image was just a little under par because of the small lens. So then I was leaning towards the cannon a20, a little cheaper and slightly better image quality.

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      Informative hub.


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