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Five Amazing Digital SLR Cameras Under $1000: 2017 Reviews

Updated on December 29, 2016
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Good DSLR Cameras For Under $1000 | My Five Budget Reviews

If you're a shutterbug and want to take the next step in shooting the perfect photograph, you're probably trying to find the best digital SLR camera for under $1000. There are actually a ton of viable options in this price range and you'll be surprised by the amount of options and features available to you nowadays.

A digital SLR camera provides you with a lot more options than a traditional point-and-shoot camera. You can customize just about every aspect of the photograph and what is in focus, and you'll also have a range of options with the lenses too. While once you needed to invest multiple thousands in order to take that next step, you can do amazing things with a small budget nowadays thanks to technological innovations and stiff competition between brands. The best DSLR cameras under $1000 are surprisingly versatile.

This article will focus on helping you find the best digital SLR camera under $500, and we'll be reviewing five of my favorite models on the market today. We'll take a close look at each one, offering the pros and cons of the camera and letting you know what kind of photography each one would be best suited for. We'll also talk about lenses, since there are a wide array of options there too, and we'll chat about what type might be best for your needs. Let's get started!

Finding the Right Camera for Your Needs

Finding lenses to suit your needs

One major change between traditional point and shoot cameras and digital SLR cameras is the ability to choose different lens options based on your shooting needs. The ability to change lenses is a great thing, letting you totally customize your photographs and givng you a wide range of options. Here are some lens configurations that might work for the type of shot you're after.

  1. The Long Range Lens:

    Most photographers will find use for a long range lens in their repertoire at some point. Most digital SLR cameras under $1000 will come with an 'all purpose' lens of some sort which can work for medium range distances in a pinch. That said, there's great value in a decent long range lens. Photographing wildlife, for example, is much easier at a distance, and you'll want those images to be crisp and detailed.

  2. Wide Angle Lenses:

    The wide angle lens is another useful addition to any good, cheap DSLR camera. It allows you to fit a lot more into a single shot, perfect for if you tend to take a lot of landscape photography, or if you take pictures of large groups of people. The family reunion photo will look a lot better with a wide angle lens, and they're fairly inexpensive too. If you've saved a bit buying a good, cheap DSLR camera under $1000, consider investing some of the savings here.

  3. Macro Lens:

    If you like taking close up shots of anything, whether wildlife, flora or food, a macro lens is a must. Most cheap DSLR cameras below $1000 will come with macro settings and a lens that's decent enough for that kind of shot, but there's nothing like the level of detail that a specifically macro lens can provide. They're also quite 'squat', making them easy to store.

Nikon D3200: One of the Best, Cheap Digital SLR Camera

A great camera with an included Nikkor lens

Nikon is one of the major players in this industry, and they produce a fine line of cameras that compete with the best. This is a great entry level, inexpensive digital SLR camera that I highly recommend to newer photographers or anyone who is just getting into SLR photography. First off it has a huge 24.2 megapixel density capability, meaning that your pictures will be larger, more vibrant and detailed than ever before. Despite the huge image size, this camera is super quick because they've packed in a great EXPEED image processor that's lightning quick.

The auto-focus and exposure on this cheap digital SLR camera below $1000 is pretty unreal, and you can snap 4 frames per second at full resolution. You have full access to manual controls, and what's more you can optimize the 'presets' that come with the camera, so you're sure that each mode will look and operate exactly the way you like it. It comes with a very capable Nikkor 18-55mm lens that I'd consider fairly all-purpose and crisp.

The camera is compatible with all Nikkor lenses too, so you can upgrade down the road. (We particularly like our 40mm macro.) It also has full 1080p HD video capability, so you can use it to shoot high quality home movies as well. It's a great, cheap DSLR camera for well under $1000, I recommend you give it a look.

Canon Rebel T5i: An 18MP Digital SLR with Great Imaging

entry level, all-purpose SLR with unbelievable value

Canon is a giant in the camera industry too, and their line of DSLR cameras are inexpensive, powerful and carry features that few other brands can match. The Rebel T5i is the big brother of the standard Rebel. It's got a great pixel density at 18 megapixels, and it uses a DIGIC 4 image processor to make sure those photos are fast and brilliantly rendered. One area in which Canon really stands out is their automatic exposure sensors. The metering is superb and so the Rebel T5i is wonderful for a wide array of lighting conditions, including lower light.

It's one of my favorite inexpensive DSLR cameras below $1000 because of simple things like the variable angle display, which can let you snap high angle or low angle shots without straining your neck, or take self-portrait shots easily. The camera also includes full HD video capability with 1080p resolution, and you'll be amazed by the level of quality. You also have awesome features like rapid shot (nearly 4 frames per second), multi-aspect photography in a single click, and full manual controls. One of the best, cheap DSLR cameras and worth your time to take a look at.

Canon EOS 60D: Powerful DSLR Camera Under $1000

The Rebel's big brother

The Canon EOS 60D is similar to the Rebel T5i, but it's a step up in almost every respect. I wanted to include it because, depending on your future needs as a photographer, you might be interested in taking the extra step up. The 60D has versatility in spades, and you'll love this camera whether you shoot occasionally or on holiday, or if you take photos every single day. This particular model comes with a fantastic zoom lens, an 18-135mm model that provides you with a moderate range to work with.

This camera takes up to 18 megapixels, which is probably more than most photographers need. It's also using the DIGIC 4 processor, but it's been tuned up for this model and can take up to 5.2 frames per second in rapid mode. It's one of the better digital SLR cameras for beginners or advanced photographers alike, due to high quality automatic functions. The auto exposure features multi-level metering, which takes into account not only the amount of light present, but color and luminosity as well, resulting in sharp images even in extreme circumstances. It's quite good with low light conditions also, you'll be surprised how dark it can get before flash is required.

Sony A65: An Awesome 24.3 MP Digital SLR with Translucent Mirror Tech

Affordable, High Resolution Images

Sony has been really striving to grow in the SLR industry lately, and they've been innovating and offering some awesome cameras at an excellent price point. Their DSLR cameras are cheap and make use of their proprietary translucent mirror technology, which allows a higher megapixel camera to snap photos and process them much quicker. In this particular case, the A65 can take massive 24.3 megapixel photographs at around 10 frames per second! That's almost twice as fast as the competition.

It's really easy to line up your shots and get them looking perfect with the hyper accurate OLED viewfinder and the full swivel and tilt LCD display. You can film in full 60p or 60i high definition, and the camera utilizes an HDMI output, letting you take advantage of HDMI playback and high speed connectivity. The 15 point auto focus is very quick, and the image tracking is excellent, making this a great choice for wildlife photography or outdoor sports. It's got loads of features I haven't even touched on, and I'd say Sony offers the most feature rich cheap DSLR camera for below $1000.

Pentax K-30: A Powerful, Weather-Sealed DSLR

A Camera That Will Last

Pentax is a smaller brand these days than Canon or Nikon, but they're well established in the world of photography and they've been around a long time. I really like the K-30 as an outdoor camera because it's been weather sealed, so you don't have to worry about a bit of moisture here and there. It's also rugged and built to endure harder conditions than the typical DSLR camera.

It utilizes a very decent 16 megapixels, and the automatic features are really nicely tuned. The auto-focus algorithm makes use of 11 focus points and a diffraction lens to capture sharp images quickly.

The image processing is lightning quick and you can snap up to 6 frames per second at full resolution, which is awesome for the outdoor photography that this camera is suited to. Like all the competitors, this camera shoots full 1080p high definition video, along with your choice of frame rate.

With the good lens range of 18-55mm, and features like anti-shake technology and full manual controls, it's one of the best digital SLR cameras below $1000 and one I'd recommend to outdoor enthusiasts and casual photographers alike. Check out the positive reviews on this one.

What is your favourite camera brand? Do you have a DSLR already?

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    • Hanzamfafa profile image

      Mike Leal 18 months ago from London

      Great review. I am a fan of Nikon cameras, so I will go for the Nikon D3300 if I were a beginner. I still actually have the Nikon D40 which I used when I was still starting with DSLR.

    • HZZ profile image

      Hamza Zaouali 2 years ago from Dubai

      Hey, great review thanks!

      I know this article focuses on DSLR but for me, under $1,000, the 2 best (hands down) cameras are the Sony A6000 (mirrorless) and the Nikon D5300 (DSLR). This article was really helpful:

      https://hubpages.com/technology/Sony-A6000-vs-Niko...

      Hope it helps