If you want to start your photography hobby there is no better way than starting with a DSLR camera, since these deliver a good mix of performances that make them excellent for beginners. If you know a thing or two about cameras you know that DSLRs are pretty expensive though, however, some models deliver great performance for their price.
For that reason today we are going to take a look at the five best DSLR cameras under $300. In the top picks, you will see a mix of options that will make every photographer happy, of course, you can’t expect to get a full-frame camera at that price, but you can obtain a nice camera that will allow you to hone your photography skills, learn the basics and take beautiful photographs at the very least. Now without further ado, let’s take a closer look.
Top DSLR Cameras Under $300
5. Canon Digital Rebel XTi
We are going to start this list with an interesting model coming in from Canon, the EOS Rebel XTi, or as some know it as the EOS Kiss Digital X. I should state that this camera was released in 2006 which is a long time ago by today’s standards, however, if we know a thing or two about Canon and its quality prowess I can say that this camera can truly deliver a great experience for its super cheap and budget price. Let’s take a look.
Despite being a pretty old camera the Canon Digital Rebel XTi has some pretty interesting features, and when you take a look at its spec list you will be sold I think. This digital single-lens reflex camera is equipped with a 10.1 Megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor that has the 3:2 aspect ratio. Moving on it has the DIGIC II image processor which was pretty revolutionary for its time. This camera can take three frames per second in burst shooting mode and it has a9 point high-precision autofocus system that works properly. It also has an ISO range that spans from 100 to 1600.
This camera felt pretty sturdy and capable right from the unboxing. I had some mixed opinions before it arrived but after I saw it, I knew that it was going to be worth it. You will feel right from the get-go that it is pretty sturdy for its size as it measures 5×3.7×2.5-inches in total and weighs just 556grams with the battery included. To use this, however, you have to find a CompactFlash card which is a little rare by know but you can get after it. It also comes with a nice 18-55mm Kit Lens which delivers great value for the price. Overall the controls felt pretty solid and it was so simple and easy to use, you will wonder why things got more complicated with time.
After about two weeks of shooting photographs with this camera, I started enjoying it, even though it lacked the substantial megapixels, well at least compared to today’s standards. But then again, I started enjoying it as it delivered some great photographs, I found out that you can shoot 10 RAW images in a row. I found out that it suffered a little when you upped the ISO, but it was expected. Overall for the price that it comes at, a must buy.
4. Canon EOS 40D
I am extremely excited to present to you another camera by Canon, the Canon EOS 40D. This camera was produced as one a professional level camera that can perform wonders, and I can say that for its price and age, it is one hell of a beast that twill makes you happy. If you want to learn photography properly without spending a fortune this is your best bet.
Taking a look at the spec sheet and feature list of the Canon EOS 40D we can see that this camera was way ahead of its time, as it was produced in 2007 initially, but it is still sold today and it is extremely popular with beginners and enthusiasts for a reason, let’s see. First off, I should state that this camera has a 10.1 Megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor and to accompany that it has the DIGIC III image processor which offers 14-bit data for tonal rendition and has a startup time of 0.15 seconds. It also has a battery life of 800 shots and coming to the biggest selling point it can shoot 6.5frames per second in burst shooting mode, which is impressive even in today’s standards. The 9 point autofocus system is the same as in the Rebel XTi.
When I first saw the Canon EOS 40D upon unboxing I knew that I was dealing with one hell of a camera since this one was ready for action. For its time it was one of the most durable and toughest cameras in the market, and it can still hold itself today. It is also not big or heavy as it measures about 5.7×4.2×2.9-inches in total and weighs about 822 grams with the battery. I should mention that the ergonomics were excellent and the controls were better than expected, especially for a 12-year-old camera.
During testing, overall I was pretty much impressed with this camera, however, the thing that stuck most with me was the detail retention and colors, which compared with other cameras in its range was perfect. I should also mention that the burst shooting mode was superb and the cross-type points of the autofocus worked rather well.
3. Canon EOS Rebel T5
For those looking to dive in photography and don’t want to spend a lot, I have another Canon model that will satisfy all your photography needs, the EOS Rebel T5 is here for you. It was released as a semi-pro model a few years ago delivering great controls, amazing image quality, especially in good lighting, and a nice lightweight body that is pretty impressive for its price.
As you will see from its spec sheet and feature list, the Canon EOS Rebel T5 is quite an upgrade from the two entries above from Canon, but it is still under the $300 price, let’s see. This camera is packed with an 18-megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 4 image processor. The ISO range of this camera spans from 100 to 6400, and it combines contrast-detect and phase-detect autofocus performance with 9 focus points to deliver a quick performance. The continuous drive shooting mode can achieve 3 frames per second and it can record video at Full HD quality at 30 frames per second.
Like I said this is a pretty lightweight and compact camera that will fit into any photographer’s hand properly, as it measures 5.12×9.94×3.07-inches and weighs about 480 grams with the batteries. I saw that it might not be the most durable camera in the market, it can handle itself in plenty of situations though. The controls were satisfying and easy to use, as it delivers plenty of creative freedom without complicating things.
I should mention that after a bit of time with this camera, I can say that for the price the experience is perfect. I was impressed with the detail retention and colors, as the DIGIC 4 sensor delivered a priceless performance. The viewfinder was pretty bright and colorful and the 3-inch TFT LCD was excellent despite not being the sharpest. The video quality could have been a tad better, but for the price and other features, I think that anyone would be satisfied.
2. PANASONIC Lumix FZ80
Nearing the top of the list I have a super special camera here that is great overall but especially for video recording, the PANASONIC Lumix FZ80. This camera has all the modern features that you might expect from a DSLR and it delivers them exceptionally good, versatile, easy to use and great functionalities fitting the needs of even the most nitpicky users.
This is essentially a bridge camera but has all the qualities that DSLR cameras have, and it is one of the most feature-packed cameras for its price, but still lacks the most important thing that makes DSLRs irresistible interchangeable lenses, and super detail retention. This camera is packed with an 18MP BSI-CMOS sensor that is accompanied by the Venus Engine image processor that has done wonders. It has an ISO range that spans from 80 to 6400, and it has a 49 point autofocus performance with the contrast-detect sensor. Video shooting is its most important feature though, as it shoots 4K video at 30 frames per second excellently. On top of that, it can shoot 10fps in RAW without a problem with the fast autofocus.
This camera feels like a capable model as it is pretty solid and durable overall but still feels pretty light despite weighing about 616grams with battery and SD card installed. This is due to the excellent balance in the body and great ergonomics package with the super deep and sculpted handgrip that allows you to get a good grip at the camera. I should state that it doesn’t have a lot of buttons, but this adds to the ease of use and the excellent experience of this camera.
I have used this camera for about three weeks before coming to a verdict, and I can confirm that it delivers ample fun. The 60x optical zoom was pretty interesting to use and at this price point, I didn’t expect it. Video shooting capabilities were excellent as well, and in good lighting conditions, you can take professional-level photographs without a doubt. If you want to get going with photography and want a simple but capable package, the PANASONIC Lumix FZ80 is perfect for you.
1. Nikon D3400
On top of the list, we have a camera coming to inform the king of entry-level DSLRs, Nikon, and the exceptional D3400. This camera is capable of so much more than you would expect to form it as it is one of the best entry-level cameras in the market without much competition. It has everything in balance, body, performance, price, battery and so much more.
Just form checking the specifications and the features of this digital single-lens reflex camera you will know that it is a marvelous one, let’s take a closer look. I should first off mention that it is packed with a 24.2MP DX-format CMOS sensor that is combined with the Expeed 4 image processor. I should also state that the ISO range of the camera spans from 100 to 25600 natively. It has no optical low pass filter and 11 point autofocus system. It can shoot 5 frames per second in burst shooting mode and it can record Full HD video at 60 frames per second. I should also mention that it has a battery life of about 1200 shots which is one of the best in the market.
This camera is one of the lightest and smallest ones in the market, however, it feels pretty solid and substantial in hands. It has plenty of places to grip the camera with its deep and ergonomic handgrip and thumb rest in the back. This camera weighs just 445 grams with the battery and memory card installed and it measures 2.95×4.88×3.86-inches in total. The buttons are placed extremely intuitively and they deliver great creative control for your photography needs.
The overall performance of this camera was pleasing and I can say that everyone should have a Nikon D3400 in their homes, regardless if you are or aren’t interested in photography. This camera delivers one of the most pleasant shooting performances with great metering and white balance performance. Combined with a good lens and a bit of practice I think I am in love with this camera, and so should you.
As you saw some above, there are a lot of best DSLR cameras under $300. If you don’t expect a full-frame image, high-end ISO, cutting-edge image stabilization system, or advanced features you will be more than pleased. I have started with such a camera and you can do even better. Make sure to check the sensor of the camera, the video capabilities, and the body, if it fits your criteria, and has those above you can have ample fun with your budget DSLR.