In my opinion DSLR cameras deliver some exceptional qualities that make them extremely viable choices for a wide range of photographers. On top of that, there are millions of models out there that are designed for different skill and interest levels and different budgets. It is not very hard to find your self an excellent DSLR without spending a lot of money. For that reason today I will present you with the five best DSLR cameras under $400. Let’s take a closer look.
The Top 5 Best DSLR Cameras Under $400
5. Canon EOS 1300D
We are going to kick off this list with an interesting model coming in from Canon, the EOS 1300D, or the EOS Rebel T6. This camera delivers one of the most impressive packages out there for users that want to get into the ESO range of Canon cameras. It might not be the most feature-packed package on the market, but it is a delight to use.
The Canon EOS 1300D feels like its predecessor and it looks similar to it. That is not a bad thing as that camera was a fan favorite for a long time. The size is pretty small and it is extremely light in hands thanks to its mostly plastic construction. The ergonomics are pretty nice though and just like expected from the EOS range it feels excellent both in terms of controls and comfort levels.
The Canon EOS 1300D is packed with a 9 point autofocus system that is pretty standard in this price range, but it has a cross-type point in the middle. Despite not looking like much it is a pretty responsive system overall that does its job done in no time, however, the lens you are using will play a bit part in the performance of the system.
This camera is based on the APS-C sized 18 megapixel CMOS sensor that delivers a great performance with the DIGIC 4+ image processing engine. The ISO range might not be the most extensive as it spans from 100 to 6,400 but it gets the job done. With the 3 frames per second burst shooting speed and 500 shot battery life, this camera is a bargain.
4. Nikon D3300
Coming up next we have the Nikon D3300, a DSLR camera that for a long time has been considered as one of the entry-level and beginner DSLR models, for all the right reasons. If you are not obsessed about getting the best and most advanced tech and want a solid camera that can perform, you can use the Nikon D3300 for long years to come.
The Nikon D3300 uses a monocoque construction made out of one piece of material, polycarbonate in this instance. It is one of the lightest and smallest DSLR models in the market as it weighs about 460grams in total and that is with the battery and memory card included. The handgrip is pretty comfortable and ergonomic and the body is shaped properly so you can combine this camera with super large and heavy lenses without a problem. The controls are also excellent for an entry-level model and they will make every beginner happy.
The Nikon D3300 is packed with an 11-point autofocus system with a 1 cross-type point. It is a good model despite not looking like much. It focuses pretty quickly and accurately in good lighting conditions and it doesn’t lag in dim lighting as well. The 3D tracking technology performed wonderfully as well. The camera is based around the 24 MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor which is perfect overall and we have seen it present in more expensive models as well. The ISO range spans from 100 to 12,800 and can be boosted up to 25,600.
3. Canon EOS Rebel SL1
One of the most impressive cameras that I have seen throughout my life will always be the Canon EOS Rebel SL1. This camera has impressed me because it has managed to combine exceptional image quality and DSLR performance in a super small body without any sacrifice. One of my favorite cameras overall and my top pick for beginner photographers that want something easy to access.
Let’s start this off by saying that the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is the smallest and lightest DLSR ever produced. This beast weighs about 407 grams with the battery and memory card in it and measures about 4.6×3.58×2.72-inches which is incredible. However, it is still pretty comfortable to use as the handgrip is pretty textured and great overall. The controls are not cramped as well and feel pretty good as you can access everything without much hassle. Definitely, a feature that I am a big fan of. Without forgetting I should mention that this camera is packed with a touchscreen display on the back.
The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is packed with a 9 point hybrid CMOS AF II sensor for the autofocus system which is pretty good overall and takes about 0.8 seconds to focus on the subject in dim lighting conditions, and so much faster in normal lighting. The live view focus is slower but works well if you are willing to sacrifice a bit of speed. The biggest feature of this camera is its 18-megapixel autofocus system that works wonders in terms of detail, sharpness, and colors.
2. Nikon D3500
The runner up on this list is none other than the Nikon D3500. This entry-level DSLR improves so much on its predecessor and establishes itself as one of the most impressive cameras for beginner photographers. Great sensor, nice autofocus, plenty of speed and so much more, in a single body with a superb price.
Let’s start by mentioning again that the Nikon D3500 is a small and lightweight camera that has changed a little over its predecessor but has made some refinements in much-needed areas. The biggest update this camera gets is ints handgrip that is larger and delivers better balance with heavier and larger lenses. This camera weighs about 415 grams with the battery installed and is perfect overall.
The autofocus system of the camera comes from the 11 points Multi-CAM 1000 AF system that has done wonders. It covers a large area of the screen and is the perfect tool for focusing on still subjects. it is not capable of tracking fast-moving subjects like any example in its category but it is great overall. The biggest selling point of this camera is its excellent 24 megapixels APS-C sized CMOS sensor that combines very well with the EXPEED 4 image processor to deliver an impressive image quality.
1. Canon EOS Rebel T7
The best camera in the under $400 range is the Canon EOS Rebel T7. This camera is the predecessor fo the EOS 1300D that we talked about earlier, and it comes with all the improvements that make it a perfect camera for your needs. Let’s check it out.
The Canon EOS Rebel T7 might have a plastic build overall and it hasn’t changed much in terms of design but it has all the good features of its predecessor. For example, the super-deep handgrip that has some nice texture to it. One of my favorite things about this camera is that it has a great body balance and works great even when combined with super heavy telephoto lenses.
The autofocus system is the same as on its predecessor the classic but exceptional 9 point autofocus system that has done wonders and will continue to do so. The most important thing about this camera is its amazing 24.1 megapixels APS-C CMOS sensor that delivers some exceptional detail. The noise is controlled perfectly and the dynamic range is perfect overall. The best for its price.
Things to Consider Before Buying a DSLR Camera Under $400
I have to say at first that there are not a lot of models out there that you really should consider in the under $400 market. However, if you find yourself there, there are some things you should consider to get yourself the best camera for your needs. Let’s check them out.
The sensor of the camera is one of the most important things you should know about it. It is the core of your camera and it is the most important factor that will decide if your camera will or won’t take good enough images. In this price range you certainly can’t get anywhere close to full-frame sensors, so at least get an APS-C format sensor to get some exceptional photographs. Also, you should check out the megapixel count of your camera as it will be responsible for the amount of detail and sharpness in your camera. The higher the better but it can affect the low light performance in some cases.
The autofocus system of the camera you want to buy is also exceptionally important. This aspect of your camera will allow you to quickly focus on your subject. While there are cameras with super-sophisticated hybrid autofocus systems at this price category you won’t be faced with such models. Still, though, it is pretty important to check out the autofocus system of the camera you want to buy, the more points the better, but it is not always the telltale sign of a better autofocus system so check the reviews and see how sensitive and responsive it is to light and movement.
The lens compatibility, in my opinion, is the most important and crucial factor in a camera before buying. For example, if a camera in question has more lenses available for its body, the more you can progress on it. I always recommend beginners to choose cameras that have extensive lens ranges so you can build on your lens lineup and when you think it is time to buy a new camera you won’t need to swap all your lenses. Big-name brands do this so well, Nikon and Canon for example, of which the latter has the most extensive lens range in the world.
What about the Used Market?
The used market is a pretty interesting thing. I have shopped for some gems and I always recommend people to take a look, maybe you will find a bargain. However, there are several things you need to be careful about in the used market since there is no guarantee of what will you get.
This is the most important factor you need to consider when you are buying a used DSLR model. Shutter life of your camera will consist of the number of actuations the shutter of your camera can handle. The Nikon D3300 has a shutter life of at least 100,000 counts, and this is mostly the norm for entry-level models, however, after it passes that range you may see defects which may make your camera not functional at all. So take a look at the shutter count of the camera you want to buy before buying. So for instance if you are buying a Nikon D3300 and if the used camera has a shutter count of 90,000, it means that you have about 10,000 shots left in it approximately, so it is not a good deal.
You should also check for other damages made to the body of the camera before buying. Any chips or scratches will bring the value fo the camera down. On the other hand, if anything about the camera is not functional then you should steer away from the seller. Check for models that are in pretty good condition and people that have taken care of their cameras properly.
Buying a DSLR camera under the $400 price may not be extremely easy but it can be manageable if you know what you are looking for. Sticking with the tips that I have presented here you will be well off with one of the best options in the market, regardless if you are shopping in the new or used market. Don’t forget to check the top picks, as they are the fail-safe options from the big-name manufacturers, which will deliver you great performance for the price. Have fun with your new camera.