Looking for an SLR camera? This buying guide is dedicated to the best APS-C SLR cameras of the moment in amateur, passionate and expert ranges. Above, it will be necessary to look at our guide on the reflex full frame.
As the centerpiece of photography, the SLR camera is the reference camera for demanding photographers. In recent years, despite the competition of hybrid cameras (see our buying guide on hybrids), DSLRs have evolved by focusing on image quality and versatility, thanks to a panel of objectives always more varied.
Why buy an SLR camera?
The SLR remains the most popular camera for those interested in photography thanks to size advantages. Above all, its legacy makes the reflex a reliable and proven box, which has a significant autonomy and is more resistant to time (despite differences depending on the range).
The SLR also offers complete settings, with much direct access via buttons on the case, for unmatched responsiveness. Moreover, speaking of responsiveness, SLR cameras are the fastest and most responsive cameras that can be found, even if the hybrids are slowly catching up with their delays.
Finally, a quality optical viewfinder and a wide range of lenses make the SLR camera the most comfortable and versatile. Despite this, it must be taken into account that a DSLR is a camera more cumbersome, heavier and often more expensive (especially if one wants to add a goal of quality) than other devices on the market.
Finally, this guide is dedicated to APS-C SLRs only, as opposed to full frame SLRs (or full format). The main difference between these two types of SLR is played on the size of the sensor and I invite you to consult our buying guide on full-frame SLR to understand the differences.
In terms of ISO rise, you will see that the APS-C packages presented all have good results up to 3200 ISO. After, passionate models and experts do a little better, but we quickly reached the limits of APS-C sensors, which by definition have a hard time to offer a clean image in high sensitivity, because of their photosites too tight.
The entry-level always more powerful and at reduced prices
If you are new to photography and you do not want to break your piggy bank, the following boxes will allow you to progress with good creative freedom thanks to the manual settings, the image quality of the APS-C sensor and their versatility. In recent years, these cases have evolved and given some impressive results, given their price.
Canon EOS 200D and Nikon D3400
After the EOS 100D, the smallest optical SLR, Canon last June launched an update with the EOS 200D, which comes to update this very good choice to start the SLR photography. Equipped with a defined sensor of 24.2 MP, this housing inherits components of the 800D / 77D (see below in the guide). It is equipped with the latest Digic 7 processor and includes all 9 AF points of the EOS 100D. In Live View mode, the camera has Dual Pixel AF for faster, smoother autofocus, useful in video. It is light (453g) and now has a new screen and orientable touch with a revised grip and more comfortable. Its excellent hybrid autofocus allows it a little crazy: on its touchscreen, you can touch the plane you want to net and the camera is in focus. Its image quality up to 3200 ISO is honorable for an entry level and, despite its small size, the grip remains comfortable, with a real viewfinder reflex (coverage of 95%}. It is available from 549 euros bare case but we advise you to start taking it with the EF-S 18-55 IS STM for 664 euros At this price, it is a very good choice to familiarize yourself with photography.
If you are looking for a less expensive and compact housing, the EOS 100D is still a good alternative, as long as you can find it in the shop, because it is becoming more and rarer.
Launched at the end of 2016, the Nikon D3400 is the successor to the D3300. This case is of good construction, responsive and quiet. It takes the same design, same template, same photo performance, same sensor and adds connectivity SnapBridge that can transfer his photos, through a Bluetooth connection on his mobile or tablet, even if the device is off.
If you are looking for an entry-level compact and durable to travel, the Pentax K-50 is tropicalized (all-weather, especially against splashing water or dust, but we must also think about optics also tropicalized WR) and has serious advantages for him: Sony 16 Mpx sensor, 100% viewfinder, two wheels for settings (comfort), intervalometer, electronic level, burst 6 fps and a very good responsiveness. If you travel, consider buying a second battery, because this type of housing is not very autonomous (about 400 views). Or else, consider buying the adapter D-BH109 that can power the device with 4 AA batteries, convenient in an isolated area. Note that the tropicalization makes this case a little heavier (650g). Available from 437 euros in kit 18-55mm, difficult to find an amateur SLR camera also well equipped for adventure.
The mid-range: Canon 800D / 77D and Nikon D5600, the best enemies
After these entry-level cameras, here are more complete cameras, dedicated to photographers who wish to obtain a little more of their case, with a superior image quality and some more manual or even expert functions. In this range, we continue to quote the kit price with one goal, but if you really want to take advantage of these cases, we invite you to check out our goal guide. As a reminder, when buying an SLR, do not put all your budget in the box, but also choose good optics that will be there to last.
In 2017, Canon renews its mid-range SLR with two new cameras that come to succeed the EOS 750D and 760D released in 2015: the EOS 800D and 77D. As for their elders, these two cases have the same components with some differences, but they target different audiences: the 800D is more suitable for the general public when the 77D, having abandoned its 3rd digit for clarity and placing itself thus behind the 80D, is for amateurs who are looking for a more complete and ergonomic case.
Both have the same 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, the DIGIC 7 processor, and a wider AF than their elders with 45 collimators crossed. The ISO sensitivity rises up to 25,600 (expandable to 51,200) and they can shoot up to 6 fps in RAW and JPG. They have the same connections (Bluetooth, Wifi, NFC) and Full HD video.
However, where the 77D differs from its fake twin is ergonomics as it incorporates an additional knob on the back, customizable buttons and an LCD control screen on top.
The 800D is available naked from 762 € and in a kit with the 18-55mm from 940 €. The 77D in the bare case goes up to 899 €, and for the same kit, to 929 €. The difference in price is minimal, especially in a kit! That’s why we recommend the 77D over the 800D, both of which have the same weight, footprint, and identical components. Knowing that simplified menus can be activated on the 77D.
The 750D and 760D are still available, and their lower price can be interesting: from 584 € for the 750D bare and from 730 € for the bare 760D. To choose between the two, we recommend the 760D which is more complete.
The Nikon D5600 took over the Nikon D5500 by placing itself perfectly between the Nikon D3500 and the Nikon D7500. The D5600 (and the D5500 before him) is a beautiful ergonomic evolution: the handle is more hollow, the case is more robust thanks to the use of carbon fiber and it is also lighter (415g instead of 530g). Other small ergonomic improvements here and there end up giving this case a very expert appearance. The device still has WiFi (with the SnapBridge connection) but oddly the manufacturer has removed its integrated GPS function, yet appreciated. Maybe it was a battery problem, we do not know. In addition to its swiveling screen, the D5600 has touched. Inside, the camera uses a 24 Mpx sensor without low pass filter borrowed from the D7100 which produces very good and clean images up to 3200 ISO and the Expeed 4 processor which allows it to be reactive and constant. With this camera, Nikon rivals the Canon 800D, and the choice will be rather on the ergonomics and the objectives you want to acquire. It is available from 629 euros in the kit with an 18-55mm.
The enthusiasts: Nikon D7500 and Canon 80D
Let’s move on to the “passionate” range, which features performance-tuned APS-C SLRs, with interesting bursts, a durable case, and complete adjustments. We only indicate the price of the bare case in this range because if you really want to take advantage of these cases, we invite you to choose a different objective than the kit objective, often limiting for the future
Thus it takes the EXPEED5 processor and the APS-C 20.9 MP sensor of the D500 (thus less than the 24.2 MP of the D7200) and a sensitivity range of 100 to 51.200 ISO. It can shoot up to 8 fps (with a buffer of 50 images in RAW and 100 images in JPG). Like the D500, it can also shoot in Full HD with stabilization and in 4K.
From the D7200 it uses the same autofocus system with 51 collimators that can hang up to – 3IL, useful in low light conditions. The D7500 also integrates Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with SnapBridge connectivity.
Finally, compared to the D7200, the D7500 has improved ergonomics and grip and embeds a tilt and touchscreen very useful especially in video. To all these advantages is added its weight, lighter than the D500.
It is available from € 1,249 in bare case, so cheaper than the D500 which revolves around € 2,100.
In front of him the Canon 80D, released in summer 2016, offers an interesting alternative on several points. It stands out with a video autofocus always on top (the Canon Dual Pixel works perfectly compared to that of Nikon). Compared to the 70D, autofocus now has 45 collimators crossed, against 19 previously. The orientable screen brings a real plus, the touch will depend on the tastes. In a burst, the 80D is equal to the 70D, at 7 fps, and can record up to 110 JPEG and 25 RAW with a UHS-I memory card. With a powerful 24 megapixel APS-C sensor and a good rise in ISO (up to ISO 1600, everything is fine, the noise appears from 3200 ISO), the Canon 80D is extremely versatile and convincing for a complete expert SLR camera. Too bad that Canon still has not integrated a dual card reader to this case. Fortunately, the Wifi is there.
Difficult to decide the winner of this duel: the two boxes have a well-defined sensor, between 20 and 24 Mpx. The D7500 has better handling of high sensitivities with a fairer color rendering; the 80D is much more powerful in the video, with a more efficient Dual AF autofocus. The D7500’s casing is better finished, more resistant, with 2 SD slots and now also incorporates a swiveling touchscreen.
In terms of price, the Nikon D7500, more recent, is more expensive and it is the 80D that wins: it is available at around 1060 € against about 1549 € for the Nikon D7500. If you do not know which to choose, take them in hand because this could be the trigger, as the optical park available at Nikon or Canon.
In this range, we also find the Alpha 77 II at Sony with a 24 Mpx sensor and an AF at 79 points. For fans of the SLT aiming (Sony electronic targeting technology, giving good performance in Live View also), this case is available from 999 euros naked.
At Pentax, the K-3 II is the spearhead of expert SLRs fighters with a tropicalized housing, a sensor 24-MP APS-C without filter pass
down and stabilized, a 100% viewfinder and a very good responsiveness, whether the SAFOX autofocus 11 to 27 collimators or the burst at 8.3 fps (JPEG and RAW). The case also has GPS and Wifi, but no flash. GPS, in addition to geotagging its images, offers astronomical tracer function interesting for astrophotographers. Small novelty: Resolution mode that allows you to take multiple photos and create a file without moiré and with a higher dive. The bare case is available from 985 euros. Nikon D500 and Canon 7D Mark II, the SLR pro-APS-CL long forgotten by manufacturers, the range of pro-SLR pro-APS-C is back with the new Nikon D500 announced in 2016.
The Nikon D500 is the successor to the Nikon D300 (s). It’s packed with everything you’d expect from a full-size professional SLR camera in an APS-C format: the 20-megapixel sensor, fast autofocus, 10 fps burst in RAW, all-weather construction. This case is directly inspired by the Nikon D5, the flagship of Nikon. It has a swiveling and touch screen and can shoot in 4K. In the dark, it does wonders, thanks to a rise in ISO up to ISO 1,640,000. Up to 1600 ISO, the noise is in our opinion negligible. From 1600 ISO and up to 6400 ISO, we see noise without the image suffers too much smoothing or dynamic loss. Starting at 12,800 ISO, digital noise is starting to make itself felt and details are beginning to fade. Beyond and up to 51,200 ISO, image quality deteriorates and color fidelity decreases, although it is still possible to recover things in RAW format. At ISO 1,640,000, we do not talk about photography anymore, but the image remains there.
The Nikon D500 is for us the mature APS-C package for Nikon. Despite a rather conservative design, this case is all that pro photographers expect. Remains of his price. Sold naked at around 2129 €, the Nikon D500 is expensive and will not be for all purses. But once in hand, its qualities will quickly forget the addition and it is for us the case APS-C pro for sports photography, action or animal.
With the 7D Mark II, Canon wanted to offer the technology of its full frame housings in a more compact housing, taking inspiration from the 5D Mark III for general ergonomics (with the flash pop-up and more), and its EOS-1D X for autofocus and burst (up to 10i / s). From the 70D, it borrows the improved 20MP sensor and the AF Dual Pixel (65 points) which allows a phase detection autofocus, more fluid and faster. The exposure measurement is excellent in this case. If you like to know where you take your photos, Canon has added the GPS to the case but bypassing the Wifi. The housing is tropicalized and accepts 1 SD card and 1 CF card for storage. For video enthusiasts, the camera can shoot in 1080p at 50fps and the AF Dual Pixel here allows a very good tracking of subjects.
Aging, the 7D Mark II is more affordable than the Nikon D500: the bare case is available from 1457 euros. It is important here to remember that the case is not everything and that most often it is the objectives that make the real difference (see our guide on the objectives).
With this selection of APS-C SLR cameras, you should find your ideal camera. You can also find our other buying guides with our guide on full frame SLR cameras. And in recent years, some manufacturers like Nikon are putting the package to offer ever more efficient devices.