Last updated on 05/15/2013
First-time DSLR buyer who doesn't want to spend a lot for "too much" camera? Experienced hobbyist on a budget? If you need a DSLR for under $1,000, we've lined up the best of the bunch below. $1,000 is still a lot of money, but considering that some DSLRs cost up to five times that much, we consider anything under the four-figure mark "affordable." The cameras below marry a quality feature set with best-in-class image quality, and all represent a fantastic value. Read on to see our favorites.
Sitting pretty at under $500, the A37 is the perfect camera for amateurs stepping up to the wonderful world of DSLRs. The A37 is an SLT rather than conventional DSLR, actually, which means that light hits the sensor at all times rather than being redirected to a viewfinder. The benefit to the point and shoot user is huge: you can use the back swivel screen to shoot without any slowdown, autofocus works full-time in burst mode and movies, and there are both weight and size savings. The A37, and all SLT cameras, do use electronic rather than optical viewfinders, but there are a number of benefits, like seeing exposure and white balance before taking the photo, that users may come to enjoy. As for specifications, the A37 has a 16.1 megapixel sensor, shoots 1080/60i HD video, has a fairly low resolution 2.6-inch tilting LCD screen, includes built-in image stabilization, and shoots 5.5 fps at full resolution or faster at 8 megapixels. Image quality is about as good as it gets for cameras under $1500, and we think the target market will really love that live view and small form factor.
Canon's T4i is a solid 18 megapixel DSLR with a large sensor and fast processor. With full HD video, a vari-angle LCD and 5 fps burst shooting, the T4i is a good choice for the $600-$800 price range. Canon also improved on their auto focus system with this model and added new creative filters, including High Dynamic Range options. The T4i offers great image quality and usability for its price point.
Nikon's D5200 uses the same large 24 megapixel sensor as the D3200 (one of our affordable DSLR picks for last year), but adds several features of the older D7000, like a 39-point autofocus and faster 5 fps burst mode. While nearly twice the price of the SLR Sony A37, the D5200 includes more megapixels for a better resolution and a viewfinder. The D5200 also includes RAW shooting.