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Budget DSLR buying guide

Many people end up asking me what camera or lens they should buy. They’re usually looking to get into photography for the first time. Most are ready to splurge for a DSLR but don’t know where to start. I always get questions like, “I know I want a camera, but I don’t know what to get.” “What’s the best budget DSLR?” So I decided I’d help by putting together this mini budget DSLR buying guide to hopefully help you.

Canon and Nikon are the biggest camera manufacturers, especially budget DSLRs. That also means they have the most options of quality budget lenses. So for anyone on a tight budget, Canon or Nikon is great place to start.

I’m biased towards Canon because I’ve been using Canon digital cameras and lenses for over 10 years. There is also the fact that Canon has made and sold more budget DSLRs than anyone else, which means there are great cheap options if you’re willing to get used equipment.

So without further ado, here’s a quick review of cameras and lenses.

1.Canon EOS Rebel T5 + EF-S 18-55mm IS II

The T5 comes with all the features people look for in a beginning camera:

-Great updated sensor with 18 megapixel

-Fully-HD video up to 1080p

-3 frames per second

-9 autofocus points

-3 inch LCD screen

This is one of the most popular cameras on the market. At under $400, it’s really cheap (for a DSLR), especially given that it comes with a great lens! You won’t find anything else at this price that will beat the T5.

Included in this package is the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II. There are lots of numbers and symbols in that description, but this is what you need to know:

-Zoom: 18-55 millimeters

-Aperture (how much light the lens lets in) goes from 3.5 to 5.6

-IS stands for “Image Stabilization.” This is perhaps the most important feature of the lens that helps keep the lens stable when you take photos in low-light conditions, which minimizes blurring.

Alone, the lens retails for around $200 and the camera retails for around $320, so you save around 23% when you bundle these. Not a bad deal!

2. Nikon D3200 24.2 MP DSLR + NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens


The D3200 has some outstanding features:

-24.2 megapixels

-Fully-HD video up to 1080p

-4 frames per second

-11 autofocus points

-3 inch LCD screen

Nikon is the other budget DSLR manufacturer that makes quality cameras. The competitor for Canon’s T5 is the D3200, and it also comes with a great stock lens. It is very similar to the T5 in size, lens zoom, and photo quality, but you pay about $50 more for the extra features. Whether or not it’s worth it is up to you and what you want to get out of your camera.

If you compare the two cameras, you’ll  notice that the Nikon D3200 beats the Canon T5 in almost every category: more megapixels, 1 more frame per second, 2 more autofocus points. Those are certainly important numbers, but they can also be misleading. More megapixels does not necessarily mean better quality photos (that’s a whole other story). At the same time, having a faster shutter and more focus points can certainly help get that extra shot.

So whether you go with Canon EOS Rebel T5 + EF-S 18-55mm IS II or Nikon D3200 24.2 MP DSLR + NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens, you won’t be disappointed. Happy shooting!