What are the best value DSLRs

September 8, 2021

Despite all the excitement about mirrorless cameras, DSLRs still have a big following – there’s a huge range of lenses, the technology is tried and tested and you usually assured of a quality optial viewfinder. They can be great value-for-money too, and this shortlist will help you bag a bargain DSLR for under £1500. Some of the cameras in our shortlist have been on the market a couple of years, but others are much newer and all of them are worth adding to your kit bag. Read on for our round-up of the best cheap DSLRs…

Canon EOS 90D is great valueCanon EOS 90D
Price: £1200 (£900 used)

The humble 90D may well be one the best-value cameras to have been brought to market. Boasting a high-resolution 32.5MP APS-C sensor (which is actually more resolution than Canon’s 5D Mark IV), the 90D has all the features you need to create amazing stills and video content. Packing a DIGIC 8 processor engine, the 90D can fire off 11 frames a second, making it ideal for sports and wildlife photography and this speed is backed up by an advanced autofocus system that features Canon’s acclaimed Dual Pixel AF technology.

Fairly lightweight at 701g, the 90D is also well specced with video features, enabling users to shoot 4K video and goes one better than the 5D Mark IV by offering slow motion at Full HD. Enhanced audio can be both captured and monitored thanks to ports for headphones and an external microphone and shooting video is made easy thanks to the vari-angle touch-sensitive LCD.

What we like:
Big resolution
Vari-angle LCD
Impressive video feature

Canon EOS 850D

Canon EOS 850D
Price: £929 with 18-55mm IS STM lens

The Canon EOS 850D offers a 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, with ISO100 to 51,200 available, and gives you pretty much everything you’ll need from a modern DSLR, with 7.5fps continuous shooting, and 4K 30fps video recording. You’ll also find a fully artculated touchscreen on the rear.

A new feature to the 850D is the ability to use face and eye-detection focus when using the optical viewfinder, and this is also available (as expected) during liveview shooting. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built-in, and with excellent handling, the camera makes it easy to change settings when needed.

What we like:
Small and lightweight for a DSLR
Lots of external controls
Comfortable handgrip

Nikon D7500 DSLRNikon D7500
Price: £899

If sports of wildlife photography is your passion,then a great value-for-money option could be the D7500. Available new for less than £900 (body only), this impressive Nikon boasts a speedy burst rate of 8 frames per second thanks to the high-performance EXPEED 5 processor – more than enough to capture split-second moments of wildlife or sports action as the camera can achieve this burst for up to 50 NEF (RAW) shots or 100 JPEG images in one burst.

The good news continues with a decent 20.9-megapixel APS-C sensor and an advanced autofocus system with 51 AF points that will perform particularly well in low light conditions thanks to a max ISO ceiling of ISO 1640000. With a tilting touch-sensitive LCD, the D7500 is also great for video and can capture 4K movies up to 30p.

What we like:
Speedy burst rate
Big buffer for extended image capture
4K video

Sony A99 II - High-speed DSLR

Sony Alpha 99 II
Price: from £1250 used

Okay, so this is a bit of a curveball because the A99 II is not only hard to find on sale these days, but is also not truly a DSLR. In fact, it’s a ‘DSLT’ thanks to its fixed translucent mirror, but despite being launched back in 2016, the Sony offers an incredible specification for an ever-decreasing investment. Let’s start with the sensor, which is a full-frame chip that serves up a whopping 42-megapixels of resolution and features no Anti Aliasing filter to get sharper detail in your frames. A speed demon, the a99ii can capture 12 frames per second – an amazing rate for such a high-resolution camera and focusing is taken care of by no less than 399 AF points – 79 of which are the more sensitive cross type points.

The camera benefits from a 5-axis In Body Image Stabilisation system to keep shots steady and images can be lined up via a 3-inch LCD that offers a vari-angle design. Capable of shooting 4K video and packing ports for headphones and an external mic, the 199ii is certainly fully loaded and there are still plenty of options for lenses via the A-mount lens fitment.

What we like:
Big resolution
Image stabilisation
Fast burst rate

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Canon EOS 6D Mark II

Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Price: £1350

For those looking to step up to full-frame photography, the 6D Mark II represents a great value-for-money option thanks to a 26-megapixel sensor that’s capable of delivering professional-quality imagery. Still relatively new having been launched in 2017, the 6D Mark II is an all-rounder, offering a decent burst rate of 6.5 frames per second, a competent autofocus system with Dual Pixel AF plus no less than 45 cross type AF points and a wide ISO range that’s expandable up to 102400.

Built-in GPS tags the locations where you capture images in case you’d like to return of share this data and a vari-angle touch-sensitive LCD helps photographers line up awkward high and low compositions or set up video scenes that can be recorded in Full HD, although 4K time-lapse movies can be created too.

What we like:
Affordable price
Weather sealing
High ISO range

Best Value DSLR: Nikon D3500Best Cheap DSLR: Nikon D3500
Price: £419 (with 18-55mm lens)

When it comes to more entry-level DSLRs, it’s hard to beat the D3500 for value. Still relatively new from its 2018 launch, the APS-C sensor Nikon offers 24-megapixels of resolution and is a great all-rounder suitable for carrying around all day thanks to a battery that offers up to 1500 shots on a single charge. For just a few hundred pounds, photographers can access a DSLR that offers a burst rate of five frames per second and features 11 AF points, along with a decent ISO range of ISO 100-25600 and the benefits of Nikon’s speedy EXPEED 4 processor unit.

Along with the stills features, the D3500 can capture Full HD video at 60p, meaning the footage can be used at half speed to create a slow motion effect. Particularly useful for newcomers to photography is the D3500’s Guide Mode, which will explain various modes with information displayed on the 3-inch LCD and the Special Effects modes will enable users to get creative in-camera to capture stylised images including the miniature effect and toy camera effect without the need of a computer.

What we like:
Low price-tag
Decent resolution
Full HD

Canon EOS 5DS High-resolutionCanon EOS 5DS
Price: £1400 (

Okay, so the 5DS is a little long in the tooth having been launched back in 2015, but it remains to this day, the highest resolution DSLR money can buy, along with its sister camera the 5DSR. Being able to buy a DSLR that offers 51-megapixels of resolution from the full-frame CMOS sensor for under £1500 is mind-blowing value-for-money and will appeal to landscape and wedding photographers who wish to make big prints of their images or have the tolerance to crop in on files without compromising image quality.

In fact, the 5DS serves up a maximum files size of 8688 x 5792 pixels and features dual storage slots (one CompactFlash and one SD card). Backed up by a sophisticated 61-point autofocus system, the 5DS features professional weather sealing and also allows 19-MP images to be captured in APS-C mode to gain the user some focal length. Although primarily a stills camera, the 5DS does shoot Full HD and offers a burst rate of 5 frames per second, which is impressive given the huge amount of data the camera is capturing.

What we like:
Unrivaled resolution
Weather sealing
Dual card slots

Pentax K-1 IIPentax K-1 MkII
Price: £1,699 (£1400 used

Now, the K-1 MkII does creep a little above our £1500 price point, but used versions of this rugged and robust camera can be purchased for well below that price and there’s no doubt the Pentax offers excellent value-for-money. Packing a full-frame 36-megapixel sensor within the extensively weather sealed magnesium alloy body, the K-1 MkII is one of the few DSLRs to include a 5-axis In Body Image Stabilisation system, which will help keep shots sharp, particularly in low light.

Photographers can make instant back-ups via the dual SD card slots and images can be composed using the unique LCD, which benefits from a clever stilts design that enables users to reposition the screen to help line up images. The K-1 MkII is also a wise selection for astrophotographers looking for a bargain as the Pentax features an Astrotracer feature, which is best described as an in-camera star tracker that will help you capture amazing images of the night sky.

What we like:
Rugged build-quality
Big resolution sensor
Image Stabilisation

Best Value Canon DSLRBest Value DSLR: Canon EOS 250D
Price: £500

If you like the idea of a small and light camera but still want to keep the mirror, the Canon EOS 250D could well be for you. Officially the smallest and lightest DSLR cash can buy, the diminutive Canon also represents good value for money thanks to a beefy 24-megapixel APS-C sensor that will easily deliver images capable of being printed to A3 in size and Canon’s high-performance DIGIC processor.

The body of the 250D (called the SL3 in other territories) tips the scales at just 449g, meaning you’ll hardly notice carrying it around on a day’s photography. Images can be lined up via the 3-inch LCD, which offers a high resolution of 1040000k and features a vari-angle design, making the 250D a great choice for aspiring Vloggers – especially as the tiny Canon can shoot movies in 4K quality. With plenty of EF/EF-S lenses to choose from, the 250D gives all the benefits of a DSLR in the size of a mirrorless body.

What we like:
Tiny dimensions
4K video
Vari-angle LCD

Further reading
What are the best DLSRs you can buy right now