What is the best Canon DSLR to buy today? Whether you are a beginner, an enthusiast or a professional, a Canon DSLR is still the perfect tool and backed up by a huge choice of lenses.
Canon DSLRs have launched countless photographic careers and are still to be seen covering major sporting events and news stories, as well as forming the backbone of many an enthusiast’s camera system. They are some of the most popular cameras in history, including entry-level models right through to serious tools for professionals. It’s true that mirrorless cameras are taking over, but many photographers still prefer the look and feel of DSLRs, and many of the best Canon DSLRs are still available new. You can also scroll down to the bottom of this guide to see our recommendations for the best used Canon DSLRs too.
These days Canon is putting all of its money and effort into its EOS R mirrorless line-up and some of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy. Cameras like the Canon EOS R50 and the brand-new Canon EOS R100 are replacing stalwart entry-level DSLRs like the EOS 250D and EOS 1200D, giving us a clear indication of where the future is heading as far as Canon is concerned.
But the DSLR design still has an advantage – lenses. Owners of Canon’s full frame mirrorless cameras have a great choice, but it’s not the same for Canon’s APS-C mirrorless models, which are way behind its APS-C D-SLRs for lens choice. There are only three native RF-S mirrorless lenses on sale right now, compared to dozens for the Canon EF-S lens mount. Take a look at our guide the best EF-mount lenses to pair with your Canon DSLR.
If you want to find out more about the pros and cons of these two camera types, read our DSLR vs mirrorless guide.
How to choose the best Canon DSLR
The higher the megapixel count, the more detail the camera can capture. However, it is true that even a fairly basic camera like the Canon EOS 4000D, with ‘just’ 18MP of resolution, can produce professional level, detail-rich prints at A2 size and more – as long as you have a reasonably sharp lens and competent camera technique.
Canon DSLRs use two autofocus systems – one for the optical viewing system and another for ‘live view’ on the LCD screen, which uses Canon’s unique Dual Pixel AF, a feature introduced by Canon in 2013, first seen on the EOS 70D, and now found on most of its recent DSLRs like the EOS 90D. Each pixel on the imaging sensor is divided into two light-sensitive diodes, and they are analysed for focus data, the end result being snappy, reliable focusing in both stills and video. Dual Pixel CMOS AF is on all newer Canons and definitely worth seeking out.
APS-C vs full-frame
Canon DSLRs come with two sensor sizes – APS-C and full-frame. For many camera users, an APS-C camera is more than adequate, giving excellent image quality and is a great choice. The smaller format means physically more compact cameras and usually lower prices for both the cameras and the lenses. Full-frame cameras are preferred by dedicated enthusiasts and professional photographers. The larger format provides better image quality, with greater dynamic range and better low-light performance, but the cameras are bigger, heavier and more expensive, as are the lenses.
See our guide to APS-C vs full-frame sensors for more detail on how this all works.
While Canon DSLRs were at the forefront of a huge revolution in video in the mid-2000s, these days if video is going to be a big part of your life you will be better off going for a mirrorless model. There, you will generally find more features, greater sophistication and better performance. The latest Canon mirrorless cameras have 4K, 4K Cine, 6K and 8K, and you get features like in-body image stabilisation something Canon’s DSLRs don’t have. Having said that, the enthusiast level Canon EOS 90D is a very effective camera for shooting video. In fact video recording is available on most Canon DSLRs, including the Canon models featured here. For serious filmmaking you’ll likely want to get one of the best tripods for steady footage.
We’ve picked out what we think are the best Canon DSLR cameras for all budgets and abilities. We’ve picked new cameras first, and then added a few of the best second-hand classics. So let’s jump in with a quick run-down:
And here are our picks for the best Canon DSLRs to buy used:
Continue reading to find out why these cameras make a great choice:
Best Canon DSLR for sports and wildlife fans: Canon EOS 90D
At a glance
The Canon EOS 90D is Canon’s highest resolution APS-C format camera, with a 32.5MP sensor, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to make big prints of your best shots. Shoot raws and you’ll achieve images packed with fine detail, good dynamic range and lifelike colours; for a faster workflow, out-of-camera JPEGs are excellent too.
The camera’s high resolution means big prints are within easy reach, and it would be well suited to fine-art photography as well as well as macro photography, with the freedom to crop into pictures to pull out small details with minimal sacrifice to image quality. This, together with the 1.6x crop factor, also makes this a fine camera for wildlife photography.
The EOS 90D is a fine stills camera but it also suits prospective vloggers, with a monitor that swivels to face forward. Shooting 4K video also comes without any crop, plus there are headphone and microphone sockets. In fact the EOS 90D is a great all round camera for enthusiasts, boasting high speed continuous shooting capability too. Its closest rival in Canon’s mirrorless range is the Canon EOS R7, but that has a far more restricted lens choice, unless you don’t mind using Canon EF-S DSLR lenses via an adaptor – in which case you might be just as well off sticking to a Canon DSLR in the first place.
Read our full Canon EOS 90D review
Best budget full frame Canon DSLR: Canon EOS 6D Mark II
At a glance
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is the cheapest full frame DSLR in the Canon line-up, but it’s a long way from being a basic model. It’s actually very well featured for the money, thanks to its 26.2MP resolution, 45 AF phase detect points and 7560 RGB+IR metering sensor.
In Live View shooting you also get very competent AF performance here, thanks to Canon’s Dual Pixel AF which covers over 80% of the image area and gives speedy and accurate autofocusing in stills and video. It’ll work well even when the conditions are challenging, even in low-light situations such as night photography. Using the EOS 6D Mark II in live view mode offers many of the advantages of mirrorless cameras, showing that the DSLR design still has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Using the optical viewfinder, you get a 6.5fps maximum shooting speed with AE/AF tracking – just the ticket for subjects on the move. Handling and ergonomics rate highly, with a typically generous collection of controls, including a focus joystick and rear control dial plus a fully articulating 3-inch touchscreen. Its body is weather-sealed, too.
Read our full Canon EOS 6D Mark II review
Best Canon DSLR for travel: Rebel SL3 / Canon EOS 250D
At a glance
The Canon Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D is one of the smallest DSLRs you can get, but it still finds the space for a good set of features and even a fully-articulated vari-angle rear screen. It is well suited to beginner photographers with its simple user-friendly guide mode, but it is powerful enough to grow with them as they gain experience and move into more advanced techniques. Its compact stature means it’s a good for travel, and with a touch-sensitive vari-angle monitor that can face forwards, it’s perfect for vlogging and selfies, food photography and much more. Video shooters can enjoy 4K UHD video recording for crystal clear movies.
Of course, it is a very capable performer for stills with its the 24MP sensor with Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocusing that gives pin-sharp results in stills and video time after time even when the light is poor. Battery life is extremely good too, with a claimed 1070 shots using the optical finder – another advantage of the DSLR design.
Read our Canon EOS 250D / Rebel SL3 Review
Best cheap Canon DSLR: Rebel T100 / Canon EOS 4000D
At a glance
This is Canon’s least expensive DSLR, and it is certainly built down to a price, but it is still fairly well furnished with features, and should suit no fuss point-and-shoot snapping for photography students learning the craft on a budget, or outright beginners who want to try a ‘proper’ camera without spending a lot of money. Users who want to take it out of full auto mode will find reliably accurate focusing and exposure systems at their disposal. Impressively for this price level, the EOS 4000D has a 63-zone dual layer exposure meter that delivers great results in a range of lighting conditions and while the AF system is limited to nine points, it works well and responsively.
The Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D has an 18MP APS-C sensor with resolution good enough for most uses, though it is an old design, so keen photographers will probably feel the urge to upgrade to something better before long. It has a native ISO speed range of 100 to 6400, which is pretty modest by today’s standards, but there is a pop-up flash for shooting in low light.
Read our Canon EOS 4000D review
Best Canon DSLR for beginners: Rebel T7 / Canon EOS 2000D
At a glance
The Canon Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D is still an entry-level camera, but a worthwhile step up from the Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D. A key benefit is its 24MP resolution, which means it’s a camera suited those users keen do more with their pictures especially making bigger enlargements or prints. And speaking of bigger, the EOS 2000D’s monitor measures 7.5cm / 3inch and boasts 920,000 dots of resolution, showing off detail more effectively. This is a really practical asset when it comes to checking your images.
A more robust build quality is another benefit of the EOS 2000D over the EOS 4000D. For example, its lens mount is made of metal, rather than the engineering plastic used on the EOS 4000D.
Read our Canon EOS 2000D / Rebel T7 review
Best Canon DSLR for enthusiasts: Rebel T8i / Canon EOS 850D
At a glance
The Canon EOS 850D has been around for a while but is still a terrific all-round package and a very capable DSLR for the enthusiast photographer keen to explore their creativity. Buy it with the 18-135mm USM lens and you have compact, lightweight package with a zoom range suitable for a wide range of subject matter, from portraits and snapshots to landscape and street. Another, more affordable kit option is with the 18-55mm IS STM lens.
The EOS 850D has a 24.1MP sensor paired with a Canon DIGIC 8 processor, and is capable of first-class photographs full of crisp detail and rich colours, and its ISO 100-25,600 range means you can shoot successfully when light levels drop. There’s the option of 4K /25p video on this camera, but the usefulness is limited because the image is cropped by 64% and there’s no Dual Pixel AF available.This means your angle of view is restricted and the live view autofocus is slower, though you don’t have these limitations when shooting 1920 x 1080 full HD.
Read our full review of the Canon EOS 850D
Best professional Canon DSLR all round: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
At a glance
The rugged Canon EOS 5D Mark IV body has been a favorite amongst professional photographers for years, boasting advanced weather sealing and a 30.2MP full-frame sensor. The camera delivers images of outstanding clarity, colour fidelity, low noise and with excellent dynamic range giving detailed highlights and shadows. This makes it a great choice for landscape shooting, giving you maximum tonality in your images, though it is in fact a highly capable all-rounder that can be used for a wide range of professional and commercial subjects.
Autofocus is first rate in stills and video with 61 AF points through the finder and if you need to shoot action, 7fps shooting with full AE/AF tracking is available. The EOS 5D Mark IV also has a neat feature called Dual Pixel RAW (DPRAW) which means imaging data from each pixel is captured from two very slightly different points of view. Using Canon’s free DPP software you can edit a DPRAW image and fine-tune to adjust lighting, give a different point of focus, or adjust background bokeh, though this is a somewhat technical process and the effects are not always obvious.
Read our Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review
Best professional Canon DSLR for sports and action: Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
At a glance
Canon’s flagship professional DSLR has an impressive feature set, including a native ISO range that peaks at 102,400. This means poor light definitely won’t stop play, which is one of the reasons why this camera has become a stalwart or professional sports and action photographers. Thanks to the advanced sensor, a special Gaussian Low Pass filter and DIGIC X processor, the image quality is remarkably good even at that high sensitivity.
Indeed, speed is the key word for this camera. You can shoot with a top speed of 16fps through the optical viewfinder, or get even more in Live View with a speed of 20fps. Perhaps even more important is that the EOS-1D X Mark III takes high-speed CFexpress Type B cards, so you can capture a lot of frames without hitting the buffer.
To cope with fast-moving action, the EOS-1D X Mark III boasts an AF system with 191 points, of which 155 are cross-type. It also has Canon’s Deep-Learning AF Algorithm that can recognise faces even when they are upside down.
The best used Canon DSLRs to buy
If you’re worried about budget, don’t forget about the second-hand market! Opting for a second-hand version of a camera from a few years ago can be a great way to pick up a bargain at a knock-down price. We’d always recommend going with reputable dealers rather than buying privately, as you’ll get some limited warranty (usually 3-6 months) and some assurance that the camera has been checked over by professionals. With DSLRs, it’s also important to check the shutter actuations, as every camera is rated to perform to a specific number. For more, check out our guide to buying second-hand cameras.
Below, we’ve picked out a few of our favourite Canon DSLRs on the second-hand market.
Best used Canon DSLR for beginners: EOS Rebel T5 / Canon EOS 1200D
At a glance:
Beginner photographers can pick up a hell of a bargain if willing to shop second-hand, and the excellent EOS 1200D is a case in point. Going for about a third of its original asking price on the used market, the EOS 1200D has retained a reputation as a solid, do-everything DSLR for beginners. With its 18MP APS-C sensor, it’s not quite as high-resolution as many other cameras on this list, but the autofocus system is fast and accurate in a way that punches above its weight.
You only get 9 AF points, and a burst mode of 3fps – this is going to come with the territory of shopping for a beginner’s camera in 2014. This will likely be enough for most purposes, and if you need more speed than that, check out the EOS 7D Mark II below.
In our original review of the EOS 1200D, we also singled out the low-light performance as being particularly impressive. We were happy with the results we got right the way through the camera’s native ISO range of 100-6400, and that isn’t always the case with entry-level cameras. If you’re planning on urban night shoots, this is a great choice of DSLR, especially if you pick up a cheap 50mm lens to go with it.
Read our Canon EOS 1200D review
Best used Canon DSLR for enthusiasts: Canon EOS 80D
At a glance
Canon’s two-digit EOS DSLRs built up a reputation for being good APS-C all-rounders, useful for photographers who want an affordable camera that does a bit of everything. The EOS 80D is an excellent example, and is plentifully available on the second-hand market. It adds a number of improvements on the previous EOS 70D, including a beefed-up autofocus system with phase-detection points across the entirety of the frame. The big optical viewfinder covering 100% of the frame is also welcome, and helps the EOS 80D deliver a sublime shooting experience across the board.
The EOS 80D uses a relatively sophisticated autofocus system. While it’s not a patch on the unreal subject-detect system of cameras from the 2020s, having 45 highly accurate cross-type points is nothing to sneeze at, and will certainly get the job done in most situations.
As it was preceded by the EOS 70D – which proved a surprising hit with YouTubers – the EOS 80D is a handily capable video camera. Having Full HD video at a frame rate of 60p is certainly welcome, as is the vari-angle touchscreen that lets you shoot from all different angles with ease. The addition of a headphone port also wins the EOS 80D a few points from videographers. It’s not 4K though, which may be a deal-breaker for some users.
Read our Canon EOS 80D review
Best used Canon DSLR for action and sports photography: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
At a glance
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II was introduced in 2014, a replacement for the EOS 7D that came out in 2009. Its big selling point was that it was an APS-C DSLR that had advanced AF features derived from the EOS 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X.
As such, Canon’s renowned Dual Pixel sensor delivers good Live View AF, and 65 cross type AF points for viewfinder AF, with Intelligent Tracking and Recognition (iTR) to give improved subject tracking. The EOS 7D Mark III was the first Canon to have iTR after the EOS 1D X, and uses the RGB+ IR meter sensor to improve servo focusing with moving subjects.
Making the most of the EOS 7D Mark II’s enhanced AF skills, it can rattle along at 10fps and when shooting raw you can get around 30 shots before buffering.
Read our full review of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Best used Canon DSLR for video: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
At a glance
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is an excellent full-frame camera that has proved itself a fine machine since it was introduced over ten years ago in 2012. Key features include a 22MP full-frame sensor, a 61 point AF system for speedy and accurate focusing while a 63 zone metering system ensures spot-on exposures. These days it can be picked up second-hand for a great price.
This camera was the first Canon DSLR capable of High Dynamic Range shooting where three bracketed exposures are made and merged in-camera and an auto align feature means you can even get perfect shots shooting handheld. It can shoot multiple exposures too for creative effect.
The new camera had a shutter rated at 150,000 actuations, so do check this aspect when shopping for a second-hand model.
Read our Canon EOS 5D Mark III review
Best used full-frame Canon DSLR: Canon EOS 6D
At a glance
Announced at Photokina 2012 and released a couple of months later, the EOS 6D was marketed as a smaller and more affordable alternative to the hugely popular EOS 5D Mark III. Fulfilling this brief, the 6D borrows hardware from the 5D III while also bringing some of its own to the table. For example, while the 5D III was built around a 22.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor, the 6D instead employs a 20.2MP chip. However, both cameras share the same DIGIC 5+ image processor, and both provide a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-25,600 that can be expanded to the equivalent of ISO 50-102,800.
It was released with a body-only price of £1,680 and it’s now possible to source a second-hand 6D in ‘excellent’ condition with a shutter count less 10,000 for just a few hundred dollars/pounds. That could give you money left over to spend on an extra lens.
Read our Canon EOS 6D review
Canon DSLRs – frequently asked questions
Is Canon going to discontinue DSLRs?
We may not see any new Canon DSLRs in the future. In 2022, Canon CEO and Chairman, Fujio Mitarai, said that the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III would be Canon’s last flagship DSLR. The last new DSLR the firm announced was the Canon Rebel T8i / Canon EOS 850D in early 2020, and since then the focus has clearly been on Canon’s mirrorless cameras. However, Canon DSLRs are still on sale and there are plenty of used examples in excellent condition and with little wear.
Can you use Canon mirrorless lenses on Canon DSLRs?
No. Canon RF mirrorless lenses cannot be adapted to work with EF-mount DSLRs. While it’s possible to adapt EF DSLR lenses to RF mirrorless cameras via Canon’s EF-EOS R adapter, there is currently no adapter that flows the other way, and there is unlikely to be one. Making such an adapter would be technologically challenging due to the RF-mount’s shorter flange distance and wider throat.
Which Canon DSLRs are full-frame?
The Canon EOS-1Ds, EOS-1D X, EOS 5D and EOS 6D DSLRs all use full-frame sensors. All of these lines have gone through multiple iterations, with the most recent and advanced cameras being the EOS-1D X Mark III (released in 2020), the EOS 6D Mark II (from 2017) and the EOS 5D Mark IV (from 2016). Looking at older models on the second-hand market can be a great way to get full-frame quality for an affordable price, and you may have already seen we’ve put a few in this guide. Just be aware that the further back you go, the more you’ll have to compromise on features like autofocus speed, burst mode, high ISO performance and others.
Are Canon DSLRs weatherproof?
Some Canon DSLRs are weather-sealed, but not all of them. In general, the more expensive professional cameras, such as once again the EOS-1D X, EOS 5D and EOS 6D lines, are the ones that feature extensive weather-sealing. However, some more affordable mid-range models such as the EOS 90D also feature weatherproofing. Really, it just depends on the individual camera, so check before you buy if this is a priority feature for you.
If you’ve found the best Canon DSLR in this guide, then why not have a look at the best Canon EF-mount lenses and the best EF-mount zoom lenses to go with your new camera. Or have a look at more of our buying guides, including our look at the best Canon EOS cameras of all time (including SLRs and DSLRs), or have a look at the best Canon mirrorless cameras.
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