Want to buy your first DSLR and decided to go with Nikon?
Nikon has plenty of amazing DSLR cameras, and in this guide, we’ve selected their 3 best DSLRs that give you the most for the money.
The 3 Best Nikon DSLRs for Beginners in 2018:
They all use the same sensor, so as far as image quality and video is concerned, you’ll get awesome results with all 3! There are many other important differences though, so continue reading.
1. Nikon D3400
The Nikon D3400 is not only the best Nikon for the money, it’s our most recommended DSLR for beginners. There’s no Canon model that comes close, even at a higher price.
It’s got a 24.2 megapixel DX sensor, the one also used in more expensive cameras. Colors and dynamic range are great, the ISO goes from 100 to 25,600 and delivers acceptable results even at ISO 6,400. You can check the comparison of high ISO between D3400 and Canon T6i here. The latter costs $250 more yet gives almost identical results.
So as far as photography is concerned, this little D3400 is a beast.
Also good. It can record Full HD videos at 60fps or 30fps, while the Canon T6i does it at 30fps. A big advantage if you’re looking to do some slow motion videos and want smooth results. Unfortunately the D3400 has no microphone port so if audio quality is important for you, you’ll have to invest in an external recorder (best quality) because the built-in microphone on DSLRs is rarely usable for people speaking.
The D3400 can also shoot at 5 frames per second, making it great for action, animals and sports.
For sharing your shots/videos, the D3400 has built-in WiFi so you can instantly send them to your phone without buying an external adapter. The battery life is also exceptional as you can take around 1,200 shots before having to recharge it.
All in all, there’s nothing better than the Nikon D3400 for the money, and this little camera even challenges many higher priced DSLRs. Great for both complete beginners and more experienced photographers.
2. Nikon D5500
The Nikon D5500 uses the same 24.2MP sensor, and also runs on the same Expeed 4 processor. What’s different?
The D5500 has a 3.2″ articulating touch-screen LCD, whereas the D3400 has a fixed one with no touch screen. For videos and tricky situations (you laying on the ground), a moving LCD screen is quite helpful. If you plan on recording videos of yourself, it’s also much easier as you can constantly see yourself and change the settings without going back and forth.
Its auto focus system is more advanced with 39 AF points (compared to 11 on the D3400) and 9 of them are cross-type. These types of points are more accurate in difficult focusing situations, and they’re always found in the center where the camera is the most accurate. While 11 is pretty good and was a standard for many years, having more allows you to be more specific where you’re going to focus on.
The rest is more or less the same. It also shoots at 5fps, weighs just 30g more than the D3400, records Full HD at 60fps and has an optical viewfinder. However, it does have a microphone port so that might be an important factor if you want to do videos.
3. Nikon D7200
The Nikon D7200 is quite a lot more expensive, but it’s more advanced in pretty much every department.
Okay, it’s got the same 24.2MP sensor, so at least that’s the same. We really like what Nikon did here, because if you decide to go with a cheaper camera, you’re not sacrificing image quality and noise performance. At least in the DX sensor department, which all of these 3 cameras have.
The D7200 is way more action oriented, and for more serious use. You’ll immediately notice the bigger size and better build quality. Simply said, it’s more appropriate if you’re going to travel and use it in rainy/cold/hot conditions as the body is almost professional like and environmentally sealed.The 3.2″ screen is fixed and can not be moved, but it is a little bit sharper with 1,229,000 dots compared to 1,037,000. Because the D7200 is more advanced, you also get a top LCD screen that allows you to quickly preview and change your settings. This is a huge time saver when shooting in semi-manual/manual modes.
It can shoot at 6 frames per second and the ISO expands up to 102,400, which is 2 stops higher. Of course you won’t want to use it at those levels, but it’s good knowing that you can at least get the shot and then fix it in post process. AF wise, the D7200 sports 51 AF points making it a clear winner.
Unlike the D3400 and D5500, the D7200 features an AF motor in the body. Don’t worry, all of these 3 DSLRs will auto focus, but if you have some old Nikon lenses that don’t have an AF motor built-in (99% lenses do today), you will be able to auto focus normally. The shutter life is also rated at 150,000 shots compared to 100,000 on both other cameras.
So while the D7200 is more expensive, it does give you more features. It’s up to you decide how serious you are about photography.
Which Nikon Lens to Get?
Nikon’s DSLR cameras come with either the kit Nikon 18-55mm or Nikon 18-140mm lens.
A zoom is always a great way to start with as they allow you to take pictures of everyday situations, animals, people and much more. Since you don’t really know what focal length you need, it’s better to have a zoom so you can see what really excites you. The weight, size and aperture also play an important role, which is why a small, affordable kit zoom is so good. Prime lenses are just as awesome (sometimes better), and if you really want one despite the fact you’re just starting out, get one that costs less than $250 (both 50mm f/1.8 and 35mm f/1.8G).
Alternatively, you can buy the body only and then pick any lens of your own choice, whether that’s a zoom or a prime. You have over 60 lenses to choose from Nikon, and then there’s other excellent third-party brands like Sigma and Tamron that offer a variety of lenses as well.
Read more: BesNikon Lenses
At Best Photography Gear, we have pages dedicated to best lenses for every specific DSLR, as well as lenses perfect for different types of photography. After buying your first camera (or even better, before) we recommend you to read as much as possible.
You can check all Nikon DSLR models here.