Current as of: December 2011

The Best Digital SLR Under $1,000 (USD)

The best digital SLR under $1,000 offers a good balance between features and price.

The cameras that cost more than $600 but less than $1,000 are aimed at the consumer marketplace but should not be considered "entry-level".

While many cameras that fall into this price range do offer features for beginning photographers, they also provide a lot to satisfy the needs of more advanced shooters.

If you are a beginner, then consider the best digital SLR under $1,000 as an opportunity to get a camera you can "grow into" over time.

If you are an intermediate, then you should not feel like you are compromizing by getting a camera in this category: they have plenty of manual controls and custom settings that allow you to set up the camera to match your photogaphy style.

The Competitors

Here's the list of the latest digital SLR cameras that you can get your hands on that cost between $600 and $1,000:

Canon Rebel T3i 600d
March 2011 18 megapixels, flexible 3 inch LCD screen, Full HD 1080p movies, creative filters, multiple aspect ratios
$770 USD
Nikon D5100
April 2011 16.3 megapixels, flexible 3 inch LCD screen, Full HD 1080p movies, creative filters
$750 USD
Pentax K-r
Oct. 2010 12.4 megapixels, 3 inch LCD screen, HD 720p movies, built-in image stabilization
$730 USD
Sony DSLR-A580
Nov. 2010 16.2 megapixels, flexible 3 inch LCD screen, Full HD 1080i movies, built-in image stabilization
$850 USD

Best Value for Money

All the cameras listed above have their own unique value, but one stands above the others for providing a lot of features for a reasonable price.

For me, that camera is the Canon Rebel T3i 600D.

One big reason to get a Canon DSLR is because of the enormous numbers of compatible lenses. The T3i is compatible with all new Canon SLR lenses, and it will also work just fine with many older EF lenses.

The Nikon D5100 lacks a focus motor, so autofocus only works with lenses that have their own focusing motors. The Pentax K-r is compatible with every Pentax lens ever made, but these lenses are sometimes harder to find than ones for Canon. Also, third-party lens manufacturers make more lenses compatible with Canon than with Pentax. Since Sony is a relatively new player in the DSLR market, they have not yet built up the volume of lenses that Canon offers.

If you only intend to use a single lens with your camera, then this levels the playing field a bit.

The main feature that the Canon T3i 600d lacks is built-in image stabilization (included with the Pentax K-r and the Sony DSLR-A580). While the kit lens that comes with the camera has image stabilization, many Canon lenses do not.

If you want to take photos in dim light of NON-MOVING subjects, then the Pentax or Sony might be a better bet.

I emphasize non-moving because an image stabiliation system only helps eliminate blur if the camera is moving. If your subject is moving, you often have to use high ISO values to achieve fast shutter speeds to prevent blur - image stabilization won't help in this case.

In addition to its vast lens compatibility, the Canon T3i 600D also offers the following:

  • 18 megapixels — great if you want to make large prints
  • Flexible LCD — for taking pictures from high and low angles or capturing video
  • Multiple Aspect Ratios — in addition to the standard ratio of 3:2, you can also capture square and widescreen images with ratios of 1:1 and 16:9
  • Video Controls — you can manually select the exposure for your videos and you can also adjust the audio level

This robust feature set and the camera's competitive price are why I selected the T3i 600D as the best digital SLR under $1,000.

Learn More About Digital SLR Cameras - Free!

The monthly newsletter is packed with digital SLR tips and advice. Current Issue
First NameE-mail Address 
Your privacy is respected and your information is NEVER shared with anyone.
digital slr lessons
What's New? On Facebook: On Twitter:
Home Lessons Free Newsletter DSLR Store About Contact Site Map Mirrorless Cameras