The Top Rated SLR Cameras Under $700

The best SLR cameras under $700 offer a lot of bang for the buck for the amateur photographer ready to take things beyond a point-and-shoot. Though the most technologically advanced SLR cameras tend to run over the $700 mark, these budget-friendly SLR cameras still deliver high quality photos and the ability to upgrade lenses.

These cameras are also perfect for the beginner with many featuring on-board user guides to show the way.

We surveyed reviews on Consumer Reports, CNET, Digital Photography Review, and PC Magazine as well as user reviews from Amazon. Here is the round-up for the top rated SLR cameras under $700:

 

Nikon D3100 SLR Camera ($669)

Nikon D3100 SLR Camera

Nikon D3100 SLR Camera

Pros:

  • Very good image quality, especially in low light; 14.2 megapixels
  • User-friendly for beginners, yet versatile for advanced users

Cons:

  • A little slow compared to competition
  • Auto focus in live view mode is sluggish

Top Review Sources:

  • Amazon: Average 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 179 reviews
  • Consumer Reports: Overall score 70 out of 100; Very good image quality, ease of use, and versatility
  • DP Review: Overall score- 72%; highest marks for image quality and design

The Nikon D3100 is a top rated entry level SLR camera. With an on-board guide to walk you through functions, the D3100 would be a good choice for first time SLR camera buyers. It also uses handy in-camera editing. Reviewers rave about the low light image quality. It’s exceptional through ISO 800 and usable up to ISO 3200. Where it’s lacking is in speed compared to its competitors. The Nikon D3100 comes with a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR Nikkor zoom lens and a rechargeable Li-ion battery.

The Nikon D3100 SLR camera is available on Amazon.

 

Canon Rebel XS SLR Camera ($539)

Canon Rebel XS SLR Camera

Canon Rebel XS SLR Camera

Pros:

  • Superior image quality
  • Reasonably-priced SLR
  • User-friendly controls features a “My Menu” for customized use
  • Excellent noise profile

Cons:

  • No spot meter

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: Very good, 3.5 out of 5 stars; “Excellent photo quality for its class”
  • DP Review: “Highly recommended”
  • Amazon: Average 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 306 customer reviews

The Canon Rebel XS is a step below the Canon Rebel XSi, offering a basic set of features in an affordable SLR camera. While reviews generally call into question the design of the camera in terms of ergonomics and a difficult viewfinder, the Canon Rebel XS consistently produces high quality photos using a 10.1 megapixel sensor. It comes with an extensive software package, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens, and a rechargeable Li-ion battery and charger and is compatible with all Canon lenses. The Canon Rebel XS is a solid choice if you’re interested in a dependable camera for picture quality.

The Canon Rebel XS is sold on Amazon.

 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 SLR-Like ($500)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 SLR-Like

Pros:

  • Electronic viewfinder
  • Swivel touch screen LCD display
  • Ergonomic design; smaller than a traditional SLR
  • Fast and accurate auto focus

Cons:

  • Not as good in low light or high ISO as SLRs
  • Not as much control as an SLR

Top Review Sources:

  • Consumer Reports: Their highest rated SLR-like camera with a 75 out of 100, they love the viewfinder
  • DP Review: 72% overall score: “Good for anyone wanting SLR quality and compact camera ease of use”
  • Amazon: Average 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 33 customer reviews

Called a four thirds camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 falls into the SLR-like category of advanced digital cameras. Because it doesn’t have a mirror lens, it is not considered an SLR. Yet it acts and feels like an SLR due to the ability to use interchangeable lenses as well as a large image sensor for SLR-quality photos. Panasonic was the first company to bring this type of camera to market and the G-2 is an upgraded version of their previous models being one of the top rated cameras of it’s kind. Those looking for the full array of manual controls from an SLR will want to look elsewhere, but for those wanting SLR quality pictures from a camera they can still keep in their pocket, then the Panasonic is a versatile option.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 is available on Amazon in bluered, and black.

Pentax K-x SLR Camera ($559)

Pentax K-x SLR Camera

Pentax K-x SLR Camera

Pros:

  • Excellent image quality, especially in low light
  • Fast auto focus
  • Uses 4 AA batteries- some may prefer for replacement while traveling

Cons:

  • Image stabilization is somewhat inconsistent
  • No auto focus points in viewfinder

Top Review Sources:

  • DP Review: Overall score: 73%; “Good for beginners wanting a well-featured DSLR on a tight budget”
  • PCMag: 4 out of 5 stars, very good
  • Amazon: Average 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 86 customer reviews
The Pentax K-x SLR camera caters to the budget friendly while still challenging the more expensive SLRs in image quality, good noise profile, and HD video. The use of the 4 AA batteries may be a deal-breaker for some, while others may find it a plus, especially when your batteries die while you’re out and about, though be sure to use rechargeable batteries. Pentax provides 4 lithium batteries in the box. Pentax also adds a bit of fun to the K-x SLR by offering an array of colors.

The Pentax K-x SLR is available on Amazon in black, white, and red.

 

Nikon D3000 SLR Camera ($538)

Nikon D3000 SLR Camera

Nikon D3000 SLR Camera

Pros:
  • Excellent resolution at low ISO settings
  • Beginner-friendly layout and guide mode
  • Time to first shot is faster than average
  • Saves images in raw format for in-camera editing
Cons:
  • No live view
  • No exposure bracketing
Top Review Sources:
  • Consumer Reports: Overall score of 60 out of 100; “Performs very well with quick response time”
  • DP Review: 72%; Highly recommended
  • Amazon: Average 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 230 customer reviews
The Nikon D3000 is the perfect SLR newbie camera for those who don’t want to be overwhelmed by features, but want a user-friendly introduction to photography in a step up from a point-and-shoot. You won’t find video capability here, though the on-board editing features does include the ability to create stop-motion movies. Most user reviews commented on the easy-to-use guides that walk the user through the process. It comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR Nikkor zoom lens.

The Nikon D3000 is available on Amazon.

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