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Holiday Guide: Best DSLR Cameras of 2013
by Laura Hicks -  11/12/2013

High-end DSLRs typically offer the best overall performance and control a photographer can ask for. But that level of functionality usually comes at a higher price. These cameras use mirrored through-the-lens viewing systems (though some offer Live View shooting through the LCD), and feature interchangeable lenses.

Always known as the workhorse of the photography world, DSLR cameras have become increasingly more available than ever before. This has created a new brand of buyers called "prosumers." These buyers are looking for a camera with maximum flexibility, creativity and rugged design. In a class of cameras that has generally been reserved for the professional photographer, all of the major manufacturers have now released DSLR cameras that are suited for use from the budding photographer to the creative professional. Check our picks this season's top performing DSLR cameras.

If you don't see the perfect camera in the list we've provided, be sure to seek out buying advice in our "What Camera Should I Buy?" discussion forum. Our forum members, moderators, and staff will graciously offer their insight in helping you pick the best camera for you.


#1 Canon EOS 5D Mark III


The Canon EOS 5D Mark III has been a fan favorite amongst creative professionals for well over a year now. It offers all the benefits of the Mark II along with some notable AF and speed improvements.

As a serious professional photographer, there is so much to love about the Mark III. Canon pulled out all the stops for this full-frame DSLR. This supercharged camera has the ability to produce amazing images with its 22.1MP CMOS sensor. With the ability to produce beautiful HD quality video, the only thing standing in your way might be the $3,400 price tag.

Rating Average: 9 out of 10

Read the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Review

#2 Nikon D800


Nikon introduces the D800 as the highest megapixel DSLR in their lineup. With an unheard of 36.3MP FX-format CMOS sensor, we are surprised the pixels aren't falling off the sensor. Speaking of sensors, Nikon has unleashed a newly designed sensor for the D800. It promises to have great dynamic range and extraordinary color sensitivity. Priced at a mere $2800, this camera makes us wonder if medium format digital camera companies are getting a little worried.

Thinking about the D800, but the camera seems a bit much for your needs? Check out the Nikon D600 (new for $1900). It's a great camera as long as you don't pick up one that has dust issues (refurbished for $1500). Want to avoid the dust issue? Try a D610 with a new shutter mechinism for $2,000 instead.  

Rating Average: 9 out of 10

Read the Nikon D800 Review

#3 Pentax K-3


The Pentax K-3 entered the market with little fanfare, but quickly impressed me. In a head-to-head competition against the Nikon D600, the Pentax K-3 outperformed its competition when it came to color quality. Image sharpness of the two cameras was a near match. The Pentax K-3 boasts a 24 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, 8.3 fps continuous shooting, selectable (on/off) anti-aliasing (AA) filter, and dual card slots. The K-3 also features an enhanced video recording including the ability to change from still image to video recording with the flip of a switch to capture full HD movie recording in H.264 format.  

The Pentax K-3 is available for $1300 (body only) just in time for the holiday season.

Rating Average: 9 out of 10 (initial reaction)

Read the Pentax K-3 Comparison (full review in process)

#4 Canon EOS Rebel 70D


The EOS 70D is Canon's latest addition to its midrange DSLR line, targeting "advanced amateur photographers and photo hobbyists". The camera retains an APS-C sensor and 1.62x crop factor like its stable mate 60D; resolution increases an insignificant 2 megapixels to 20. More importantly, the new camera features a Canon DIGIC 5+ image processor and the 3-inch articulating LCD monitor acquires touchscreen functionality. The native ISO range extends an additional stop on the high end from 100 to 12800 and is expandable to 25600. The autofocus system features a new dual pixel CMOS phase detection design that permits continuous AF during video capture, and incorporates 19 focus points instead of 9 on the earlier camera - with all 19 being cross focus, including a high-precision f/2.8 dual cross-type AF center point.

Fantastic video, however, is what the 70D does best. This is the first DSLR at this price point with video quality that will appeal to budding videographers and budget minded independent filmmakers. Purchasing this camera with the 18-55mm IS kit lens retails at only $1100.

Rating Average: 9 out of 10

Read the Canon EOS Rebel 70D Review

#5 Nikon D7100


The D7100 is in many ways Nikon's way of showing that APS-C DSLRs still have a place in the world despite how much the ILC market has grown. The camera boasts  24.1MP sensor, 51 point autofocus system, that can autofocus down to f8, 7fps shooting, a 3.2 inch 1,229K dot LCD, ISO 100-6400 natively, dual SD card storage, and weather sealing.

The D7100 is light and compact--especially when compared to the DSLRs listed above. The camera is great for budding photographers and professionals on a budget. The D7100 has a price tag of $1,150 for the body only.

Rating Average: 9 out of 10

Read the Nikon D7100 Review

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