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

DSLRs offer great performance and ultimate control over your imagery. These camera have traditionally been the most expensive cameras on the market, but times have changed and so has the manufacturing and distribution of cameras. Many companies are now offering less expensive versions of these workhorse DSLRs. 

DSLR cameras are more affordable and more popular 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 released DSLR cameras that are affordable to the budding amateur photographer. Check our top picks this season for DSLR cameras to fit a budget of under $1,000.

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 Pentax K-5 II or K-5 IIs


The Pentax K-5 II(s) made it into this category based only on price, not on functionality. In fact, when comparing this camera to others with similar specs, it should be compared to higher-end DSLRs. It offers all the benefits of top performing DSLRs, but for a fraction of the cost.

Both serious photographers and amateurs will find great value with the Pentax K-5 II or K-5 IIs. So what's the difference between the two? The K-5 IIs does not have an AA filter which should leads to slightly sharper image quality. Either camera is a great choice for photographers looking for a great camera on a budget. The Pentax K-5 II (body only) can be purchased for as little as $750. And the K-5 IIs can be found for just under $1000. 

Rating Average: 9 out of 10

Read the Pentax K-5 II Review

#2 Nikon D5200


The Nikon D5200 was announced in January 2013. Jumping up to 24.1-megapixels of resolution (from 16.2MP on the D5100), the D5200 gives mid level DSLR users a lot to love. It offers ISO range, good image quality, 5 fps continuous shooting and Full 1080p HD Movies.

The Nikon D5200 can be used to create high quality images for the amateur and budding photographer alike. The $800 price tag for the body only makes it a budget friendly addition to your camera bag. 

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Nikon D5200 Review

#3 Canon EOS Rebel T5i


The Canon Rebel EOS T5i was announced in March with only slight upgrades to the Canon T4i and Canon T3i to became the company's flagship Rebel model. With a retail price for a mere $650 for the body only, this compact DSLR is affordable and easy to use. The T5i boasts a 18.0MP CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 5 Image Processor. 

Want to save a few more dollars? Check out the Canon T4i for only $550 or the T3i for $500. The differences between these cameras are pretty slim, so it might be worth saving some money and picking up an older model. The Canon T5i is great for those new to DSLRs.

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Canon EOS Rebel T5i Review

#4 Pentax K-50


Talk about a camera fashionista. The K-50 comes in 120 different color combinations. 

The Pentax K-50 is the successor to the K-30. It features a 16.3 megapixel resolution sensor, 11 point autofocus system, 3 inch LCD monitor, maximum shutter speed of 1/6000 of a second, and a continuous shooting rate of up to 6 frames per second. It also has full 1080 HD video and in-body image stabilization. Purchasing this camera with the 18-55mm and 50-200mm kit lenses will set you back only $800. I also found the K-50 for only $620 body only. That's a great deal--especially if you already own some Pentax lenses!

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Pentax K-50 Review

#5 Canon EOS Rebel SL1


Back in March Canon announced the super compact SL1 DSLR camera.

Targeted to new DSLR users, the SL1 is designed to be as easy to use as a point and shoot camera, but with the expanded functionality of a DSLR. The SL1 is capable of shooting Full HD 1080p video. Audio is recorded through a mono audio mic, but users also have access to a mic terminal located on the left side of the camera. The SL1 has a 3-inch fixed LCD touch screen. A mode dial is located on the top left side of the camera. This allows users to easily change shooting modes without having to access them through the menu. That being said, though, one of the key features of the SL1 is the intuitive, easy-to-use menu. The camera is currently being offered body only for $550 or $700 with the 18-55mm kit lens.

Rating Average: 7 out of 10 (initial reaction)

Read the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Hands-on Preview

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