Expert Recommendation

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Best Digital SLR Camera Overall Under $1500
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 26, 2010 Updated: November 4, 2010
Overview

With all of the jockeying for position as the top DSLR on the market, Canon reached out to the very photographers who are making the purchasing decisions and asked them what they would like to see in their next camera. They asked the right questions and listened carefully to over 5000 responses. Then they went ahead and built it. As a result, I choose the Canon EOS 7D as the Best In Class Canon digital SLR overall.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon EOS 7D (Body Only)

When Canon decided to redesign their latest EOS DSLR, the 7D, they first got feedback from over 5000 photographers to guide them in the process.

What emerged from that exercise is one of the finest, and most customizable, DSLR cameras available on the market today. With innovative new features and tweaks to existing ones, the 7D was designed to make your personal shooting experience a simple and satisfying one.

Starting with an 18MP high end APS-C CMOS sensor, Dual DIGIC 4 processors and an ISO range that goes all the way up to 12800, you have the power to print large, shoot quickly and capture sharp, quality images in the most difficult of lighting situations. The 7D boasts a shooting speed of 8fps in continuous mode and full HD video with a quick one-touch activation plus the freedom to set exposure and frame rates. And to make your framing and tracking duties easier, use the all new viewfinder with 1.0x magnification and 100% coverage.

Not only has the 7D been designed to be both ergonomically and asthetically pleasing to work with and to handle, but inside you will find the tools to make your images equally pleasing for you and your viewers. Sharp images are accomplished routinely with the help of a high performance 19 point cross-type AF, Spot AF or Zoom AF. And for true color renditions of your subjects, the Focus Color Luminance metering system (iFCL) uses 63 separate zones to measure those all-important factors of any good photograph; focus, color and luminance.

And for better control during your picture taking experience, the 7D offers a 3” Clear View II LCD screen that combats glare so you can view your images and settings in bright surroundings thanks to an ambient light sensor that can set brightness automatically depending on whatever environment you happen to be shooting in.

Transmitting your images or controlling the camera via a web browser is a possibility for serious photographers who want to ramp up their creativity and delivery by adding the WFT-E5a Wireless File Transmitter.

Comparison with Canon EOS 60D (with 18-135mm IS Lens)

Sharing a lot of the same attributes as the 7D, the 60D should be considered as a cheaper option without losing a lot of functionality. But for the serious photography who likes speed, focal accuracy and a sturdy and ergonomic body, the 7D has been designed to lead the way in convenience and quality.

Pros
  • +
    Dual Digic 4
  • +
    1.0x LCD Magnification
  • +
    63 Zone Metering system
  • +
    Auto Lighting Optimizer
  • +
    Live View
Canon EOS 7D (Body Only) is the Best Digital SLR Camera Overall Under $1500
Where to buy
Canon EOS 7D (Body Only)
  • Best Price: $1579
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Canon WFT-E5A Wireless File Transmitter for Canon 7D Digital SLR Camera
    $638.24 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Resolution: 18.0MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Canon EOS 7D (Body Only)
2
Canon EOS 60D (with 18-135mm IS Lens)
3
Canon EOS Rebel T2i (Body Only)
Customer Rating
Price $1579.00 $1199.00 $549.00
Body Material Magnesium alloy Aluminium and polycarbonate resin with glass fibre Stainless steel, Fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate resin
?
Sensor Size
22.3 x 14.9 mm 22.3 x 14.9 mm 22.3 x 14.9 mm
Anti-Dust Available Yes Yes Yes
HD Video Available Yes Yes Yes
Video Sound Available Yes Yes Yes
Max ISO Setting 12800 12800 12800
Exposure Compensation +/- 5.0 EV +/- 5.0 EV +/- 5.0 EV
?
LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 3.0 in. 3.0 in.
Storage Media CompactFlash Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Max Shooting Speed (burst) 8.0 frames/sec 5.3 frames/sec 3.6 frames/sec
2
Canon EOS 60D (with 18-135mm IS Lens)

For a DSLR that allows you to be creative while shooting excellent quality still images at 5.3fps and 1920x1080p HD video, the first place you should look is Canon. Building off of the success of its predecessor, the EOS 50D, the Canon EOS 60D is a less expensive and lighter-weight version of another great model released recently, the 7D.

Built with asthetics and ergonomics in mind, the 60D has a plastic body shell, a Live View 3” LCD screen with 1040k resolution that swivels and an electronic level to help you center some of those more creative, and awkward, camera angles. Also containing an 18 Megapixel APS-C sensor, a DIGIC 4 processor and an ISO range of 100-6400 that is extendable to 12800, the 60D is a powerful camera with the smarts to make every one of your images look professional.

Take advantage of some of the creative features like the Basic+ functions, Basic+ enhancements and Basic+ auto modes or choose from a selection of creative filters like Grainy B/W, Soft Focus, Toy Camera Effect and Miniature Effect. All of these features are available during post-production right in the camera for versatility and added fun.

For the budding movie maker, the 60D gives you many creative controls such as user-selectable frame rates, a crop mode and full manual controls that let you choose your own focus settings and exposures. For sharing your videos there is an integrated HDMI port, allowing video and images to be viewed on any compatible HD-ready TV. And the 60D holds the image hungry SDXC memory card so you can keep shooting without having to be constantly changing cards.

Pros
  • +
    Swivel LCD
  • +
    Live View
  • +
    Creative Filters
  • +
    Electronic Level
Cons
  • -
    Video noisy at high ISO
Canon EOS 60D (with 18-135mm IS Lens) is one of the Best Digital SLR Cameras Overall Under $1500
Where to buy
Canon EOS 60D (with 18-135mm IS Lens)
  • Best Price: $1199
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 7.4x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 29mm (21% wider)
  • Resolution: 18.0MP
More
3
Canon EOS Rebel T2i (Body Only)

For those who are only now making the move to a DSLR, your timing couldn’t have been better. With all of the competition from other camera manufacturers, Canon has upped the ante with the T2i (550D), an entry level camera with some of the same features as the more expensive prosumer models.

Sporting an astounding 18mp CMOS sensor, a 3” LCD screen with 1040k dot resolution and the 63-point iFCL metering system of it’s older sibling, the 7D, this camera is a steal. Take the money you saved and use it for quality lenses that will make the most of the T2i’s features.

For an added bonus, the T2i shoots excellent video at 1080p HD with full manual control and selectable frame rates of 30, 25 and 24fps. Or choose to shoot at 720p at 60 and 50fps. You can choose to use Canon’s first movie crop function to move in almost 7x for far away scenes you don’t want to miss due to lens restrictions. There is also a 3.5mm stereo microphone socket for an external microphone (not provided).

With DIGIC 4 expect to get 3.7fps of continuous shooting while taking advantage of the 9 point AF system and ISO setting as high as 6400 (expandable to 12800) for great speed and quality images.

Pros
  • +
    Excellent camera for beginners
  • +
    Lightweight
  • +
    Priced right
Cons
  • -
    No video auto focus while zooming
  • -
    Body may be too small for those used to larger SLR's
Canon EOS Rebel T2i (Body Only) is one of the Best Digital SLR Cameras Overall Under $1500
Where to buy
Canon EOS Rebel T2i (Body Only)
  • Best Price: $549
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 29mm (21% wider)
  • Resolution: 18.0MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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