Best digital SLRs under AU$2000

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

You can get a brand new digital SLR for under AU$1000, but if your wallet is a bit healthier, there are plenty of models available.

Nikon D90

(Credit: Nikon)

Looking to make your photography more than just a casual hobby? If so, spending more on a digital SLR generally means you'll get better shooting performance and more features than with an entry-level model.

Generally, these mid-range SLRs have sturdier bodies and more features than their less-expensive counterparts. Some cameras, such as the Pentax K3, even come with weather sealing, which ensures your gear survives the great outdoors.

APS-C or full frame?

One of the most important decisions you will have to make when choosing an SLR in this price range is the sensor size. Are you ready to step up to the world of full-frame photography, or is APS-C just right for you?

The key difference between APS-C and full-frame (sometimes referred to as 35mm format) sensors is their physical size, indicated in the diagram below. APS-C sensors are smaller, resulting in smaller and cheaper SLRs. However, crop factor is an issue with APS-C sensors, which you can read all about in our digital SLR basics article.

(Credit: CBSi)

Full-frame sensors can gather more light because they are physically larger than their APS-C counterparts. This makes them better for low-light work, as full-frame cameras generally exhibit less noise at higher ISO levels. There are also advantages in situations where you don't want to encounter crop factor.

APS-C sensors do have a couple of key advantages over full frame, though: cameras with these smaller sensors can generally shoot faster than their full-frame counterparts, so they are ideal for sports. You can also use the crop factor to your advantage to increase the effective focal length of a lens.

It is possible to spend less than AU$2000 on a camera with a full-frame sensor, but you will usually only be able to get the body only for under this target than with a lens included. An important factor to bear in mind if you are upgrading from an APS-C SLR to full frame is lens compatibility. On Nikon cameras, the F-mount is cross-compatible between bodies, so they will work without any issue.

For Canon, full-frame cameras, such as the 6D, can only accept EF lenses — not EF-S lenses that are usually reserved for the APS-C sensor range. So if you want to make the jump to Canon's full-frame range, you will need to invest in new lenses as well.

Cameras with APS-C sensors in this list include the Nikon D7100 and Canon 70D, while full-frame sensors are found on models like the Nikon D600 and Canon 6D.

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Will1505 posted a comment   

At a stretch, the D610 is generally only about $150 more than the D600. Also keep in mind, the D600 refurbished from Nikon will have the oil spot issue fixed )like the D610).

Maybe even the D5300 instead of the D7000 on this list as well.


Lexy Savvides posted a reply   

Good point, I have just reviewed the D5300 it today so it will be added to the list!


KristiM posted a comment   

I have a Canon EOS 300 - can I use the lens on a Nikon body??
I am really over film as it is not helping me improve and want to upgrade...


micky posted a reply   

no-canon and nikon lens cannot be used on each. you may find a connector on ebay however that converts,Film is still the best quality but digital so much easier.


anysia posted a comment   

I am not saying that Canon or Nikon are bad cameras, but I find that it's not so much what brand of camera used, as much as the photographer behind it. I have gotten excellent results with a Pentax Optio SV, a Lumix DMC-F30 and a Canon 300D. Yes, if you buy a really low end point and shoot, you get what you pay for.


scatrd posted a comment   

If you are in the position of looking a DSLR's and think you may take it to a higher level then you need to keep in mind that your lenses (or future lenses) can be used on the next upgrade. Should this be even a remote possibility then you are better off sticking with either a Nikon or Canon. Just look at what the pros use.

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