Beginner cameras can help you learn to use a digital SLR without breaking your budget. But these aren't stripped-down models. They offer most of the same features as pricier cameras, and experts say they'll deliver equally outstanding photos for your albums and frames. The three cameras in this section earn almost identical high ratings and glowing reviews.
The Nikon D3200 (Est. $530 with kit lens) just edges out the other beginner DSLRs with one marquee feature. Its outrageously high 24.2 megapixels -- rivals top out around 20 -- capture tinier details in your photos and HD videos. Still, those extra megapixels force some compromises including dim-light sensitivity, so lower-resolution competitors take fairly comparable photos in tests. Experts say the D3200 is a "DSLR with training wheels," making it great for novice photographers.
The Pentax K-50 (Est. $610 (with kit lens)) is the Nikon D3200's main rival. With similar photo quality, the K-50 is ideal if you shoot in rugged outdoor conditions; its weather-sealed body is good to minus-10 degrees C. The K-50 shoots at a faster continuous rate than the Nikon D3200, at 6 fps compared to 4 fps. Unique among DSLR cameras that are usually just black, the Pentax K-50 is customizable in 120 color combinations for the body and grip if you purchase it with the kit lens online from Ricoh.
Competing with both of these cameras is the Canon EOS Rebel T5i (Est. $650 (with kit lens)) , which replaces the highly reviewed and well-loved but now discontinued EOS Rebel T4. Unlike the fixed LCD panels of the Nikon D3200 and Pentax K-50, the Rebel T5i's LCD is an articulated touch screen, which was introduced in the Rebel T4. This allows you to shoot at creative, and sometimes crazy, angles. The T5i has a resolution of 18 megapixels, less than either of our other two beginner cameras, but reviewers rave about its video capabilities. Novices can take a product tour of the T5i's features, especially its well-reviewed Creative Effects.