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In this report

Beginner-friendly DSLRs with more advanced features

Once you learn the basics of photography, you might crave a faster, more sophisticated camera. That's where step-up entry-level DSLRs come in. They're easy enough for a beginner to master but advanced enough that you won't outgrow the camera quickly, all for $1,000 or less.

The 18 megapixel Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (Est. $750 with kit lens) wins the awards in this category. It sits on the boundary between beginner cameras and step-up models, boasting easy-to-use features and offering good direction for novice DSLR photographers. We include it here since reviewers say the Rebel SL1 is also suitable for more experienced DSLR users. Some experts identify the Rebel SL1 as Canon's revolutionary answer to consumers' demand for smaller and lighter DSLR cameras without skimping on controls and features, and without compromising image quality.

In close competition is the Pentax K-5 II (Est. $925 (with kit lens)) and its sibling, the K-5 IIs (Est. $1,200 with kit lens) . Although the K-5 II has less resolution than the Canon EOS Rebel SL1, reviewers say it has a great autofocus system and note that you can record video in both HD and VGA. With a continuous shooting speed of 7 fps, the K-5 II is faster than other cameras in its class.

If you're looking for a higher-resolution step-up camera, the Nikon D5300 (Est. $1000 (with kit lens)) offers 24 megapixels that are usually found only on more expensive cameras. The D5300 is at the more advanced end of the step-up range, with several external controls to learn as well as an extensive selection of creative effects and scene modes. This camera excels at video recording, and you'll appreciate the built-in Wi-Fi and GPS functions if you travel a great deal. At 3.2 inches, its articulated LCD screen is larger than those of the other two cameras named here, making it easier to see what you're shooting.

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Canon EOS Rebel SL1 18.0 MP CMOS Digital SLR with EF-S 18-55mm IS STM Lens
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New: $749.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Pentax K-5 II 16.3 MP DSLR DA 18-135mm WR lens kit (Black)
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New: $1,449.95 $991.12   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens (Black)
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New: $1,299.95 $1,046.95   
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Average Customer Review:  
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Pentax K-5 IIs 16.3 MP DSLR Camera with Pentax DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC Lens Kit
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New: $1,599.99 $999.99   
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Average Customer Review:  

Digital SLR Cameras Runners Up:

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Est. $3,400 (body only)

6 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Pentax K-50 Est. $610 (with kit lens)

5 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Canon EOS 70D Est. $1050 (body only)

4 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Pentax K-5 II Est. $925 (with kit lens)

4 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D5100 Est. $480 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Sony Alpha A77 Est. $1,050 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D600 Est. $1500 (body only)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Canon EOS Rebel T5i Est. $650 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D5300 Est. $1000 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D610 Est. $1700 (body only)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Pentax K-3 Est. $1450 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Sony Alpha A58 Est. $450 (with kit lens)

3 picks including: DPReview.com, CNET…

Canon EOS 60D Est. $1,100 (with kit lens)

2 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D3100 Est. $400 (with kit lens)

2 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Nikon D7000 Est. $1,000 (with kit lens)

2 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Canon EOS Rebel T3i Est. $695 (with kit lens)

1 pick including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Canon EOS Rebel T3 Est. $495 (with kit lens)

1 pick including: Amazon.com, CNET…

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Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame CMOS Digital SLR Camera with EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens
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New: $3,999.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Pentax K-50 16MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with DA L 18-55mm WR f3.5-5.6 Lens (Black)
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New: $779.95 $525.89   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Canon EOS 70D 20.2 MP Digital SLR Camera with Dual Pixel CMOS AF (Body Only)
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New: $1,199.00 $1,099.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Pentax K-5 II 16.3 MP DSLR DA 18-135mm WR lens kit (Black)
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New: $1,449.95 $1,000.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Nikon D5100 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens (OLD MODEL)
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New: $649.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Translucent Mirror Digital SLR Camera with 18-135mm Lens
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New: $1,399.99   
Average Customer Review:  
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Nikon D600 24.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) (OLD MODEL)
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New: $1,899.95 $1,549.09   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Canon Rebel T5i Digital SLR Camera and 18-55mm EF-S IS STM Lens Kit
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New: $849.00 $749.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens (Black)
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from Amazon.com
New: $1,299.95 $1,046.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Nikon D610 24.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)
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New: $1,999.95 $1,896.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Pentax K-3 lens kit w/ 18-135mm WR 24MP SLR Camera with 3.2-Inch TFT LCD and 18-135mm WR f 3.5-5.6 (Black)
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New: $1,649.95 $1,310.19   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Sony SLT-A58K Digital SLR Kit with 18-55mm Zoom Lens, 20.1MP SLR Camera with 2.7 -Inch LCD Screen (Black)
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New: $599.99 $448.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens (OLD MODEL)
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New: $429.95 $380.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (DISCONTINUED)
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New: $599.00 $528.49   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

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