7 Great Enthusiast DSLRs for 2019 and Beyond


Experienced photographers usually stick with what works, and that’s why so many enthusiasts and working pros still opt for traditional DSLRs with reflex mirrors and optical viewfinders. Peruse the impressive specs of the seven cameras we’ve detailed below and you’ll see why. All of them deliver a full complement of advanced, cutting-edge, often unique features along with awesome real-world performance, and all of them accept the full complement of legacy lenses in the typical serious shooter’s arsenal. In addition, their robust, ergonomically contoured, well-balanced, weather-resistant bodies look, handle, and feel like “real cameras” with conveniently placed traditional controls. Indeed, today’s top DSLRs represent the logical evolution of the DSLR and are classic examples of successful adaptation to a rapidly changing environment. The happy result: a superb group of cameras that’s as good as any in the world and, therefore, belong on every serious shooter’s short list.

Nikon D850: Many serious photographers, pros, and reviewers place this impressive upgrade of the popular Nikon D810 at the top of the enthusiast DSLR category. It’s the first of the breed to integrate a full-frame 45.7MP back side-illuminated (BSI) sensor and omit the optical low-pass filter for enhanced image quality. There is also a cutting-edge EXPEED 5 Image Processor to handle all that raw data. That high-spec combo delivers a full-res burst rate of 7 fps that can capture up to 51 compressed, lossless 14-bit raw files with full AE and AF. Sensitivity settings are extendable to ISO 102400, and it offers UHD 4K video recording at 30, 25, and 24 fps in full-frame or DX crop-sensor framing. Other key features are a Multi-CAM 20k 153-point AF system with a choice of 24-, 72- and 153-point Dynamic-Area AF zones and fine-focus-tuning capability, 8K Time-Lapse mode, a 3.2-inch 2.36m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD, a 180k-pixel RGB sensor, a Negative Digitizer for optimized conversion of film negatives and slide images to hi-res digital files, and a Focus Shift Mode that allows sophisticated shooting for creating focus stacks in post. The D850 also provides full Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth. It’s all built into a robust, dustproof, weatherproof body with a magnesium-alloy chassis.

Nikon D850 DSLR Camera

Nikon D750: Sliding neatly in between the established Nikon D610 and D850 in Nikon’s enthusiast/pro full-frame DSLR lineup, the D750 has proven that it has what it takes to establish itself as a contender in this highly competitive category. Based on a full-frame 24.3 MP FX-format CMOS sensor coupled to an advanced EXPEED 4 Image Processor, it delivers continuous full-res bursts up to 6.5 fps, Full HD 1080p video recording at 60 fps, and a native ISO of 12800 with settings extended to ISO 51200. It also provides a big 3.2-inch 1,229k-dot RGBW Tilting LCD monitor, Multi-CAM 3500FX II 51-point AF sensor for fast, precise autofocus with a wide variety of subjects, a 91k-pixel RGB exposure sensor for enhanced metering precision, and Group Area AF enabling superior focus tracking with fast-moving subjects. Solid and robust, the D750 has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for easy sharing and remote operation with enabled devices, and provides Time-Lapse Shooting and Exposure Smoothing functions for expanded in-camera creative opportunities.

Nikon D750 DSLR Camera

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV: The latest iteration of Canon’s hugely successful EOS 5D series DSLRs relied on by countless pros and serious enthusiasts, the Mark IV delivers exceptional image quality and fine detail, thanks to its 30.4MP full-frame CMOS image sensor mated to Canon’s state-of-the-art DIGIC 6+ Image Processor. This high-spec combo provides DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) video capture at 30 fps plus 8.8MP Still Grabs, a native ISO of 32000 that’s extendable to ISO 102400, and enables full-res bursts at up to 7 fps with images storable on CF and SD cards. Other features are a 61-point High Density Reticular AF system with an AF Area select button, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, Movie Servo AF options, and Dual Pixel RAW that allows users to fine-tune image parameters including bokeh shift and micro focus adjustment after the picture is taken. The Mark IV also has a Clear View II 3.2-inch, 1.62m-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor to complement its bright pentaprism-type eye-level optical viewfinder, and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC and GPS. Its robust, durable, body has enhanced ergonomics that include a front-mounted N3 remote port, upgraded weather resistance, and a new Mirror Vibration Control System to maximize sharpness in handheld exposures at slow shutter speeds.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera

Pentax K-1 Mark II: Pentax’s latest top-of-the-line full-frame K-mount DSLR offers noticeably upgraded image processing and imaging capabilities compared to the previous K-1. It incorporates a hi-res 36.4MP CMOS sensor and a PRIME IV Image Processor to capture detailed low-noise images at sensitivity settings up to ISO 819200, delivers a full-res burst rate of 4.4 fps, and incorporates an AA Filter Simulator that minimizes moiré patterns but omits the standard anti-aliasing filter to ensure the sharpest possible image capture. Its advanced wide-pattern SAFOX 12 AF- sensor covers nearly the entire full-frame area and has 33 AF points including 25 cross pattern and three f/2.8-luminance points that can operate in light down to an impressive -3 EV. It also incorporates a unique 3.2-inch cross-tilt LCD monitor that can tilt upward 90 degrees, downward 44 degrees, and 35 degrees laterally. Other features are dual SD card slots, Full HD 1080p video capability at 30 fps in full-frame or APS-C crop modes, and a built in 5-axis shake reduction system that provides up to a 5-stop advantage in minimizing the effects of handheld camera shake, and now enables Pixel Shift II that merges sequential frames to achieve greater resolution and color detail. The Mark II retains built-in Wi-Fi, GPS with AstroTracer function to minimize star trails during long exposures, and LED-illuminated body points on the lens mount, card slots, the back of the LCD, and at the cable switch, to facilitate low light operation. All this and more are built into a robust body with a stainless-steel chassis and magnesium-alloy outer shell that’s weather sealed in 87 places and designed to operate in temperatures down to 14 degrees F.

Pentax K-1 Mark II DSLR Camera

Canon EOS 6D Mark II: This significantly upgraded full-frame model appeals to a broad spectrum of serious enthusiasts and emerging pros because it delivers “the Canon EOS 5D experience” at an attractive price. It sports a new 26.2 MP full-frame CMOS sensor coupled to a state-of-the-art DIGIC 7 Image Processor, a 3.0-inch 1.04m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD, a revised 45-zom AF all-cross-sensor AF system, a 97% view all-glass pentaprism viewfinder, and it delivers an impressive 6.5 fps maximum burst rate. It also provides built-in Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth connectivity with NFC, Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Movie Servo AF, Full HD 1080p video capture at 60 fps, built in Time Lapse and HDR, 14-bit A/D conversion, in-camera RAW processing and JPEG conversion, and sensitivity settings expandable to ISO 102,400. It’s all built into a robust dust- and weather-resistant body. Its performance will delight the legions of pro and serious enthusiast Canon shooters looking for a great deal on an advanced full-frame DSLR.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR Camera

Nikon D7500: Offering top-of-the line performance in a sleek, compact, ergonomically contoured package, this popular enthusiast-aimed DSLR incorporates many key features of the very successful Nikon D500 in an attractively priced weather-resistant body. These features include the same 20.9 MP DX-format CMOS sensor (that omits the optical low-pass filter to enhance resolution) integrated with an advanced EXPEED 5 processing engine. This combo delivers a maximum full-res burst rate up to 8 fps with full AE and AF, and a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-51200 that’s expandable to an impressive ISO 1,640,000. Its robust multimedia capabilities include 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video recording at 30 fps, and the ability to produce 4K UHD time-lapse movies in camera. Its impressive still and video performance are enhanced with a 51-point, 15 cross-field sensor AF system that delivers outstanding AF speed and accuracy, a slim-line tilting 3.2inch 922k-dot Touchscreen LCD, and a convenient new Auto Picture Control system. Other advanced features are built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and the same 180k-pixel RGB sensor as the D500 to detect faces and improve AF performance.

Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera

Sony Alpha a99 II: This is the latest, impressively upgraded, pro-caliber successor to the original fixed translucent mirror Alpha 99 (Sony calls it a DSLT) and it’s the new flagship of the Alpha line. It incorporates a 42MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor that delivers 14-Bit RAW output, coupled to an advanced BIONZ X image processor with a front-end LSI. The innovative cutting-edge system is said to improve the throughput speed of the entire imaging system dramatically, enabling continuous full-res shooting at up to 12 fps with AF and AE, sensitivity settings up to ISO 102400, and internal UHD 4K video capture at 30 and 24 fps in XAVC S format with S-Log3 Gamma and Custom settings. The a99 II also features a Hybrid Phase Detection AF system combining 79 Hybrid Cross AF points that provide both phase- and contrast-detect AF, and a 399-point focal-plane AF system located on the image sensor. It also incorporates 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization said to provide a 4.5-stop anti-shake-effect advantage in handheld shooting, a 0.5-inch 2.36M-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF, a 3.0-inch 1228.8k-Dot Tilting LCD monitor, and built-in Wi-Fi with NFC, and offers S&Q Motion in Full HD from 1-120 fps. Sony’s one-of-a-kind flagship uses robust, lightweight magnesium alloy for the top and rear covers and chassis, and features full weather sealing. Like mirrorless cameras, the a99 II’s Translucent Mirror Technology design delivers full-time AF before, during and after the exposure, especially important when shooting HD movies or high-speed of action.

Sony Alpha a99 II DSLR Camera

Do you have a favorite or workhorse DSLR you rely on? Let us know in the Comments section, below!