This post has been updated to reflect more recent Canon DSLR camera recommendations.
A lot has changed since the original release of this post in 2016. Mirrorless really took over the scene, but we wanted to check in on the state of Canon DSLR cameras for 2022 to make some updated recommendations. Many still prefer the feel and operation of DSLRs over mirrorless cameras. Perhaps you have a heavy investment in lenses and want to stick to EF mount systems. Canon has announced they will not be creating successors for their flagship models. However, the DSLRs they have out now are still very popular and good choices for many shooters. Read on to learn about them.
#1 Canon 5D Mark IV: The Best All-Around Canon DSLR
The Canon 5D Mark IV is a powerhouse suitable for just about every kind of shooter there is: fast enough for some action/wildlife situations, a great upgrade for portrait and landscape shooters, and a robust, approachable system for videography. The 30.4MP is enough for most portrait needs while the 7 FPS shooting speed is quick enough to cover your basic events, like weddings and parties (though it may be too slow for wildlife and sports shooters). The 3.2″ touchscreen is nice but in a fixed position. The card slots are feeling a bit dated, accepting one CF card and one UHS-I SD card. Most would prefer UHS-II or CFexpress but if you are already invested in some sizable CF cards from prior models, this might be a bonus to you.
Overall, the ISO is good, it shoots 4K, and offers a good amount of ports (microphone, headphones, PC Sync In – but does not offer full size HDMI, just Mini HDMI). It has Movie Servo AF and Dual Pixel CMOS AF but no IBIS. If you loved the form factor and layout of the 5D Mark III then your only real upgrade option is the 5D Mark IV unless you want to make the jump to mirrorless. There are pro shooters still using their 5D Mark IIIs on gigs – or at the very least as backup cameras – so the Mark IV is still a viable option, even in the face of the much-flashier EOS R lineup.
#2 Canon 1D X Mark III: The Best Canon DSLR for Video and High-Speed Photograpy
The Canon 1D X Mark III is Canon’s last flagship DSLR. Fortunately, it was set up for staying power, thanks to a cutting-edge image processor that is 380x faster than the Canon 1D X Mark II and processes imagery 3x quicker (and the 1D X Mark II was no slouch to begin with). Sports shooters will enjoy continuous shooting speeds up to 16 FPS with the viewfinder and up to 20 FPS in Live View mode with both AF and AE tracking. Causal videographers will appreciate Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 3,869 manually-selectable AF positions that are complemented by a sophisticated Touch AF system for intuitive rack focusing. More serious videographers will get a lot of mileage out of 5.5K raw out. This camera also rocks the same electronic stabilization system as the Canon EOS R. Overall, in the Canon DSLR world you can’t do better than the 1D X Mark III.
#3 Canon 90D: The Best Budget Canon DSLR
The Canon 90D is kind of like the crop sensor version of the 5D Mark IV. It offers a 32.5MP APS-C (1.6x crop) sensor, UHD 4K recording, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and 11 FPS shooting speed. The ISO is decent and is equipped with a UHS-II SD slot. The touchscreen is fully articulating. The 90D is the perfect all-around camera for anyone not married to owning a full frame sensor. It is suitable for a wide range of subjects but is particularly ideal for travel, vlogging, multimedia projects, and simple everyday shooting.
#4 Canon Rebel T8i: The Best Travel Canon DSLR
The Canon Rebel T8i is very similar to the 90D but just less souped up. It’s a bit slower (7.5 FPS vs 11 FPS), offers only UHS-I SD slot (slower write speeds, smaller buffer), and overall offers smaller file sizes. But it’s incredibly travel-friendly, is equipped with vlogger-friendly vertical video (the first Canon DSLR to offer it), records UHD 4K, has Movie Servo AF and Movie Digital IS, and sports an articulating touchscreen. The T8i has a simple layout and is a very approachable system for any new shooter.
Picking the best DSLR from the Canon lineup can be a challenge and things get even trickier when the industry is very strongly trying to convince you to go mirrorless. While we love our new mirrorless offerings, there are a lot of reasons to maybe stick with DSLR. By and large, the battery life is good (no EVF to have to power). Composing on a pentaprism/pentamirror is more natural for some – it’s hard to beat having the light essentially directly reflected to your eye, especially when shooting low-key-lighting scenes. Lastly, the Canon EF mount ecosystem has a long history – so you just have a massive selection of native lenses to choose from vs the RF mount counterpart. Of course there are adapters, but those have their own drawbacks.
As everyone shifts to mirrorless, you may enjoy some of the resale pricing of DSLR gear. Be sure to check out our used gear selection and the big sale we have coming up on March 14th, 2022 (If you missed the sale by the time you see this, don’t worry – we offer sales every season!).
Whatever your photography goals are, the perfect camera is out there for you. We hope that this guide made finding your next camera a little bit easier!