End of an Era: The Last Great DSLR Cameras to Consider Buying Today

concert photography
DSLR cameras are beginning to disappear, but there are still some fantastic models you can buy and love.

It’s the mid-point of 2020, and we are firmly in the era of Mirrorless cameras. Try as they might, DSLR cameras are waging a war that they will not win, but there are a few DSLR cameras that can give today’s Mirrorless cameras a serious run for their money. In this roundup, we’re going to take a look at the last great DSLR cameras that hit the market and can still do a bang-up job for photographers today.

On stage with Vince Gill. I captured this image with the Canon 6D II at ISO 6400. The file is super clean.

I am still fond of DSLR cameras and I genuinely miss them. I am sure there are many who feel the same, and I am sure that we can now relate to photographers who were so dearly trying to hold onto 35mm film cameras at the start of the digital revolution. If you just aren’t ready to let go of DSLR cameras yet, and you want to get your hands on one last great DSLR camera that will last many years to come, the DSLR cameras listed below are the ones worth a closer look.

Nikon D750

The Nikon D750 is still one of the most popular cameras around for portrait photographers who want a workhorse camera that’s built to take a beating. The Nikon D750 is affordable, the 24.3-Megapixel Full-Frame sensor produces gorgeous images, it has fantastic high ISO performance, it’s ergonomically sound, and it gives photographers access to some genuinely great Nikon F mount lenses. We had nothing but good things to say about this DSLR when we reviewed it. Here are the pros and cons from our review:

Pros

  • Deep grip
  • Intuitive, well laid out control scheme
  • Renders amazing detail and color
  • Clean files at ISO 6400
  • Usable images up to ISO 10000
  • Built-in Wi-Fi transmission
  • Tilting screen

Cons

  • Plastic front plate

Buy now: $1,496.95

Pentax K1 Mk II

gear doesn't matter

Pentax’s K1 II is a fantastic camera, and it has been a true sleeper in the camera market. The Pentax K1 II has incredibly effective IBIS built-in, and features such as a self-leveling sensor, Astrotracer mode, handheld hi-res imaging and a 36-Megapixel Full Frame sensor that produces some of the cleanest images around. On top of all this, the Pentax K1 II is about as tough as you could ever expect a camera to get. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Enough weather sealing to last a lifetime
  • Rock solid build quality
  • Easy to read LCD Screen
  • In Body Image Stabilization / Pixel Shift
  • Gorgeous 100% coverage viewfinder
  • Excellent image quality
  • Dual SD Card slots
  • Great battery life
  • That little light above the lens mount

Cons

  • Only 33 focus points
  • Autofocus system won’t win any races
  • Extremely heavy
  • No touchscreen

Buy now: $1,796.95

Canon 5D Mk IV

DSLR Cameras

The Canon 5D series set the standard for most of the years that DSLR cameras were king, and the Canon 5D IV was, and still is, a camera that many working pros grab when they head out into the field. The 5D Mk IV doesn’t feature the highest megapixel sensor in this roundup, but what it lacked in specs, it made up for in reliability. Canon’s 5D series were revered for there ergonomics and their build quality. Pros in the field trusted this camera to work no matter what, and they were rarely let down. If you want a DSLR that will last years to come, take a closer look at the 5D4. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Ergonomical feel reminds us more of the old 5D Mk II than the Mk III, and we like that.
  • Fantastic autofocus
  • Touchscreen, finally
  • The quiet shutter is nice
  • Weather sealing

Cons

  • Price point

Buy now: $2,499

Pentax K1 MK II
Captured with the Pentax K1 II. If you want a DSLR camera that’s affordable and is great for landscape work, this is the camera for you.

Pro Tip: These older DSLR cameras are all as tough as nails, but if you want them to last for many, many years to come, you still need to look after them. Consider picking up a cheap camera cleaning kit that includes everything you need to keep your camera in tip-top shape, or perhaps a new camera bag that will protect your gear during transit. Cameras represent a huge investment, so do all you can to ensure that they continue to serve you for years.

Nikon D500

DSLR Cameras

Nikon’s D500 is the reigning champ of APS-C DSLR cameras, and this five-year old camera still gives modern Mirrorless APS-C cameras a run for their money. This tough as nails camera was favored by professional sports photographers and wildlife photographers because it simply refused to give up. The 20.9-Megapixel sensor produces images that defy belief, the high ISO performance has to be seen to be believed, and you could take on a pack of wild bears and use the d500 as a weapon thanks to its exceptional build quality. I know many professional sports photographers who still buy these cameras over Mirrorless cameras because it just works flawlessly. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Fast, accurate autofocus
  • A dedicated thumb joystick on the back for changing AF points
  • The new touchscreen is an interesting and welcome addition
  • Integration of Wifi is welcome
  • Top-notch build quality
  • Battery life that refuses to die
  • Such a good camera that we honestly think it’s overkill for a lot of people.

Cons

  • Pretty big and tough to get into some messenger bags

Buy now: $1,496.95

Canon 6D Mk II

DSLR Cameras

The Canon 6D Mk II? Surely there’s some mistake? No, there’s no mistake; the 6D Mk II deserves to be here. There was a lot of shade thrown at this camera when Canon launched it, but it was because of things like a lack of two SD card slots and no 4K video. When it came to stills performance, the 6D II was great thanks to its new 26-Megapixel sensor. Like its older brother, the original 6D, it could boast about its fantastic high ISO performance. This camera is a firm favorite with astrophotographers and those who shoot in low light often, and because it’s a Canon, it’s comfortable to hold and easy to use. If you want a great stills camera and don’t care about video specs, take a look at the Canon 6D II. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Nice feel to the camera body
  • Weather sealing
  • Pretty fair color versatility
  • The flippy LCD screen is a nice touch
  • You can push the shadows quite a bit in post
  • Great battery life
  • Very good high ISO performance; we made a print at 13×17 inches from an ISO 6400 photo
  • Canon’s Touch screen menu continues to be the best on the market
  • Canon’s rendition of skin tones continues to be the best on the market

Cons

  • Autofocus points all towards the center
  • Slower autofocus with Sigma lenses
  • Low light autofocus is accurate but still only as fast as the Canon 5D Mk II’s center focus point was
  • Lower ISOs don’t feel as versatile as the higher ISO settings
  • A single card slot

Buy now: $1,199

Nikon D850

DSLR Cameras

The Nikon D850 is one of the best DSLR cameras ever made. Period. While other manufacturers were forging ahead with Mirrorless, Nikon was continuing to perfect their DSLR bodies, and they came up with the Nikon D850. This Megapixel monster housed a 45.7 Megapixel backside-illuminated sensor that was behind only the aging Canon 5DS and 5DSR when it came to megapixel count, but it trounced the competition when it came to dynamic range and overall performance. It was the first DSLR to score 100 in DXOMark tests, and it still continues to outperform many newer Mirrorless cameras. If you want a battle-ready DSLR camera that will give you exceptional image quality while also building your biceps, the Nikon D850 is the way to go. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Fantastic image quality
  • Built like a tank
  • Buttons that light up
  • The touch screen makes the menu navigation so much better
  • Great color depth and versatility
  • Wifi and Bluetooth
  • Putting the ISO button on the right side of the camera by the grip is the better long term strategy
  • Weather sealing
  • Lots of video options
  • Dual card slots
  • The best viewfinder of any DSLR we’ve used

Cons

  • Slower autofocus than the Nikon D810 in some situations
  • We wish the white balance levels were a bit more adjustable
  • Shocked the dual card slots aren’t both SD

Buy now: $2,996.95

Canon 5Ds

DSLR Cameras

We’re finally starting to see Canon push the boundaries of Mirrorless cameras, but there was a time when they would innovate unlike any other manufacturer out there. Back during this period, we were graced with the high Megapixel Canon EOS 5DS, a 50.6MP DSLR that was the unchallenged, high-resolution, full-frame camera of its era. While 50.6MP might not sound that impressive now, remember that this camera launched back in 2015. If you were a fashion or product photographer that needed to capture as much detail as possible, this was the camera you’d reach for. It was affordable when compared with Medium Format cameras of the time which offered similar resolutions, and it was easier to use. Now, it’s a high megapixel bargain! Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Solid build quality, though heavy
  • Lots of resolution for those who need it
  • Beautiful viewfinder
  • Very deep color versatility
  • Weather resistance
  • Some of the best autofocusing capabilities we’ve seen with a Canon DSLR

Cons

  • Odd menu changes if you’re a veteran Canon user. Micro adjustment isn’t in the same spot anymore
  • Lack of Wifi, but can use EyeFi Cards
  • Still can only do second curtain flash with Canon flashes
  • We expected much more highlight recovery

Buy now: $1,272.19