Photographers who want a little more opportunity to be creative with their shots are better off with a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera. There are plenty of DSLR models to choose from, and all of them have advanced features you would normally not get from a point-and-shoot camera.

Although DSLRs have advanced features, camera manufacturers also have entry-level models that are suitable to a beginner's budget and skills. Like the more expensive DSLR models for pros, entry-level DSLRs have removable lenses that allow you to use different lenses and detailed controls that let you change things such as zoom and focus.

Best of all, these DSLRs provide a cheap and easy way to ease into photography, whether as a hobby or a profession, and allow you to scale with more advanced lenses as you go.

Nikon D3300

Although smaller and lighter than its D3200 predecessor, the Nikon D3300 delivers intermediate-level performance for a price that beginners will love. At less than $500 for the body, you get all the key controls you would look for in your first DSLR, including the 24.3MP images, high-definition video at 60 fps, and faithful reproduction of colors. It also comes with a guide mode to help you learn more about things such as exposure, aperture, and depth of field, that is, if you're not already familiar with them.

Canon EOS 1200D

Comparable to the Nikon D3300 is the Canon EOS 1200D. While this DSLR's 18MP images may seem less than what the Nikon D3300 can offer, this camera actually offers high image quality with nine times more resolution than a high-definition smart TV. The only setback you might find is the low-resolution LCD, which means the only option if you want to take good pictures is to use the viewfinder.

Canon EOS 100D

Canon created a new category for small-scale DSLRs when it unveiled the Canon EOS 100D. Although the camera truly is smaller than most DSLRs on the market, it offers impressive features big enough for a beginner. The EOS 100D has the same 18MP APS-C sensor as its bigger brother, the EOS 700D, and has a 9-point autofocus system that acts swift in operation.

Nikon D610

At $1,500, the Nikon D610 certainly isn't cheap. That's because it is Nikon's entry-level model with a full-frame sensor onboard. For some photographers, full frame is the only way to do photography because it reflects the classic 35mm sensors of the film-based SLRs before the rise of DSLRs. Like the D600 that is its predecessor, the Wi-Fi-ready D610 boasts beautiful 24MP images and a fast, responsive autofocus system.

Nikon D5200

Like the older Nikon D5100, the D5200 offers excellent image and video quality for a DSLR priced just a little above $500, making it a great all-around camera for taking pictures with family and friends, especially on vacation. It also features excellent continuous shooting performance at 5.1 fps and a fast, accurate autofocus system, although it tends to select the brightest area on the scene.

Canon EOS Rebel T5i

If you're looking to take videos with your DSLR, the Canon EOS Rebel T5i is your best choice. For a competitive price, you get a camera that can record 1080p video at 30 fps with stereo sound from the built-in microphones. It has an 18MP sensor with 18-55mm zoom lens with silent stepping motor, which means it won't capture the sound of the lens moving as it goes into autofocus.

Pentax K-S1

Ricoh, maker of Pentax cameras, could give Nikon and Canon a run for their money, especially with the upcoming release of the Pentax K-S1, which will be available for $800. Featuring a 20MP APS-C sensor and an 18-55mm kit lens, the K-S1 loses the anti-alias filter to minimize distortions and provide cleaner, clearer images. Unlike the Nikon D3300 and the Canon EOS 1200D, this one has a 100 percent field of view.

Sony Alpha A58

The $400 Sony Alpha A58 is a real bargain. Although this DSLR has admittedly traded off the competitive price for a low-resolution LCD and a plastic lens mount, you can expect to take impressive shots with the 20MP sensor and the OLED electronic viewfinder that offers much more feedback than any standard optical viewfinder.

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