For people who can think beyond selfies and portrait shots, a sea of cameras is waiting to be explored. With some recent advancement in DSLR technology and mirror-less cameras coming a long way, there are host of options in every price range that can deliver professional quality images you would adore all your life. Also, a big advantage on these cameras is the ability to switch different lenses. It is probably one of the strongest reasons why the smartphone camera revolution couldn’t overtake it – like it did fixed lens cameras. So here are our top camera picks that you can buy for up to Rs 1.6 lakh, the point after which fully capable production cameras begin. For all cameras, buy the single lens kit unless the extra lens saves you a significant amount. You can always buy that second lens later (only if you need it).
Under Rs 40,000
This price range is most suitable for a camera you can take on your family holidays (because that is the only time you get to take pictures?) or don’t frequently require it for professional purposes. Though there are people successfully using the likes of Nikon D5300 for wedding and profile shoots.
--Canon EOS 1300D
A flip out screen may appear to be the best part of Canon EOS 1300D, but its innate capability of taking sharp images even in low light determines its true potential. The camera, as Canon cameras are known for, creates eye popping colours in the Auto mode as well. It has an 18MP sensor that can also record full HD videos.
Most people buy Canon for simplicity and ease of use, while Nikon is known to offer advanced controls for more tweaking on manual mode.
Though Nikon has upgraded this camera with the D5600, it continues to be our best pick under Rs 40,000. It is better enough compared to Canon 1300D to justify its price difference of around Rs 10,000. For example, there is a higher res 24.1MP sensor that delivers better quality, Full HD recording at 60fps (30fps on Canon) and 39 Auto focus points (9 on Canon). You also get a flip-out screen with better resolution, a better noise stability at higher ISO which helps in low light capture and a more advanced Expeed 4 processor. The D5200 is, by far, a beginner’s most advanced camera.
From Rs 40,000 to Rs 80,000
Things obviously get better in this territory. The advancements not only appear on the image quality and speed of the camera, but on the camera body as well.
Nikon 7200 builds over the camera system (D7000) that was believed to the most affordable for a pro wildlife photographer. It comes with a strong chassis built out of magnesium alloy, which is also weather sealed (can shoot in light rain). The camera has a deep grip that gives a nice hold to its 1.25kg self (with kit lens).
Inside the D7200 is a fast shooter. It has a 51-point autofocus system with Advanced Multi-CAM 3500 II autofocus sensor module to deliver 6 frames per second in continuous shooting. There is a 24.2MP sensor with EXPEED 4 image-processing engine which can easily shoot upwards of ISO 1000 with very little noise. The camera also has an excellent battery life that makes it the best travel camera to have.
While the Nikon 7200 is more for shooting still images, the Canon 80D has features that make it better at shooting videos. It has a very advanced autofocus system that matches the level of Canon 5D models, paired with a flip out screen with touch to focus.
Canon 80D also has a 24MP sensor, with 45 AF points, 7fps continuous shooting and Full HD recording at 60fps. Its focus system is much more versatile than that of the Nikon D7200, with Single-point AF, Zone AF with 9 predefined AF zones, Large Zone AF covering larger chunks - all of where the camera detects the focus point automatically.
--Sony Alpha A6300
Sony Alpha is a mirror-less alternative to both the cameras. It is a lighter and smaller option that is easy to carry use. Also it is equally good in both video and still shooting, which makes it a no compromise camera.
Upto 1.6 lakh
In this price range you don’t get versatile cameras, but ones built for specific needs. Almost all cameras have full frame sensors that mimic the size of photographic film referred to as 35mm (crop sensors are small and easy to make hence used in all budget and mid-segment cameras). Apart from the ‘real film’ feel in the videos and unmatched image quality, you get more area while composing a frame which can be crucial if you do candid, wildlife or sports photography.
On the flipside, these cameras can be big and heavy (unless they are mirrorless) and cost more, compared to crop sensor cameras. And of course, camera body or basic kit is not the only thing you buy, there’s investment waiting to happen for the lenses. So, do your math before you take the plunge.
--Sony Alpha 7
Alpha 7 is the lightest, smallest and probably the cheapest full frame camera you can buy right now. It is priced at around Rs 80,000 which is less than half of what its new and improved version, the Alpha 7RII commands.
The Alpha 7RII obviously has merits, like a much high megapixel sensor, magnesium alloy body and a 4-axis image stabilisation built into the sensor module (so you don’t need IS on the lens). But for the price, the older generation Sony A7 offers great value for money and compatible with all new-gen E-mount lenses.
This is one of the best-selling full frame cameras Nikon has ever produced. The company took a very different approach with the camera bestowing it with versatile Dx camera features like tilt-screen and using a slightly enhanced colour output that puts behind cameras like Canon 5D Mark II.
It has a 24.3MP full frame sensor with one of highest continuous shooting speed of 6.5 frames per second. It has a 51-point AF system like the D7200. But with dedicated buttons and menu presets for video, along with a tiltable screen, the D750 is the most video-centric DSLR in the whole Nikon family. The camera is built in a monocoque weather-sealed structure.
--Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Canon EOS 6D II is newer-generation camera, slightly more expensive than the Nikon’s D750 and is better at framing, handling and auto focus. The EOS 6D Mark II has better AF system with more cross type focus point (45 vs 11) that help you get catch diagonal objects in the frame easily. In fact it has Phase detect AF built on to the sensor that vastly improves autofocus for video. The camera also has a swivel touch screen and features like Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth built-in.
The image quality is not greatly improved over the original ESO 6D though, which would make Canon 5D Mark III your next nearest choice. If switching to Nikon is an option, the Nikon D750 would get you better quality for slight operational compromises, without spending more.