Best Camera Under $1000: Pentax vs Canon vs Nikon
Finding a camera under $1000 isn’t hard, there are hundreds to choose from, but that can make deciding on which is the best camera under 1000 incredibly hard. Canon, Nikon, and Pentax have multiple DSLR’s in this price bracket, all of which can be used by enthusiasts and professionals alike. To decide which camera is right you must first understand what features you are looking for. Within the world of DSLR’s, the more expensive models often lack fancy features like flip screens, choosing instead to focus their investment on creating the best sensors and lenses. There can be quite a large gap between those cameras that are applicable for amateurs who might desire these features and professionals who care primarily about the final picture.
Finally, although all of the devices on this list are available under $1000, some are close to the upper threshold while others give you a comfortable buffer. As you might expect, the most expensive devices tend to create the best photographs and will become dated far slower. Cheaper cameras on the other hand, often become outdated very quickly. Each of the cameras on this list has its own set of pros and cons, which we will go through before comparing brands and eventually decide on the best camera under 1000.
Canon EOS 70D Review
The Canon 70D has for many years been a favorite among fans because it represented a serious jump in quality from its predecessors. Although it was released back in 2013, modern cameras have failed to progress as quickly as the 70D did, making it a desirable choice today, especially considering the price of the 70D has fallen significantly. A mid-range DSLR, the enthusiast photography will get plenty of value for their money, while the professional can enjoy a camera that works well in low light and delivers crisp stills.
The 70D is a fantastic camera, which you can tell from looking at its features:
20.2MP APS-C ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ sensor
DIGIC 5+ image processor
ISO 100-12800 standard, 25600 expanded
7fps continuous shooting, burst depth 65 JPEG / 16 Raw
‘Silent’ shutter mode
1080p30 video recording, stereo sound via external mic
Naysayers will quickly notice two things; the sensor is only 20.2MP, incredible for the time but low compared to modern cameras, and the lack of 60 FPS video recording. It should be noted that the megapixels of the sensor aren’t everything, but we’d be lying if we said it was equivalent to the newer Nikon D7200. Similarly, the lack of 60 FPS video recording is disappointing for anyone looking to record action shots. Regardless, the 70D shines when it comes to still photography, with a wide ISO range that is sufficient for the vast majority of situations. But perhaps the biggest reason to buy the 70D is its value for money. Available under $800, the 70D offers everything that a budding amateur or intermediate photographer could need at a fraction of the price. It also comes stocked with plenty of ‘nice to have’ features like a top LCD, smartphone remote control, environmental sealing and wireless connectivity.
Nikon D5500 Review
Another fantastic Nikon camera is the D5500, available at under $700; it’s cheaper than the 70D and arguably brings a better product to the table. Although it lacks fancy features like smartphone control, a top LCD, and environmental sealing, it makes up for this with a 24 MP sensor, far superior max ISO and incredible color depth. Given that it’s available for less than the 70D you could make a compelling argument that enthusiasts who don’t need those fancy features would be wise to opt for the D5500. Let’s delve a little deeper and take a look at the specifications:
ISO 100 – 25,600
Full HD 1,920×1,080 / 60 fps video recording
3.2-inch diagonal screen size
1/4000 sec shutter speed
39 focus points for autofocus
The D5500 is capable of producing excellent quality images with a wide dynamic range, giving you beautiful color depth and strong blacks where other cameras can lack. The autofocus is also very strong, an area where Canon has often been superior, tracking well despite a low-resolution metering sensor. The autofocus is capable of giving you steady images, a huge plus for amateur and beginner photographer. Overall, the Nikon D5500 is a midrange APS-C camera that stands out from the crowd because it contains upper tier features at a fraction of the cost. The sensor is capable of producing excellent image quality with plenty of dynamic range, and the video output is competitive to similarly priced DSLR’s.
Pentax K3-ii Review
Pentax is often overlooked in lieu of the more popular Nikon and Canon cameras, but Pentax is capable of creating competitive cameras that some experts would argue are superior to their rival’s equivalent offerings. Their K-3ii model, in particular, is wooing enthusiasts and professionals alike because of the premium tier features that Pentax offers on an inexpensive camera. Priced around $830, it’s similarly priced to the Canon 70D but offers a superior sensor and some upper tier features that Canon has failed to provide at this price point.
Let’s break down some of the main specs:
Wide ISO range, 100 – 51200
24.4 MP sensor
1080 60FPS video recording
3.2-inch screen size
8.3 FPS continuous shooting
APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm) photosensor
What those basic specifications don’t tell you is that the K-3ii has over 90 separate weather seals, making it resistant to even the harshest weather. Not only that, but the sensor is completely devoid of an image-softening AA filter, allowing you to take incredible crisp photos that wouldn’t be possible with similarly priced DSLR’s. At the top of the specs, you’ll notice that the ISO goes up to 51200, that’s not a mistake, and it doesn’t expand to that point, it gets there. The combination of these features means that you can take beautiful and crisp photos even in low lighting that would be comparable to far more expensive cameras.It’s not perfect, they have removed the built-in flash, replacing it with a GPS tracking device instead. For outdoor portrait shots, this could be harmful because the flash plays a vital role in filling in dark spots. Overall, the K-3ii by Pentax is in direct competition with the upper tiers of APS-C DSLR’s and at a fraction of the cost.
Pentax vs Canon
Canon has led the camera industry for decades, but Pentax is quickly catching up and according to some experts, creating superior cameras at the same price point. However, the majority of world-class photographers still opt for Canon and Nikon cameras over Pentax, but why?
The main reason is that there is an entire ecosystem of lenses, flashes, accessories, software, and mounts that are created not just by Canon by third-party manufacturers. For the photographer, this makes it quicker, simpler and often cheaper, in the long run, to stick to a single brand. When your equipment “just has to work” in all circumstances, it’s easier to pick Canon because you know that you can beg, borrow or steal matching equipment very quickly. The same can’t be said for Pentax, so although they create superior devices in many regards, the lacking ecosystem makes many professionals turn to Canon.
The great debate of our industry, do you choose a Canon or a Nikon? Both companies have created fantastic cameras over the years, and in the same breath, both have made duds. Although it’s always best to compare individual devices, most would agree that Canon has smoother autofocus and offers lenses specifically for cinematography. Nikon on the other hand, tend to have a fantastic dynamic range and color depth. But where Canon excels is not in the production of cameras, it’s in their lens development. Nikon is playing catch-up, trying to match the new innovative lenses that Canon has been able to create. Overall, both companies have tremendous offerings and professionals could argue all day about which is better. Realistically, the differences are small. But it’s undeniable that Canon has a more significant market share and therefore a vast ecosystem, making it ever so slightly superior for a professional photographer.
So, which is best? For me it has to be either the Nikon D5500 or the Pentax K3-ii. Both have different benefits. The Nikon is the better all-rounder, and in fact comes out a cheaper than the Pentax. Under $700 odd dollars (including a basic lens) compared to just over $800 (needing a lens). The Pentax however is a stunning camera, and a basic 50mm lens will set you back just shy of $150! A huge ISO range and with all those weather seals it is BUILT. TO. LAST. This camera is built for the great outdoors and therefore the lack of flash shouldn’t be a major issue. This is a camera for stunning scenery shots. It competes with the upper tier at a tiny price, and for that reason… It’s my favourite!