Best DSLR & ILC Cameras: Enthusiast Level

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Best DSLR and ILC Enthusiast Cameras 2017!

Enthusiast tier DSLR and ILC cameras are for photographers whose skill set has advanced to the point where they need more performance features -- speed, image quality, autofocus, overall image quality -- than their current camera offers. Enthusiast photographers have the basics down and probably own a few lenses that perform better than included kit lenses. They've likely invested in a specific camera brand or camera mount. As need and skills grow, Enthusiasts want to take that next step forward, but might not have the budget or need for a fully pro system. In that case, you'll want one of the following cameras, most of which retail between $1,200 and $1,800. Also worth noting: any of these cameras would make excellent second bodies for advanced or pro users who might not always want to haul out their main camera system. 

Here are our picks for the Best Enthusiast DSLR & ILC Cameras for 2017, arranged in alphabetical order!

 

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 26.2MP | Viewfinder: Optical | Display: 3" vari-angle touchscreen | Max Burst Shooting: 6.5fps | Video Recording: 1080/60p

PROS: Dual Pixel CMOS, Pricing

CONS: Video only 1080p, No built-in Flash

The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is an amazing camera that really kind of is just for people who want take pictures. Sure, it's not as fast as the mirrorless cameras at this price-point, and it's limited to 1080/60p video, but it's awesome for landscape, portrait, and architecture photographers who want to get into a full-frame camera system without breaking the bank. Plus, it comes with that excellent Dual CMOS AF system and vari-angle display we've seen on all of Canon's 2017 models, which make it great for vlogging or creating video content for YouTube. Plus, there's the lens compatibility, from Canon EF and L glass as well as third-party options, the 6D Mark II is perfect for anyone already invested in Canon looking to step up to a full-frame sensor who doesn't want to spend another $1300 to get the 5D Mark IV.

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Fujifilm X-T2

Fujifilm X-T2

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24.3MP | Viewfinder: Electronic | Display: 3" tri-direction tilting screen | Max Burst Shooting: 11fps | Video Recording: 4K/30p

PROS: Great Electronic Viewfinder, X-Trans CMOS sensor

CONS: No internal stabilization, No touchscreen

The Fujifilm X-T2 is the size of vintage 35mm cameras and is just as light and portable, yet it delivers everything you need. It has a stunning EVF, easy to use manual dials, high-speed AF, compatibility with an extensive range of high-performance interchangeable lenses. With 4K video and usable film-like filters, this is a camera that can challenge cameras that are hundreds of dollars more. It's the first camera to give legitimacy to the mirrorless camera line. It's a powerhouse of machine masquerading as hobbyists camera. Get one.

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Olympus PEN F

Olympus PEN F

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 20MP | Viewfinder: Electronic | Display: 3.0" LCD | Max Burst Shooting: 10fps | Video Recording: 1080/60p

PROS: Fantastic image stabilization, High Image Quality

CONS: Slow Auto Focus, No Weatherproofing

The Olympus PEN F is a rangefinder-style camera born in the future with its heart in the past. It is, among many things, simple and FUN. Sure, you can't shoot 4K video or take it out in the rain, but you can shoot photos your own custom color or black & white profiles that look straight out of the Kodachrome days of yesteryear. Like the Canon 80D, the Olympus PEN-F is a steal as most often you can find it on sale for $999 and/or pick it up with a lens or two for just under $1,500. This is a great portable camera that can slip into any bag or purse easily and still take outstanding stills. Perfect for anyone who doesn't want a point-and-shoot but doesn't want to lug around a bulky DSLR body either. As it's been out for a while and doesn't offer 4K, you can take advantage of its low price and still get a fantastic camera.

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Nikon D500

Nikon D500

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 20.9MP | Viewfinder: Optical | Display: 3.2 Tilting Touchscreen LCD | Max Burst Shooting: 10fps | Video Recording: UHD 4K/30 fps

PROS: Amazing sensor, Fast optical AF

CONS: 4K Video Crop & Slow Live View AF

The Nikon D500 is fast and features an outstanding image sensor that renders colors wonderfully in RAW or JPEG. With its tough-as-nails weatherproof body and flagship DX functionality, this camera will go anywhere you want it to go and then some. Add in Wi-Fi & Bluetooth, and you can be shooting and sharing online as you go. The 4K UHD videos look pretty good too, but there's additional crop and Nikon's contrast AF is accurate, but very slow. Still, if you don't mind the crop sensor, this is a pro quality camera for all sorts of genres -- action, landscape, portraits, architecture, wildlife, you name it!

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Nikon D750 (Certified Refurbished)

Nikon D750 (Certified Refurbished)

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.3MP | Viewfinder: Optical | Display: 3" tilt-able | Max Burst Shooting: 6.5fps | Video Recording: 1080/60p

PROS: Good Auto Focus, 24MP full-frame sensor

CONS: Shooting only 6.5fps, Wi-Fi remote needs improvement

If you don't mind getting a refurbished camera, you can save hundreds of dollars and get a full-frame camera like the Nikon D750 for less than $1,500. That means more dynamic range and better low-light performance. Basically, with the release of the D850, the D750 is dropping in price a bit and you get to take advantage of yesterday's best for today's lowest price. However, because it's a generation old, you won't get 4K video, nor is it as fast as Nikon's crop-sensor for burst shooting. Still, if you want to go full-frame on a budget, the D750 is a professional grade camera. Perfect for landscape or portrait photographers.

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Nikon D7500

Nikon D7500

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 20.9MP | Viewfinder: Optical | Display: 3.2" Tilting touchscreen LCD | Max Burst Shooting: 8fps | Video Recording: UHD 4K/30p

PROS: Excellent high-ISO performance, Image Buffer holds 50 uncompressed RAWs

CONS: 4K video is cropped, Default jpeg noise

If you're looking at the Nikon D7500 then you're definitely interested in stepping up your photography game. You get flagship performance and innovation in a more compact and streamlined connected camera. It delivers game-changing resolution, ISO range, image processing and energy efficiency of the DX flagship D500 in an enthusiast-level DSLR. This is an outstanding camera for the price.

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Sony A6500

Sony A6500

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24.2MP | Viewfinder: Electronic | Display: 2.95" touchscreen | Max Burst Shooting: 11fps | Video Recording: 4K/30fps w/ 2.4x oversampling, 1080p/120fps

PROS: Amazing AF, Variable frame rate video

CONS: Weak Touchscreen, No exposure dial

The Sony a6500 mirrorless Interchangeable-lens Camera, with its 24.2 MP Exmor CMOS sensor, takes everything we loved about the Sony a6500 -- the world's fasts AF & highest number of phase detection AF points (425) and gorgeous 4K video -- and adds touchscreen functionality. A powerful little camera in a tiny body, battery life isn't amazing and its body might actually be too compact for some users' hands (for some the D7500 is more ergonomic, but Nikon's video AF system is rubbish compared to Sony's.) and it lacks a vari-angle display, so it makes vlogging a little more difficult. Still, Sony is pushing this category forward in amazing ways and if you shoot BOTH video and stills in 2017 or 2018, you have to consider a Sony.

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