Entry-Level DSLR Shootout: Canon SL3 & T7 vs Nikon D3500 & D5600

If you're in the market for an entry-level DSLR, you have quite a few models to pick from, including four that have been released recently from the two leading DSLR manufacturers, Nikon and Canon.

We'll compare and contrast the features in the Canon Rebel SL3, Canon Rebel T7, Nikon D3500, and Nikon D5600, helping you determine which model is the best for your photography needs.

BUILD QUALITY

Canon SL3 DSLR camera

| Canon Rebel SL3 DSLR |

Canon Rebel T7 DSLR

| Canon Rebel T7 DSLR |

Nikon D3500 DSLR

| Nikon D3500 DSLR |

Nikon D5600 DSLR

| Nikon D5600 DSLR |

  • Nikon D3500: 10 points
  • Canon Rebel SL3: 9.5
  • Canon Rebel T7: 9.5
  • Nikon D5600: 9.5

All four of these cameras are well-built, as you'd expect from the leading manufacturers in the market. The D3500 is slightly smaller and weighs slightly less than the other entry-level DSLRs, yet it doesn't feel flimsy. Although the weight differences are minimal, you'll appreciate the D3500's size at the end of a long day of hiking or sight-seeing with the camera around your neck.

ERGONOMICS & MENUS

Canon SL3 LCD screen

| Canon Rebel SL3 DSLR |

Canon T7 LCD screen

| Canon Rebel T7 DSLR |

Nikon D3500 LCD screen

| Nikon D3500 DSLR |

Nikon D5600 LCD screen

| Nikon D5600 DSLR |

  • Nikon D5600: 9.5
  • Canon Rebel SL3: 9
  • Nikon D3500: 8
  • Canon Rebel T7: 7

The D5600 features a tilting LCD screen and a well-designed right-hand grip, giving it a slight edge over the others. The SL3 also has a tiltable LCD, but its button layout isn't quite as good as the D5600. The D3500 is probably the most comfortable camera to use among these four entry-level DSLRs, but it has no tilting LCD screen. Although the T7's control buttons are large and easy to use, its LCD screen significantly lags the others.

KIT LENS QUALITY

Canon SL3 kit lens

| Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM kit lens |

Nikon D5600 kit lens

| Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens |

  • Canon Rebel SL3: 8
  • Canon Rebel T7: 8
  • Nikon D3500: 7
  • Nikon D5600: 7

The kit lenses that shipped with these four entry-level DSLRs for our testing were of a reasonably good quality. They won't stack up to advanced, high-end lenses. But they pair well with these models. The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens that shipped with the D3500 and D5600 is slightly faster than the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM kit lens that shipped with the two Rebel cameras. But the Nikon lens has an odd locking mechanism that costs it the top spot.

METERING SYSTEM

Canon SL3 metering

| Canon SL3 | 18 mm | F/8 | 1/250 | ISO 100 |

Canon T7 metering

| Canon T7 | 18 mm | F/5.6 | 1/500 | ISO 100 |

Nikon D3500 metering

| Nikon D3500 | 22 mm | F/11 | 1/1600 | ISO 800 |

Nikon D5600 metering

| Nikon D5600 | 18 mm | F/11 | 1/160 | ISO 100 |

  • Canon Rebel SL3: 7
  • Canon Rebel T7: 7
  • Nikon D3500: 7
  • Nikon D5600: 7

Don't expect advanced metering features with any of these four entry-level DSLR cameras. They all perform adequately in this area for beginning photographers, but advanced shooters will be disappointed. The two Canon cameras both have a 63-zone dual-layer metering sensor. The two Nikon cameras both use Active D-Lighting, resulting in roughly the same performance.

AF PERFORMANCE

Canon SL3 autofocus

| Canon SL3 | 26 mm | F/4.5 | 1/250 | ISO 400 |

Canon T7 autofocus

| Canon T7 | 31 mm | F/5 | 1/50 | ISO 100 |

Nikon D3500 autofocus

| Nikon D3500 | 28 mm | F/4.2 | 1/125 | ISO 100 |

Nikon D5600 autofocus

| Nikon D5600 | 25 mm | F/4 | 1/80 | ISO 100 |

  • Nikon D5600: 9
  • Nikon D3500: 7.5
  • Canon Rebel SL3: 7.5
  • Canon Rebel T7: 6

The Nikon D5600 clearly has the best autofocus performance among these four entry-level DSLRs. It offers 39 AF points and excellent accuracy. The SL3 and D3500 are similar in autofocus performance with nine and 11 AF points, respectively. The Rebel T7 clearly brings up the rear among these cameras, as it only has nine AF points and it uses the older DIGIC 4+ image processor, which causes its performance speed to lag.

STILL IMAGE QUALITY

Canon SL3 outdoor photography

| Canon SL3 | 26 mm | F/8 | 1/1600 | ISO 400 |

Canon SL3 image quality

| Canon T7 | 27 mm | F/8 | 1/400 | ISO 100 |

Nikon D3500 image quality

| Nikon D3500 | 28 mm | F/8 | 1/320 | ISO 100 |

Nikon D5600 image quality

| Nikon D5600 | 28 mm | F/8 | 1/250 | ISO 100 |

  • Nikon D5600: 9
  • Canon Rebel SL3: 8.5
  • Nikon D3500: 8.5
  • Canon Rebel T7: 8

All four of these entry-level DSLRs produce a solid level of image quality for the price you'll pay. The Nikon D5600 is the slight winner here, but all of them do a nice job when the lighting is adequate. One area where the SL3 may appeal to some photographers is in its ability to shoot in the C-RAW (Compact RAW) format, which reduces the file size of RAW images by about 40%. All of them offer a maximum of about 24 megapixels of resolution.

VIDEO QUALITY

| Canon SL3 |

| Canon T7 |

| Nikon D3500 |

| Nikon D5600 |

  • Canon Rebel SL3: 7.5
  • Nikon D3500: 7
  • Nikon D5600: 7
  • Canon Rebel T7: 7

All four of these entry-level cameras do a decent job with video recording, but they all have a significant flaw. The Rebel SL3 is the only model that offers 4K movie recording quality, but it's difficult to hand hold the camera steadily. The T7 can only shoot HD video quality at 30 fps, but its videos look nice. The two Nikon DSLRs are able to record HD resolution at 60 fps. Ultimately, though, it'd be nice if all four of these DSLRs could record in 4K resolution.

ISO PERFORMANCE

Canon SL3 ISO 3200

| Canon SL3 | 18 mm | F/8 | 1/20 | ISO 3200 |

Canon T7 ISO 3200

| Canon T7 | 18 mm | F/8 | 1/13 | ISO 3200 |

Nikon D3500 ISO 3200

| Nikon D3500 | 18 mm | F/8 | 1/10 | ISO 3200 |

Nikon D5600 ISO 3200

| Nikon D5600 | 18 mm | F/8 | 1/8 | ISO 3200 |

  • Canon Rebel SL3: 8
  • Nikon D5600: 8
  • Nikon D3500: 7.5
  • Canon Rebel T7: 7

The Rebel SL3, the D3500, and the D5600 all offer a native ISO range of 100 to 25,600. The Rebel T7 lags behind the other three entry-level DSLR models, as it only offers a native ISO range of 100 to 6400. Noise levels are not really noticeable in any of the four cameras up to ISO 800, but the SL3 and D5600 perform slightly better at ISO 1600 and 3200.

WIRELESS PERFORMANCE

Canon SL3 flower photography

| Canon SL3 | 27 mm | F/5 | 1/400 | ISO 100 |

Canon T7 flowers

| Canon T7 | 33 mm | F/5.6 | 1/800 | ISO 100 |

Nikon D3500 flowers

| Nikon D3500 | 34 mm | F/9 | 1/2500 | ISO 800 |

Nikon D5600 flowers

| Nikon D5600 | 40 mm | F/5 | 1/1250 | ISO 100 |

  • Nikon D5600: 9
  • Canon Rebel SL3: 8.5
  • Nikon D3500: 7.5
  • Canon Rebel T7: 3

The D5600 has the best mix of battery life and wireless connection options of WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC. The D3500 and SL3 each have both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, but the D3500 runs just a little slower than the SL3. The Rebel T7 is the clear laggard here. It does not offer Bluetooth connectivity, and its battery life is below average, meaning using WiFi will drain the battery quickly.

VALUE

Canon SL3 indoor photography

| Canon SL3 | 21 mm | F/8 | 1/50 | ISO 400 |

Canon T7 indoor photo

| Canon T7 | 18 mm | F/8 | 1/40 | ISO 320 |

Nikon D3500 indoor photo

| Nikon D3500 | 18 mm | F/5 | 1/30 | ISO 110 |

Nikon D5600 indoors photo

| Nikon D5600 | 20 mm | F/5 | 1/50 | ISO 100 |

  • Nikon D3500: 10
  • Nikon D5600: 9.5
  • Canon Rebel T7: 8.5
  • Canon Rebel SL3: 7

The price point of the Nikon D3500 with its kit lens is the best value among these entry-level DSLRs. Although the D5600 costs a bit more than the others, it also has the best feature list. The T7's low price is appropriate considering its feature list, while the SL3 carries a higher price point than we'd like to see.

WINNER

Nikon D5600 review

| Nikon D5600 |

  • Nikon D5600: 84.5
  • Canon Rebel SL3: 80.5
  • Nikon D3500: 80
  • Canon Rebel T7: 71

Among these four entry-level DSLRs, the Nikon D5600 has the advantage. It is the most costly of the four models, but its feature list is the best. It also doesn't have a significant weakness. The Canon Rebel SL3 and Nikon D3500 are both solid choices, and both have small camera bodies versus other DSLRs, making them nice choices as travel cameras. The Canon Rebel T7 lags the other three DSLRs, but it's still a nice camera. It just contains some older components that hinder its performance in a few areas versus the others.