Best DSLR cameras in South Africa

Best DSLR cameras in South Africa


There are three major digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) brands in South Africa that offer excellent photographic capabilities — Canon, Nikon, and Pentax.

With smartphone cameras drastically improving in recent years, many people have questioned whether dedicated digital cameras will continue to exist.

Although a handful of flagship smartphones could beat entry-level DSLR image quality under very specific circumstances, the opposite is more often the case.

DSLR and other digital cameras have much larger sensors, allowing for better low-light performance.

Smartphone cameras have become impressively capable of shooting dark scenes, in part thanks to their use of advanced software.

But software can only get you so far; better sensors and lenses will always be preferable for higher-quality photos and videos.

DSLRs are also much more versatile and configurable, with a wide range of add-on accessories that can enhance their capabilities.

That includes interchangeable lenses, which provide DSLRs with another key advantage.

Optical or true zoom requires a large amount of space, which there is very little of in a smartphone camera bump.

DSLR and mirrorless camera lenses let you enlarge a scene without substantial quality losses.

Physically-adjustable lenses also allow for true and wider depth of field, enabling photographers to capture pictures with greater contrast between focus areas and backgrounds.

DSLRs can also shoot in a RAW uncompressed format, ideal for preserving quality during editing.

This is only available on a select few flagship smartphones. When enabled, they can also quickly eat up storage space.

Although smartphone camera software has improved to provide better control over settings like aperture, exposure and focus, they still fall well short of what’s possible on a DSLR.

DSLR down but not out

There are three typical types of digital cameras — DSLR, mirrorless, and bridge.

The first two options support interchangeable lenses and are used for professional photography, while the latter comes with a built-in zoom lens and is typically aimed at casual snappers.

While mirrorless cameras are gradually starting to supplant DSLRs as the top choice for professional photography, they are still costly, particularly for newcomers at the entry level.

DSLR cameras also generally offer better battery life and boast a larger back catalogue of supported lenses.

Two of the world and South Africa’s best-known brands — Canon and Nikon — are popular precisely because of their long history of supporting hardware.

Nikon has released its F-mount lenses since 1959, while Canon started producing its EF range in 1987.

Two other major brands — Fujifilm and Sony — have completely discontinued their DSLR offering and focus on mirrorless cameras.


  • Entry-level: Canon EOS D2000 — From R7,499 with 18-55mm lens (Foto Discount World)
  • Top-end: Canon EOS 1D X Mark III — From R113,999 for body only (Foto Discount World)
  • Best for video: Canon EOS 1D X Mark III — From R113,999 for body only (Foto Discount World)

Canon sells its DSLR range under the EOS brand, which currently consists of eight models.

One feature of Canon that makes it stand out from its main rival Nikon is that all of its EOS lenses have autofocus, whereas only Nikon’s AF-S lenses support autofocus.

Canon’s L-series lenses offer noticeably high quality and excellent autofocus performance.

Its cameras also support a wider range of third-party lenses, which can be attached using adapters.


  • Entry-level: Nikon D5300 — From R8,999 with 18-55mm lens (SA Camera Land)
  • Top-end: Nikon D6 — From R139,995 for body only (Outdoor Photo)
  • Best for video: Nikon D850 — From R39,995 for body only (Outdoor Photo)

Nikon’s lenses tend to be lighter and smaller than Canon’s, making them better suited for photographers that are often on the move.

One thing to keep in mind is that some of Nikon’s entry-level DSLRs no longer have an autofocus motor built-in. That means they cannot support older Nikon AF-S lenses.

However, the removal of the autofocus motor allows Nikon to cut costs, meaning its beginner cameras can be cheaper.

While Canon offers a wider range of entry-level cameras, Nikon’s options generally perform better in terms of ISO and battery life.


  • Entry-level:  Pentax K-70 All-Weather — From R13,799 (Camera Warehouse)
  • Top-end: Pentax K-1 Mark II — From R41,399 for body only (Camera Warehouse)
  • Best for video: Pentax K-1 Mark II — From R41,399 for body only (Camera Warehouse)

The third brand that still sells DSLR cameras in South Africa is Pentax. Although perhaps better known for its film cameras, Pentax has received high praise for its DSLRs’ image and build quality.

Most Pentax cameras feature dual controls for faster navigation through captured images and settings. With Canon and Nikon, these are only offered on higher-end models.

Astrophotography is another area where Pentax shines, thanks to its Astrotracer feature, which automatically moves the camera’s image sensor with the motion of the stars and planets.