For a professional photographer like you, you would always want to use the best DSLR camera that can fit your needs. Mirrorless cameras are getting a lot of attention these days. Despite the cutting-edge technology of mirrorless cameras, DSLRs hold their own with large sensors, long battery life, and unparalleled handling. They also offer the cheapest way to get a camera with a built-in viewfinder.
The best part of choosing a DSLR camera for professional photography over a mirrorless is its very low price. Some models have been discounted, but you can still find old and refurbished stocks online. To give an idea, below is our list of the Top 12 best DSLR professional cameras from different popular brands, especially Canon and Nikon.
12 Best Professional DSLR Cameras in 2023
1. Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
- Bundle Includes: 1 x Canon EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR Camera (Body Only), 1 x Sony 128GB CFexpress Type B TOUGH Memory Card , 1 x Camera Bag, 1 x 12 inch Flexible Tripod, 1 x Hand Strap, 1 x Memory Card Wallet, 1 x Cleaning Kit
- Built for speed, sensitivity, and precision, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is a powerful DSLR designed for sports, wildlife, and other trying and dynamic imaging applications. Designed as the flagship of the EOS system, the 1D X Mark III is characterized by its refined processing capabilities and distinct speed to suit both photo and video applications. Featuring a newly designed 20.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor and updated DIGIC X image processor
- This camera is capable of continuous shooting rates up to 16 fps with the optical viewfinder or 20 fps in live view, with a 1000-shot buffer when shooting raw+JPEG. Complementing this speed is an impressive native sensitivity range from ISO 100-102400, that can be expanded to ISO 50-819200, to suit working in a variety of lighting conditions. Also benefitting the speed is the EOS iTR AF X autofocus system, which uses 191 points for quickly and accurately acquiring focus.
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is Canon’s last flagship DSLR camera before transitioning to mirrorless cameras. Launched in January 2022, it boasts significant advancements over its predecessor, the 1D X Mark II, making it the best professional DSLR Canon has ever released.
With a Digic X processor, the 1D X Mark III can shoot up to 16 fps bursts in the viewfinder, 20 fps burst rate in live view with Dual-pixel AF, and 4K video at 60 fps. It also has an impressive 191-pt viewfinder AF system, an ISO range up to 102400, and 2 high-speed CFexpress memory card slots. HEIF image format is available, and battery life is exceptional at 2,850 shots. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity are fast and built-in.
While the 1D X Mark III is bulky and heavy at 1440 grams and lacks an articulating LCD and USB charging, it has super-fast autofocus, produces excellent image quality, and is the best DSLR for professional videography due to its unparalleled features.
2. Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
- Fastest shooting EOS-1D, capable of up to 14 fps full-resolution RAW or JPEG, and up to 16 fps in Live View mode with new Dual DIGIC 6Plus Image Processors
- Achieves a maximum burst rate of up to 170 raws in continuous shooting at up to 16 fps, and 4K movies using CFast cards in the new CFast 2.0 slot
- Improved AF performance through 61-point, wide area AF system with 41 cross-type points, improved center point focusing sensitivity to -3 EV and compatibility down to f 8
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, released in February 2016, served as the predecessor of the 1D X Mark III and was considered by many as the world’s best professional DSLR camera at that time. It set a new standard for full-frame DSLR cameras, introducing advanced features that are still widely used today.
This top-of-the-line DSLR was Canon’s first to incorporate the DPAF CMOS (Dual Pixel Autofocus) system, dual DIGIC 6+ image processors, a CFast 2.0 card reader slot, and an A/D converter inside the 20.2MP CMOS sensor. It was also the first full-frame camera from Canon to include a touchscreen.
The 1D X Mark II was also the first Canon DSLR to offer 4K video at 60fps, and boasts an impressive continuous shooting speed of 16 fps, along with a top-of-the-line ISO range of 100-51200 that can be expanded up to 409600. However, the 3.2″ 1.62M-dot touchscreen is limited to tap-to-focus in Live View.
Professional photographers will appreciate the long battery life of 1,210 shots per charge, while the weather-sealed body of the 1D X Mark II makes it ideal for sports and wildlife photography. However, it’s worth noting that the camera’s weight of 1530 grams is heavier than its successor, the 1D X Mark III. Additionally, this high-end camera will likely come with a higher price tag than mid-range models.
Overall, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II remains a popular choice among professional photographers, particularly those needing a rugged and reliable camera for high-speed, high-quality photography.
3. Nikon D850
- Nikon designed back side illuminated (BSI) full frame image sensor with no optical low pass filter
- 45.7 megapixels of extraordinary resolution, outstanding dynamic range and virtually no risk of moiré
- Up to 9 fps1 continuous shooting at full resolution with full AF performance
The Nikon D850 was introduced on July 25, 2017, as part of Nikon’s 100th-anniversary celebration. This powerful DSLR camera, which succeeded the D810, quickly became a favorite among professional photographers and won the best Professional DSLR camera award at the 2018 TIPA World Awards.
One of the most significant upgrades on the D850 is the inclusion of a 45.7MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor, which delivers stunning image quality. Moreover, the D850 is the first Nikon DSLR camera to capture 4K UHD video at the full sensor width, up to 30p. The Expeed 5 image processor powers this Nikon FX-format camera, which also has a new 181k-pixel RGB metering sensor and a continuous speed of 7 fps.
Similar to the D5 and D500, the D850 boasts a 153-point AF system, with 99 of these being cross-type. Furthermore, this weather-sealed DSLR has a tilting 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen with a very high resolution of 2,359,000 dots, a wide native ISO range of 64-25600 (expandable to 32-102,400), and improved JPEG noise reduction.
The battery life of the D850 is impressive, rated at 1840 shots per charge, making it ideal for professional use. The camera is also compatible with wireless external flashes, although it does not feature a built-in flash.
While the D850 is not the best camera for capturing super-fast actions, and it weighs in at 1,005 grams with a battery, it is still an excellent choice for landscape and wildlife photography due to its superior image quality and advanced features. Overall, the Nikon D850 remains a popular choice among professional photographers who demand the best in terms of image quality and performance.
4. Nikon D780
- The D780 features 24.5 MP resolution and robust EXPEED 6 image processing engine
- Capture full frame still images and 4K UHD video
- Wireless connectivity with the easy to use SnapBridge app
The Nikon D780, introduced in January 2020, is a great all-purpose DSLR camera that replaced the mid-range D750. While it shares some advanced features with the professional D850, the D780 appears to be more of a general-purpose camera rather than a specialized one. Despite this, the D780 is actually slightly cheaper than both the D850 and D750.
One significant improvement the D780 offers is the upgraded Expeed 6 image processor, surpassing the Expeed 5 of the D850 and Expeed 4 of the D750. Although the D780 and D750 share the same image sensor size at 35.9 x 23.9 mm, the D780’s 24.5 MP BSI CMOS sensor can capture slightly more detail than the D750’s 24.3 MP but falls well short of the D850’s impressive 45.7 MP.
Like the D850, the D780 uses a 3.2-inch diagonal TFT-LCD touchscreen with 2,359,000 dots. The minimum shutter speed is the same at 1/8000, but the D780 has a much longer light exposure of 900 sec in manual mode, making it better suited for night photography than the D850’s better performance in daylight photography.
Both cameras allow 4K video recording, but the D780’s video quality is superior due to its 10-bit output over HDMI, as opposed to the D850’s 8-bit output. The D780 also boasts an impressive battery life of 2260 shots per charge, surpassing the D850’s 1840 shots.
Choosing the best DSLR camera for your needs depends on various factors, including image quality, features, and price. But for those seeking a versatile all-purpose camera, the Nikon D780 is an excellent choice.
5. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
- New 30.4 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor for versatile shooting in nearly any light, with ISO range 100-32000; expandable up to 50-102400 (equivalent ISO).
- 4K Motion JPEG video (DCI cinema-type 4096 x 2160) at 30p or 24p; in- camera still frame grab of 4K 8.8-Megapixel images; multiple video options include Full HD up to 60p, and HD up to 120p.
- Superb Dual Pixel CMOS AF for responsive and smooth AF during video or live view shooting; LCD monitor has a full touchscreen interface, including selection of AF area.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, released in 2016, marked the end of the 5D series as Canon shifted towards mirrorless cameras. This professional DSLR camera is a remarkable upgrade from the 5D Mark III, with features that cater to still photography and videography.
The 5D Mark IV is equipped with a faster DIGIC 6+ image processor, a 30MP full-frame CMOS sensor, and a 7-fps continuous shooting mode, up from 6 fps on the Mark III. It also has a fixed 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 1,620,000 dots and built-in GPS and NFC/Wi-Fi connectivity.
The camera’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF with Dual Pixel RAW technology results in faster and smoother autofocus. However, it does come with a drop in buffer capacity and larger file sizes. It can also shoot DCI 4K at 30 fps, but not at 60 fps.
The 5D Mark IV has a native ISO range of 100-32000 that can expand to 50-102400. It also offers a C-log upgrade option, which provides a wider dynamic range in 4K and HD video files during post-processing.
The battery life is impressive at 900 shots per charge, making it a reliable camera for extended shooting sessions. Overall, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR is a solid investment for photographers and videographers alike.
6. Canon EOS 7D Mark II
- 20.2 MP CMOS sensor and ISO 100-16000
- High spped continuous shooting up to 10.0 fps
- 65-point all cross-type AF system
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II is a highly capable DSLR camera designed for professional photographers and enthusiasts. Launched in 2014, this camera boasts many sophisticated features that won it the Best Digital SLR Expert award at the 2015 TIPA Awards.
Equipped with a dual DIGIC 6 image processor and a 20.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, the 7D Mark II provides highly responsive performance and captures excellent quality images. Additionally, the camera features a 65-point all-cross-type AF sensor and an ISO range of 100–16,000, which is expandable to 51,200. Its shutter mechanism is rated for 200K actuations, ensuring long-lasting durability.
The 7D Mark II offers a 3.0-inch Clear View II fixed-type LCD screen with 1,040,000 dots and a 150,000-pixel RGB and infrared (IR) sensor. The camera’s continuous burst speeds of up to 10 fps and use of an optical pentaprism viewfinder make it ideal for capturing fast-moving subjects.
However, the 7D Mark II lacks certain features such as a touchscreen, built-in Wi-Fi, and 4K video recording. Video recording is limited to 1080p/60 fps. Additionally, its battery life of up to 670 shots falls short compared to other professional cameras.
Despite its shortcomings, the Canon 7D Mark II’s weather-sealed design and tough magnesium alloy construction make it a reliable and durable camera. Its weight of 910 grams, including the battery, may not be the lightest, but it is still manageable for most photographers. Overall, the Canon 7D Mark II is a highly useful tool for professionals who require fast and responsive performance.
7. Nikon D810
- 36.3 MP FX format CMOS sensor without an Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF)
- 30 percent faster Expeed 4 image processing engine. Shutter speed: 1/8000 to 30 sec
- 51point AF system and 3D color matrix metering III with a 91,000 pixel RGB sensor
The Nikon D810 is a powerful and still-relevant professional DSLR camera released in 2014. It offers incremental upgrades compared to its predecessors, the D800 and D800E, and is still in high demand today.
One of the critical upgrades is the use of the Expeed 4 image processor, which provides a base ISO of 64 (expandable to 12,800) and higher native sensitivity. The 36.3MP CMOS sensor with a pixel size of 4.88µ is the same as its predecessors but delivers higher image quality with less shadow noise and more dynamic range.
The D810 has a 3.2-inch diagonal TFT-LCD with a resolution of 1,229,000 dots, a 91,000-pixel RGB sensor, and 51 AF points, with 15 being cross-type. It can shoot 1080p video at up to 60p, with a shutter speed of 1/8000-30 sec, but lacks the 4k video capability of the D850.
The battery life is rated at 1200 shots, which is better than the D800’s 900 shots, but shorter than the D850’s 1840 shots. Weighing 880 grams, the D810 is lighter than its predecessors and the D850.
Overall, the Nikon D810 is an excellent option for those looking for a professional DSLR camera with high image quality and a robust set of features. Despite being several years old, it remains a popular choice for many photographers.
8. Nikon D6
The Nikon D6 is a top-of-the-line DSLR camera, designed to cater to the needs of professional photographers. It comprises impressive features and upgrades, making it a worthy successor to the highly acclaimed Nikon D5. Released in February 2020, the D6 boasts an Expeed 6 image processor, a 20.8 MP CMOS sensor, and a 3.2-inch diagonal TFT-LCD touchscreen with 2,359,000 dots.
Like its predecessor, the D6 is a powerful sports and action photography camera, with a 14-fps continuous shooting speed and a 153-point autofocus system with 99 cross-type points. The D6 also has a faster triple-sensor arrangement for each focus point, providing greater accuracy and precision in autofocus performance.
The Nikon D6 and D5 share a similar body design, with the D6 weighing only 30 grams more than the D5. However, the D6 offers improved built-in GPS and Wi-Fi features, making it a more versatile camera. The D6 and D5 both have an impressive native ISO range of 100-102,400, which is expandable to 204,800-3,280,000, ensuring excellent image quality in low-light environments.
The Nikon D6 also boasts an incredible battery life, with up to 3,580 shots per charge, allowing photographers to shoot for longer periods without worrying about battery life. The Nikon D6 is an excellent choice for professional photographers looking for a reliable, high-performance camera.
9. Pentax 645D
- 40 megapixel CCD sensor provides a top resolution of 7264x5440
- Fully weather sealed and coldproof design resists rain, snow, dust and other environmental hazards during field use
- 14 Bit RAW files in Pentax PEF and Adobe DNG formats
Despite being over a decade old, the Pentax 645D is still a favorite among photographers who prefer medium-format cameras. With its 39.5MP CCD image sensor, this professional DSLR camera offers exceptional image quality, particularly in fashion and advertising photography. While its larger sensor size means longer focal lengths, it also results in a shallower depth of field and improved image quality.
Powered by a Prime II image processor, the Pentax 645D has a 3-inch 921k-dot LCD and an optical pentaprism viewfinder. It also features an advanced SAFOX IX+ focus sensor with 11 AF points, 9 of which are cross-type.
However, this medium-format camera has some disadvantages, including a low ISO rating of only 200-1000, expandable to 100-1600, a lack of video and Live View support, no built-in flash, Wi-Fi, or GPS, and a weight of 1,480 grams. Despite these limitations, the Pentax 645D remains a reliable and powerful for high-resolution image capture.
10. Pentax K-1 Mark II
- 36 MP AA filter less shake reduction sensor with APS C crop mode for compatibility with Pentax k mount lenses
- Hand Held Pixel Shift Resolution that allows 4 images to be complied into an superior image with increased color rendition and sharpness
- Engine Accelerometer for reduced image noise, faster focusing and increased image sharpness
As the successor to the K-1, Pentax’s first full-frame SLR camera, the K-1 Mark II has several modest upgrades that are well-suited for professional photographers, all at a reasonable price point.
The K-1 Mark II, launched in February 2018, features the same 36MP full-frame CMOS sensor, PRIME IV image processor, and a 3.2-inch fully articulating LCD screen as its predecessor. However, the K-1 Mark II also includes a new handheld Pixel Shift mode, which produces super-high-resolution images with reduced noise.
Moreover, the K-1 Mark II is the first full-frame Pentax camera to feature an accelerator unit that enhances full-time noise reduction during image processing. Additionally, it has a higher ISO output range of ISO 100-819200 and a slightly faster autofocus system. The K-1 Mark II has 33 autofocus points, of which 25 are cross-type, and it boasts a 4.4fps continuous shooting speed.
The camera does not have 4K video capture, but it can shoot full HD video at 1080/30p. It’s worth noting that due to its large size and magnesium alloy construction, the camera is relatively heavy at 1.01 kilos. The battery life is also 90 shots lower at 670 shots per charge. However, for fans of Pentax cameras, the K-1 Mark II is an excellent option for upgrading your camera gear.
11. Canon EOS R3
- High Image Quality with a Back-illuminated Stacked 24.1 Megapixel Full-frame CMOS Sensor
- DIGIC X Image Processor with an ISO range of 100-102400; Expandable to 204800
- High-speed continuous shooting of up to approx. 30 fps with electronic (silent) shutter and up to 12fps with Mechanical Shutter
The Canon EOS R3 boasts a backside-lit 24.1MP sensor with a mechanical shutter that can capture images at a rate of 12-30 fps with the electronic shutter. The electronic shutter also allows for buffering of 540 JPEGs or 150 RAW images. The camera’s stacked architecture enables it to achieve a world-record peak shutter speed of 1/64,000 seconds and sync flash with the quiet electronic shutter at a speed of 1/180 seconds, resulting in astounding speed.
The sensor’s 24.1MP resolution allows it to record oversampled 4K footage at up to 60p and 6K RAW footage at a maximum frame rate of 60p. Additionally, the camera supports Canon Log 3 profile and enables recording of 10-bit 4K up to 120p (significantly cleaner than 4K 120p in the EOS R5).
Canon’s in-body image stabilization performs admirably, especially when combined with IS lenses. With the RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM lens, it’s possible to take clear hand-held photos at shutter speeds as low as 1 second.
In low light, the R3 performs exceptionally well. Up to ISO 3200, noise is practically nonexistent, and the dynamic range barely decreases. Properly set up, photos taken at ISO 25,600 or even higher may still be used. Even at ISO 12,800, the noise is adequately managed.
12. Nikon Z9
- 45.7MP Stacked CMOS sensor and EXPEED 7 image processing. Fast powerful AF that can keep up with the fastest subjects and frame rates.
- Subject detection uses deep learning to automatically detect and track people, cats, dogs, birds, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, trains and planes in still and video with no menu changes.
- Capture 45.7MP stills at 20 or 30 fps; 120 fps stills at 11MP, all with full AF and AE, and no viewfinder blackout. 8K/30p video capture in-camera for over 2 hours recording time. 4K 120p slow motion video capture.
The Nikon Z9 is the first professional camera without a mechanical shutter, outperforming the Sony A1 and Canon EOS R3 with its lightning-fast 120fps burst shooting, 8K 60p performance, more than 212 hours of 8K 30p recording, and a lower price point.
The Z9’s full-frame 45.7MP stacked sensor produces a maximum stills resolution of 8256 x 5504. It features sensor-shift stabilization and can be operated up to 102400 ISO in extended mode. In terms of resolution and sensor specifications, the Z9 and Z7 are pretty comparable.
The Z9’s burst rates are impressive, with up to 20 fps in raw, 30 fps in JPEG, and 120 fps in 11 MP JPEG photos. However, users need to ensure they have sufficient memory cards.
The Nikon Z9 is one of the few mirrorless cameras that can record at such a high-resolution thanks to its 8K/30p video capability. Additionally, the Z9 offers oversampled 4K and features like Eye AF tracking, making it a superior video tool to the Nikon D6.