Best Professional DSLR Cameras in 2021

Professional DSLR Cameras 2021

When purchasing a DSLR camera, you have to know what you’re up against. As DSLR cameras are often quite expensive, purchasing even an entry-level DSLR can cost you more than you would like. But, what if you just want to make the most out of your photography skills?

What if you want a photo quality that’s simply unmatched and jaw-dropping? Should you THEN buy a professional DSLR?

It depends. A professional DSLR camera with a full-frame sensor supports larger pixels which grant noise-free photos, even when shooting at high ISO settings. The details and the sharpness are always on-point, as well as a tight depth of field, making it versatile for almost every photography niche.

Do you still want to buy a professional DSLR? I mean, that’s why you’re here, right?

Here are the ten best professional DSLRs for every photography enthusiast in 2021.

1. Nikon D850

2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

3. Canon EOS 5DS R

4. Sony Alpha A99 II

5. Nikon D5

6. Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

7. Nikon D810

8. Pentax K-1 II

9. Nikon D610

10. Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Related: 8 Tips on How to Use DSLR Camera for Beginners

Top 10 Best Professional DSLR Cameras in 2021

Best Professional DSLR

1. Nikon D850

Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body
  • 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

This camera is probably the jack of all trades when it comes to photography. Simply put it is amazing no matter what type of photography you are into. Nikon D850 is a well-known full-frame DSLR that is a choice of many professional photographers thanks to its amazing 45.4MP sensor. The camera comes with a professional-grade design that’s both sleek and rugged, which will attract the attention of every photography enthusiast. Nikon D850 manages to bring stunning performance, with remarkable dynamic range and stellar high-ISO performance. After all, not many cameras can beat the 153-point autofocus.

Being one of the most complete DSLRs on the list, the camera comes with 7fps burst shooting and a high-quality 3.2-inch LCD screen. The screen allows for easier navigation and adds to the complexity of the camera. Nikon D850 has an option to record 4K videos, and the quality is just amazing. If you prioritize the image quality in any given condition and you love tons of options to work with, Nikon D850 is an excellent buy.

With its price, it’s almost a steal deal and a great companion for years to come. This is by far the best buy you can have if you are really into serious professional photography.

Sensor Full frame CMOS
Megapixels 45.4 MP
Maximum Image Resolution 8256×5504
Autofocus 153-point AF, 99 cross-type
Screen type 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen
Maximum continuous shooting speed 7 fps
Maximum video resolution 4K, 30fps
ISO 64-25600
Ports USB 3.0, mini HDMI, 3.5mm microphone jack.
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Battery 1840 shots
Released October 2017

Check out the current price for Nikon D850 on Amazon.

2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera...
  • 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.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV comes second on our list, but it was really a close battle with Nikon D850. It is also well rounded, and when it comes to choosing Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or Nikon D850, you need to ignore this ranking and buy the camera based on lenses you have already. This camera has an amazing full frame 30.4 MP sensor. Do not be fooled by the low MP count because lower MP comes with some advantages. When shooting higher ISO lower MP cameras will have a more balanced image with less noise compared to high MP count.

It can also record in 4K, and the quality is great, but Nikon D850 just has more natural colors. One of the things that I don’t like about this camera is the fixed screen. I just find it amazing that with this price point Canon forgot to implement a tilted screen.

This camera has a great design and takes less time to get used to compared to Nikon D850. It is weather sealed so you can take pictures whenever you want. Simply put if you already have some expensive lenses made for Canon buy this camera instead of Nikon D850.

Sensor Full frame CMOS
Megapixels 30.4 MP
Maximum Image Resolution 6720 x 4480
Autofocus 61-point AF, 41 cross-type
Screen type 3.2-inch touchscreen
Maximum continuous shooting speed 7 fps
Maximum video resolution 4K, 30fps
ISO 100-32000
Ports USB 3.0, mini HDMI, 3.5mm microphone jack.
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Battery 900 shots
Released September 2016

Check out the current price for Canon EOS 5D Mark IV on Amazon.

3. Canon EOS 5DS R

Canon EOS 5DS R Digital SLR with Low-Pass Filter...
  • LPF (Low-pass filter) effect cancellation takes full advantage of the original resolving power of the 506 effective megapixels CMOS sensor, delivering even higher resolution images
  • Newly designed 506 Megapixel full-frame CMOS helps deliver ultra-high resolution images
  • EOS Scene Detection System features a 150,000-pixel RGB+IR Metering SensorPurchase this product between May 1, 2016 and July 30, 2016 and get 13 months of free damage protection from Canon The product must be registered within 30 days of the purchase date to be eligible

Canon EOS 5DS R is a beautiful, full-frame DSLR that will ring a bell if you’re a professional photographer. This beauty comes with top-notch design and great build quality, as well as some features that make this camera stand out. The first and main feature of this DSLR is a whopping 50.6MP image sensor that’s among the biggest out there. And if you’re worried about the image quality, we can confidently say that this one is among the best on our list. Being on the more expensive side, this camera will surely fulfill your expectations.

The high-quality optical viewfinder works really well, and the camera can shoot 5fps maximum burst speed. However, many users reported that the photos exhibit some noise at high ISO settings, which is indeed true. And if we add the fact that the camera doesn’t support ISO above 6400, we can say that we’re pretty much limited here. If you plan on shooting in the low-light conditions, Canon EOS 5DS R is not the best option.

But, if you’re satisfied with enormous image quality and lightweight, yet rigid design, Canon EOS 5DS R represents a great buy. Oh, and let’s not forget it records in 1080p video, which packs punchy colors and lots of details, though 4K video recording would be much better.

Sensor Full frame
Megapixels 50.6 MP
Maximum Image Resolution 8688×5792
Autofocus 61-point High-Density Reticular
Screen type LCD Display, 3.2”
Maximum continuous shooting speed 5 fps
Maximum video resolution 1920×1080, 30fps
ISO 100-6400
Ports HDMI, USB 3.0, 3.5mm microphone jack
Connectivity N3-type wired-remote terminal
Battery 700 shots
Released June 2015

Check out the current price for Canon EOS 5DS R on Amazon.

4. Sony Alpha A99 II

Sony a99II 42.4MP Digital SLR Camera with 3" LCD,...
  • Up to 12fps at 424MP continuous shooting with AE/AF tracking, World’s first 79 hybrid AF cross-point array for unmatched AF tracking
  • Operating temperature:0°C - 40°C (+32°F - +104°F)C.424MP full-frame sensor w/ no low-pass filter up to ISO 102,4004, 4K movie recording w/full pixel readout in full-frame or super 35, 5-axis in-body image stabilization optimized for full-frame sensor
  • High bitrate XAVC S5 , S-log, slow/quick frame rates6, 4:2:2 HDMI out, 4D Focus hybrid phase AF w/ 79-point sensor plus 399-point on imager Viewfinder Type : 13 cm (05 type) electronic viewfinder, XGA OLED

Sony Alpha A99 II is an amazing full-frame DSLR from the company that’s well known for producing one of the best mirrorless cameras out there. To be honest, I feel like this camera needs a lot more attention than it has, simply because it packs a plethora of features. The 42.4 MP BSI-CMOS sensor comes with 399-point autofocus which works like a charm. This results in properly exposed photos that have a lot of quality. If you like burst shooting, you’ll be happy to hear that you can do it at 12fps, which is above what many DSLR manufacturers offer at this price.

The tilt-angle touchscreen is a nice addition, too! You can tilt it and set it in a position you want. And what about the video? Well, you can shoot at 4K and the quality is really amazing. Design-wise, Sony didn’t reinvent the wheel, but we can say that it’s sufficient, the camera is also weather sealed. One of the downsides that keep this camera from getting higher on our list is its battery life.

A single butterfly will easily outlive this battery, especially for heavy users.

Sensor Full frame BSI-CMOS
Megapixels 42.4 MP
Maximum Image Resolution 7952 x 5304
Autofocus 399-point AF
Screen type 3-inch tilt-angle touchscreen
Maximum continuous shooting speed 12.0 fps
Maximum video resolution 4K, 30fps
ISO 100-25600
Ports Dual SD card slots, USB 2.0
Connectivity Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth
Battery 490 shots
Released November 2016

Check out the current price for Sony Alpha A99 II on Amazon.

Related: Best Lenses for Sony Cameras in 2021

5. Nikon D5

Nikon D5 DSLR 20.8 MP Point & Shoot Digital...
  • 20.8MP FX-Format CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 5 Image Processor
  • 3.2" 2.36m-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor

Now we are going for the big guns. The next two cameras on our list are quite expensive. Nikon D3 is double the price of our first 4 cameras on the list and still, they are ranked fifth and sixth?

Well, there is a reason for this. The next two cameras are not for everyone. If you are really into fast action photography like sports or wildlife (fast moving animals) and if you need to shoot at a high ISO then these two cameras are made for you. If not then there is just no point paying twice more for these cameras.

Nikon D5 is a full-frame DSLR camera that’s tough to outweigh. If you love working on your biceps while you record a video or shooting a photo, this one is a great way to go. It comes with a 20.8MP CMOS sensor and a whopping 173-point, 99 cross-type autofocus system. Needless to say that this system works like a charm, and the performance in every given condition is simply staggering. The ISO range is also something that will make your jaw drop to the ground – we’re talking about ISO 3,280,000.

But, is burst shooting any good? It is amazing! With its 12fps of continuous shooting speed, you’ll be able to successfully shoot sports events, even in low-light conditions.

This one is being used by many professionals worldwide. However, like I said if you are not going for sports photography or you don’t need a high ISO camera then this camera is not for you.

Sensor Full frame CMOS
Megapixels 20.8 MP
Maximum Image Resolution 5568×3712
Autofocus 173-point AF, 99 cross-type
Screen type 3.2-inch LCD
Maximum continuous shooting speed 12 fps
Maximum video resolution 4K, 30 fps
ISO 100-102400
Ports Mini HDMI, 3.5mm microphone jack, USB 3.0
Connectivity Wi-Fi, GPS
Battery 3780 shots
Released January 2016

Check out the current price for Nikon D5 on Amazon.

6. Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Canon EOS-1DX Mark II DSLR Camera (Body Only)
  • 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

Wondering why we put Canon EOS-1D X Mark II on this spot? Well, its the same thing like with the Nikon D5, this camera is not for everyone. It’s true that it’s a flagship camera, but the price is still too high. It’s clear that Canon designed this camera as a choice for sports and wildlife photography due to its astonishing 14 fps burst shooting. The 20.2MP sensor is also one of the lowest here. If you’re buying a camera primarily for the video recording, this is the one you want.

Another thing worth mentioning here is the low-light capabilities of the camera. It’s really impressive. The downside of the camera is the limited touchscreen functionality and the 3.2-inch display which isn’t movable. On top of that, I found the menu to be quite confusing, despite using a lot of DSLR cameras. Canon definitely needed to put some work in there.

If you ask me, the only advantage this camera has over Nikon D5 is the video quality and faster burst shooting. That’s why it’s on this spot. If you are trying to choose between Nikon D5 and this camera you need to make the decision based on the lenses you already have. If you have lenses for a Canon camera just buy this one if you don’t then Nikon D5 wins a close battle.

Sensor Full frame CMOS
Megapixels 20.20 MP
Maximum Image Resolution 5472×3648
Autofocus 61-point, 41 cross-type AF
Screen type 3.2-inch, 1620000 dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed 14 fps
Maximum video resolution 4K, 30 fps
ISO 100-51200
Ports USB 3.0, mini HDMI, stereo mini jack, the N3-type remote control terminal
Connectivity GPS, Wi-Fi
Battery 1020 shots
Released February 2016

Check out the current price for Canon EOS-1D X Mark II on Amazon.

7. Nikon D810

Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body
  • 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

Nikon D810 is a DSLR that isn’t going to exceed any of your expectations, yet it’s a near-perfect all-rounder. With its current price, I would say that it is better to kick in a few hundred dollars and buy a Nikon D850. Once again, we have an optical viewfinder that does a solid job and a 36.3 MP full frame CMOS sensor that provides good quality images. Nikon D810 has a 51-point autofocus system, which works really nice, although it’s not exceptional.

The burst speed is 5 fps and the video resolution comes at 1080p. While the complaint against the lack of 4K video recording might be futile, I’m still not satisfied with the exclusion of touchscreen that is also fixed.

Nikon D810 stands as one of the best all-rounders on our list, offering solid professional performance. Don’t expect anything superior from it or your expectations will be crushed.

Sensor Full frame CMOS
Megapixels 36.3 MP
Maximum Image Resolution 7360 x 4912
Autofocus 51-point AF
Screen type 3.2-inch fixed
Maximum continuous shooting speed 5 fps
Maximum video resolution 1080p, 60 fps
ISO 64-12800
Ports 3.5mm microphone jack, mini HDMI, USB 3.0
Connectivity Wi-Fi (optional), GPS, Bluetooth
Battery 1200 shots
Released July 2014

Check out the current price for Nikon D810 on Amazon.

Related: Best Lenses for Nikon Cameras in 2021

8. Pentax K-1 II

Pentax K-1 Mark II Full Frame 36MP Weather...
  • 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

If you care about build quality and sturdiness, Pentax K-1 II is going to ring a bell for you. This camera knows its business and it’s a solid, robust, and sturdy companion that’s going to endure even a nasty fall to the ground. It even features weather seals… hooray! As for the photography capabilities, you’ll be happy to have a huge 36.4MP sensor. The pivoting screen is here and it’s a good one, with 3.2 inches in diagonal size. It’s not a touchscreen, though. The presence of 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization isn’t going to affect positively only your videos, but also photos, which is something new.

This will also prevent your photos from being blurry and looking like a fuzzy and underexposed mess. Thanks to the shifting sensor which goes through 4 series of exposures, the images are super detailed. My complaint, however, goes towards maximum burst speed of 4.4/6.4 fps, with 6.4fps being reserved for APS-C cropped mode. Also one of the downsides is that it doesn’t record in 4K. Just imagine a gorgeous 4K video with this kind of stabilization… that would be super nice.

One of the best things about this camera is its price. You will get a professional grade DSLR camera for a lower price and that is just amazing. This is a recommended buy if you are low on the budget because this camera even at this price range has a full-frame CMOS sensor.

Sensor Full frame CMOS
Megapixels 36.4 MP
Maximum Image Resolution 7360×4912
Autofocus 33-point AF
Screen type 3.2-inch pivoting LCD screen
Maximum continuous shooting speed 4.4/6.4 fps
Maximum video resolution 1080p, 30 fps
ISO 100-819200
Ports SD card slot, USB 2.0, microphone, and headphones jack
Connectivity Wi-Fi, GPS
Battery 670 shots
Released March 2018

Check out the current price for Pentax K-1 II on Amazon.

9. Nikon D610

Nikon D610 24.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR...
  • 24.3MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • 39 point AF system (9 cross type)
  • ISO 100 6400 expandable up to 25,600

I know. It’s not the newest camera on our list, but this DSLR is still a way to go, even in 2021. By the way, it’s the cheapest DSLR here and it’s great for photography enthusiasts. The 24.3MP sensor might not sound that incredible, but the image quality is still very good. The optical viewfinder does a great job of capturing the important details and a continuous shooting speed of 6 fps is still a great deal. As you could guess, it doesn’t have 4K video recording and you’ll be too spoiled if you wanted this feature at a price this low.

As far as the build quality goes, we can say that it’s stellar. I mean, packing enough sturdiness in a lightweight body like this one isn’t an easy task to do, and Nikon quite comfortably did it. The downside of this camera is the fixed screen, so no fancy tilting around here. On top of that, the absence of Wi-Fi and NFC connections can still be an issue for someone, as most of the modern DSLRs have these functions.

If you’ve never owned a full-frame DSLR, this is a great product to start from.

Sensor Full frame CMOS
Megapixels 24.3 MP
Maximum Image Resolution 6016×4016
Autofocus Phase detect autofocus
Screen type 3.2-inch LCD
Maximum continuous shooting speed 6 fps
Maximum video resolution 1080p, 30 fps
ISO 100-6400, expandable to 50-25600
Ports USB 2.0, mini HDMI
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Battery 900 shots
Released October 2013

Check out the current price for Nikon D610 on Amazon.

10. Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame CMOS with...
  • 22MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • 6 frames per second continuous shooting
  • 61-point AF system. Image type : JPEG, RAW (14-bit Canon original), RAW + JPEG simultaneous recording enabled

You are probably wondering what is a camera from 2012 doing on our list?

There are not many professional full-frame grade DSLR cameras on the market. This is because the camera photography market is dominated by brands such as Nikon and Canon. Their old versions of cameras made for professional photographers are still good and better than the most entry and mid-range DSLR cameras.

This camera has the same problem as the Nikon D810 if you can pay a few hundred extra dollars you should buy the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. Still, this being an older camera it goes on a discount very often and when that happens it is really worth the buy.

For some, no touchscreen or the 22.3 MP sensor may feel outdated but this camera still produces quality images. But for this price, there are better options available. It just lacks some basic stuff that is normal in today’s DSLR cameras and this is why this is the last DSLR camera on our list.

Sensor Full frame CMOS
Megapixels 22.3 MP
Maximum Image Resolution 5760 x 3840
Autofocus 61-point AF, 41 cross-type
Screen type 3.2-inch screen
Maximum continuous shooting speed 6 fps
Maximum video resolution 1080p, 30fps
ISO 100-25600
Ports USB 2.0, HDMI, 3.5mm microphone jack.
Connectivity Wireless connectivity – optional
Battery 950 shots
Released March 2012

Check out the current price for Canon EOS 5D Mark III on Amazon.

Related: Is Canon or Nikon Better for Beginners?

Why Should You Buy a Professional DSLR?

Professional DSLR

Do you really need a professional DSLR in order to call yourself a professional photographer?

Not exactly. Many professional photographers use mirrorless or ASP-C DSLR cameras and they do a fairly good job. However, if you feel like you have all the necessary photography skills and your old camera is disputing you in showing your best performance, then you should buy a new professional DSLR camera. As we mentioned tons of times in our articles, a better camera doesn’t necessarily make you a better photographer and that’s a FACT.

Related: How to Choose the Best Camera for Your Needs – 7 Step Guide

The professional DSLR cameras are better at almost everything than mid-range or entry-level cameras. Since they have larger sensors, they are able to produce noise-free photos, as well as take advantage of the streamlined depth of field and a larger number of focus points. With a professional DSLR, you’ll be able to take your photo quality to a whole new level, whether it’s shooting wildlife and sports events or simply shooting some landscapes and nature.

For a photographer that wants to be ready to take action in every given condition, a professional DSLR camera is simply a must-buy.

Related: Best Professional Mirrorless Cameras in 2021

Best Professional DSLR Cameras in 2021