Cheapest ever, now in line with full-size DSLRs with similar features and image quality
If you want to take great pictures and have better control over your composition than a point-and-shoot or smartphone camera will provide, a DSLR is the most logical choice. In recent years, mirrorless 4/3rds camera systems have taken a chunk out of the DSLR's traditional market, but integrated optical viewfinders and a few other features put the average DSLR ahead for many enthusiasts.
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You don't have to get a mirrorless instead of a DSLR to get a more compact, lighter camera capable of manual settings and good IQ. The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is the smallest and lightest DSLR in the world, and today it's down to $630 with kit lens. Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR with 18-55mm Lens