There’s never been a better time to put away the pocket cam and embrace the bigger and bulkier family of digital cameras. Your pictures will sparkle with the richness of the RAW format, greater ISO and shutter speed.
At less than $1700, these digital SLRs aren’t going to compete against professional models, but they will help you develop the the necessary skills to point you in the right direction. Which DSLR?
Generally, digital SLRs have their prices set according on a number of key digital SLR factors:
- Resolution/Image quality/sensor size
- Lens type/number of lenses/stability
- Shooting controls
- Physical attributes
A good DSLR will generally have a higher sensor size (measured in mm) and better detail, although it’s important not to be mislead by the marketing hype behind the megapixel talk, which is not quite as important as it once was two or three years ago.
The ability of the camera chip (e.g CMOS chip) to record the image and how well it handles the job of compressing and registering the light is one of the more important jobs of a digital SLR.
Other less vital specs are often clever whistle and bells which can hike a price up considerably, including a 'Live LCD viewfinder' (known as Liveview
. Pay attention to the Lens
It’s important to check the type of lens that comes with each camera, particularly if you’re purchasing online. Some manufacturers boast a dual-lens kit (or twin lens kit), which will usually cost a few hundred dollars more than the single lens option.
A single lens kit will usually come with an 18 – 70mm as standard. A second (dual) lens is typically of the telephoto variety and is good anywhere from 50/70mm – 250/300mm depending on the make and model.
Sony and Olympus offer in-camera stabilisation. Nikon and Canon make lenses that are image stabilised within the lens itself and offer no such in-camera image stabilisation.
When buying a camera kit, you will often be given the choice for a VR or IS lens, depending on the brand and the cost.
It’s also worth noting that some of the cheaper kit lenses that come standard with either Canon or Nikon are not image stabilised at all.
Image stabilised lens are priced at a premium to regular lenses and this should be reflected in the price before you buy. No lens kit?
You can even buy DSLRs without any lenses, referred to as a Body Only
option. This is usually intended for those who already own the appropriate lenses and just want to get the benefits of the new camera body and processing engine.The price is right
It was interesting to see that our A-listed, labs award winning
Sony A200 model is still the cheapest twin lens kit option on the market at the moment. Tscamerahouse have it for $748 - a great deal. It's also hundreds of dollars cheaper than any of the other brands which offer twin lens kits.
Olympus offers the cheapest DSLR on the market for barebones single lens kit models. Penta has the Olympus E-420 for $662 as a single lens kit option; perfect if you’re budget is strictly limited.
However, we still think you’re better off spending another $90 or so to get you the award winning twin lens Sony A200 kit, especially if you’re keen for longer zoom lenses.
The Nikon D90 is a bit of a dark horse. It’s not really on anyone’s award radar right now, but it’s a great example of a DSLR with specific HD video capabilities – a first for a DSLR in this market. While it’s not exactly cheap, the sensor is rather superior to most of the cameras we’ve listed in this price watch and digidirect have a good deal for a D90 at $1619.
If Canon is more your thing, then the EOS 1000 is priced fairly at $831. We like it because it ships with an IS lens, which is good for image stabilised pictures, and you can be sure there are many lens mounts to use with a Canon.
Sony Alpha A200 Where? TscamerahouseRRP:
Twin lens kit
Sony Alpha A350Where? Digital camera warehouse RRP:
$1055 (single lens kit)Bundled Lens:
Twin lens kit for $1189 or single lens at $1055
h2>Canon EOS 1000DWhere? Digital camera warehouse RRP:
$831 (single lens)Bundled Lens:
Single lens kit - 18-55mm IS Lens
Canon EOS 450DWhere? JctechRRP:
Twin lens kit – Image stabilised (IS)
Nikon D90Where? DigidirectRRP:
Single Lens kit - Nikor 18-105mm VR Lens
Olympus E-420Where? PentaRRP:
Single Lens kit