The Dummies guide to Digital SLR Cameras Part 2: 8 Entry Level Cameras

by Satish Suggala on November 21, 2008

In Part 1, we took are of a few of the big sounding words and also talked to an expert for his views. In this post we take a look at most of the popular entry level SLR cameras in the market.

There’s a simple rule of thumb when it comes to SLR’s. When the Japanese are fighting their chop sticks off to get the upgraded model out in the market, the older models become slightly cheaper. And 9 times out of 10, you won’t need the new features in the upgraded camera; at least as a beginner. Here’s a list of the finest entry level SLR’s in the market today.

Note
1) All cameras that are included in this guide are ‘half-frame’ cameras. This means that their sensors are almost half the size of a single photographic negative.
2) All prices are mentioned with standard kit lens.
3) Includes cameras priced upto $600.

Olympus E420 (Price $410)


Innovating has always been Olympus’ forte. They invented Live View and the Four Thirds system (allows smaller sensors and more interoperability). All this is now accessible in their entry level models, The E420 and E520. The E420 is the worlds smallest SLR and the image quality is on par with the flagship Olympus E3. The only thing missing is Image Stabilization. (Tip: Check out this video called “$1 Image Stabilizer“)

Nikon D40 (Price $446)

The D40 is an amazing entry level DSLR. It’s small, light, easy to use, hassle free and bereft of useless features which will haunt the nightmares of the amateur photographer.

Canon 1000D/Rebel XS (Price $475)

Canon and Nikon are usually at loggerheads over almost everything to point that you can see the applications of what Japanese MBA schools teach. Every photographer I’ve ever seen has either a Canon or Nikon.

The Canon 1000D is essentially a 400D with Live View thrown in for good measure. Everything else is pretty much the same. Watch out, it comes with a non image-stabilizer lens by default.

Canon 400D/Rebel XTi (Price $499)

When launched in 2006, the Rebel XTi caused a furor of sorts. It was quickly lapped up by the masses because it was a solid entry level camera, with enough to satiate the average to semi-pro shutterbug. And Its easy to use while at it. The only problem I see, is that its fairly bulky and yet doesn’t have Image Stabilization built in to the body.  So, the lenses can get costly.

Sony A200 (Price $499)

The A200 is a small upgrade over the older A100 with only the Image Stabilizer being improved. At the price, there are better alternatives. Its a fairly well-equipped camera, but could have priced a bit lower.

Olympus E520 (Price $505)

The E520 is the bigger brother to the smaller E420 with a chunkier feel and IS built into the body itself, which saves you the headache of checking whether lenses are IS or non-IS.

Nikon D60 (Price $552)

The D60 is an upgrade to the D40 which includes a larger pixel count (but not a larger sensor, mind) Live View and a Dust cleaner for the sensor. Just boils down to what you can afford.

Sony A300 (Price $599)

The A300 on the other hand has a tilting screen, the fastest and most natural looking Live View and a tele-converter (digital zoom, basically) button. Best of all you get 18-70mm lenses with both of the Alpha cameras while everyone offers slightly shorter lenses by default. Recommended.

Other cameras in this price point and feature segment

1) Pentax K200D (Price $565)
2) Samsung GX1S (Price $530)

I hope this guide helps you zero in on your next digital SLR. Happy clicking!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Arjun November 21, 2008 at 7:08 am

Killer stuff Satish, like I’ve told you before.

You should’ve kept the prices in rupees though.

Reply

Arjun November 21, 2008 at 12:38 pm

Killer stuff Satish, like I’ve told you before.

You should’ve kept the prices in rupees though.

Reply

Satish November 21, 2008 at 12:14 pm

@Arjun
Thank you so much, once more!
BTW, the prices are in dollars because prices vary with quite a large degree in India from shop to shop. The dollar prices will serve as an yardstick.

Reply

Satish November 21, 2008 at 5:44 pm

@Arjun
Thank you so much, once more!
BTW, the prices are in dollars because prices vary with quite a large degree in India from shop to shop. The dollar prices will serve as an yardstick.

Reply

JWRmedia December 9, 2008 at 12:12 am

Thanks for the useful information. Ive been thinking about getting a Nikon D60 for a while. My friend has one and the pictures are amazing… But quality cameras always seem so bulky- plus I’d have to take a year just to learn half of what it can do!

Reply

JWRmedia December 9, 2008 at 5:42 am

Thanks for the useful information. Ive been thinking about getting a Nikon D60 for a while. My friend has one and the pictures are amazing… But quality cameras always seem so bulky- plus I’d have to take a year just to learn half of what it can do!

Reply

Satish December 9, 2008 at 12:58 am

@JWR Media
Trust me, handling SLR cameras is not so difficult. Of course, learning and discovering is a continuous process with SLR’s, but you should be able to do a lot of photography right outside the box.

Reply

Satish December 9, 2008 at 6:28 am

@JWR Media
Trust me, handling SLR cameras is not so difficult. Of course, learning and discovering is a continuous process with SLR’s, but you should be able to do a lot of photography right outside the box.

Reply

Photo Sharing April 25, 2009 at 9:50 am

A fantastic read….very literate and informative. Many thanks….where is your RSS button ?

Reply

Photo Sharing April 25, 2009 at 3:20 pm

A fantastic read….very literate and informative. Many thanks….where is your RSS button ?

Reply

Lawyert August 27, 2009 at 5:40 am

Very useful in seeking to fit, thanks.

Reply

Lawyert August 27, 2009 at 11:10 am

Very useful in seeking to fit, thanks.

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