Not too many years ago the words entry-level and digital SLR would never be found in the same sentence. Now these cameras are common, and they are a great choice for those who are ready to move beyond the traditional point and shoot. Fortunately, there are several worthwhile options.
Canon Digital Rebel
The veteran of the entry level DSLRs, the Digital Rebel continues to be a strong contender year after year. There are many options available, and many retailers offer this camera in kit form with one or more lenses. A Rebel will cost about $400 for a 10 MP body and a little over $700 for an 18 MP body. Purchasing this in a kit offers a better value, as the combined price is cheaper than the individual price of a body and lens, and a beginner is going to need the lens to go with the body anyway.
Rebels offer the power of manually controlling every aspect of your shot, but combine this with the ability to fully automate everything, turning this photography power house into a really nice point and shoot with the turn of a knob. This flexibility allows the camera to grow with you as your photographic prowess increases.
This is Nikon’s answer to Canon’s Digital Rebel. Offering many similar features, the D3000 is as intuitive to use as a typical point and shoot. The price range for the D3000 is similar to that of the low-end for the Digital Rebel, although the model is not as broad as the Rebel line. As above, purchasing a kit will tend to provide the best value.
The big advantage of the D3000 is that it offers an interactive guide that teaches you to use the camera and some of its different settings. This is done using the 3 inch LCD, with step by step instructions to get you through the process of taking different shots. This is sure to be an aid to novices.
Sony Alpha A200K
Sony’s entry-level DSLR is the Alpha A200K. This camera is really geared toward the beginner, primarily offering a series of automatic shooting modes. The price is around $500 for a body only, although there are some nice kits that are only $100 more.
The Sony offers many automatic modes, but it is more cumbersome to use manual settings than with the Canon or Nikon. One perk is that this camera can use the Sony memory sticks, so if you already have some of these you will not need to worry about additional memory for your new DSLR.
These are a few of the top options in the entry-level DSLR market. Any one of these cameras will be leagues beyond the typical point and shoot. Remember that when you purchase an SLR you are purchasing into a lens system, so make sure the manufacturer you choose offers the types of lenses that interest you now and will fulfill your future photographic needs.