Digital SLR Camera Buyers Guide

Posted: Oct 3 2007, 9:26am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 10 2010, 10:28am CDT, in Shopping | Shopping Tips


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Digital SLR Camera Buyers Guide
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If you are shopping for a digital camera to be given as a gift for a birthday, graduation, or Christmas you may have lots of questions about which camera type to buy. At the most basic level you need to decide what the camera will be used for and what the skill level of the person using the camera is. If your camera is just for shooting the occasional picture of friends and events a simple point-and-shoot camera may do the trick.

If the person using the camera wants to make artistic shots with complete control over aperture, ISO and shutter speed, you need a DSLR camera. DSLR cameras seem complex, but for the most part learning how to use them is a simple job that anyone can do. In fact, when in doubt many DSLR cameras feature auto modes that turn them into point-and-shoot cameras. However, when lighting conditions are challenging the DSLR will allow you to get a properly exposed image when a point-and-shoot camera simply can’t do it.

Let me give you an example of when a DSLR camera comes in handy. My daughter loves gymnastics and I tried, in vain, with a point-and-shoot camera to take a decent shot during class. The problem was that the flash on the point-and-shoot wasn’t bright enough expose the image properly. The point-and-shoot also wasn’t adjustable enough for me to change aperture, shutter speed and the ISO speed to get a good shot. Of all the pictures I took I did not end up with one correctly exposed image, they were all too dark and grainy. Not to mention the fact that the shutter speed and focus time were too slow to get fast moving targets in the shot.

I decided I had enough of missing pictures of my kids because the point-and-shoot I used was too slow and I bought a DSLR camera. Now I can get perfectly exposed images in most any condition using manual settings on the DSLR camera. One nice feature is that the shutter speed is fast enough to freeze fast action like soccer games and running kids. If you are having the same problems I did with poorly exposed images and you normally end up with nothing but your kids elbow in the image because your current digital camera is just too slow, this DSLR camera buyers guide is for you.

If you shop around and don’t need all the bells and whistles on a DSLR, you can find one for not much more than a high-end point-and-shoot camera. The cameras below are arranged in no particular order. Also keep in mind that DSLR cameras typically come in kit versions that include a lens and body only versions which do not.

Nikon D80 DSLR

The Nikon D80 is a higher-end DSLR camera that runs from around $800 to about $1300. The price ranges comes from kits containing the camera body only near $800 and kits with an 18-135mm lens are in the upper price range. The D80 is the camera I use and while I am far from an expert with the D80, it is a fantastic camera. Storage is to SD and SDHC cards.

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Nikon D80

Pentax K100D DSLR

The Pentax K100D is widely known to be one of the best bargains in the DSLR field. With careful shopping you can find the K100D in body only kits for about $400. I paid more than that for my last point-and-shoot camera. For around $459 you can get the Pentax K100D with an 18 - 55mm lens in kit form ready to shoot right out of the box. The K100D also stores images to SD and SDHC cards. One of the nice features of the K100D is shake reduction built into the camera body. That means you don’t need to buy more expensive lenses that have shake-reduction built-in. The drawback is that shake reduction in the camera body isn’t as effective as shake reduction built into the lens.

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Pentax K100D

Canon Rebel XTi (also known as the EOS 400D)

Priced a few hundred dollars less than the Nikon D80 is the Canon Rebel XTi or EOS 400D as it is known. The XTi is a 10.1-megapixel camera that also includes low pass filter vibration at power on that cleans dust off the sensor for clear images. The Rebel XTi can be had in body only form for around $700 and in kit with an 18 – 55mm lens for around $900.

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Canon Rebel XTi

Sony Alpha DSLR-A700

Sony is a newer entrant into the DSLR market with their Alpha A700 camera. One of the big problems I have with Sony cameras is that they use a proprietary memory format called Memory Stick Pro. With digital cameras that use SD cards, there are many makers of storage media, which brings prices down. With the proprietary Sony format and CompactFlash, the prices for storage are higher. However, shoppers who already own CompactFlash cards will be glad to hear that he A700 can use CF cards as well. The A700 is also one of the more expensive cameras at about $1400 with a lens. If you are buying your first digital camera, the memory format may not matter much to you and the Sony A700. The A700 does ship with a remote control that allows you to control the shutter.

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Sony Alpha DSLR-A700

Olympus E-410 EVOLT

The Olympus E-410 has been around for a bit over a year and is one of the less expensive DSLR cameras in this list coming in at $500 to $800. The E-410 has a 10.9-megapixel resolution and the kit lens is a 14-42mm unit. The camera can shoot up to 6 fps and stores images to CompactFlash, Microdrive, and xD picture cards. This camera is also one of the smaller and more lightweight DSRL cameras available.

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Olympus E-410 EVOLT

We have more shopping guides coming and you can read them all in our Shoping Tips section.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/3" rel="author">Shane McGlaun</a>
Leading our review center, Shane McGlaun (Google) knows technology inside out. His extensive experience in testing computer hardware and consumer electronics enable him to effectively qualify new products and trends. If you want us review your product, please contact Shane.
Shane can be contacted directly at




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