How To Find An Affordable DSLR- Part One
DSLRs are awesome. For those of you who don’t know what they are, DSLR stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex. Basically they are just professional, and highly customizable digital cameras. I’ve never owned one, but I’ve used several and wanted one for a long time, so a week ago I embarked on a Mission to find and purchase an affordable and high-Quality camera. Here’s a log of what I’ve found so far. I’ll post links to the next post on this journey as I work on this more.
Buying a DSLR is not a short term decision. It’s a decision that will affect your photography for likely a long time. Why? First of all, it’s expensive. DSLR prices range from $400 to $44,000 (see “A $44,000 Camera, Lens Not included“). Second of all, the brand you buy will likely be the brand you stick with. Lenses are usually compatible with any generation and model from that brand, but these systems are often proprietary meaning the lens will be useless if you buy another brand of camera. If your brand goes out of business, you may be stuck with hundreds of dollars in lenses.
So I started out looking at the most popular, and safe brands. I looked at Canon, and Nikon who are the two major manufacturers, as well as Pentax, and Sony. After days of searching I have narrowed it down to about ten cameras. Here’s what I’ve done, and what the reviews and I say.
Canon T2i (also known as 550D). This camera was very popular when it came out, and got rave reviews, but it is a few years old. It’s 18MP which is fantastic, and has an ISO range up to 6400 which means great low light performance. I’ve had Canon cameras before, and they haven’t been fantastic, but I’ve heard great things from photo buffs, professionals, and consumers. 9 point autofocus isn’t amazing, but it certainly suits my needs. From what I’ve read, this model has some nice manual video settings and full 1080p HD. It originally retailed for $700 but now I’m seeing prices on the body for as low as $470. This is a very nice option.
Canon T3i. The T2i’s younger more expensive cousin. According to some of my DSLR savy friends, It’s basically the T2i with a pop-out screen. That screen is nice, but it will cost you an extra $100+ over the T2i.
Update: Canon has now released the T4i, and T5i. The only real difference is that the screen has been replaced with a touch screen. Same sensor, and the touch screen kinda’ sucks. On the bright side, the fantastic T3i is cheaper now, so I’d recommend that.
Nikon D3100: At around $400 this camera is about as cheap as you will find a quality DSLR. This camera has a 14.2 MP which is significantly lower than the Canons, but still decent. The camera can also take full HD videos, and offers a fast 11 Point autofocus system. This camera offers up only half the ISO range of the T2i. It also has a significantly longer battery life. One Potential issue is that it doesn’t offer an external Microphone Jack, and sound quality on DSLRs is never great because of lens noise.
Nikon D5100: This camera offers a better featureset than the D3100, a pop-out screen, and 16.2 MP resolution plus all of the D3100 features. I believe it has a 3.5 mm mic jack, but I’m not sure. The D5100 body costs $650.
Update: The D3200 and D5200 have been updated with Wifi connectivity, and bigger sensors, improving dramatically over their predeccesors, the D3100, and D5100. Both are similarly priced to their predecessors.
So those are today’s discoveries. The next step for me is to go to Best buy and test them out. I’ll give you more details later. Bye
Sources Used: Snapsort.com Cnet.com, the internet [Editor’s Note: I ended up buying a Canon Rebel T3i and Saved a Boatload of money thanks to strategy]