Entry Level DSLR Cameras: Which One Should You Choose?

Introduction: How, where and which Entry Level DSLR Camera should you pick?

You would like to buy your first camera or secondary camera. There are so many options out there when you want to buy one, which really makes it hard deciding which one to get. That is where the need arises to take the help of experts in this area.

The digital cameras have long outdated the film cameras. Please do not get me wrong. Film cameras can give great results, but mastering its techniques can be a great hassle, which is not the same in case of digital cameras. This is the major cause behind the digital cameras being so popular these days. Now, the digital cameras also have variations.

You may just buy a point and shoot zoom camera, or opt for a DSLR. Let us help you decide which camera is right for you. Both the zoom cameras and DSLR cameras have their pros and cons, and it really depends on individual needs which one would you prefer.

Why would you want to get a entry-level DSLR?

There can be quite a few reasons you chose this option. First, you might want to try your luck in the digital photography world and see yourself as a successful professional. On the other hand, you just want to take clearer and greater images and want to have more control over the camera. Or, your expertise has outgrown your previous point-and-shoot one.

As for professionals, the full-frame DSLR cameras and the high-end equipment they usually use need special setups and are comparatively heavier. Though they are the best choices when it comes to serious professional jobs, using them for smaller events or everyday use is quite troublesome. And that makes a simpler and lighter entry level DSLR very desirable for them as a secondary backup.

Whichever your reason is, a good entry level DSLR is the best choice. That goes for both the amateurs and the professionals. Now, before buying one, several things you must consider in all the entry level DSLR cameras that meet most of your requirements.

Things to take under consideration:

Which brand should you get?

If you are not trying to be a professional photographer someday, and here I am guessing you would not need to consider multiple lens options, you can relax a bit. There are plenty of brands like Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Panasonic, Olympus, Fujifilm and Sigma to choose from. For everyday purpose- such as travel, occasion, parties you should give utmost priority to easy of use with adequate image quality as that is going to make changes in the photos you take. All the other options you would find pretty much same in any brand, if you were not trying get in the technical stuffs of the camera and want your camera to take care of that.

However, when you want to do some serious (better) photography there are many other things to consider along with ease of use and automatic features. Different purposes require different specialized lenses. As not all the brands provide a wide range of them, it is best to go with the two most popular brands, either Canon or Nikon. All the professional photographers are seen to use these brands both for their professional use, and as the backup camera (secondary camera) they keep along, cause exchanging lenses is much easier if you have same brand.

Camera Sensor:

Now this is very important as the quality of a picture depends largely on the image sensor the camera has. You will find two types of sensors mentioned everywhere. One is CCD, another is CMOS. The newest cameras include a CMOS sensor these days due to the lower production cost, but formerly all the cameras used to have a CCD sensor that is generally known to result in better image quality. The full frame DSLR cameras use bigger image sensors than the crop bodied ones, and are usually better. But you also need to pay a higher price for these camera bodies and the lenses that would be compatible with them. Where for pro photographers the full frames camera should be the option as their primary equipment, amateurs can easily choose a crop bodied one if they want to save some money on their cameras.

Difference in image size depends from brand and camera you pick, mostly its x1.4 Nikon, x1.6 Canon. Meaning cropped image size for ratio of 1.4 or 1.6. Images on cropped sensor cameras appear closer but cut on edges compared to image from full frame sensor cameras (with same lens).

Camera body vs Lenses:

If you plan to buy high-end equipment for your camera later on, you should choose the camera body very wisely. It is very much needed to see which lenses you would like to buy, and whether they would be compatible with the body you are choosing. Generally, camera bodies come and go, but lenses tend to remain for much longer. Nobody uses the same body for 10 years straight, but examples of using the same lens for that or even longer period are not rare.

I believe that today you cant miss with buying Canon or Nikon cameras, most cameras have good quality plastic bodies, just be aware, that weather sealing is main difference between entry level DSLR cameras and DSLR cameras, but as it is now, soon enough we will have weather sealed entry level cameras on market.

Weather sealed bodies are great if you can find one! Now who doesn’t know that good things come with greater expenses and between there must be some difference between entry and professional DSLR camera ;)

Metal body VS Plastic body:

Though most of the good entry level DSLR cameras have a plastic body, you should never forget the use of a metal bodied one. Where the plastic ones are made for ease of use and reduce the weight, metal ones are meant for better durability and heat conduction while video shooting. A good zoom camera dedicated to video shooting can be your preference as they are metal bodied and are really helpful in this purpose. Even then, when you are making videos with your DSLR camera, it is a very important factor that needs to be taken care of. The Nikon D700 owns a metal body; the Nikon D7000 and Canon EOS 7D also uses magnesium alloy ring. On the other hand, many of the others are wrapped in a nice plastic body like the Nikon D3000. Nikon D5000, Nikon D3100, Nikon D5100, Nikon D3200, Canon EOS 600D, Canon EOS 550D and many others.

Megapixels:

It is a popular misconception that the bigger the megapixel number is, the better the camera. The truth is, the megapixel is not the only parameter for judging a DSLR, there are many other factors that need to be simultaneously improved for a camera to be a really good one.

For an example, the Nikon D40, having only 6 megapixels, can yield such better result than many other newer Nikon cameras with higher resolutions that a few of the D40 owners would ever want to let go of it.

Bigger megapixel number helps ifs you want to make extra-large prints out of them and allows you to do extensive post processing like cropping without messing the image quality much. Though as most of us only pile up the photos in our computers or make 4"X6" prints, and if so, the megapixel should be the last of our headaches.

Weight and size:

Entry level DSLRs tend to weigh more than the point-and-shoot and even zoom ones commonly, but if you try to compare in between only the entry level DSLRs, you will get a maximum of 200g variation. The size and weight should not matter until you do not like to carry anything with you for long and have smaller hands.

When weight and size is a major concern, the better option is to check out the different zoom cameras, which also produce remarkably good images, have the necessary options altogether and are much lighter.

Lenses:

Entry level DSLRs come with detachable lenses like DSLRs. There are advantages and disadvantages for such use. We could compare it to cars or any other products like bikes, laptops etc. People would like them to be lighter, stronger, faster, better, comfortable, nicer etc and for such requests there are always above average equipment that can meet your criteria.

For best quality and normal price, lenses are made for narrow purposes, so if you want to take shoots of people close ups (portraits) you need something like well known 50mm f1.8 or f1.4 lens, that does job pretty well.

For Macro you can go for 100mm f.28 Macro, for wild life you should get bigger telephoto lens, like 300mm, or even 400mm and above, for indoors, architecture interior shoots you would need as wide as possible 10-22mm, 10-20mm, or similar lens (depends on brand you pick). You should know what would you like to shoot, and build your inventor by your need. Remember that good lenses will most probably stay with you longer than starting entry level DSLR body, in case you want to go for next step, getting your DSLR.

Price:

How much you are willing to spend on your next camera would have an impact on your decision, as you need to calculate the expenses on not only the body, but also which lenses and accessories would you buy with it and how much you would like to spend in total. While many of the users are satiesfied with the kit provided; from semi pro to pro shooters need to work their way out and make the correct balance between the amount spent on the camera gears and the amount spent on accessories like external flash, memory cards, battery grip, extra batteries, tripod, soft-boxes, light-boxes, reflector umbrellas, filters and other need ones, especially when they need to do it all in a limited cash.

Though it is good if you are flexible on the price as it would give you more options, nevertheless, you should know that the most expensive equipment does not always make the best camera and you can always find great package deals even on a tight budget.

Try to find what best buy is for you. Meaning best you can get for money you are willing to spend. Think on longer run.

Full frame entry-level DSLR cameras: Reality?

Rumors are running in the air about the full frame entry level DSLR cameras both Canon and Nikon are about to bring in the market. As the full frame DSLR cameras are quite expensive, many of the photo enthusiasts do not feel the need of it. On the contrary, thousands of professionals are also out there who would die to get a hold of a full-frame one, but cannot only because of the cost. The new full frame entry-level DSLR cameras can be a dream come true for them as they are going to be the cheaper alternatives. Nikon is heard to release their full frame entry-level DSLR, the Nikon D600 in this summer. Nikon D600 will probably come with Auto DX crop mode, dual SD card support, in-camera RAW editor, built-in time-lapse functionality, possible integrated GPS and even an external battery grip!

While Nikon releases alternative to their pro level DSLR the Nikon D700, rumors are spreading fast as well about Canon competing successfully with their full-frame alternate of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II as well.

Now this is something I am sure the true admirers are ready to hold on to. Do not forget to stay tuned for more information on them!

Good entry level DSLR camera deals you should consider:

Canon:

The best thing about Canon cameras are that they provide good features at a much reasonable rate, and with their new EOS technology all the cameras have built in auto focus motor. Take note that Rebel T3i, T2i, T1i, is series in USA, while in Europe those are 600D, 550D and 1100D cameras (in Japan those same cameras are: Kiss X5, Kiss X4, Kiss X50) .

Canon EOS Rebel T3i/Canon EOS 600D/Canon Eos Kiss X5:

600D has flipable back LCD
Canon EOS Rebel T3i (600D) is like T2i (550D) with flip back LCD

T3i body only T3i with 18-135mm lens T3i 18-55mm T3i (600D) Back View

Canon EOS 600D is a great option for an entry level DSLR. May it be hobbyists, casual photographers, semi-pro, or pro photographers, Canon EOS 600D has always been chosen as their favorite partner in photography. Few of different features from T2i/550D/Kiss X4 are in menu, but those could be done with firmware upgrade.

Some of the Canon EOS 600D specifications are listed here:

Features:

[list style=”check”]
  • Has a flip out screen
  • Weight 1.2 lb / 20.11 oz / 570 g
  • Effective resolution: 17.9 megapixels
  • Max image resolution: 5184 x 3456
  • Sensor: CMOS APS-C 22.3 x 14.9mm (crop x1.6)
  • Shutter speed: 30 – 1/4000 sec
  • Light sensitivity: ISO 100 – ISO 6400/12,800 (expanded)
  • Flash max sync speed: 1/200 sec
  • Built-in flash: Yes (Pop-up) (range 13m)
  • Continuous shooting: 3.7 fps
  • 9 point cross type autofocus
  • Digital zoom: Yes (3-10x )
  • Full HD video ([email protected]) enabled
  • Card type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Screen resolution: 1,040k dots
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Reviews of Canon EOS Rebel T3i/Canon EOS 600D/Canon EOS Kiss X5:

B&H Customer Reviews

Testfreaks

Dpreview

Amazon Customer Reviews

Video Reviews

Cnet Review (ads before video)

Digital Rev

Canon EOS Rebel T2i/Canon EOS 550D/ Canon EOS Kiss X4:

Canon EOS Rebel T2i/Canon EOS 550D/ Canon EOS Kiss X4 with 18-55mm Lens

T2i Body View T2i - 18-55mm

This one is even cheaper, and the features are alike the Canon EOS 600D except for the flip out screen. If this does not matter, one can easily go for the cheaper Canon EOS Rebel T2i (550D) instead.

Features:

[list style=”check”]
  • Weight 1.17 lb / 18.70 oz / 530 g
  • Effective resolution: 17.9 megapixels
  • Max image resolution: 5184 x 3456
  • Sensor: CMOS APS-C 22.3 x 14.9mm (crop x1.6)
  • Shutter speed: 30 – 1/4000 sec
  • Light sensitivity: ISO 100 – ISO 6400/12,800 (expanded)
  • Flash max sync speed: 1/200 sec
  • Built-in flash: Yes (Pop-up) (range 13m)
  • Continuous shooting: 3.7 fps
  • 9 point cross type autofocus
  • Digital zoom: Yes (3-10x )
  • Full HD video ([email protected]) enabled
  • Card type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
[/list]

 

Reviews of Canon EOS Rebel T3i/Canon EOS 550D/Canon EOS Kiss X4:

B&H Customer Reviews

Testfreaks

Dpreview

Amazon Customer Reviews

Video Reviews

Cnet Review

Digital Rev

Canon EOS Rebel T3/Canon EOS 1100D/ Canon EOS Kiss X50:

Canon Rebel T3 with Kit lens 18-55mm
Canon EOS Rebel T3 /1100D / Kiss X50 with Kit lens 18-55mm

Canon EOS Rebel T3/1100D/Kiss X50 Canon EOS Rebel T3 with Kit Lens 18-55mm

I must mention cheapest among Canons Rebel T3, it’s weaker than mentioned cameras but not weak, best for people that want to start from beginning of DSLR world. Not recommended for intermediate and advanced users.

Features:

[list style=”check”]
  • Lightweight: 1.09 lb / 17.46 oz /493 g
  • Effective resolution: 12.2-megapixels
  • Max image resolution: 4272 x 2848
  • Sensor: CMOS APS-C 22 x 14.7mm (crop x1.6)
  • Shutter speed: 30 – 1/4000 sec
  • Light sensitivity: ISO 100 – ISO 6400
  • Flash max sync speed: 1/200 sec
  • Built-in flash: Yes (Pop-up) (range 9m)
  • Continuous shooting: 3 fps
  • 9 cross type autofocus points
  • Video format: H.265 video 1280×720 ([email protected]) (NTSC/PAL)
  • Card type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Screen resolution: 230k dots
[/list]

 

Reviews of Canon EOS Rebel T3/Canon EOS 1100D/Canon EOS Kiss X50:

B&H Customer Reviews

Testfreaks

Dpreview

Amazon Customer Reviews

Video Reviews

Cnet Review (text based + video review)

Canon EOS Rebel T4i/Canon EOS 650D:

The newest release of the Canon will be their 650D or the Canon EOS Rebel T4i, and is to be announced this June within a few days of time. Rumors are along with all the other features of Canon EOS Rebel T3i; Canon EOS 650D is bringing specifications that no other member of Canon EOS Rebel series has had yet. Let us take a look at what we are talking about here:

Features:

[list style=”check”]
  • 18.1 Megapixel sensor [It can be a completely new technology, or a modified version of the current ones]
  • 9 cross type AF points
  • DIGIC V image processor
  • Better ISO performance
  • Touchscreen LCD (How great would that be!)
  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • Continuous auto-focus, both in cases of live view and video recording
[/list]

 

Nikon:

Nikon D3200 (new – mid 2012):

Nikon D3200 with 18-55mm kit lens

D3200 with 18-55mm Kit Lens D3200 back view LCD D3200 profile view (red) D3200 back view LCD (red)

The new Nikon D3200 has only been released in April of the running year. This is a good entry level many megapixel DSLR that will make happy many users worldwide that like MPs ;).

Features:

[list style=”check”]
  • Weight: 1.11 lb / 17.81 oz / 505 g
  • High true resolution of 24.1 megapixels
  • Max image resolution: 6016 x 4000
  • CMOS sensor (APS-C 23.2 x 15.4mm)(crop x1.5)
  • Shutter speed: 30 – 1/4.000 sec
  • Light sensitivity: ISO 100 – ISO 6400/12,800 (boost)
  • Built-in flash: Yes (Pop-up) (range 12m)
  • Continuous shooting: 4fps
  • 11 focus points
  • About 169 compatible lenses available
  • Full HD video ([email protected]) enabled with an extra mic jack
  • High resolution screen of 921K dots
  • Card types:SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I compliant.
[/list]

Reviews of Nikon D3200:

B&H Customer Reviews

Testfreaks

Dpreview (preview)

Amazon Customer Reviews

Video Reviews

Cnet Review (ads before video)

Nikon D3100:

D3100 with 18-55 kit lens
Nikon D3100 with 18-55 Kit lens

D3100 18-55mm kit lens and on camera flash D3100 back view LCD D3100 18-55mm Top View

The Nikon D3100 is now replaced with new Nikon D3200. D3100 will slowly become discontinued and I expect prices to drop. It was released in September 2010. It is still good beginner level camera.

Features:

[list style=”check”]
  • Lightweight and small
  • Full HD video ([email protected] fps) enabled
  • 14.2 Megapixel
  • CMOS sensor (APS-C 23.1 x 15.4mm)
  • Slower continuous shooting (3 FPS)
  • Light sensitivity Up to 3200 ISO (12,800 boosted).
[/list]

Reviews of Nikon D3100:

B&H Customer Reviews

Testfreaks

Dpreview

Amazon Customer Reviews

Video Reviews

Cnet Review (ads before video)

Nikon D5100:

D5100 front view (18-55mm Kit Lens)
Nikon D5100 with 18-55mm Kit Lens

D5100 Back LCD D5100 profile view 18-55mm Kit Lens D5100 LCD flip angles D5100 Pop out Flash 18-55mm Kit Lens

Nikon D5100 is the greatest deal among all the entry level DSLRs for the Nikon lovers. Nikon released it a year back in April 2011 and have become very popular already. The features are quite similar to the more costly Nikon D7000. One of the features that I like and its better than Canons, is self timer, timings (2, 5, 10 or 20 sec), compared with Canons 2 and 10 secs only. Could be useful for family photos as Nikon integrates face recognition as well.

Features:

[list style=”check”]
  • Weight: 1.23 lb / 19.75 oz /560 g
  • Has a flip out screen, which is very helpful in video shooting
  • Great color depth
  • Short start-up delay
  • In-camera HDR
  • Timelapse Recording
  • 16.1 MP megapixels
  • Max image resolution: 4928 x 3264
  • CMOS Sensor (APS-C 23.6×15.6mm) (crop x1.5)
  • Full HD video enabled (1080p @ 60fps)
  • Video Format: MPEG-4
  • Shutter speed: 30 – 1/4.000 sec
  • Light sensitivity up to 6,400 ISO (25,600 with boost)
  • Built-in flash: Yes (Pop-up) (range 12m)
  • Continuous shooting: 4 fps
  • Screen resolution 920k dots
  • Card types:SD/SDHC/SDXC.
[/list]

Reviews of Nikon D5100:

B&H Customer Reviews

Testfreaks

Dpreview

Amazon Customer Reviews

Video Reviews

Cnet Review (ads before video)

Reviews

Check expanded list of entry level DSLR cameras on most popular sites:

http://reviews.cnet.com/best-entry-level-dslr-cameras

http://entry-level-dslr-camera-review.toptenreviews.com/

 

Lenses

Great thing about the entry level DSLR cameras are that with them, you can add any lens according to your specific needs. That is DSLR biggest advantage over Zoom and other cameras with one not detachable lens. On other hand, disadvantage that comes with lens exchanging is spending time to exchange lens, dynamic moments pass us by with desperate look in our eyes. Now one would definitely want every comfort he can get from his camera. It is only natural to want it lighter, faster, better, stronger and nicer. To meet up the demand, different brands are always coming up with something newer and more exciting and engineering high-end equipments to go with. Take care of your lenses, and when you decide to go for better ones, think on long term.

In that continuation, different lenses are built to serve different purposes. If you want the best quality and a reasonable price for close up portrait shoots, the very popular 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 prime lens will most suit you.

Your interest in macro photography can be well complimented with a 100mm f 2.8 macro lens, but if you are up for wildlife photography, you need to go bigger with 100 up to 400 mm telephoto lenses, or even bigger than that.

Wide lenses like 10-22mm, 10-20 mm or the similar ones will give you satisfaction while taking indoor or architecture interior shots, as you need to accommodate a larger visual field in one frame.

You should experiment as much as you can in the beginning, find out limit of kit lenses before buying more specific lenses. Entry level DSLR cameras with good Lenses can outperform DSLR cameras with bad lenses. Invest in more important area, but invest smart, when ready and tuned up for next level.

 

The wide range of variety, availability, affordability and ease of use have made the entry level DSLR cameras so popular worldwide. They create the perfect balance in between the high-tech professional DSLR cameras and the point-and-shoot small pocket cameras. Entry level DSLR cameras are thus admired by both the hobbyists and the photography gurus.

Nevertheless, going crazy over choosing an entry level DSLR is not necessary, especially as great photography does not solely depend on great cameras. What it matters is how well you operate your gear and make the best use of it. Have that in mind, go out there and have a happy clicking!

 

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...

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