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Best Entry Level DSLR Cameras For 2010

If you're planning to take up photography as a hobby, you better be buying a digital SLR camera. It gives you more flexibility and control over how your images will be shot. Plus they offer interchangeable lenses. They're more expensive of course, and prices start from around $400 upwards for the body alone. If you already have a set of 35mm lenses, you just need to find a suitable body for it. Here are 5 great entry level SLR cameras for the photography enthusiast:

1) Canon EOS Rebel T2i

Canon Rebel T2i

The Rebel T2i, the follow-up by Canon to its T1i is perhaps the most popular DSLRs in the market. It looks and feels quite similarly to the T1i. It has a comfortable grip, and the layout is pretty simple and user friendly.

In terms of performance, the T2i is really really fast. The time form power on to shooting is less than .3 seconds, which is remarkable. Time to focus and shoot is a measly .25 seconds.

As for image quality, you won't find a better camera with better quality in the same price range. The images we shot had great, accurate colors, and the images were sharp enough. Canon usually keeps the sharpness down a notch, compared to other manufacturers, but that means the images usually have more accurate colors.

The images we shot also had very very little noise up to an ISO of around 800. At ISO 1600, we saw a bit of noise, and some detail was lost. After an ISO of 1600, your image quality will depend on your skill, lighting, and a bunch of other factors. For the money, you can't get better than that.

The video quality for the T2i is surprisingly solid, and better than most cameras in this price range. The T2i supports 1080p video at 30 fps. You can also plug in an external microphone if you wish.

The display looks really nice, but you do need to increase the brightness in bright sunlight.

What's great about it:
- Performs very fast
- Photo quality is superb
- Video quality is better than average

What's not so great:
- Viewfinder can be a pain
- The controls is not user .riendly for video.

Summary: The Canon EOS Rebel T2i is as good a camera as you can ask for in this price range. It features incredibly fast performance, accurate colors and sharp images, and above average video quality. The user controls and viewfinder could be improved, but we're quick to overlook these minor complaints.

If you're looking for the best entry level DSLR, just go out and buy the Rebel T2i.

2) Nikon D3000

Nikon D3000 camera

If you're just making the switch from a point and shoot camera to a DSLR, and are afraid of the complexities in using a DSLR, the Nikon D3000 camera is probably the optimal camera for you. It's totally targeted for complete newbies.

The Nikon D3000 has a very basic feature set. It features a shooting mode that shows you how everything is done, while at the same still maintaining manual controls you can tweak once you get used to handling a DSLR.

The Nikon D3000 is solidly built - it's a bit heavier than its competitors, but it does have a comfortable grip.

Beyond the usual modes, Nikon also has a "guide" mode that guides you step by step for certain shooting situations. There's an easy operation, which gives you a limited # of options, and a more advanced mode which enables you to do some tweaking.

We loved Nikon's display compared to other cameras. The screen looks clear and uncluttered, and it's relatively easy to find the option or setting you're trying to adjust.

In terms of performance, the Nikon D3000 is average, we must say. It's not very slow, but just not up to par with other competitors.

Let's move on to image quality: We think the Nikon D3000 delivers pretty well in this regard. For the most part, our photos had accurate colors, were quite sharp, and very little noise up to an ISO level of 1600. We don't have any complaints - they got this right.

What's great about it:
- Very user friendly and suitable for beginners
- Great, easy to use controls
- Good photo quality up to an ISO of 1600

What's not so great:
- Features are very basic, not for "experts"

Summary: If you're looking for a camera that has a lot of options and features, you shouldn't buy the Nikon D3000. It's targeted towards complete newbies, and people who want the simplicity/automation of a point and shoot, but also want the improvement in image quality of a DSLR.

3) Canon EOS Rebel T1i

Canon Rebel T1i

The Rebel T1i, like the T2i is one of the most popular DSLR cameras for consumers. Reasonably priced at under $1000, with outstanding image quality, and fast performance, it doesn't take a genius to see why.

You can get the T1i either with a kit (with the 18-55 mm IS lens), or with the body only (for those that own a lens)

We think the T1i is a solidly designed and built DSLR. It's quite comfortable and sturdy enough. It has a large 3-inch LCD screen. The controls and menu system are fairly intuitive to get used to. One little quirk we thought was interested was the Creative Auto mode they added.

The one thing we didn't like about the T1i was the annoying viewfinder. It offers 95% coverage, like most other cameras but the magnification is lower. Worse than that, it uses very tiny focus points that don't inform you whether it's in focus - it just blinks. That was very annoying.

Let's move on to performance and image quality... The performance is outstanding. It powers and shoots in a speed .2 seconds. This beats many cameras in this price range, and even some more expensive ones such as the D90 by Nikon. The shot to shot time is .4 seconds on average. The continuous shooting speed for the T1i is at a solid 3.3 frames per second. Performance: outstanding.

The image quality is just as good. We were happy with our sharp photos when using ISO of 1600, and even 3200. We noticed the photos for the T1i also are brighter than usual (which is to satisfy the public who prefer brighter pictures). It's not too much though, and shouldn't be a problem for those that prefer more subtlely.

The video quality is superb as well, and beats most cameras in this price range such as the D5000.

What's great about it:
- Performs fast
- Great image quality
- HD video

What's not so great:
- Viewfinder bothers us

Summary: You can't go wrong buying the T1i. It offers tremendous quality in the 3 most important aspects: performance, image quality, and video quality. There are a few minor gripes such as the viewfinder but they easily be overlooked when everything else is high quality.

4) Nikon D5000

Nikon D5000

The Nikon D5000 is Nikon's follow up their D80, which we are huge fans of. You can buy it with either the body only or with a kit that comes with a 18-55mm lens.

We like the layout of the controls in the D5000. Nikon got rid of the direct-access buttons, and replaced them with an interactive display instead. This is where you can control settings such as the speed of the shutter, and aperture. Overall, we like the control layout that the D3000 had.

In terms of image quality and performance, this is where the D3000 excels. It's quite fast, and beats most cameras in this price range. From power on, to shooting it takes around .2 seconds. Burst shooting takes 4 fps, which is as good as it gets.

We love the photos we take with the D5000. It has solid exposure, and very accurate colors. There is almost no noise all the way up to ISO 16000. Unlike other cameras, we like the kit lens that comes with the Nikon D5000, and recommend it to people. It is quite sharp, and is capable of focusing closely.

The video quality could be improved - for the most part we were disappointed with what we saw. It only shoots 24FPS 720p, which is near the bottom of the class. Don't get us wrong - you can still shoot pretty decent quality video, but it just isn't as good as other cameras.

What's great about it:
- Wonderful photo quality
- Fast performance
- Great kit lens

What's not so great about it:
- Small viewfinder bothers us
- Video quality is subpar

Summary: If video quality is not your main criteria, we'd recommend the D5000 to anyone. It features many features (great for the hobbyist), very fast performance, and incredibly high quality images. A great bang for your buck DSLR.

5) Canon Rebel XS

Canon Rebel XS

The Canon EOS Rebel XS is a companion camera to the XSi. In fact, the body is pretty much the same. We're not crazy about the design and build of the body. It feels a tad cheap, and not as comfortable as other cameras in this class.

Another gripe we have of the XS is the viewfinders. The AF indicators flashes... but only for a short time when the focus locks. It doesn't blink continuously and the blinks as quite hard to find. It's a minor complaint and does make shooting a tad more frustrating.

In terms of shooting performance, Wow. It wins the prize. Its shooting speed is the best in its class. Power to photo speed clocks in a bit under .2 seconds. Shot to shot time clocks in at .7 seconds for raw images, and amazingly is faster at .4 seconds for JPEGs (kinda counter-intuitive). One thing to note: raw shooting maxes at 6 frames.

The photo quality is the best amongst its class too. Color and exposures are perfect, and the images we took all turned out to be incredibly sharp. No complaints in both the performance and image quality department.

What's great about it:
- Tremendous image quality
- Good performance

What's not so great:
- Maximum ISO is 1600
- Contains no spot meter

Summary: If you care the most about photo quality and performance , the Rebel XS delivers the best image quality among its class. But if you're looking for good video quality, and other features, you should look for a better all-around DSLR.


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