DigitalCameraReview.com
Digital Camera Buyer's Guide: DSLRs
by Andy Stanton -  10/23/2008
Ultracompacts | Compacts | Ultrazooms | DSLRS


DSLRs are characterized by their use of a mirror arrangement, which allows the photographer to focus through the lens – effectively seeing what the camera sees. In DSLRs the body and lens are separate components, though most DSLR bodies are purchased with a "kit" lens. Other, better lenses are available but they can be heavy and very expensive.

DSLRs have excellent optical viewfinders and sharp LCD screens. Most offer image stabilization systems, which are found in the body of some models (Sony, Pentax, most Olympus) but in the lens of other models (Canon and Nikon). DSLRs have been adopting some of the features of point-and-shoots such as live view, which permits use of the LCD to frame shots, and video capability. Most DSLRs use powerful lithium-ion batteries that have a long battery life.

DSLRs can be expensive, but they are the best digital cameras for high-quality photos and power users.

$500-$1000

Canon Rebel XSi

Canon Rebel XSi


The 12 megapixel XSi is a small, lightweight DSLR. It comes with Canon's image-stabilized 18-55mm kit lens. The performance of the XSi is very good all around from start-up to focusing and to shooting: it produces excellent, sharp, colorful photos and is particularly good in low-light conditions.

The XSi has a live view option for framing photos on the LCD in addition to its optical viewfinder, plus a host of features including an auto-lighting optimizer, which maintains highlights and brings out detail in shadows, and an effective automatic dust elimination system that uses ultrasonic vibration to clean the sensor. It was our Editor's Choice for May 2008.

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Pentax K200D

Pentax K200D


The 10 megapixel K200D, which comes with an excellent Pentax 18-55mm kit lens, differs from most DSLRs as it runs on AA batteries. Unlike other cameras in its price range, it's also weather sealed. The K200D takes good looking photos and operates quickly. Its other features include image stabilization in the camera body and a dust control system that works well, though it lacks a live view function. The K200D was our Editor's Choice for April 2008.

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Sony Alpha DSLR-A350

Sony Alpha DSLR-A350


The A350 has 14.2 megapixels, in-body image stabilization, dust control implementation and the most effective live view system available for DSLRs. It has excellent performance and picture quality and many options, including a Dynamic Range Optimizer for bringing out detail in dark areas. The A350 comes with Sony's 18-70mm kit lens.

Overall, the A350 is an excellent buy considering its high quality and many features – especially for shooters who want a DSLR that feels more like a point-and-shoot.

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$1000-$2000

Nikon D90

Nikon D90


This recently released 12 megapixel camera is a big step up from entry-level DSLRs. It comes with an 18-105mm image stabilized kit lens. It's a speedy camera in all respects and takes very good photos, particularly in low light. The D90 also has an effective dust control system and live view.

Special mention needs to be made of the D90's extremely high resolution LCD screen, which is the best in the business. But the one area where the D90 really stands out is that it's the only sub-$2000 DSLR (for the moment, at least) that can capture video.

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Over $2000

Canon EOS 50D

Canon EOS 50D


The Canon 50D is Canon's latest high-resolution DSLR for advanced users. Building on the "prosumer" platform most recently represented by the long-running 40D, the 50D ups the ante with 15.1 megapixels, a bright and wide viewfinder, a nine-point AF system, and sensitivity to ISO 12,800.

This new release also features a 3 inch LCD, a live view system, raw shooting, and Canon's latest DIGIC IV processing.

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Nikon D700

Nikon D700


The D700 is an advanced full-frame camera, meaning that its sensor is the same size as a frame of 35mm film (making it larger than the sensors in most DSLRs). This large sensor enables the 12 megapixel D700 to provide better image quality at higher ISOs than most DSLRs, and its picture quality is, in fact, astounding.

The D700 also has very good performance and many options, including dust prevention and live view. It was our Editor's Choice for August 2008. Although the D700 is expensive, its terrific picture quality will satisfy even the most picky photographer.

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