How to Choose a DSLR Part 2

So I’ve been scouring the internet looking at DSLR’s and reviews on them, even with a budget of £500 there’s still a lot on offer from all the big names like Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Canon and Nikon.

The task I set myself was to narrow it down to a shortlist of 3 camera’s that I liked, not an easy task! But I got there in the end and here’s what I found:

note: All of the camera’s below work on a Mac which is very important as I am a Mac user.

Sony A350

The Sony Alpha DSLRA350K comes with a 18-70mm kit lens and was the cheapest of the 3 camera’s I tried. It’s a really nice camera especially for an entry level model, and has some nice features like the funky 2-way tilt LCD and a very large 14 megapixel sensor which is the largest of the 3 camera’s. I’ve listed some more features below. Sony also has a range of 26 lenses available for this camera and it uses a Compactflash memory card.

  • 14.2 effective megapixel CCD
  • Large, high-resolution 2.7-inch LCD with 2-way tilt adjustment
  • Quick AF Live View
  • High sensitivity up to ISO3200
  • D-Range Optimiser
  • Super SteadyShot
  • Easy-to-use function display and percentage battery life indicator
  • Dual anti-dust system

Canon 450D

I’ve owned other Canon products before and have been very pleased with them but I’ve never owned a camera, although I don’t want my preference for Canon products to sway my decision. The Canon 450D (Rebel XSi) is the mid range for price of the three (also has cashback available from Canon at the moment), it uses SD memory cards and has the largest LCD screen aswell. There’s also over 70 Canon lenses to choose from. The kit lens is 18-55mm and has image stabilization, and this model also has spot metering.

  • 12.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 3.5 frames per second continuous shooting
  • 9-point wide-area AF with f/2.8 cross-type centre point
  • EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • 3.0″ LCD with Live View mode
  • 14-bit processing and DIGIC III for enhanced speed and image quality
  • Large, bright viewfinder
  • Customisable Picture Style image processing options
  • Compact and lightweight body
  • Digital Photo Professional RAW processing software
  • Compatible with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses and Speedlite EX flash

Nikon D80

This is the most expensive of the 3 cameras and is actually a little over my budget (there had to be one), but I think it’s most comparable to the Canon. The kit lens for the Nikon D80 is an impressive 18 – 135mm and that makes it the largest of the camera’s kit lenses, and it also uses SD memory cards.

  • High-resolution 10.2 Megapixel DX format CCD: Superior sensitivity and low noise performance for stunning prints up to A3 size
  • High-speed 3 fps continuous shooting: Up to 100 JPEG [Large, Normal] or 6 NEF (Raw) consecutive shots
  • High-performance image processing engine: Faithful reproduction of vivid, natural colors with rich tonal graduations
  • Fast, precise and flexible 11-area AF system with a newly developed easy-to-use Auto-area AF mode
  • Instant response and ultra-short shutter lag: Ready to shoot whenever the decisive moment arises
  • Creative and easy-to-use in-camera effects: In-camera editing with D-Lighting, Red-eye correction, monochrome, filter effects and image overlay

My Decision

This was not an easy decision to make all 3 camera’s are excellent entry level DSLR’s, but a decision had to be made. What hits me when I read the specifications above is how close they all are, it’s really going to be down to personal choice as each has it’s own lure. The two heavy weights of the photography world Canon and Nikon deserve their reputation, as they do stand out from the Sony for experience, support and quality of their products as specialists in imaging.

So it is between the Canon and the Nikon.

This is where it gets a lot trickier, on paper they are very close. The Nikon comes with a larger lens 18-135mm but the Canon has a larger sensor at 12 mp. The Nikon has an 11-area AF system and the Canon has spot metering. So it comes down to personal taste, and it’s got to come down to how they handle. I went to a camera shop and handled both camera’s to see how they felt in my hand and how they felt to use. From that experience I’ve got to say the Canon just edged out the Nikon and came top, it was more comfortable to hold and the buttons were nicely positioned, but it was very close. It just shows how important it is to try a camera before you buy it, on paper the Nikon probably had the edge but in real life the Canon came through…


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  1. Pingback: Introducing My Canon 450D DSLR — The Photographer Blog

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