Picking an SLR

I'm new to the forums but not to the site. I have done a lot of researching but cannot decide which SLR to buy. I have been shooting manual settings on my Canon Powershot A710 IS for 3 years and want to move up to a DSLR..

I have a budget that's ~$650..

So far I am looking at Sony A200 or A300, Canon XS when it is released, and Olympus E-510. Any suggestions would be appreciated..


Comments (11)

If you have brand loyalty, go for the Canon. It hasn't been tested yet, but it's bound to be very good. Some aspects of the controls and menus will be familiar to you since you already use a Canon. The new 1855 IS kit lens is pretty good so you don't need to worry about that like you used to with a Canon SLR..

The Olympus E510 is an older model that won't take quite such good photos perhaps as the Canon (, but has some other advantages like a better dust removal system and built-in IS..

The Sonys have built-in IS too and the A300 has the best live view system with a big tilting LCD. If you were going to do a lot of tripod work or macro stuff, that could be a dealmaker. The Sonys are pretty big cameras, which may be an advantage or a disadvantage... try them if you can in store..

None will be a bad choice so don't agonize too much. It's like choosing between an Audi, a BMW and Mercedes..


Comment #1

There's no such thing as a bad DSLR from any of the manufacturers these days, so you won't go far wrong whatever you decide. Personally, I'm not keen on the Olympus becuase they use the 4/3rds system which means the sensors are physically smaller - but they still take good pictures..

There is no substitute for going to your local camera store and handling the different cameras. Buy whichever one seems the most comfortable to you..

Confused of Malvern.

'The greatest fool can ask more than the wisest man can answer'..

Comment #2

There's no 'instant shortcut' to getting the right DSLR and they'll all make a very much better job of taking clearer pictures than a P&S when conditions are less than perfect. You'll be able to make larger prints more easily too..

I'd also agree that if you like Canon then stick with them, and now that both they and Nikon have come around to the idea of offering kit lenses with IS there is less need to look at other brands which have it built into the camera body, but don't offer such a wide range of lenses and accessories as the big two..

Focus on issues like ease of handling, tired eyes after using the viewfinder, percentages of correct exposures in difficult light, does the autofocus hunt a lot, reliability of the accessory flash system, practicality of any live view system, cost of batteries and number of shots from them. Ask camera users to comment on how well they think their camera works in those areas..

For example: for someone like me who wears glasses, a relatively large and clear viewfinder is important and in the Canon range I'd be drawn to the 40D even though I might want something even smaller. Also, I take a lot of shots against the light so I don't want to be continually fiddling around post processing RAW images when the camera ought to have been able to expose JPGs correctly in the first place (Canon's processor is amongst the best at this.).

I have Minolta lenses and accessories so I'm with that system and it's Sony successors. I've learned how to make it do what I want in difficult light so apart from the viewfinder and occasional lazy-eye flash issues there would be little point in me changing brands at this stage. For someone just coming into to DSLRs it could make sense to go with the market leaders, but not necessarily at entry level price. I think you'd all too soon want to upgrade the camera body. Of course this is not nearly so bad as buying Pentax, Sony, Olympus and then deciding after a while that what you really want is Canon. Take a look at the sellers on Ebay to determine the secondhand values so that you can see what kind of safety net there'd be..

It all depends on how far you think you want to go with your photography, because if you actually only intend to use a DSLR like a P&S then you have the luxury of visiting a camera store, handling the different brands side by side and picking the one you like the feel of best. This, under fair conditions without sales pressure, can often be Pentax. Enjoy the choosing process and make it fun rather than a testing ordeal..

John.Please visit me at:

Comment #3

I have the A300 for a week now, and am very, very happy about it. Only bad thing is that the LCD is quite useless in sunny weather. All liveviews seem to have that problem..

If you don;t want to go for liveview, take a look at the Nikon D60. Fantastic small and light camera. No liveview, but a great viewfinder I think..


Don't blame me for just getting started....

Sony H2Sony A300.

My Pbase is finally online:

Comment #4

Have the Nikon D60 and can highly recommended. No live view but really don't need it as viewfinder is excellent. Easy to use and takes Great Pictures(that is what it is all about!) Suggest you go to your local Best Buy or Camera shop and try the different SLR's out. Hold them, play with them and pick the one that suits you the best. You will get good results from any of them. JerryNikon D60 18-55vr & 55-200vrSB400Casio Z750..

Comment #5

I have the Oly E-510 2 lens kit..(Mk1 40-150)...The IQ is VG when you have the camera set up right..(Noise Filter OFF, Sharpness -2) ISO 100-800 are comparable to XTi, (I owned one before the Oly E-510)....

One of the BIG advantages with Oly E-510/520 is that the standard lenses are compact when compared to larger sensor DSLRS lens designs...My 70-300 for my XTi was literally 2x longer a bit heavier than the Oly equal (40-150)..And that was the old version of the 40-150 compared...(70-300 f/4-5.6 vs 40-150 f/3.5-4.5).

ISO 1600 is usable..Not will all subjects though. (large group pictures or where you want to save very fine detail are not the best at ISO 1600)...(I shoot between ISO 100-400 anyway (always have), so it is not an issue with me. But, If, you like to use ISO 800+, then the slightly larger sensor has a slight advantage in that range for a bit less noise..

The In camera IS, is nice, if you are on budget, and like the idea of IS..This is important if you don't like flash (or, flash would ruin the shot) and use lower ISOs. IS allows Lower ISOs in poorly lit areas, with moderate Shutter Speeds, 1/15s-1/90s with kit lens), and with longer zooms, 1/60s-1/250s at higher ISOs wide open..

In lens IS is good too. And if you need it for your longer zooms, than C/N have a good selection to pick from.. a few 3rd party lenses have a few too..

But, Oly is not allways as availible in Camera and Big Box stores..(smaller market share = lower sales per unit)..I live near Indianapolis, In...the 2 BIG camera stores can order Oly E stuff, but don't keep much on hand..

But, handling the DSLRS on your short list, is the best way to nail down the DSLR that "Thinks" like you..


Comment #6

Problem is, I live in a small town in Alabama where there is no camera shop for 100 miles...

Comment #7

So, you're going to have to buy from the Internet/mail order and your SLR selection process is going to be driven entirely by what you've read and seen. Best thing to do in that situation is to visit and, search 'by camera' and take a look at a load of real-world photos of the kind you hope to be taking. Then make sure the firm/Ebayer you order your camera from has a sensible return policy in the unlikely event that you find it doesn't work out as you'd hoped..

John.Please visit me at:

Comment #8

If you do not want live view, go for the Sony A200. Same exact camera as the A300 without live view. It uses the same sensor as the Nikon D60 and is, IMO, a better camera at a better price. The A200 can use the old Minolta auto lenes with full functionality, while the D60 can only use the old Nikon lenses manually...

Comment #9

I'm kinda looking around at the moment too James for an entry-level dSLR as a step up from my point 'n' shoot..

I've narrowed it down to Pentax K200D, Nikon D60 or Sony A200 (all preferably with same-brand twin lens kits)..

Live view on a dSLR doesn't interest me at all. I seldom (never?) use it on my P&S, so I figure I'll need it even less on a dSLR. I'm old-fashioned enough to see live view as nothing more than a sales gimmick, and, quite frankly, think EVERY camera should have an eye-level viewfinder of some sort..

Anyway..... at the moment, I'm leaning towards the Sony A200. I think it's IQ is at least equal to the entry level Canon, Pentax and Nikon offerings, due in part I think to the Sony's kit lenses being better integrated with it's body  both from the "usability" factor, and a more equitable build quality (the Nikon and Pentax lenses seem sub-par compared to their bodies)..

Cheers ..

Comment #10

The A300 and A200 are both equally appealing to me. Live View is a nice addition, but saving $100 could be put towards a flash or lense.....

Comment #11

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