In this issue we explore the entry-level digital SLR cameras currently on the market to see which one’s are holding their own. 

This has been the best-selling digital SLR in Australia for some time. And with good reason. You see, these cameras have Canon EOS DNA, which means they come from a very rich gene pool. In fact, some of its brothers and sisters are favourites of the paparazzi and are considered the best money can buy. In our current round-up we’d rate this a close second to the Nikon, even though the Nikon has slightly fewer features than the 400D. We regularly use 400Ds in the AT office and have had no problems with them. The other thing to bear in mind is that with an EOS camera you can start using Canon EOS lenses, considered some of the world’s best, and there are more than 60 that will fit the 400D. $1349 for twin-lens starter  



Of all the cameras we’ve been using, this Nikon is our favourite entry-level digital SLR at the moment. It’s not as sophisticated as some of the others here, but that’s not a bad thing. In “Automatic” mode, this Nikon takes stunning photographs, end of story. And when you start out with a digital SLR you’ll want to be using the automatic mode more than any other. The quality of images the D40x captured without us fiddling with it was superb. The only camera we tested that came close was the Canon EOS 400D. $1399 for a twin-lens starter  



We had to include this camera because, according to Olympus, it’s the world’s smallest and lightest digital SLR. That should make it perfect for travel then, right? Wrong. This is a very capable unit, but the others reviewed here are quite simply better cameras. The Olympus takes great shots. It’s just that the competition takes better shots. However, the sophistication and adjustability that Olympus has made available in a small-size camera makes this an ideal choice for people who like the idea of using a digital SLR but don’t want to lug around a huge bag full of equipment. Be warned, though: if you get bitten by the digital SLR bug you will eventually find yourself trading up for a bigger camera and you will still end up with that big bag. $1399 for a twin-lens starter  



This is a fine camera from Panasonic. In terms of features, it lacks nothing in relation to the other cameras here. Intriguingly, it comes with a Leica zoom lens that provides stunning optics – at a price. There’s almost nothing this camera will do that the others won’t. And that’s great, but the entry-level market is price sensitive. At this price point, we simply can’t tell you that this camera is $800 better than the other cameras listed here – especially with one less lens. Blame Leica. We’re sure Panasonic does. $2199 with single lens.  


SONY A200 

Sony has long been regarded as being producers of high quality equipment. The new 10.2 megapixel Alpha a200 relaces the a100, which has been on sale for the past 18 months. Sony now has a significant number of lenses (20-plus) to fit the a200, which is a hugely important consideration when buying a digital SLR. We liked the model it replaces (the a100) a lot, and expect the a200 to be an incremental improvement. It has a great menu system and its specs are very similar to the rest of the cameras here. It will be available in stores from mid February. It’s a Sony, so you know it’s good quality. $1399 for a twin-lens starter kit.

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