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  1. The Cannons are great cameras, but I usually stick with the Sony Alpha lines myself. The performance is exceptional.
    Also, for used camera equipment, check out KEH.com as they are a great company that will sell you some great second-hand, which has been professionally inspected.

    1. I’ve just had good luck with Canon cameras in the past (Powershots of certain models lines are very durable and flexible for consumer point & shoots) so I’ve been leaning that direction. That’s about the extent of what I know, though, so I’m very open to alternates (:

    2. Hmmn, only Sony on KEH.com right now is an A380, which sadly fails 4 criteria:
      No wired remote terminal (I want to be able to drive timelapse sessions with my TRS-80 M100 using it’s mechanical relay switch)
      Smaller battery (500 shots vs 730 on A350, CIPA standard)
      SD card and MS Pro instead of CF card storage
      No optional battery grip

      The A350 looks interesting though, but KEH doesn’t seem to have any.

  2. Oh, there is no way I can do this in a short comment. First, if I were building a system from scratch I would probably live in Sony DSLR world. However, I am a legacy Canon film shooter with lenses that transition to the digital system starting with the Digital Rebel. I do 95% of my shooting with the Sony NEX system and reserve my Canon 60D for low-light, portrait and action. I use a Panasonic LX-3 or LX-7 for compact travel and these are over the top great for macro. Macro on a DSLR either means a dedicated lens or extension tubes; one thing to consider for shooting typewriters.

    I’ve owned the 20D, 30D, 40D and 60D. I’d recommend spending just a little bit more for a larger LCD. It makes chimping and adjusting exposure on the fly easier with more room for histograms. Each successive generation had faster and better low light focus capability if that is important to you. Check out the LCD difference here (roll the cursor over the image to see the 20D comparison)
    20D full review at http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos20d/4

    The kit lens is OK for general use. Spring for a Canon EF 50mm 1.8 for less than $100. This is a great all-around lens, but it won’t do a thing for macro. As for kit equipment, the battery grips are different from model to model. All Canon EF lenses work on the Canon DSLR system. That isn’t necessarily the case with third-party lenses. Sigma tends to be good about working between models. Tamron was not. Tokina was always a risk. Everything you would want to know about Canon lenses or the system in general is on Bob Atkin’s website.

    Don’t get me wrong – I still love the Canon system and shooting with the 60D. The ergonomics and controls are awesome. Selecting a focus point is quick and easy; albeit with limited points compared to Nikon or Sony DSLRs. My best fire and action photos have come from Canon bodies. The downside is they are big and conspicuous and not fun to carry all day, with carry on luggage or in a day pack. Hence my transition to mirrorless and building a new system over time.

    For a not quite balanced comparison, you can see Canon 60D images at http://public.fotki.com/coyotesareus/duke-tip-trip-2011/
    My recently blogged trip to Duke and Chicago street shooting were all done with an NEX-6 and a single lens.

    1. Hmmn, I see a Panasonic DMC-LX3 goes used for about $200. Great macro you say? I’m not particularly fond of SD cards, but that’s a minor consideration. Can you tell me about the battery life of yours? I’ll go look up the details for the other stuff I need to know, but that sounds like a strong contender with it’s manual modes and Leica lens.

  3. I can only say what I know. First off, after a compact you’ll be blown away even with a 3/4 size CMOS sensor. I was. When I had saved up my pennies a couple of years ago, my trip to the camera store involved trying everything in my price bracket. I was prepared to go Canon-wards but the Nikon D5000 just felt so right and beat the nearest affordable Canon hands-down on value. The great thing is, by the end of the year it had paid for itself. It will accept Nikkor AIS lenses and close-up rings from my 1980s FM2 – big bonus for macro.

    There’s no hard-wire remote unless you run it via USB from 3rd part software on a laptop or pc. In the time I have had it, a couple of pixels have burnt out. These show especially over ISO800. Also, I have some crud on the sensor which won’t come off even with the most enthusiastic blowing. Solution is a £45 service as I’m not prepared to touch the sensor directly. In bright light at middlin’ apertures, neither of these present a problem. Test exposures will highlight either problem (which isn’t confined to 2 year-old Nikons).

    Stock battery still lasts for 2000 plus exposures without flash but with autofocus.

    In use, the main upsides are:
    1] Cracking autofocus
    2] Easy to handle manual mode (I use manual+autofocus 99% of the time)
    3] Excellent battery life
    4] Very quick start-up and first exposure off – quicker than blinking
    5] Flip-out preview screen swivels to conceal itself which keeps it clean and scratch-free. I only use it for inputting settings – not really previewing images.

    Day-to-day downsides:

    1] No depth of field preview – some slightly more expensive Canons do – and I still miss it from 35mm.
    2] Wireless remote function flips back to button release after a few minutes idle – not generally a problem though.
    3] The mirror-up Live View mode is great for waist-level but the focussing is much slower than through the pentaprism.
    4] No external mic input for movies.
    5] Front facing remote sensor only. You need to be in front of the camera or bounce the remote off another surface to operate from behind. I think the D5001 rectified this.

    1. Thanks for the info! My research so far is showing that there aren’t any DSLR’s with a plain relay-driven trigger jack anymore. I guess my old Powershot 600 was one of the few that did. The last really useful thing my TRS-80 lappys were actually good for is now closed to them, i guess. :P

      Having checked out the specs and reviews (and prices) for each of the cameras suggested, I am getting the feeling that newer is definitely better but the improvements tend to bring the price outside of my budget for a first-time learner setup.

      I’ve considered also the “not-quite DSLR” options and after a day or two of thinking, I find myself strongly wanting to have the flexibility of DSLR, big bag of gear and all. Little cameras tend to get lost (the fate of my previous favorite camera), and I can get a Macro lens pretty easily it seems.

      I started this with the Canon EOS 20D in mind, and at least at the moment, it still looks to be a really good starter DSLR for the budget I have in mind, and meets almost all of my criteria. I have a nice half-dozen of them on my Watch List now, still haven’t pulled the trigger, though.

      1. Best route to a new bargain is to last year’s model from remaindered stock. The dealers want to shift them and will often discount heavily. Good hunting! I don’t have any experience with Pentax DSLRs but I have a friend who swears by hers. I cut my teeth on the old Spotmatic/K1000 SLRs. If they make their new lenses anywhere near as good as the old Super Takumar series, Don N’s note may be worth heeding.

  4. For low light check out the Pentax line. Also, the kit lens is considered better than the Canikons etc.

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