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Basics

Entry level cameras include the Canon EOS-350D (aka Digital Rebel XT), Nikon's D50 and the Olympus E-500. A lot of the comparisons at this stage are really like for like with it being down to personal choice of camera feels the best for you, or what interface you like more, and most importantly, battery life. Each have similar specs and their output quality is not something you will be limited to any time soon by the body itself, thus leaving some to say that another choice should be based on the number of available lenses and their cost. It is important to remember that even the top camera and lenses won't produce a top picture if you don't know how to use them properly.

What manufacturer?

You can't really go wrong with Nikon or Canon. There are a number of others out there too and more on the way. Olympus are good but are using a new format of sensor (four-thirds) and have a limited range of lenses available. Sigma have promised lenses but have yet to produce. Other 3rd party manufacturers (Tamron, Tokina) will hopefully follow suit in the near future. Sony are the new comers to the SLR business but their technology is re-badged Konica-Minolta who sold to them not too long ago. Sony and Pentax have a large range of lenses available to them, including 3rd party.

Things to note when choosing

  • One of the most important things to realise is that the body is not as important as you may think. Buying a €5k camera body and putting a €200 lens on it is a) stupid, b) insulting to the camera and c) not going to get you shots much better than what you'd get on a €500 body.
  • Glass is incredibly important. Keep this in mind when buying lenses. When your camera body dies or you decide to upgrade, the glass will be coming with you (unless you switch from Canon to Nikon, or similar).
  • Package deals (body + lens) can be good starting points but if you are very interested in photography you will grow out of these.. Buy the best bit of glass you can afford.
  • Wide range lenses, such as 18-200mm, do provide more choice without switching lenses, but they can over amplify and problems with the lens too. Two lenses to cover the range will normally give better quality, even if they cost a little more.
  • Tripods/bipods/monopods do help a lot with giving better shots, especially when using zoom lenses. - A quick and dirty alternative is the string tripod
  • Polarising Filter is almost a must if you plan to shoot outside a lot, especially if near water or other 'shiny' surfaces.
  • A large memory card is a must. You don't want to get stuck without for that "must-see" shot but if you run out of space, you run out of luck. The fastest card out there might seem like the best idea but don't blow your money as your camera might not be fast enough for it. Generally the highest up models are the ones that really test a memory card.

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