Current as of: December 2011

The Best Digital SLR Under $600

What's the best digital SLR under $600?

This question was easy to answer several years ago, since the answer was none. You were lucky to find a digital SLR for less than $1,000.

The good news is that the price of new digital SLRs continues to drop, and cameras released in prior years become more affordable the older they get.

The best digital SLR under $600 will therefore fall into one of two distinct categories:

  1. A recently released camera with a budget price tag
  2. Older cameras that are still available in retail stores

While the budget cameras are brand new - and not last year's technology - they are also aimed at the entry-level market and are sometimes not as feature-rich as older cameras.

On the flip side, some of the older cameras were quite expensive when first released (due to their advanced features) but have since fallen in price to make them more affordable to photographers getting their first digital SLR.

Two Good Options

Since there are two current models that fall into this price range, I won't get into listing all the older camera models that are also available — I'll leave that up to you.

The two cameras for you to consider - if price is the key deciding factor - are the Canon Rebel T3 1100D and the Nikon D3100.

Canon EOS Rebel T3 (1100D)
Release Date: March 2011
Key Features12.2 megapixels, dust control, live view LCD canon eos rebel t3 1100d
Great ForSnapshots
CompetitorsNikon D3100
Basic and beginner are the two words that leap to mind to describe the Rebel T3 1100D. Canon has kept the feature set on this camera limited in order to keep the price down, but this camera can still out-perform many compact digital cameras. It even includes an HD movie mode, if you want to use the camera for both stills and video.
Price (With Lens): $500 USD
Nikon D3100
Release Date: September 2010
Key Features14.2 megapixels, Full HD 1080p video, 3 inch live view LCD nikon d3100
UniquenessBasic camera with video
Great ForPoint-and-shoot
CompetitorsCanon Rebel T3 (1100D)
The D3100 includes some big features that were missing from the D3000: namely, a live view LCD screen and the ability to capture Full High Definition 1080p movies. Like its predecessor, the D3100 includes Nikon's Guide Mode, which is designed to introduce beginning photographers to DSLR controls and functionality.
Price (With Lens): $550 USD

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