Updated: August 2011

The Digital SLR Cameras of 2011

The digital SLR cameras of 2011 should have features that please just about every type of photographer.

From landscape enthusiasts to portrait professionals, the new crop of cameras include advanced autofocus systems, short response times and extensive manual controls.

Those who also want to capture video will find a lot to like since the HDSLR - an SLR that shoots video - is now the norm.

Which One to Choose?

Follow your instincts about what you'll take pictures (and videos) of most often, and then see if the camera's feature set is complimentary (and if the price is right).

For example, let's say you want to travel with your camera: pay attention to the dimensions and weight to find the models that won't give you back pain if you carry them all day.

Maybe you want to take pictures of your children: for this, a flexible LCD is a real benefit, since you can hold the camera at their eye level and you can compose your picture without having to get your knees dirty.

Released in March

Canon EOS Rebel T3 (1100D)
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): $550 USD
Canon EOS Rebel T3i (600D)
Key Features18 megapixels, flexible live view LCD, HD movies, creative filters canon eos rebel t3i 600d
UniquenessOnly Rebel with flexible LCD
Great ForSnapshots, Creative Images
LevelBeginner to Intermediate
CompetitorsNikon D5000
The sequel to the Rebel T2i 550D adds on Canon's new favorite feature: a 3 inch LCD screen that flips out from the camera body and rotates. The T3i also has creative filters that can be applied to any image you take, a new Basic+ mode to take better shots in full AUTO mode and the ability to capture images in different aspect ratios (including 3:2, 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1). And yes, it's still got the HD video mode (now with manual exposure and audio level control) available on the previous Canon Rebel.
Price (With Lens): $850 USD

Released in April

Nikon D5100
Key Features16.3 megapixels, Full HD 1080p video, flexible LCD, image filters nikon d5100
UniquenessFlip and Twist LCD
Great ForHigh and low angle video/stills
CompetitorsCanon Rebel T3i (600D)
Camped out betwen the entry-level D3100 and the more advanced D7000, you'll find the D5100. Its flexible LCD screen lets you shoot pictures and 1080p video from all sorts of angles and a new filter option lets you apply effects to your images and movies without needing a computer.
Price (With Lens): $800 USD

Released in October

Key Features24.3 megapixels, OLED viewfinder, 10 fps sony alpha slt-a65
UniquenessTranslucent Mirror, OLED Viewfinder
Great ForAction and Sports
LevelBeginner to Intermediate
CompetitorsCanon 600D, Nikon D5100
If you "feel the need for speed" then the SLT-A65 might just be the right camera for you. Its 15-point autofocus system is paired with a translucent mirror which allows for continuous autofocus in live view and movie modes. In addition, the top speed of 10 photos per second and ISO up to 16000 will let you freeze subject motion in all kinds of available light. The flexible LCD screen can be twisted in all directions and the new high-resolution OLED viewfinder can be used when the sun is too bright to see the LCD.
Price (With Lens): $1,000 USD
Key Features24.3 megapixels, OLED viewfinder, built-in GPS sony alpha slt-a77
UniquenessFast Continuous Speed
Great ForAction and Sports
LevelIntermediate to Advanced
CompetitorsCanon 7D, Nikon D7000
The Sony A77 aims to compete with Canon and Nikon by offering the fastest continuous speed on any DSLR to date: a whopping 12 photos per second. A unique articulated LCD screen can be viewed from virtually any angle (even standing in front of the camera). Toss in full HD 1080p video, sweep panorama, 19-point autofocus, an electronic OLED viewfinder, built-in GPS and an ISO range from 100 to 16000 and you have a camera to be reckoned with.
Price (With Lens): $2,000 USD

Movie Mode

If you're new to the world of DSLR video, take a quick look at the HDSLR jargon page to come up to speed. Then come back to this page to see how the new digital SLRs of 2011 compare.

While I've listed the highest quality video each camera can capture in the table above, I also thought it would be helpful to show a chart that JUST compares ALL of the different video options (including resolution and frame rate).

30 fps24 fps60 fps30 fps24 fps60 fps
Canon T3 1100D   
Canon T3i 600D
Nikon D5100
Sony SLT-A65 
Sony SLT-A77 

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