Best Digital SLR Cameras for Amateurs

What is the best SLR digital camera for amateur photographers? It's a question people have been asking for several years and will likely continue to ask as constant advances in both imaging and cellphone technology accelerate. One year's list of the best of the best cameras is the next year's list of what you might be able to salvage from the scrap heap.

Still, the cameras on the following list, which was originally published back in 2007, may be worth checking out if you're looking for bargains or used cameras that are still perfectly serviceable if a little outdated.

Photography is no longer the exclusive domain of professionals with tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Today's Digital SLRs can produce extremely high-quality images and still allow great flexibility in shooting. The truth is, almost any of the familiar brand cameras on the market will produce high-quality images. However, there are still some entry-level cameras that stand out from the pack.

  • 01 of 04

    Pentax K200D

    Pentax K200D
    Wikipedia Creative Commons

    Pentax continues to fire well-placed shots at Canon and Nikon's market share. The KX-x has many of the features of a much higher priced camera at a rock bottom price. The controls are set up with the user in mind and allow for fast adjustments during shooting. All of that and it is built to last. Unlike many of the newer DSLR's, the Pentax K200D is not a flimsy plastic construction.

    • Features
    • 12.4MP Sensor
    • Shake Reduction in-body eliminates the need for special shake reduction lenses
    • Expanded Dynamic Range
    • 16 Segment Metering
  • 02 of 04

    Canon Digital Rebel T2i

    Image courtesy of Pricegrabber

    The Canon Digital Rebel T2i is the latest offering in the very popular Digital Rebel line that has very nearly become THE DSLR of choice for amateur photographers. Canon was the first to offer a DSLR under $1000 US and has continued to improve the Digital Rebel for the past few years. The current offering is strong enough that some pros happily use it as a back-up camera.

    • Features
    • 18 MP sensor
    • Image stabilization lenses available
    • Integrated Cleaning System

    The Canon Digital Rebel T2i also gives the photographer access to a huge range of compatible lenses.

  • 03 of 04

    Nikon D80

    Image courtesy of Pricegrabber

    The Nikon D80 continues the excellence that has won over numerous photographers to being loyal Nikon shooters. Nikon's continuing flexibility and high quality makes the D80 and excellent choice for those wishing to move up to a DSLR.

    • Features
    • 10.2 MP sensor
    • Various program modes including fully automatic, manual, and shutter priority
    • Several focusing program options
    • Sensitivity from 100-3200 ISO
    • SD and SDHC memory card compatible
  • 04 of 04

    Sony Alpha a330

    Sony Alpha200. Image courtesy of Pricegrabber

    The Sony Alpha series is another low-cost offering in a field where the cameras are generally $1,000 US and over. The quality and pricing of the Sonya Alpha has begun winning over photographers that don't want the extra cost of paying for a "name" like Canon and Nikon. A lot of the Alpha series features feel like a stripped-down version of the Pentax but it is still a nice little camera.

    • Features
    • SteadyShot Image Stabilization System
    • Improved Digital Range
    • Anti-Dust Features
    • 10.8MP