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Review: 5 entry-level DSLRs under US$900

Melissa J. Perenson | Oct. 15, 2014
Today's entry-level DSLRs--from companies like Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony--are better than ever, offering plenty of oomph to get you started and the ability to grow with you as your skills and needs change and evolve.

The buying decision
Ultimately, all five models will help you capture great images. But among them, you'll find some significant differences. The Canon T5 is one of the lightest and least expensive of the five (a recent price-drop makes the Sony Alpha a58 the least expensive), but it lacks some of the abilities you'll find on competing models costing a bit more. The Nikon D3300 has velvety smooth and comparatively quiet performance. The Pentax K-50 offers peace of mind in all weather and locations, thanks to its ability to use AA batteries or the included lithium battery. The Sony captures gorgeous images, and does so with a different design than is typical for DSLRs; unfortunately, it's heavier, too.

One big consideration: lenses. For example, if you know you plan on doing close-up photography of flowers, you'll want a macro lens. If your kid is in a competitive indoor sport like gymnastics or basketball, you may want to eventually get an additional lens with longer reach and wider aperture than the standard (such as a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens), which will work better in lower light.

If you think those sort of lenses might be in your future, you'll do well to stick with one of the big two vendors, Canon and Nikon: Both sell a wide variety of lenses, and both have a deep base of users, which means you can find used lenses on the secondary market and save some money. That said, if you aren't already wedded to a specific camera system, and have no specific designs on upgrading, any of these entry-level DSLR kits we tested make it easy to capture great photos. You'll just have to get used to not shoving them in your pocket when you're done.


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