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Best budget digital SLRs?


Guest Tam o' Shantie
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The d40 would be a good choice. Autofocus is not built into the body but into (some) of the lenses. This can be good because it lowers the cost of autofocus repair, with it being in the lense and not the camera. However it can also be bad if you forget to check the lens has af.

Autofocus isn't essential but can be quite helpful for a beginner

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I would have a look at the cheaper Canons, you should be able to get the 450d (which I can't really see how you would consider 'feature light') for under 500 which is a fantastic camera. Great quality, decent kit lens (the 18-55mm IS) and a great range of available lenses (any Canon EF lens - so pretty much any Canon lens from the last 20 years). I went for a 400d when I was buying (admittedly quite a while back now) and it has served me brilliantly.

The Nikon d40 is a great deal, but to my eyes is ageing a bit. The main thing that put me off the lower end Nikons is the availability of lenses - you can take your pick of any of the new lenses, but things like the older primes are a lot more limited (you can mount any Nikon lens from the last 50 years, but only autofocus the newer lenses with built in motors). To most beginners this probably isn't an issue though, as all the 'standard' zoom lenses are available to fit (18-55, 55-200, 18-200, etc...) so it is only awkward people like me who find an issue.

There are also the other options available like Pentax and Sony who both make fantastic cameras, just they don't really have the same system of existing lenses and accessories behind them as the big two - hopefully someone else can comment on them as my knowledge is lacking as I have had a lot more experience with Canon and Nikon

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You should be able to get something more recent for not too much more than the 350d, the jump up to something like the 400d is well worth it for the better autofocus sensor cleaning and better screen on the back, and that is ignoring the current 450d which is still within budget and comes with a better feature set (additions like spot metering and lie view which were absent on the older models)

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