by Dan Havlik on October 16, 2007
Not so long ago, if you wanted to capture high-quality photos like the pros, you'd have to save up your pennies to buy a pricey sophisticated digital SLR that weighed a ton. But now a whole new class of smaller budget-oriented DSLRs offers professional-quality features and performance for around $700.
If you've only taken pictures with a point-and-shoot before, you're in for a pleasant surprise with these models; it's like using an entirely different species of camera. Even the most basic DSLRs have remarkable speed with virtually no shutter lag, along with a range of features, extended battery life, and manual controls. These attributes will not only make you a better photographer, but they'll also make taking pictures more fun.
For shutterbugs who are curious about upgrading from a point-and-shoot but need to stay on a budget, we tested four entry-level DSLRs with lenses, all of which have street prices ranging from $549 to $799. Our contestants included the Canon Digital Rebel XT ($599), Nikon D40 ($549), Pentax K100D Super ($599), andSony alpha DSLR-A100 ($799).
We evaluated each DSLR based on how well it executed five shooting scenarios. Read on to see how each model fared, and to see which one is worth the investment.