The economy’s bad and stores are pumping out deals to attract customers. BestBuy Canada is promoting during its Preferred Customer sale $100 off an DSLR. The sale is on for one day only (today) from 6pm to 9pm in-store or from 6pm to 10am tomorrow online.
The Nikon D40 is a great beginner’s DSLR, which I used extensively. The D40 with 18-55mm lens kit is available for $449 now, or $349 during the sale. It’s one of the smaller beginner DSLRs and comes with a competent kit lens. You can read about my experience with the camera. In short, I like the camera, if you’re willing to work with the 3 point autofocus and lack of a motor in the body (requiring a lens motor for AF). It produces beautiful images. And don’t let anyone tell you 6MP isn’t enough.
Another option for the budget segment is the Sony A200 for $369 with the kit 18-70mm lens. This is a 10MP camera with in-body stabilization. Image quality is slightly worse than the D40, in fact, at high ISO. However, you get some more resolution as well as the image stabilizer, which can be a life saver in low-light situations. Do keep in mind that although it allows sharp hand held shots at lower shutter speeds than normal, it also requires that the subject be still. Nearly all Minolta AF lenses will work with the A200. The AF is more advanced than the D40, with a 9 point AF sensor.
The kit 18-70mm lens isn’t terribly sharp and overall is optically poorer than the Nikon 18-55mm that comes with the D40 kit, but does have a bit more reach. The A200 is also significantly larger than the D40, which is good for people with larger hands and less good for smaller hand users.
Both cameras are good buys, especially at the very low prices during the sale. If you want some more features and technology, go for the Sony, but the Nikon has the ability to provide marginally better image quality, despite the more limited feature set.