Buyer's Guide 2008: Digital SLRs
Regardless of your budget or skill level, there’s a D-SLR that’s right for you
Live View. Compact digital cameras have live-view monitors, which show you the image live before you make the shot. Until last year, D-SLR users had to do without this handy feature. Olympus introduced a live-view monitor in its EVOLT E-330, and now several models from Olympus, Canon, Nikon and others offer live-view monitor modes. The live-view feature makes it easier to shoot close-ups and at high and low angles, and allows for easier composing, manual focusing and depth-of-field checking in dim light.
Subject Modes. Entry-level (and some mid-range) D-SLRs provide special subject modes, which set the camera for shooting popular subjects such as portraits, landscapes, action, close-ups, night scenes and more, at the turn of a dial. These are handy for new photographers and allow even more serious photographers to quickly set the camera for these situations, rather than manually set shutter speed, aperture, drive mode, focus mode, white balance, sharpness, contrast and more.
Shooting Rate. All current D-SLRs will shoot at least 2.8 shots per second, and that's plenty fast for most photography. If you need a faster rate for action studies or scientific work, some mid-range models offer 5 fps, and there are pro models that will do up to 11 fps. When considering shooting speed, also check the specs to see how many consecutive RAW and JPEG images each camera you're considering can shoot at top speed.
Lens And Accessory Line. All of today's D-SLRs have a wide range of lenses available, either from the camera's manufacturer or elsewhere. If you require a special lens capability, make sure a potential camera purchase offers it. For example, only Canon and Nikon offer tilt/shift lenses, and only Sigma offers a circular fish-eye (although it comes in mounts for several popular camera brands, including Canon and Nikon, and provides a circular image only with full-frame D-SLRs). If you shoot action, the faster pro lenses provide better autofocusing performance with moving subjects than slower economy-priced lenses of equal focal length.