questionsi am in the market for an entry level slr camera…

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Thanks for asking this - I am quite curious myself, as the answer seems to come down between Nikon and Canon for a brand, but would love to hear people chime in.

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Those are the two brands I have it narrowed down to....Either the Cannon Rebel T3 or the Nikon D3100. Are either of those good? Does one have an advantage over the other?

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I'd get a Canon Rebel T2i. The T3i has been out for a while now, and consequently the T2i is hundreds of dollars cheaper. It has the same 18MP DIGIC 4 processor as the T3i. In fact, most of the difference between the T2i and the T3i is in the price.

I got a Rebel XS back in 1993, and it's still working beautifully.

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Guess I favor Canon Rebels, too, although the only Rebel I have is a 35mm. Can't afford a DSLR right now, so bought a used bridge Canon camera on ebay and love it. Hopesfully in a year or two I can save the money to buy another SLR - once I've learned more about digital photography - and it would likely be a Canon. I do have to admit, though, I've never had a Nikon, and I know people love those, too.

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I snagged a D3000, which is a slightly older D3100 without the video option.

The hardware on most of the entry level models is going to be a minor thing for awhile, until you know why you might want a better autofocus motor, why you want a specific lens to be supported, or run into situations where you need an into valometer -- stuff the basic models might lack. I've just hit a few of those roadblocks after a year or two, but have been able to work around them in many cases. Formfactor may be an issue too -- I have bigger hands and liked the Nikon.

The important part, imo, is which firmware works better for you. I went with Nikon 'cause it had a tutorial mode that chooses the best settings based on, "What are you trying to take a picture of today?" allowing you to see settings... so you can mimic and tweak once you're fully into manual mode. They're handy training wheels for learning on the go.

Best thing? Find a local camera store and play around with them. Maybe even rent one.

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Go to a Best Buy and play with the displays, it brings a completely different perspective to making your choice. I was in between the Rebel T3i and D3100. I chose the D3100 because I like that there's a row of quick access buttons to the left of the LCD and it's also compact enough to fit comfortably in my hand. Also, Best Buy had a deal for a bundle for the camera with a 18-55mm and a 55-200mm lens.

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@gatzby: I picked up a D3000 as well a few years ago, and love it (other than the lack of video...).

OP: Between Nikon and Canon, you are going to get a winner no matter what you pick. It really does mostly boil down to personal preference in entry models. Play a bit with each in a store, and see which you like best. The only thing I've noticed is that generally I can find the Nikon camera bodies a little cheaper than the Canon's, while the additional lenses are usually a bit cheaper from Canon than they are Nikon.

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I love my Nikon D60. It was about 450 a year or so ago.

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My old Rebel XS - 35mm film. (waggly eyebrows) Interested?

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You should really checkout Digital Photo Review's website:

D3100:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond3100

T3:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos1100D/

They are the best reviews on the web (or anywhere, for that matter)

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I just picked up a D3100 (Nikon) from Costco. $700 gets you the body, 18-55mm and 55-200mm vibration reduction (VR) lenses, carrying case, 4GB SD card, and 100 prints. There are also some DVDs to teach you advanced features. They have the Canon too but I don't think it comes with the long lens.

As far as the camera goes, I love it. It is small, for a DSLR, light, and the button layout is intuitive. The ability to shoot HD video on the fly with out messing around with dials and menus is great and one reason to get the 3100 over the 3000. The 3100 has a great built in guide mode where you pick the situation or type of photo you want and it explains what setting to use to get the desired effect.

Everyone in my family has used Nikon's for years because they just plain work and last forever.

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Pentax K1000.

Not being entirely facetious either. There's really no "best" in this broad a question--at best, a short list to choose from of what might be best for your current budget and needs. If you really are interested in photography, pick up an older manual 35mm camera. They're generally dirt cheap now, and lens technology hasn't changed enough from the golden age of SLRs ('70-80s) to notice any drastically better results, plus learning on a manual is great self-education. Learn how speed and aperture affect affect photos, learn enough about the Zone System to at least understand exposing for highlights and shadows, get a handle on what different focal lengths look like (don't just get zooms--get primes and learn to zoom with your feet), since most digicam lenses give their 35mm-equivalent focal lengths anyway.

Or if you just want decent looking snapshots and don't care about being involved in the photo process, just get a mirrorless system and keep it set on auto.

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(Part II)

Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Ricoh, Minolta (R.I.P.), and Pentax are probably the giants of the golden age. I'm intentionally skipping over more esoteric stuff like Contax, Leica, Rollei, Hassy, Speed Graphic...there are tons of great older makers, I just want to focus on the '70s-80s consumer/prosumer greats. Coming up to the digital age are companies like Panasonic, Samsung, even Casio (at least for pocket cameras) which aren't traditional camera names but have produced some good gear.

Minoltas have traditionally been very user-friendly, while many of their lenses have been relatively soft; not to say they're bad, I've gotten some very nice shots from Rokkor lenses. Nikon glass tends to be among the sharpest of the mass consumer stuff, but their bodies aren't quite as user friendly. The others I listed (outside of the "esoterics") tend to fall somewhere in between.

Look around, fondle some, find something that feels right. You can't go wrong with any of those I listed.