Here at Learnmyshot we decided to put together some reviews of products that I hope will give you ideas for the upcoming holidays. These reviews will not be super technical in origin. I want us to focus more on usability and cool features. How does the product feel in our hands? Do the controls seem easy to use and in logical places? What made us go “Wow!”
As these reviews progress we will of course be taking your feedback into improving future articles. If you have experience with one of the items we are reviewing please leave your own mini review in the comments section at the end of the article.
Our first article is on DSLR kits for under $500. These kits include a camera body and some version of a zoom lens. The three kits we are going to review are Canon’s Rebel T3, Nikon’s D3000 and Sony’s A390.
All three kits are very similar when the contents of the box are revealed. Each comes with a camera body, 18-55mm zoom lens, lithium-ion battery, battery charger, camera strap, interface cable, software CD and lens & body caps. One of the differences was in the Nikon D3000 box, which also included a dust cover for the hot-shoe and for the viewfinder. Nice additional accessories that will help keep those areas a bit cleaner in the long run. Also, what was noticeable and slightly annoying in an entry level DSLR kit is the lack of an SD card so you can shoot with your new camera! With the relative low cost of these cards now-a-days it would just be nice if one was included.
They all have the basics covered in the box and you only need to pick up an SD card to begin shooting.
We will now go over a few of the numbers and technical aspects of each camera just to give you some basic info on the cameras.
All three cameras felt comfortable while holding them. The Nikon kit lens had a noticeable heft to it compared to the other two and that of course translated into the Nikon D3000 feeling a little more substantial. This is of course a personal observation as I am used to hauling around heavier cameras and glass. I feel that the light weight of these cameras will be much appreciated on the go.
The larger screen on the Nikon was great for seeing what you shot, but it did not have a live view mode. The lack of live view is not much of a hindrance, because I find I use it mostly for video and the Nikon and Sony do not shoot video, whereas the Canon T3 shoots 720p HD video.
The control layout was pretty similar among the three. All had the on/off switch on the right hand side for easy access when held up for a shot. The Sony A390 has the mode dial on the left which I like, but I think only because I am used to that dial being over there on my other cameras. The control wheel of the Nikon D3000 is on the back, so you can use your right thumb to use it. The Canon T3 has it on the right front top where you use your index finger to change settings with the shutter button in front of it. The Sony is on the front also, but in front of the shutter button.
Overall they all felt great to use and I was impressed with how far the Sony and Canon grips have come from their earlier models. I recall my first experience with a Canon Rebel and feeling like I was pinching it rather than holding it. If I was to choose a favorite from them for comfort and ease of use I would lean towards the Canon T3, but again I clarify that statement with saying I am a long-time user of Canon and the controls are in familiar places. If I used either of the other two for an extended length of time I am sure they would both be as comfortable and easy to use.
Now it is time for the part that I enjoy the most! That is finding the features that make me go – “WOW!”
When I started doing this review I thought a clear winner would pop out. I was leaning towards the Canon Rebel T3, because I use Canon myself. Then again Nikon has been such a successful brand I figured it would also have a great chance of being tops, but the Sony was surprisingly well made and had some great features that the others did not have.
It comes down to what you are looking for, I would recommended any of these based on the results I got from using them, but if you want video in your DSLR then you have to go with the Canon Rebel T3. If you want live view you can go with the Canon Rebel T3 or the Sony A390(with tilt!). Want to be able to do some in camera editing? You should go with the Nikon D3000.
If you want to brag about the number of megapixels you have then you need the Sony A390 with its 14.2mp sensor. Want to have the largest selection of lenses to choose from? Go with either the Canon Rebel T3 or the Nikon D3000 each has over 160 available.
Granted there are better cameras out there in many aspects, but the purpose of this review was to show you some DSLR cameras for the holidays for under $500. Again if you have one of these kits or have used one in the past please post a comment! If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see in the upcoming reviews please email me.
Have great Holidays!