Deals galore on digital SLRs

What are the good deals out there if you’re itching to get a digital SLR?

At first glance those kits you see at the discount stores like Costco might be great buys.

For less than US $1,000 today, you can get started. And that price will even include the cost of Adobe Photoshop Elements.

The picture on the left which I “borrowed” from Costco’s website shows the package that is on sale: a body, 2 zoom lenses and a SD memory card.

Costco has a “sale” on a Canon Rebel XSi body with 2 lenses: a 18-55mm Image Stabilized lens wide angle zoom, a 75-300 mm telephoto zoom lens and a 2GB Secure Digital card for $800.

Note, the card doesn’t ship with the camera but from another vendor.

That sale ends on Monday October 13th, 2008.

But you should know that those Canon Rebel XSi cameras with the 18 mm to 55 mm lenses are quite difficult to learn to use.

For beginners who don’t have any background at all in photography, you’ll be stuck using Auto or Program mode, unless you take some classes.

It’s those darn numbers, the layers and layers of menu compounded with the technical jargon in the owner’s manual. 

And I haven’t touched on the software for image editing after you download the images onto the computer.

When I tell my students to set the camera to 200, does that mean the ISO, the focal length or the shutter speed?

All 3 could be correct depending on where you are looking on the top LCD display.

Then there’s the matter of the aperture. In the example of the 18 to 55 mm lens kit that comes with the Canon Rebel XSi, that particular lens has a variable aperture.

When zoomed out at the 18 mm wide angle end, it’s widest aperture is f 3.5.

On the 55 mm end, it is f5.6.

If you’re reading this and none of this makes any sense, then trust me on this: invest the time to at least take a photography class.

If you’re going to take the trouble to sign up for a class, it wouldn’t hurt to spring for the latest version of Adobe Photoshop Elements about US $100

Since I teach a digital photography class, increasingly more and more of my students are coming in with one of these digital SLR either Nikons or Canons.

It’s not difficult to understand the numbers and what they mean. I just requires a lot of dedication and motivation on the part of the students.

For the same amount of money, I recommend buying the Canon 30D.

It’s not the latest camera body obviously but you might find it less restrictive and annoying than the Rebel XSi.

Amazon has a kit which comprise the Canon 30D body and an 18 to 55 mm lens for the same price $800.

While the Rebel XSi has more megapixels, the user interface buttons are just not as user-friendly. To change the aperture, you have to hold two buttons.

If you don’t think that’s a biggie, just take a look at the owner’s manual of any digital SLR.