Out with the old, in with the new. Sure they’re not the latest and greatest, but last year’s DSLR models are certainly worth a long hard look, particularly for those on a tight budget. Among others, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus and Pentax have all released cutting edge models for 2008, but if you’re not dying to have a live-view display or enough megapixels to plaster a semi with that adorable picture of Toto, settling for the best of 2007 might be worth the savings as retailers move inventory to make room for new models. We take a look at last year’s models and let you know which camera, old or new, is the best buy. Current body-only prices for each camera are listed from four different merchants with kit pricing (body plus zoom lens) in parentheses if available.
Canon Digital Rebel XT – 8 Megapixels
Released: March 2005
Original MSRP: $899
Current Pricing: Adorama: $394.95 (kit: $449.95)Amazon: Not Available (kit: $449.95)B&H: $394.95 (kit: $449.95)Beach Camera: $379.00 (kit: $459.00) Compare to: Digital Rebel XSi – $800 (street)
With the lowest body-only price of $379 offering a savings of 53% over Canon’s newest model, the 8-megapixel XT is the biggest bargain of the bunch, appealing to photographers on a tight budget. Choosing the older model doesn’t come without sacrifice though, as the XSi (available in late April) includes a 12.2-megapixel sensor and larger LCD with live-view support.
Nikon D40 – 6.1 Megapixels
Released: December 2006
Original MSRP: $599
Current Pricing (only available with kit lens): Adorama: $499.95Amazon: $479.98B&H: $499.95Beach Camera: $488.99 Compare to: Nikon D60 – $630 (street)
With all prices including a kit lens, snagging a D40 for about $480 isn’t the deal of the century, but the sub-$500 kit is great for photographers looking to make the jump to a DSLR without dropping loads of cash on new gear. When including a kit lens, the newer 10.2-megapixel D60 (available now) will run you about $730, leaving a 34% price gap between the older model.
Olympus E410 – 10 Megapixels
Released: June 2007
Original MSRP: $799
Current Pricing: Adorama: $399.00 (kit: $449.00)Amazon: $405.00B&H: $399.00 (kit: $449.95)Beach Camera: $399.00 Compare to: Olympus E-420 – $500 (street)
If you don’t mind waiting until late-May, the $500 E420 will include a 2.7-inch live-view display and will carry the distinction of being the “world’s smallest digital SLR.” With only a $100 difference in price from last year’s model, the E420 will be the better buy when it’s released, unless the older model sees a significance drop in price come May (presuming there’s any E-410s left!)
Pentax K10D – 10.2 Megapixels
Released: November 2006
Original MSRP: $899.95
Current Pricing: Adorama: $749.99Amazon: Not AvailableB&H: $799.95 (only w/ kit lens)Beach Camera: $798.99 (only w/ kit lens) Compare to: Pentax K20D – $1155 (street)
With the K10D offering a 35% savings over the newer model, photographers in need of a very capable and weather-tough sub-$1000 digital SLR should consider picking one up now. The just released K20D offers several advantages over its predecessor though, including a 2.7-inch live-view display, and a newly developed 14.6-megapixel sensor.
Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 – 10.2 Megapixels
Released: July 2006
Original MSRP: $899.95
Current Pricing: Adorama: $449.95Amazon (via J&R): $579.88B&H: $499.95 (only w/ kit lens)Beach Camera: Not Available Compare to: Sony Alpha DSLR-A350 – $750 (street)
Though not a direct revision to the A100, the Sony Alpha A350 offers a 14.2-megapixel sensor and 2.7-inch tilting live-view LCD at a 40% premium over Adorama’s price of $449.95 for the older model. While not without its improvements, the significantly higher price of the A350 makes the A100 the best buy for photographers looking to snag a great closeout deal.