Originally Posted by JLay87
I've had an old Minolta XG-1 that I've used on and off for a while, but never really got into it, simply because learning on a film camera is a bitch because you have to wait to get the photos developed (tho I do love film).
So I'm looking for some recs for a new DSLR. I'm looking for something that's good for a beginner to learn on, but powerful enough that I can keep using it and don't have to buy a new one when I get more experienced. I'm also planning on traveling extensively with this camera so it preferably be rugged/reliable and also set up so that it's really convenient in terms of transferring photos to the internet and/or a blog. Also since I'll be traveling I don't want to be carrying around a ton of lenses/flashes/etc... if poss.
There is some good advice in the other thread but I won't be an asshole and tell you to read it.
Unlike the typical SF responses, you asked, so I'll try to help you out.
Since I recently went through the same decision, here's what I came up with.
The micro 4/3 camera body is nice - very nice, but I decided against it because of the lack of a viewfinder. The whole reason I wanted a DSLR was for fast response time. I have two little kids and point-and-shoots just don't respond fast enough to catch the images I wanted. The micro 4/3 is better, but because there is no viewfinder and you use the live view screen for everything, the response time is still a bit slower - just enough where I could notice it.
For quality optics I think it's tough to beat the Pentax line, and the K-X is very well priced. Highly recommend, and the handful of pros I talked to had nothing but lavish praise for the Pentax line.
Sony is a good choice too as the reincarnation of Minolta in the digital SLR world. The entry-level Alpha camera is really inexpensive and a great value.
Of course the entry-level Nikon and Canon camera bodies are a great choice, and this will give you the most flexibility when you want to start buying additional lenses. Don't fall for the belief that you have to buy a Nikon or Canon to get the lens flexibility you need. Any of the manufacturers here are going to have plenty of options for upgrading lenses, but with Nikon and Canon you'll have literally hundreds and hundreds of options instead of dozens and dozens. No matter which brand you buy, you'll be able to find what you need. It can just get a little overwhelming with Nikon and Canon.
Last one I'm familiar with is Olympus. The big advantage to an Olympus DSLR is that the four-thirds platform makes for a much smaller and lighter camera than the above (excluding the micro four-thirds.) Olympus lenses are really exceptional quality. You won't find the bewildering array of options that you'll find with Canon and Nikon, but the ones that are available are fine lenses.
I bought an Olympus E-420 as I came to realize that no matter how good the camera was, if it was too large and too heavy, neither I nor my wife would ever want to take it with us anywhere, so what is the point? Have been very happy with it so far and got a great deal.
A disadvantage to the Olympus line for me is that they elected not to produce the equivalent of a 50mm prime in a fast aperture. That's an important lens for me as a lot of the shooting I do is of the kids inside in low light. I haven't found a workaround that I like yet - there is a Rokinon "light bucket" in f1.8 that sells for only about $275 (!!!) but it's manual focus. You can also buy an adapter that allows use of the old Zuiko 50mm primes from the 1970s (which sell for $50 to $75) but of course that means completely manual shooting - no auto metering or anything. Still pondering what I want to do to solve this issue.
Good luck and let me know what you think. To sum up, for portability Olympus wins. For overall quality, Pentax is tough to beat. For growth and flexibility in the future and the most robust selection of used lenses, Nikon or Canon.
Matt in Atlanta