Avid photographers who want full creative control over their images should consider a digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera. These models offer the advanced features that experienced shooters need, and all of them are compatible with a wide range of interchangeable lenses and accessories. Of course, they're generally more expensive than point-and-shoot cameras, with prices starting at about $600 for the body only. The good news is that if you've already invested in a set of 35mm SLR lenses and accessories, there's a good chance that you'll be able to find a digital SLR body that's compatible with them.
After extensive product testing, Which Digital SLR Camera? has named the following DSLR cameras the best and top-quality entry-level DSLR brands and products for beginning and intermediate-level photographers:
Nikon D80 Canon XSi Canon EOS XTi Pentax K200D Pentax K10D Sony Alpha A100K Nikon D60 Nikon D40x
I recently moved up to a DSLR. I purchased an Olympus E-410 with a two lens kit for $380.00 in Canada. So far I'm really enjoying it. Those of you that are thinking about moving to a DSLR, just do it. You won't regret it.
Is the Olympus a 4:3 format? if so, it is a non-starter. A friend at work ignored my advice and bought the Olympus, which while very good and taking excellent photographs made it difficult to get a lens upgrade. The top-line Olympus glass is expensive and there is no '2nd' like Canon and Nikon have.
Start picking up and 'hefting' the cameras in your price range. See how well the controls fit your hands. Read DPReview tests of those which pass first muster. If you choose the Canon, take the 'kit' lens and throw it away. Buy a lens upline and be happy. These days, except for prime wide angle, I'd (do, actually) get nothing BUT stablized glass. Saves a lot of trouble and get you an extra stop or 2 at the bottom end.
I've enjoyed my Nikon D60. Right now you can get one pretty cheap as it is getting a little bit old and it is a lower end DSLR.
The important thing to remember is it is all about the lens on DSLRs. I paired my D60 with a F1.8 35MM lens, and Nikon's cheapest external flash and have gotten excellent results.
I guess what I'm trying to say is don't spend so much money on you DSLR body that you can not spend money on an upgraded lens. Most of the kit lenses are not very good. You would be better off getting a high end point-n-shoot in most cases then sticking with a basic low end DSLR kit lens in my opinion. The whole point of a DSLR is to be able to upgrade the lens and attach an external flash.
Best advice I can give you is the same one my professor gave me 16 years ago. I asked her which camera I should buy and her answer was so simple and it made so much sense. she said "look at any sport side line, you see all them long grey lenses they are canon so why buy anything else" she said if you buy anything else you can alway buy adopters for lenses but thats like owning a nissan and you put a toyota motor in it, it will run but wont work the same. 16 years later im still shooting just moved up to the higher end of canon now I shoot with the Canon Mark Eos 1ds Mark III. Put it this way even if you went with a lower end canon point and shoot you will be very happy with the pictures. Nikon people will say something else about what I said, but thats Nikon is the next best thing or choice. Anything else beside these two name don't even waist your time. Think about it this way When you think of HP you think of printer or camera, when you hear sony you think of tv, playstations, laptops or cameras. These days every company try to make a cameras so they can get a little money from the pie but they are not true camera companies as hard as they try, not saying they wont do the job, but they will never be a Canon or Nikon. Stick with what us pro photographers use, Canon or Nikon not counting Medium format cameras thats a whole diff story. I would say get your self a Canon Rebel you will be so happy with it
In the purchase of a DSLR, think about the lens choice availabe. I had a friend purchase the Olympus and he had trouble finding good glass which didn't cost a fortune.
Also, as a traditionalist, I won't buy anthing but a 3:2 frame. And, just my Opin, I would never buy a Sony Camera. Period. Even though I've been a Canon user for 35 years, I don't know if I'd recommend the Canons, either, unless you take the 'kit' lens and donate it to an artificial reef. I love the Nikon kit lens, it is way above the Canon offering. Canon, however has a Very Cheap / Very Good lens in the form of the 50mm 1.8, which the generation raised on zoom everything will never try. Too bad. Turn off the flash, learn composition and have fun.
Most digital single-lens reflex cameras (digital SLR or DSLR) are digital cameras that use a mechanical mirror system and pentaprism to direct light from the lens to an optical viewfinder on the back of the camera.
The basic operation of a DSLR is as follows: for viewing purposes, the mirror reflects the light coming through the attached lens upwards at a 90 degree angle. It is then reflected three times by the roof pentaprism, rectifying it for the photographer's eye. (Note that the diagram below incorrectly shows a non-roof pentaprism.) During exposure, the mirror assembly swings upward, the aperture narrows (if stopped down, or set smaller than wide open), and a shutter opens, allowing the lens to project light onto the image sensor. A second shutter then covers the sensor, ending the exposure, and the mirror lowers while the shutter resets. The period that the mirror is flipped up is referred to as "viewfinder blackout". A fast-acting mirror and shutter is preferred so as not to delay an action photo.