My new son-in-law wants to take his first step into serious photography and so has asked for my advice.
The first questions I needed to ask were:
How much do you want to spend and equally important, what do you want to photograph?
There is no one camera that is suited to everyone and the choices out there can be bewildering.
My recommendation to Dave has been to buy an entry level DSLR because they represent good value for money, offer a range of features that you don’t get on compact cameras and generally produce better image quality because of their larger sensors. Which one though because most manufacturers produce decent entry level DSLRs.
The two big players are Nikon and Canon and so I pointed Dave in their direction. The likes of Pentax, Sony, Panasonic and Olympus also make good DSLR cameras but they generally do not have the same range of accessories e.g. lenses available to them.
The temptation with both Canon and Nikon is to start with looking at the entry level model and then see what you can get for just a little more money. For example, the Nikon D3100 has now been replaced with the D3200 which costs that bit more. In the Canon range though there is a big jump up from the 1100D to even the 550D (the current model in that range is the 650D) so the temptation is less.
What about features?
The Canon model was introduced February 2011 and the Nikon D3100 August 2010 so the Canon is the newer of the two. However, there are some features of the Nikon that might be considered more up to date and others that are definitely lacking. To compare the two models, along with the Pentax K-r that Dave has considered go to here.
In the end, as I have told Dave, he needs to handle both cameras and see which suits him best. Whichever he chooses, I am certain he will get some great photos.
PS My recommendation, based on reviews, was for the Nikon D3100 even though I am personally committed to Canon.