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JIM’S CAMERA RECOMMENDATION

What camera should I buy? Read on.

For my point-and-shoot, I was one of the first people to buy the Sony DSC-T500 several years ago. The reason was that it was the first of its kind to take full HD 720p videos. However, I don’t think I would recommend this model again, or for that case Sony at all. My simple recommendation? Get the Canon Powershot model that best fits your needs and budget.

As for a DSLR, I did a lot of typical “Hoppy research” here as well, and it ended up coming down to a pretty simple process of elimination (all prices include the standard lens kit).

I decided with Canon over Nikon.

For those that don’t need video, there is the Canon Digital Rebel EOS XSi
Since I wanted video, I looked at the Canon EOS Rebel T1i (About $650)

But right as I was about to buy, they announced the Canon Rebel T2i (About $750). As of September 2011, this is the most popular camera on Digital Photography School.com, and sits near the top of the “Consumer Level.”
I was easily able to eliminate a camera on the “Pro Level,” the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which runs more than $3,000.

Then I set my eyes on the $1,700 Canon EOS 7D, which sits near the bottom of the Pro Level.
I had a dilemma: Canon T2i or Canon 7D?

On one hand, I was pretty sure the T2i would handle all of my needs. It was reasonable for a DSLR at $750, it was a compact, lightweight plastic, and I figured I could upgrade down the line if I needed to.
On the other hand, the 7D was pretty awesome. The body is made of rugged magnesium-alloy, which gave it incredible ‘heft’ and felt like a tank. It had an easy to use scroll wheel on the back. And it was what many amateur filmmakers and semi-pros used, as well as a few friends. I thought about the whole “long-term investment” angle and about buying quality.

In the end, I talked myself down and went with the T2i. The largest factor was saving $1,000, the light weight, and the fact that I wasn’t really sure how much use I was going to give it. Looking back a year, I made the right decision. I love the camera, it takes amazing photos and video, and I am getting good use out of it.
Of course by now, they’ve come out with the T3i, which adds a pretty neat flip-out back panel and some other upgrades.

Bottom line? If you’re an enthusiast looking for a solid all-around product under $1,000, go with the Canon T3i. If you have a little more money to burn, go with the Canon 7D.

One follow-up… I recently purchased the top-rated (1,600 reviews), inexpensive ($110) Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens. Why? The main reason I wanted a nice DSLR is so I could do what I call “the blurry photo” (in photographer speak, “depth-of-field”). This lens instantly makes you look like a pro. [abby photo]