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Best SLR Digital Camera Under $800

By Edited Dec 9, 2013 7 6

D3100 Vs SLT- A57

If you are wanting some 'serious quality' whether it be for a casual hobbyist or even that of a professional level photographer -- then you cannot really look past an SLR camera. With the modern SLR cameras being digital (DSLR) as well, this offers a range of practical advantages -- such as it allows for easy importing into photo editing software and comes without the cost of more regularly paying for film. Moreover, if we were to then combine this with SLR cameras becoming simply -- easier and easier to use, then this makes it a really great time for one to take up photography. In this very article we are going to taking an in depth look at two of the very best SLR digital cameras under $800 in the current market -- the Nikon D3100 Camera Vs Sony Alpha SLT-A57 Camera.

D3100 Digital SLR Camera By Nikon

Nikon D3100 SLR

This Nikon is one of the best value and high quality digital SLR cameras currently on the market of 2012 and it is incredibly popular with both hobbyists and amateurs alike.

This 14.2 mega pixel camera features an 18 - 55mm AF-s DX VR Nikkor zoom lens, which is what gives it it's high fidelity photo taking capabilities. Furthermore, the D3100 DSLR can also shoot video in 1080p and it can also shoot high speed pictures at 3 frames per second (3 fps), hence making itself pretty handy for those who are into high paced action shots.

Besides an awesome picture quality this camera is also made popular by it's easy to use pop-up flash, compact design and simplifying assistance software. This software includes an 11-point autofocus for instant and sharp photo taking without  the need for manual adjustment and Active D lighting, which is really great for bringing out high levels detail in low light photos. Finally, the D3100 features a highly rated and regarded 'learn as you go' practical guide mode which slowly but surely introduces new features of the camera to you (great for the first time photographers -- and may even end up teaching the more experienced photographers a thing or two as well). In this regard, this camera can essentially take the place of a first year photography teacher. But don't worry --  no one has to know that you weren't actually self-taught though.

The overall customer reviews of this camera rate it extremely favorably with it receiving on average 4.6 stars out of 5 on Amazon, where it has over 400 reviews. One Amazon customer stated that "for the cost of this camera, I don't think you can get anything better" and another customer went on to state that "the camera is very easy to use and anyone can take a great picture with the D3100". The Nikon D3100 retails well under $800 -- for around $650 mark but it is often listed for much cheaper and is discounted on Amazon and other online retailing stores.

Alpha SLT-A57 Exmor HD CMOS Digial SLR Camera By Sony

Sonly Alpha SLT-A57

Although many aren't a huge fan of Sony camera this huge 16.1 mega pixel DSLR from Sony is a part of Sony's new Camera range and might just change your mind -- where it has the stand out feature of 'translucent mirror technology', which allows for extremely high speed photography - up to that of 10 fps. This makes this line of Sony cameras a serious choice for the fast pace sports and live motion photography enthusiasts. With 10 fps this means more pictures than each second so that you can pick out the very best picture frame for each shot. To say the least -- this camera technology has certainly raised the bar for action photography in the SLR market, which is great for the SLT-A57, but how does the rest of the camera perform?

This camera has pretty much everything you could possibly need and want from an SLR, including automatic HDR adjustments, face detection, clear zoom technology, automatic portrait framing, auto zoom, auto focus and panoramic shooting. You can even automatically upload all of your photos to the unique Sony cloud service to protect yourself against lost memory cards.

This is a fairly new camera from Sony but it is showing a lot of promise. Since it's release it has only been reviewed more than 30 times and is sitting on a very high 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon. It seems that Sony's claims are met on this one with customers saying things like "the pros of the camera are many… sharp pictures even in low light." and "[this camera was] very fun to use with a super feature set".  

Which Camera is Better for the Money -- the Nikon D3100 or the Sony SLT-A57?

Both cameras are offering a lot of value for their price tag that is definitely for sure -- this being said if it had to come down to it -- the lower price of the Nikon D3100 wins out, but only just.

In sum, it is obvious the D3100 is a solid camera with good well built hardware, a great lens and all of the features most photographers will need (both beginner and pro). All of this is at one of the lowest prices you will probably see on an SLR camera of this quality.

However, if you are looking to get into sports or another fast-paced form of photography and if you are not concerned with paying a little more than the Sony Exmor SLR offers you an advantage that pretty much no other camera can with its unique techology. You will be able to get the perfect photo much more often with twice as many frames to choose from thanks to the translucent mirror technology. Both cameras are a great choice for any level of photographer, just look to the customer reviews for further confirmation of that fact.

If you have any specific questions or comments  regarding the Best SLR Digital Cameras under $800 (e.g. you have your own suggestion) or individually with that of either the D3100 or SLT-A57, then please do make them in the comments section below.



Sep 11, 2012 9:57am
Very nice review. I don't particularly like Sony but that 10 fps is *very* tempting.
Oct 2, 2012 10:30am
Thanks for the heads up. (^_^) I've been wondering where can I get a decent camera without paying that full $1K. I still want a Cannon Rebel but I'm not in any hurry.
Nov 10, 2012 2:50pm
This comment has been deleted.
Dec 29, 2012 12:13am
This is a really good comparison. It would be interesting to see how the Rebel holds up in this comparison.
Feb 3, 2013 5:44am
Great review, We have just bought the Nikon D3200 Kit AF-S 18-105mm VR Lens Digital SLR Camera although still waiting for it to arrive. We bought it for $600 with the the 105 lens as we had all the others to interchange with it. Will do a review when it finally arrives and compare it with our Nikon D5000.
May 11, 2013 11:44am
I'd recommend Cannon t2i
Mar 20, 2014 10:07am
Hey, the price, cloud service and such high speed (10 fps), this camera is certainly something to consider for photographing anything moving (animals or people). Thank you for such a thorough review. Thumbs and Pinned to my photography board.
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