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Roundup: 3 New Beginner DSLRs

View and Control

We mentioned previously that a number of cameras on the market today are made without an optical viewfinder, depending solely on the LCD monitor for framing the image. All three cameras here are equipped with both the optical viewfinder and an LCD monitor. And the viewfinder is truly a viewfinder. By that we mean that, unlike several cameras that appear to be an SLR, with no optional lenses and an electronic viewfinder, these cameras utilize a viewfinder in the traditional sense, as found on 35mm SLR cameras.

Each of the three cameras has multiple focusing points in the viewfinder: the Olympus with seven, the Canon with nine and the Nikon with eleven. These multiple focus points provide the photographer with ability to focus on one object and, with sufficient depth-of-field, keep everything from ten feet to twenty-five feet sharply in focus, as an example.

With the Nikon D5000, you can select a different focus mode that the default Auto-area. Then, using the arrow keys on the back of the camera body, you can select a focus point that will ensure the image has sufficient depth-of-field for your picture. On the Canon T1i, you press the button on the top right of the back of the camera and select the desired focus point with the arrow buttons. The buttons for this feature on the Olympus E-620 are located in the same position as the Canon.

Image framing, and review after capture, can also be obtained by using the built in LCD monitor. The Olympus and the Nikon make use of a 2.7-inch TFT LCD monitor and the Canon uses a 3.0-inch monitor. With the Canon T1i, the monitor is fixed into its position on the back of the camera body. Both the Nikon and the Olympus have articulated monitors. This means that you can rotate or angle the monitor away from the camera body. With this feature, you can hold the camera body at your waist or over your head and angle the monitor so that you are still in control of the camera and frame your image as you want.

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We understand that this feature isn’t just a gimmick, but we wonder whether it is worth including. The purpose of the SLR form factor, in our opinion, is to provide the experience many photographers had with their older film cameras. If you are that enamored with using the LCD monitor for framing your image, you likely do not require the use of an SLR camera. That said, we would give the edge to both the Nikon and the Olympus for this feature.

For our View & Control rating, we would rate each camera at score of 4 out of 5.