5 Great Entry Level DSLR Cameras That Won’t Break the Bank

Digital photography is everywhere these days, and the major camera manufacturers have flooded the market with a wide variety of dSLRs that range from the cheap-o entry model, to the Canon 1Ds Mark III, the reference standard for digital cameras; and with a price tag of £6500 plus it had better be! When you are looking to take the plunge from a digital point-n-shoot to a dSLR, you obviously want a camera with a strong feature set and outstanding image quality. While price can easily spiral out of control, you can find a more than respectable entry-level camera in the £300 to £650 price range – including a kit lens! All of the cameras reviewed below have the standard features – Exposure Control (Bulb, Manual, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority, Auto, Depth of Field), Shooting Modes (Close-up, Landscape, Sports, Portrait and Night), Metering Modes (Spot, Partial, Evaluative, Center-weighted), shoot in RAW, RAW+JPEG and JPEG, White Balance Control and Exposure Compensation. Most come with an 18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6 kit lens as standard. Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 Sony has a camera that you’ll really enjoy as you step into the SLR world; the Alpha DSLR-A330. This camera has a 10.2 megapixel image sensor, a wide ISO range (100-3200) and a fast 9-point auto-focus system that will help you get super-sharp photos under the most challenging conditions. What puts this camera high on the totem pole is that it’s equipped with Live View, a feature in which its 2.7-inch LCD screen acts as the viewfinder, which is a blessing because the regular viewfinder is a little too small and cramped for truly effective framing. Some people might dismiss this feature, but people have come to expect to use the viewfinder for framing in the digital camera age, so without it you might feel like you’re taking a step backward. However what’s most important with any dSLR is image quality; the A330 has strong image quality… but only after you do a little tweaking with contrast, saturation and sharpness; its default settings don’t give you optimal results. This said, it does come with a Dynamic Range Optimizer feature that brings out more shadow and midtones detail, and dials back any clipped information in the highlights. At the end of the day, the lens is what determines the color accuracy and sharpness of your photos, and the Sony kit lens doesn’t compete with the Canon and Nikon kit lenses… but Canon and Nikon have been the leaders in SLR lens for more than 1/3 of a century. The A330 is a top-notch camera for an entry-level dSLR and you’ll be very satisfied if you decide to go for it. Check out models with lens included for prices under £500 at http://www.candidaboutcameras.co.uk/Search/A330_200_10000.aspx Nikon D5000 Speaking of Canon and Nikon, they each have several entry-level cameras which are truly great bargains and deliver eye-popping photographs; The Nikon D5000 is fairly pricey (between £600 and £700), but it delivers the best photos in this class, hands down. The D5000 uses a 12.3 megapixel CMOS chip and the results are amazing. The kit lens is strong, delivering crisp and color accurate images. The D5000 records video (but only 24fps at 720p, not full HD), has Live View and a decent LCD screen, but it does tend to be a little soft, so getting sharp focus means using the slightly smallish viewfinder and manually focusing as you can’t completely rely on the 11-point AutoFocus system in low-light. The D5000 shoots 4fps of continuous shooting, which is the fastest in its class. And overall, this camera is super-quick in terms of its cold-start to first shot, RAW shot-to-shot speed and shutter lag. Only the Canon EOS T1i is faster – and only by a hair. The D5000 has an impressive interactive display where you make all your setting adjustments through a combination of dial on the back and a multi-selector. Check out models with lens included for prices under £600 at http://www.candidaboutcameras.co.uk/Search/d5000_200_10000.aspx Canon EOS 500D Nikon’s direct competitor is the Canon EOS T1i (500D). Although it’s a little pricey, it’s an amazing piece of work that delivers higher resolution than that of any of the other entry-level cameras. It has a 15-megapixel sensor that has reduced noise thanks to the DiGiC 4 image processor, which also allows for usable images at a high ISO rating, like 3200 (up to 12,800 if you push it). It’s has a fixed 3-inch LCD, while other cameras like the Nikon D5000 have an articulated LCD. The control layout is designed with practically all the buttons beneath your right hand, so no two-handed operation to change ISO, white balance, metering, shutter, etc. While the T1i does have an effective 9-point AutoFocus mode, it lacks some common perks on the Sony, Pentax, and Olympus cameras, like in-body mechanical stabilization and a wireless flash controller. The camera has a dedicated “Movie Mode” in which you can shoot in true HD (but only at 20fps which is slow & jerky), but it works best at 720p, 30fps; the same as the Nikon D5000. As an entry-level dSLR, the high resolution, good high-ISO performance and 30fps HD movie capture makes this camera hard to beat. Check out models with lens included for prices under £600 at http://www.candidaboutcameras.co.uk/Search/EOS-500D_200_10000.aspx Pentax K200D Back when film cameras were where it was at, Pentax was a top player for pro and amateur photographers alike. Canon and Nikon have overshadowed Pentax in the digital realm, but Pentax still makes a good camera. Pentax’s K200D is their entry-level dSLR within the price range we’re talking about. It has 10.2 megapixels and competes handily with every other camera in this class (with a few exceptions). Pentax designed the menus and feature controls to be easy to navigate, and they have the nifty “Fn Menu”, where the most frequently adjusted settings are kept, such as ISO, flash, white balance and drive mode. You change the shutter and aperture with a single thumb wheel, like most dSLRs. The K200D has a Sensitivity-priority mode where you select ISO and the camera chooses the shutter and f-stop. This is useful for finding that balance of stopping action, but keeping the noise down. You can make the changes in 1/3-stop increments. There’s also an Enhanced Dynamic Range mode that provides enhanced highlight detail, which you will appreciate when you manipulate and print your photographs. Sony, Nikon and Canon all have something similar, but it’s usually software based whereas with the K200D it is done in-camera. It has a wireless flash control, which has proven useful and the K200D has 60 rubber seals, making it water and dust resistant – so you can take it to the beach or skiing and not worry. Just don’t dunk it underwater. These are all good things, so what’s the bad? The K200D delivers slightly inaccurate color. The color is vibrant and clean, but you’ll notice the difference on objects that you see everyday where you are aware of a certain color. This might not be an issue with a lot of people, but it is something to bear in mind. Overall, the images are clean, crisp and the prints are nice even at ISP 800 or 1600, but the big disappointment is no Live View or HD video capture. Not that you need these things to take spectacular pictures, plus the accessories are cheaper than Canon and Nikon. Nikon D60 The last camera we’ll look at it is the Nikon D60. Yes, another Nikon, because this is a strong entry-level camera at the right price (around £377). The D60 clocks in with 10.2 megapixels on a CCD chip (which is different to the D5000’s CMOS chip), fires 2.8 fps of continuous shooting, and is faster than its competitors in terms of RAW shot-to-shot, cold start to first picture, and shutter lag time. Nikon included a Rangefinder feature on the D60, where the viewfinder’s exposure/exposure compensation meter switches to measure distance for manual focusing with older or non-AutoFocus Nikon lenses (as the D60’s AutoFocus only works with Nikon AF-S and AF-I lenses). Nikon has made some outstanding lenses over the past 40 years and you can use those with this camera and circumvent the non-AF with the Rangefinder. But it low-light situations the Rangefinder feature has trouble working, just as it the main AF has trouble in low light. Check out models with lens included for prices under £500 at http://www.candidaboutcameras.co.uk/Search/d60_200_10000.aspx That’s the round-up…If you have access to one manufacturers SLR lens for a film camera, then you might want to stick with that brand, but if you’re new to this whole dSLR world, hopefully this article has answered some of your questions to help you make an informed purchase that will give you hours of photographic fun. Published at: https://www.isnare.com/?aid=413465&ca=Computers+and+Technology

Valentine’s Day – Great Gifts For Your Man Without Breaking the Bank

Every February 14, across the United States and around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones all in the name of Saint Valentine. Saint Valentine ’s Day commonly shortened to Valentine’s Day has was created in 496 AD by Pope Gelasius. The day is named for more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, although the romantic elements were not linked to this day until the early 14th century when the link to the saints that it once honored dissolved. The Romantic link to Valentine’s day was perhaps created due to the creation of The high Court of Love in Paris on this day in 1400. It was then deleted from the Roman Calendar in 1969 by Pope Paul VI for the following reason: “Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14.” Every year American spends upwards of thirteen million dollars on this holiday of love. Wrapping up one’s affections in a heart-shaped box tied with a red bow has been a common Valentine’s Day practice since the late 19th century. But is it really necessary to take out a loan to show your man you love him? I think not. There are many gifts that won’t break the bank and will still show him you care. Think practical, getting him something that he can use it much better then something that will just collect dust on his dresser. Why not get him a personalized lighter that says “You light up my life” or a pocket watch that tells him, ”One Lifetime isn’t enough” . Think about what he enjoys doing. If you man loves to golf then why not get him a personalized golf divot set or if he is really into fixing things a Leatherman would be a great choice. Maybe he is really into his car then why not get him a key chain that professes your love to him on it. Maybe you’re in love with a foodie then why not surprise him with a beer brewing kit and to go with that new beer brewing kit why not get him a set of personalized pint glasses. He would love for you to cook him dinner mom always said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Looking to spice things up then how about chocolate hand cuffs or Horney Toad gummies? Maybe a great pair of boxers or a naughty board game are what you need. That will really get things heated up. If he just entered the professional world then why not a great pen set or personalized money clip he can show off at the office. A business card hold would really make him feel important as well as a great set of customized cuff links and matching tie clip. Whatever you choose to get your man this Valentine’s Day make sure it is something that will reflect the love that the two of you share and the way he makes you feel. Remember it doesn’t have to be expensive there are tons of great gifts out there that won’t break the bank. Published at: https://www.isnare.com/?aid=1327595&ca=Advice

Great Graduation Gifts That Won’t Break the Bank

As graduation season approaches families everywhere are planning the usual celebrations and gatherings. Whether it’s high school or college, graduation is a significant achievement that deserves acknowledgment. But what’s an appropriate gift for a new graduate? Especially when money’s tight? Whatever your budget, here are some ideas for gifts that are useful and will certainly be appreciated by any new grad. 1. Money Every poor student loves to get money! And they need it. Let’s face it, in this economy, who doesn’t? But new grads, especially those without jobs or who are just starting out on their own, certainly can use cash. As long as you don’t care how or where it’s spent, money is always a well-appreciated, appropriate and popular graduation gift. 2. Stock Consider what field your new grad is entering and their interests. If you don’t want to make a big investment you can buy as little as one share of stock in many publicly traded companies and have it framed. It then becomes a multi-faceted gift – it can become artwork to replace those old posters that have been hanging on the wall, plus it may inspire and remind a young graduate to save and invest. And of course you hope it will also increase in value over the years. 3. Career/College Major Guidebooks Especially important in a recession, new grads need to have a clear idea of where they’re going. Now more than ever, no one can afford to spend money on a college major that will never be used. For those entering the work force, following the wrong career path can lead to painful struggles and unnecessary failures. Guidebooks are a great resource for graduates who need help in taking the next step. They can also help graduates who already know what they want map out a path to get there. 4. Gift cards There was a time when giving a gift card was considered impersonal, but those days are long gone. Today gift cards can be purchased almost anywhere and for just about anything. Personalize the gift by thinking about what your graduate may need or want and go from there. Your options are limitless. Combine a movie theater gift card with a restaurant card and you’ve given the graduate a night on the town. Not as much fun, but always useful might be gift cards to a supermarket, drugstore, gas station or hardware store. 5. Handmade or Personalized Items Who says a gift has to come from a store? Some of the most memorable and meaningful graduation gifts aren’t purchased at all. One-of-a-kind handmade items are often kept for years as special keepsakes. Consider making a personalized scrapbook for your grad. You can include pictures of friends and events, clippings, and other items like library receipts, test papers, playbills and memorabilia from school. Another homemade gift idea is a gift basket. Customize it for a graduate heading off to college by filling it with items for the dorm, quarters for laundry and a t-shirt with their new college logo. For grads entering the workforce, fill a basket with office supplies or other items related to their new job. And if your graduate is moving to a new city, you could include maps, a subway pass and take-out menus to make their transition a little easier. 6. Group Gift Sometimes what a new grad needs most is out of the reach of individual family members. In that case, it might make sense to combine resources and chip in for a bigger gift. If you know your graduate needs a computer, suggest everyone buy a gift card to a specific computer store. A group gift can be a great way to help a struggling grad take a big bite out of a much-needed purchase. Graduations are one of life’s grandest celebrations. They mark our significant achievements and the start to a new phase of life. And while each graduate and every situation is unique, the most important part of any graduation gift is the thought behind it and the acknowledgment of the hard work and effort it took to get to this special day. Published at: https://www.isnare.com/?aid=377698&ca=Education

The Governments Great Bank Bailout Has Not Worked!

What’s the alternative? The problem we face now is not the cost of money but the availability of money. We need the interbank base rate to ease up to make it possible for banks to get money from the markets to allow them to lend again properly. The low interest rates at present do not allow the banks to attract savers to save money that they can in turn lend to borrowers. To get the banks to start lending again we need confidence and knowledge that the banks are sound. The Banks need to come clean The banks need to declare what losses they have had from impaired securities, private equity and subprime mortgages. They need to be open and honest so that people can gain confidence in the banking system. After all we the tax payers now own 63% of the Royal Bank of Scotland and 46% of Lloyds TSB and HBOS and it is taxpayer’s money that will once again be called for to help out the whole of banking institutes. So it would be nice if they were open and honest about their total loss so that we can all work together to resolve this crisis. Buy and rent back option for repossessions Another thought is that the government could buy and rent back the homes of people who are losing their homes through repossession. Homeowners would effectively sell their homes to the Government who would then rent their home back to the ex-homeowner for a fair rent. This would allow financially stricken families to remain in their homes and this could help prevent house prices from dropping further due to the flood of repossessed homes coming on the market. The government would have to re-house these people anyway at the taxpayers cost. The government could either sell the house to a housing association or to a private landlord in the future. It is thought that some 375,000+/- homes may be repossessed over the next five years. This solution is not inflationary to the economy in any way. The Governments great Bank bailout has not worked yet and it might now be time to reverse the temporary 2 ½% Vat reduction announced late last year as that could well save us £10billion which would not increase further our national debt. This reduction in Vat is so minuscule and yet so costly – it must go now! Bank of England should stop dropping the interest rates now! We are in an extraordinary situation and we are currently facing the lowest interest rates ever seen. How much lower can interest rates really go before they achieve nothing? By lowering interest rates the government believe that this can encourage people to spend more and borrow more and it is thought that this will get the economy going again. During boom time the mechanism of increasing or reducing interest rates by the Bank of England works well, now it is having little effect. So the Bank of England and this government should stop dropping the interest rates as they are having no effect. Published at: https://www.isnare.com/?aid=351044&ca=Finances

Five Great Dates That Won’t Break the Bank

The status of the economy these days is making it difficult for individuals, couples, and families to enjoy a lot of the things that they may be used to. One of those things concerning couples singles and couples is dating. Many individuals are finding hard to spend money on such things as going out to dinner, attending a show, or going to the movies but there are a number of ways that you can spend less on your dates so that you can enjoy that special time together more often. Dates with someone you care about should after all not be about spending money but about spending time together and keeping the romantic aspect of your relationship alive. So instead of forgoing your time together the next date night or deciding to stay in to save money choose one of these great, inexpensive date options and you will be glad you did and will begin developing a new sense of what dating is all about. A picnic is a great date rather you are a couple that has been together for a long time or you are going on one of your first few dates. You don’t necessarily need a picnic basket, although it adds a classic touch, but can use any kind of bag that will hold the items you wish to bring. You can go simple and bring salads or sandwiches or you can go the more elegant route and bring a hot dish. A bottle of wine will add a nice, romantic touch as will a jarred candle and a small vase with flowers. The possibilities for a picnic date are endless you only have to be creative to come up with the perfect picnic date. You could also make a date out of a hiking trip. Plan to take a long hike but bring a few things with you that will make it special. You could hike to somewhere that you can lay out a blanket and have a bite to eat and relax the day away with the special person your with without any interruptions. Similarly you could also turn this into a bike ride as well with the same idea of turning it into something special. For another cheaper way to get out and enjoy time with someone special you could go museum hopping. Many museums, regardless of where you live, require a donation for entry and those that do charge a set fee are usually quite low cost. Also, many museums offer free entry on one day of the week or month so you could even plan this type of date then and not have to pay anything at all which would leave you extra money for a bite to eat before or after your tour as well. Dating is an important part of developing relationships as well as nurturing existing relationships. Giving up that important element to a relationship should not be an option for couples and doesn’t have to be if you just seek out lower cost ways to spend that time together. Published at: https://www.isnare.com/?aid=457300&ca=Dating