I am a noob when it comes to cameras, and looking to get one for my wife for christmas. looking at the 600-700 range at the moment. I am looking for a camera that will shoot well for sports, mainly hockey.
Both those Canons are at a very interesting price point, but if you want a more recent camera, the Nikon D7000 has an excellent quality/price ratio, but is about twice your budget. Shopping over-budget is an interesting exercise to find out what you are missing....!
For low light photography, the Pentax k-x model is close to your budget -even with additional lenses. Finally, if you seriously consider the D7000, it is worth comparing it to the Pentax K-5, since they share the same CMOS sensor, but have different features.
When photographing indoor hockey you will very quickly see the limitations of entry DSLR and entry lenses.
If you put some decent glass on an t2i you will be able to get some great shots, but you will blow your budget on the lens alone.
If you just want some snaps from the stands a t2i with kit lens will do you ok. If you want pro looking shots it will = pro prices.
Start out with a starter kit t2i or the like, then as you become familiar with the ins and outs of photography you can always get your self some nice lenses.
If you decide to go the Nikon route then the NIKON 50MM/1.8 AF D is a must have budget lens for indoor hockey photography. Would make a nice addition to a standard package lens without blowing your budget. You can also pick them up in the used market fairly cheaply.
Technical specs aside, also consider user-friendliness. The "feel" of the camera is different for different people. If your wife is on the petite side then you may want to consider the new Nikon D3100. It is small and lightweight, and the price will allow for adding an external flash like the SB-400 or a 35 or 50mm prime lens. As others have mentioned, with your budget you will get a decent entry-level SLR and kit lens which will give more than acceptable images but don't expect to take professional action shots unless you invest in some expensive lenses.
It is more important to learn good photographic techniques and skills first before you invest in more expensive equipment. A camera is just a tool that will help you get there, but if your technique is crap, your pictures will be too regardless of how expensive your camera is.
An entry-level DSLR such as the Nikon D3100 or Canon T2i will suit yours and your wife's needs for many years, until you feel they are somehow limiting your photography. Then and only then should you consider purchasing more expensive equipment.
Don't go overboard yet with lens selection. The D3100 with the 18-55mm kit lens for just over $600 is all you need for now. Don't spring for the other lens until you think you will need the extra reach of the 55-200mm.
In the Canon world:
You could go with a Digital Rebel XS its the lowest end DSLR that Canon makes. It comes with the kit 18-55 IS lens. It comes in under 600 before taxes.
The T2i is an upgrade in body, same lens. $150 up in cost though. (well worth the price increase IMO)
If low light photography is important, try to PM Walter Dnes to find out how he feels about his Pentax KX; check this thread below; prices are somewhat dated (the cameras are now cheaper; the KX with two lenses; 18-55 and 50-300, is now ~750$) http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=117595
I think your two Canon 't' series/Nikon 3100 choices are very good.
According to what I have read, and speaking to photographers, in the APS-C format, low light capability is in the order Pentax>Nikon>Canon. However, the latest APS-C high-end 'flagship' models; Pentax K5 and Nikon D7000 share the same Sony sensor and share similarities in their low light capability.
please remember this is for my wife, and we are noob's. we will be spending lots of time at the rinks over the next few years, and have always found it hard to get good pictures, using a digital camera.
the nikon is on sale, $150 cheaper than the canon t21 with lens.
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