Nikon D40 and similar

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Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Fri Jan 01, 2010 8:22 pm

I'm thinking about picking up a used digital SLR body and a lens or two, to be mostly used for outdoor photography. My bias is toward Nikon due to reputation and a wide availability of equipment and lenses. I've used a Nikon D70 a few times in the past, as well. I've never owned any camera other than a party clicker.

Looking around on local Craigslist over the past few weeks, I see more D40s than any other type, usually in the $300-$350 range for a body, one lens, and basic accessories. Any comments on, or landmines to watch out for, with this model in particular? Any other models I should be looking for instead?

I don't have thousands of dollars availlable to spend on photography gear at this point, but I do have opportunities while hiking and traveling to take some amazing pictures, and would like to have a camera that can record reproduction-worthy images. If I can do that for under $500 then I'll probably pick up something in January or February.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Fri Jan 01, 2010 8:27 pm

My brother bought this a few weeks ago, the only negative is the AA part.

http://www.amazon.com/Pentax-K-x-2-7-in ... 565&sr=8-5

I have no real suggestions.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:51 pm

Nikon and Canon dominate the SLR photography world. You'll probably want to choose whichever of these two brands your friends and family use so that you can borrow their lenses and accessories. Sony is another option. If you have access to lenses for old Minolta Maxxum SLR cameras, they'll work with Sony Alpha DSLRs.

The Nikon D40 is a discontinued model that is more primitive than currently-offered cameras, but it is the cheapest way to get into the Nikon DSLR line. The D70 that you used is more capable than the D40, especially in its ability to auto-focus with the AF-D lenses that do not have auto-focus motors built into the lens. Besides the currently-offered Nikkor AF-D lenses, you'll find that they are plentiful in the used market. For the low-end Nikon D40, D60, D3000 & D5000 DSLRs, you'll need to stick to AF-S lenses for auto-focus. The D50, D70, D80, D90 and the semi-pro and professional Nikon DSLRs can make good use of the less expensive AF-D lenses.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:53 pm

First, you can't go wrong if you choose one of the two major players in the DSLR market; Canon or Nikon.

I own a Canon 30D DSLR and a Canon Ftb film SLR.
I have used
Canon: 20D, XT, XTi, XS, XSi
Nikon, D40, D3
Pentax: k20D

I very much prefer Canon DSLR cameras because I find them to be very convenient and intuitive. As far as I can tell, low end Canons are much superior to low end Nikons. They have better image quality, auto focus and controls.

If you have not invested in lenses already, look into the entry level canons. A used XT or XTi would be great.

I would not get a D40, the biggest problem with them is they have a horrendous auto focusing system. A camera that takes blurry out of focus pictures is worth nothing.

Nikons are not bad cameras by any sense of the word, you just have to move up their product line to get comparably good products. Unfortunately that also increases the cost.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:33 pm

Thanks for all the suggestions! I might be willing to give a Cannon model a try, none of my nearby friends or relatives are into high-dollar camera gear right now so I can start from Ground Zero with either brand. My dad might still have a couple Nikon lenses from his own SLR days but those are at least 35yo.

I will avoid the D40 based on the advice given so far.

If anyone else has two bits to throw, the hat remains tipped.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:07 pm

Manual Nikkor (AI-S) lenses from 1977 onwards can work with modern Nikon DSLRs. The Nikon D200, D300, and more expensive professional DSLR camera models are able to shoot in aperture priority mode (auto exposure time based on camera metering with manual selection of aperture) with these lenses. More affordable Nikon cameras can use these lenses in fully-manual mode. Nikon F-mount lenses from before 1977 (some of them going back to 1959) may require modification before they can be safely mounted to modern DSLRs.

You can take excellent photos with a D40, and it's an affordable step into what can become an expensive hobby. Just recognize that it won't be too long before you'll be wanting to upgrade to a better camera like the D90 or D300.

On the Canon side, all EF lenses produced since 1987 are fully compatible (auto-focus, auto-aperture, auto-exposure) with all Canon EOS cameras.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:16 pm

Just a nitpick - the D40 can actually mount the older lenses unmodified, although Nikon might say otherwise.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:30 pm

ludi wrote:Looking around on local Craigslist over the past few weeks, I see more D40s than any other type, usually in the $300-$350 range for a body, one lens, and basic accessories. Any comments on, or landmines to watch out for, with this model in particular? Any other models I should be looking for instead?
As others have mentioned, the D40 and other bodies in the same "line" have some limitations to at least be aware of. The more you know before you buy, the better as every body and system has its own set of tradeoffs.
ludi wrote:I don't have thousands of dollars availlable to spend on photography gear at this point, but I do have opportunities while hiking and traveling to take some amazing pictures, and would like to have a camera that can record reproduction-worthy images. If I can do that for under $500 then I'll probably pick up something in January or February.
Just about any DSLR, new or used, that you're likely to run across fits that description. For sure anything including the D70 generation and later (about 6 years). New bodies do add capabilities, but digital cameras have been pretty good for quite a while.

My preference in Nikon is to go for at least the D70/80/90 or D200/D300 level of camera for ergonomic and feature reasons. In terms of straight-up image quality any camera with the same generation and size sensor and equivalent glass is going to be about equal. The bodies I mentioned, while more expensive than the d40-level cameras, can autofocus with a much wider selection of used and older glass. This can mean dramatic savings where the real money is (glass). If you're looking to buy one camera and one lens, then think long and hard about what you really want. The strength of SLRs is in the system.

The D80's meter has a reputation for being wonky in matrix mode and overly biased toward the active focus point. The D70 is a fine enough camera, but the newer cameras of the same level and up have a noticeably nicer viewfinder.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:18 pm

There's nothing wrong with the D40's image quality at lower sensitivities. I've used one quite a bit and it's a fine camera. Limitations include autofocus only with generally pricier AF-S lenses, fewer advanced options, and three selectable AF points. If you're used to a higher end Nikon these caveats may be particularly frustrating, but otherwise it's not bad as far as cheap DSLRs go. I've never had autofocus problems with it in decent light. Nevertheless, I wouldn't spend much on one now.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:46 am

crazybus wrote:There's nothing wrong with the D40's image quality at lower sensitivities. I've used one quite a bit and it's a fine camera. Limitations include autofocus only with generally pricier AF-S lenses, fewer advanced options, and three selectable AF points. If you're used to a higher end Nikon these caveats may be particularly frustrating, but otherwise it's not bad as far as cheap DSLRs go. I've never had autofocus problems with it in decent light. Nevertheless, I wouldn't spend much on one now.

Up to ISO1600 there is nothing wrong with the D40!

I agree that you shouldn't spend $350 on a used one. I found a Nikon refurb for that, which includes a warranty and didn't have any scratches or sensor dust.

The main erk with the D40 is lack of direct control. You have to cycle though menus like a point and shoot. Thankfully, it does it faster than any point and shoot I've ever used.

If there is light, the kit lens is great. It sounds like you'll be doing outdoor/day stuff so the kit lens should be great.

The D3000 is really slow. I think it has the same processing speed as the D40, but more "features" to slow it down. I think this might be a case of less is more. The D3000 also has worse high ISO performance than the D40 for some reason.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:41 am

The D3000 has the same sensor as the D60, but with an improved focus system, yes?

In your price range, the Canon EOS Rebel XS is a more capable camera than the Nikon D40.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:58 am

SpotTheCat wrote:The D3000 is really slow. I think it has the same processing speed as the D40, but more "features" to slow it down. I think this might be a case of less is more. The D3000 also has worse high ISO performance than the D40 for some reason.

The D3000 probably has diminished high ISO performance compared to the D40 due to more MP being crammed on what is probably the same sized sensor. Different noise reduction algorithms, sharpening algorithms, and jpeg compression (if shooting in JPG mode) algorithms will effect noise as well.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:02 pm

Granted this is anecdotal evidence, but I have a couple of friends who own D40s and I am amazed with the quality of images that those cameras produce. Even at ISO 800, images have an acceptable amount of noise.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:48 pm

Irregardless of your choice, when you jump from a P&S to a dSLR or similar, you are in for a treat. The only real drawback for us techies is photography becomes an addiction and you will always be left wanting the next best piece of glass, or the faster/better in low-light body. I bought into the m4/3 system do to its small size vs. performance, and now I have a few lenses. Now I find myself waiting for the next body to come out in hopes low light performance is better, and they finally include a focal distance indicator. Focus-by-wire lenses do not indicate infinity focus on the barrel.

My recommendation is stick with the used camera path, get a decent lens to go with it (in this class, the lens will be the biggest advantage), and see if you really like it or not. Drop too much money on a better camera, and you may find it makes a nice paperweight later and regret it. dSLRs are large, and they tend to not go most places like your P&S.

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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:45 pm

Even at ISO 800, images have an acceptable amount of noise.

The D40 does a little better with high ISO noise than the D70s (which is no slouch itself, for the price). The D70 has a few more features - a focus motor, dual control wheels, and a wireless flash Commander mode, to name my favorites - but if one just wants to set an Aperture/Shutter priority, or shoot fully automatic just to take advantage of the larger sensor and better glass over a P&S, the D40 rocks.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:46 pm

Okay, per the EOS Rebel XS recommendation, I see this package on Amazon. At $450 that's within my budget for a starter kit, especially after accounting for the additional cost of a spare battery and a couple SDHC cards. In the future I would probably want to add at least one telephoto-capable and one macro-capable lens to my kit.

Is this a good way to start?

Alternately, it appears I can get a used D70 body for about $315-350, with the associated risks, and would then have to scrounge up at least one lens and probably some accessories.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:39 pm

The Rebel XS would be an excellent way to go and you would have a vast lens selection to choose from. Its quality is good, low light is good, features and usability are solid, etc. I have a hard time seeing you disliking it over a D70 or D40, unless you just plain don't like Canon's ergonomics.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:16 pm

Once you've got the camera and the kit lens, you'll need a couple of SDHC memory cards (class 6 or faster) and maybe a nice bag. Go shoot a thousand photos to figure out which direction you want to expand your photography (which will determine which equipment you want to add to your kit.

You can spend amazing amounts of money on this hobby. Once you have an idea of what you want, look seriously for used equipment. If you're buying new and still on a tight budget, you might want a bounceable flash (e.g.: Speedlite 430EX II), a wide aperture prime lens (e.g.: EF 50mm f/1.8 or EF 50mm f/1.4 USM), or a telephoto zoom lens (e.g.: EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS or EF 70-200mm f/4L USM).
Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:53 am

Thanks for all the help, guys! Again, my purchase is probably about a month away, but if anyone wants to continue the chatter, I'll keep up with the thread. I've got a quite bit of learning to do.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:32 am

I have sold cameras for some years now and it is my opinion that Canons aren't the best are far as usability is concerned. I'm not saying they are terrible mind you, but I believe Nikons to be easier to the newbie. Both brands make excellent cameras based on technical merit - great picture quality, well built products, great selection of lenses. I am not a pro, I only own a D40 - because really, it does all I need it do. And I'm a student who can't afford to spend thousands upon thousands on higher end gear :roll:

If you were to ask me right now which brand to get as a newbie photographer, I would say opt for the Nikon. But then I would say, don't be a fool - go visit a camera store first and play with these cameras in your hands first and foremost. You could bring an SD card if you'd like to compare photos between the cameras but really, at this level, there isn't much to complain about.

With a D40, an entry system would be the camera body, an 18-55mm wide zoom, the 55-200 VR for telephoto, and the 35mm AF-S.
With a Rebel, an entry system would be the body, the 18-55 wide zoom, the 55-250 IS for telephoto, and the 50mm prime.

Lastly, for the Nikons, if you were to find/buy older lenses from yesteryear, you will need a D70/80/90/200/300 and so on; the D40/60/3000/5000 cannot autofocus these older lenses, you will have to manual focus. If you're not going to be buying older lenses, then this is moot point.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:31 am

While you can't auto-focus older lenses on the D40, you can focus them manually -- nearly every SLR lens Nikon has manufactured since 1959 except the ones that require the mirror to be locked up (the D40's mirror can't do that and would be damaged). The D40 auto-focuses only with lenses designated as "AF-S" which include an internal focus motor. Nikon's so-called "screw-driver" AF lenses depend on a motor with a mechanical linkage -- the screwdriver -- built into the camera's body -- something the D40 doesn't have. But, again, they do focus manually.

One other note: Nikon's flash exposure system is second to none, easily an order of magnitude better than any other integrated flash exposure system on the market.

Canon and Nikon are both good. In terns of sensor technology, they tend to leap-frog each other. And in terms of bodies. they are just holders for the sensor. If you catch the bug and stick with [D]SLR photography, it's the lenses that are important. Bodies/sensors are like computers; lenses are essentially forever. Shoot and enjoy. Then, based on your interests, build an arsenal of lenses tailored to your shooting needs.

Architecture? There are lenses for that. Landscapes? There are lenses for that. Macro? There are lenses for that. Portraiture? There are lenses for that. Travel? There are lenses for that. Wildlife? There are lenses for that. The App store has nothing on the [D]SLR industry.

Caveat: Happy {but broke] owner of 11 Nikon SLR bodies, 3 Nikon DSLR bodies, 27 Nikkor lenses, 3 Zeiss (for Nikon) lenses, 6 Nikon strobes, and 2 Metz (for Nikon) strobes. But I'm not biased.... :wink:
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:35 am

rogthewookiee wrote:I would not get a D40, the biggest problem with them is they have a horrendous auto focusing system. A camera that takes blurry out of focus pictures is worth nothing.


After reading MANY reviews and user opinions on the D40, i have not once read anywhere that the D40 has a horrendous autofocusing system. And as a owner of a D40 with thousands of shots taken, the autofocus system has performed great with the stock lens kit and a 35mm f1.8 prime. Aside from situations of where you are shooting a subject behind bars/chain link fence and such, any camera is going to have a hard time focusing in this instance. And it also depends on the camera/lens combo, i've used my D40 with a Sigma prime and the autofocus was generally poor and slow, while with Nikon lenses it has been quick and accurate.

To the OP, as an amateur photographer and an owner of a D40, it is a great camera for those who are starting out. Generally, when buying a DSLR, you are buying into a system a lenses as many have said before. Going with either Canon or Nikon - you can't go wrong, so whatever you find a better deal on, go with it. And generally, as a beginner, don't expect to make prize winning images off the bat; ANY modern DSLR, including the D40, is capable of taking amazing pictures, but it is up to the photographer to use the camera to its full potential. For a beginner such as myself and yourself, the D40 is no slouch, has amazing image quality, and generally enough of the features that beginners actually need. When you learn how to use the camera, that is when you could (or should) step up to a D80/D300 and when the budget allows of coarse.

Also read recommendations on photography forums such as dpreview.com
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:03 am

It's not so much that the D40 has a "horrendous" autofocus but rather the autofocus, and a number of aspects of the camera, are simply aged. The D40 only has 3 focus points and that can be limiting at times but nothing major for someone getting into photography. With that said I wouldn't buy a D40 anymore unless you can get it cheap. I purchased mine for $250 (used) and I'd probably look for cheaper now.

I'm a bit of a fan of buying used. KEH.com currently has a couple of Canon Rebel XSI + 18-55mm IS lenses in the $500 range. Considering the improvements in the XSI over the XS I'd go with that. I purchased my D40 from KEH and was happy all around, just pay attention to what they state is included before you buy if you decide to go that route.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:18 am

Agreed. The D40 is somewhat primitive compared to currently-available DSLRs.


Nikon's mid-range and professional cameras are excellent. Be aware that you'll generally spend slightly more for Nikon equipment than for comparable Canon equipment. The price disparity will bite especially hard if you get a D40, D60, D3000 or D5000 and have to buy only the more expensive AF-S lenses rather than the older AF D design without the focus motor in the lens.

Here are some popular currently-offered lenses with prices from B&H to illustrate. In the used market, you'll find more AF D lenses, including discontinued models.

Large aperture 50mm prime lenses:
$ 90 Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 (EF works with every Canon EOS camera ever made)
$120 Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8D (AF D will not autofocus with low-end Nikon cameras)
$320 Nikon AF 50mm f/1.4D
$365 Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
$440 Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G (AF-S is fully-functional with all Nikon DSLRs)
$1550 Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Telephoto zoom lenses:
$225 Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR (DX has reduced image circle designed for APS-C crop bodies)
$255 Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS (EF-S can only mount to APS-C crop bodies)
$550 Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
$590 Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR
$600 Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
$1100 Nikon AF 80-200mm f/2.8D
$1135 Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM
$1220 Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM
$1610 Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
$1650 Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR
$1700 Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
$1950 Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G VR
$2400 Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II

Wide-normal zoom lenses:
$130 Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens
$160 Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens
$420 Sigma DC 18-50mm f/2.8 HSM (DC has reduced image circle designed for APS-C crop bodies)
$450 Tamron AF Di-II 17-50mm f/2.8 (Di-II has reduced image circle designed for APS-C crop bodies)
$625 Tamron AF Di-II 17-50mm f/2.8 VC
$990 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
$1370 Nikon AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8G
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:39 pm

It's not so much that the D40 has a "horrendous" autofocus but rather the autofocus, and a number of aspects of the camera, are simply aged.

True, but it also has benefits in excellent exposure calculation (better than the better-in-other-respects D70s, and better than the Rebel line up to at least the XTi) and is pretty damn good in ISO noise for such an older body (the fewer pixels means less processing power to lose the noise; the D40x and D60 aren't as good). I also found it a bit more consistent when set in a Priority or Auto mode.

But you're right, there are definitely trade-offs. If I were buying all over again, I wouldn't go for a D40, or a Rebel, because I'm a shill for the built-in flash Commander, but that's an example of specific needs. For most people/most photography, just about any Rebel (even the original!) or any D40/D50/D70 or equivalent can take some awesome pictures, and they'll definitely help one learn what they want most out of a camera and make better buying decisions should they choose to upgrade in the future.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:30 pm

And generally, as a beginner, don't expect to make prize winning images off the bat; ANY modern DSLR, including the D40, is capable of taking amazing pictures, but it is up to the photographer to use the camera to its full potential.

Word. I've actually been shooting pictures and using image-editing software for years, so I've got some general background in lighting, composition, color manipulation, subject distance, etc. The trick is going to be learning how to make an SLR capture the right thing in realtime.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:59 pm

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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:46 pm

Nice. (Un)fortunately, I just made a final lump-sum payoff of a secured auto loan today. But if that deal holds until after payroll next Tuesday, I'm on it.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:24 am

ludi wrote:Nice. (Un)fortunately, I just made a final lump-sum payoff of a secured auto loan today. But if that deal holds until after payroll next Tuesday, I'm on it.

Don't fret too much about it, there are always good deals to be had sooner or later.
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Re: Nikon D40 and similar

Postposted on Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:23 am

This one's a bit out of your price range, but it's a good deal, too:
http://slickdeals.net/forums/showthread.php?t=1795595
$615 and free shipping for Canon EOS Rebel XSi + 18-55mm IS kit lens + 55-250mm IS telephoto zoom lens
You could get another 3% Bing cash back to bring it under $600.

When you're ready to buy, there will be another deal somewhere. Amazon, B&H or Adorama usually have at least one running.
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