Expert Recommendation

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Best Digital SLR Camera for Action Photos Under $900
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
December 4, 2009 Updated: December 7, 2009
Overview

For a speedy fast camera that will capture the action wherever you find it, I recommend the Canon EOS Rebel T1i as the Best in Class DSLR for action. The lightweight T1i, with Live View, HD video recording and a sturdy body is an easy-to-hold camera that has a professional feel and a reasonable price.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon EOS Rebel T1i (with 18-55mm IS Lens)

If your desire is to capture magazine quality images of your favorite sports or action hero, the Rebel T1i has all the features to get the job done.

Take the T1i into the skating rink, concert hall or gymnasium with confidence because with a 15.1mp APS-C CMOS sensor, 9 point auto focus, 3.4 fps and the ability to capture low light images without flash, this easy to use camera has all the features the pros rely on at an affordable price. Affordable because you will have this camera for a long time to come, due to the incredible features inside and the solidly built stainless steel chassis outside.

Other great features of the T1i are a bright, 3.0” LCD screen with anti-reflective coating, full HD video recording at 1080p with an easy to use start up button on the rear of the camera, and Live View with 100% frame coverage .

Canon’s Digic 4 processor is what really makes the Rebel T1i tick. This robust image processor enables you to shoot in low light situations up to 3200 ISO with low noise, and the option to expand the range up to 12800 if needed. And sometimes, when your subject is too far away, it will be needed. For fast action, Digic 4 allows you to shoot up to 170 jpg images at 3.4 fps and has a super-fast start up time.

Although it comes with an 18-55mm IS kit lens, you will want to add a longer lens to zero in on your personal athlete, star or action hero. With a wide variety of EF and EF-S lenses compatible with the T1i, you should have no trouble finding the one that’s right for you.

Comparison with Nikon D3000 (with 18-55mm VR and 55-200mm VR Lenses)

Having a larger imaging sensor, HD video and live view, I prefer the Canon T1i over the Nikon D3000

Comparison with Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses)

Although the Canon T1i and the Olympus E-620 each have live view in common, I prefer the T1i for it’s Digic 4 processor and bigger imaging sensor for larger file sizes.

Pros
  • +
    Easy to use after initial training on menus
  • +
    Lots of great features
  • +
    Digic 4 processor
Cons
  • -
    Kit lens okay, try to upgrade
Canon EOS Rebel T1i (with 18-55mm IS Lens) is the Best Digital SLR Camera for Action Photos Under $900
Where to buy
Canon EOS Rebel T1i (with 18-55mm IS Lens)
  • Best Price: $524
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
    $212.99 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 15.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 sec
  • Burst Speed: 3.4 fps
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Canon EOS Rebel T1i (with 18-55mm IS Lens)
2
Nikon D3000 (with 18-55mm VR and 55-200mm VR Lenses)
3
Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses)
Customer Rating
Price $524.00 $748.00 $1999.00
Weight (with batteries) 18.3 oz 18.9 oz 18.2 oz
?
Effective Sensor Resolution
15.1 megapixels 10.2 megapixels 12.3 megapixels
Anti-Dust Available Yes Yes Yes
Power to First Shot Time 0.3 sec 0.7 sec 1.4 sec
Max Shooting Speed (burst) 3.4 frames/sec 3.0 frames/sec 4.1 frames/sec
Video Available Yes No No
HD Video Available Yes No No
?
Image Stabilization Available
Yes Lens Yes
Max ISO Setting 12800 3200 3200
?
Face Detection Available
Yes No Yes
?
LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 3.0 in. 2.7 in.
LCD Screen Resolution 920000 pixels 230000 pixels 230000 pixels
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
2
Nikon D3000 (with 18-55mm VR and 55-200mm VR Lenses)

With the new D3000 digital SLR, Nikon has made it easy for the beginner to take great action shots without first earning a degree in photojournalism.

By simply familiarizing yourself with the easy to use Guide mode, anyone can get perfect exposures in any situation by choosing one of the preset shooting modes.

Thanks to the 11-point AF system with Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor module, the EXPEED image processing system and a 10.2mp DX-format CCD sensor, you will be able to dive right into the action with confidence that the D3000 has got your back. Nikon users have been relying on the intelligent design of these robust SLR’s for a long time, making them a leader in helping you get the shot.

Enjoy the well-placed simplicity of the control buttons on top and alongside the lens. You’ll find the Info button right next to the shutter button, making it quick and easy to check settings and make adjustments. You can also view your images horizontally or vertically on the bright 3.0” LCD screen.

And for creative versatility, use either the 18-55mm VR lens for wide angle action shots or get in close with the 55-200mm VR lens. Attach one of Nikons optional flash units to the hot shoe for expanded light capabilities and consider adding the ML-L3 wireless remote control to include yourself in the picture. Choices abound when you get into the Nikon digital photography system, take advantage of the fun.

Comparison with Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses)

When shooting fast action without a lot of bells and whistles, I prefer Nikons no-nonsense approach to the D3000. It is a solid camera with good button placement with good kit lenses.

Pros
  • +
    Great Guide mode
  • +
    Easy to use controls and dials
  • +
    Compatible with a wide variety of Nikon accessories
Cons
  • -
    No video
  • -
    AF motor in lens requirement limits older lens use
Nikon D3000 (with 18-55mm VR and 55-200mm VR Lenses) is one of the Best Digital SLR Cameras for Action Photos Under $900
Where to buy
Nikon D3000 (with 18-55mm VR and 55-200mm VR Lenses)
  • Best Price: $748
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • FAST FUN & EASY: GREAT DIGITAL PICTURES IV DVD - FEATURING THE NIKON D3000 D-SLR
    $9.00 @ Amazon.com
  • Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control for Nikon D40, D40x, D60, D80 & D90 Digital SLR Cameras
    $14.61 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.3 sec
  • Burst Speed: 3.0 fps
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses)

Shooting action in a crowd can be a problem, but not when you have the Olympus E-620. Speedy fast auto focusing and a 2.7-inch Live View HyperCrystalâ„¢ III LCD screen that swivels out to let you get over and around obstructions to capture your best shot, is only part of the story with this lightweight SLR.

With two auto focus systems, composing and capturing action on the fly has never been so easy. Using the Fast Imager Autofocus in Live View allows you to follow the action on the LCD screen as it’s happening, ensuring that what you see is what you get! And when using the viewfinder, apply the Phase Detection AF to get speedy auto focus to track and capture your moving subject, either horizontally or vertically.

And when the action slows down and your creative side kicks in, try some of the built in features like in-camera Art Filters to design and print photos. Try the Pop Art, Soft Focus or Grainy film look, or create a multiple exposure image to put your subjects into different backgrounds for dramatic effect.

Built for action with a 12.3-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, the TruePic III+ Image Processor and an in-body Image Stabilizer that has three different settings for three different situations, IS1 for general shooting, IS2 for panning action horizontally and IS3 for panning action vertically, the Olympus E-620 is an excellent choice for the serious photographer.

Pros
  • +
    Great Creative features
  • +
    Fast auto focus
  • +
    In-body Image Stabilization
  • +
    Swivel LCD
Cons
  • -
    No video
Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses) is one of the Best Digital SLR Cameras for Action Photos Under $900
Where to buy
Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses)
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.7x
  • Resolution: 12.3MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.3 sec
  • Burst Speed: 4.1 fps
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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