Weighing Camera Options


A while back I realized my Canon EOS 20D digital SLR wasn't working right. I had done some research and wasn't looking forward to sending it in for service because I expected the cost to force me to make a tough decision. I finally sent the camera to Canon's New Jersey service center and have received an estimate to fix the camera: $383.20. I'm not sure what to do!

I'm not convinced that repairing the 20D is the best move. The camera is about 3-1/2 years old, and in digital camera time, that's ancient! A number of advances have been made in newer-generation cameras that I could certainly take advantage of. No matter what, I'll be spending at least $400--where is that money best put?

The first option is to simply repair the 20D. It's been a fine camera and has served me well. Aside from needing to be repaired it hasn't given me any trouble. If I repair it I'll have a good, 3-generation-old camera.

Another option is to go for a Canon Rebel XTi/400D--an entry-level DSLR that excludes plenty of features found on the 20D. It is, however, two generations newer than the 20D with a few improvements for a little more money than the repair. Some searching shows that others have faced this dilemma and most would choose a 20D over a 400D.

Another option: Rebel XSi/450D. The XSi was announced in January and is not yet available. The XSi offers a number of improvements (it's three generations newer: Live View, less noise, CCD cleaning, possibly better autofocus and metering) that I could enjoy, but I would still be missing out on some features of the 20D that I use. Despite the additional cost (about $300 more than the 20D repair), this might be a good choice; if the price were $100-$200 less, it would certainly be a good choice!

Another option: 40D, the 20D replacement that is two generations newer. The 40D offers a lot of improvements over the 20D, and Roland offers a great comparison of the two cameras. The 40D is clearly a major step forward, though about $1100 ($700 more than the repair).

All of these sound like fine ideas, but there's one thing I keep thinking about: I regret switching away from Nikon. There's nothing wrong with Canon equipment, but more than anything, I always feel "at home" whenever I hold a Nikon. And so, another option presents itself: perhaps this is a good time to switch back. I could sell my Canon gear to fund the Nikon purchase.

A Nikon D40 or D60 present many of the same drawbacks as the Canon Rebel models do. The D80 is getting old and will likely be replaced before too long; the replacement will almost definitely be a good choice for me. And then, of course, there's the D300, which has received heaps of praise and has specs that make me drool! It's far and away the best camera, though the most expensive, too.

Argh, such a tough decision! What do I do!?

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