Monday, February 4, 2008

Market Watch: DSLR prices are falling

No, we are not turning into CNBC with this new Market Watch segment. Unfortunately Maria Bartiromo was not available to anchor this segment, but we have a new promising market watcher, Marianne Bortarameaux to report on the latest happenings in the DSLR price market. Marianne is taking a look at the prices at the Amazon market place (stock symbol: AMZN) and she has the floor, live from the DSLR Market pit at the Amazon DSLR Stock Exchange!

Psychological Barriers
First up, the most "affordable" current 35mm full frame DSLR, the Canon 5D is now at $2100, being close to the psychological barrier of $2000. As you may recall, $2000 was the price point the infamous quartet of DSLRs danced around at the historic PMA 2002 (Nikon D100, Canon 60D, Sigma SD9, Fuji S2 Pro). This was the year DSLRs became "affordable" at the mid-range price level. And look how far we have gotten in just five years. You can get DSLRs from most major manufacturers at $500 or less.

And speaking of the $500 psychological barrier, the Olympus E510, body only, has slid just under $500, offered at $495.

Even more so perhaps, once feared and revered, the Canon brand has now come down to earth. And this is great for buyers, as you can get the Canon Digital Rebel XT with the 18-55 EF-S (non-IS) kit lens for just $450! That's right, a Canon Rebel DSLR with a lens for just $450. The XT is also known as the 350D. Quick D-Rebel translator: 450D = XSi, 400D = XTi, 350D = XT, 300D = Original. KFC has Crispy but Canon does not ;-)

And Nikon is not missing from this party, at just $12 under $500, one can get the Nikon D40 with the 18-55 DX (non-VR) kit lens. This makes an interesting Canon vs Nikon face-off, with two different cameras from different years, squaring off on almost the same price point.

Almost getting there
But even the newer Canon Digital Rebel XTi has been sliding in price, and it is now just $30 above the $500 barrier, as body only. The kit version is at $600. Considering that the new XSi starts at $800 body only, this creates an intriguing dilemma for interested Canonites.

Further down the price spiral
Going further down the price spiral, the older Olympus E330, body only, is offered at $300 via Cameta Cameras. Yes, a DSLR for $300! You can also get it with the older Olympus kit lens for $400. This camera might be of interest to thrifty OM owners who want to use their lenses on a DSLR, without spending too much money. You do need to use an OM adapter for that, which you can buy or try to mooch off Olympus ;-)

Give me liberty or give me two lenses!
Olympus tries to atone for its xD and panorama "sins" by offering consumers great bang for the buck kits for their DSLRs bundled with a standard two lens kit. And the one for the E510 is just $150 more than the body only. That's right $160 gets you the 14-42 and 40-150 Digital Zuiko lenses!

Does it say Leica on the lens?
Another price adjustment that may be of interest to Leica and 4/3rds fans is the Panasonic L1, bundled with the 18-50 MegaOIS Leica lens for the price of $800, which is very close to the perceived value of the lens. The L1 itself is a rather unique DSLR, which makes this combo appetizing even for people who have no interest in switching or buying any other 4/3rds or Panasonic cameras and lenses.

The biggest buzz for the buck!
We know what "biggest bang for the buck" means. We have a new term to describe the Nikon D300: You get the biggest buzz for the buck! The D300 along with the D3 were the most buzzworthy duo of dSLRs. Be sure to check our extended coverage of the D3/D300 duo. Combine that with one of the most buzzworthy Nikon DX lenses, the 18-200 DX VR lens, and you can get the combo for $2480, offered by Cameta Cameras.

DSLR Reviews
For reviews of some of the DSLRs mentioned above, be sure to check our DSLR Review Matrix. With PMA 2008 in the books, we will have time to add more reviews and more DSLRs (older and newer) in the Matrix. Keanu Reeves not included!

PS> Please note that the market is alive, and prices can change at any time, and they are current only as of the time of writing.

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