Will used $300-400 DSLR kit (6MP) outperform newer compact?

Started Feb 5, 2012 | Discussions thread
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ishu
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Will used $300-400 DSLR kit (6MP) outperform newer compact?
Feb 5, 2012

I am thinking about getting a camera to have for "any" occasion, to be on hand when I'm strolling with the kids, to toss in a backpack when going out, for beach trips, having for walks on my lunch break, etc.

I already have a pocket camera (Panasonic ZS8) with good controls, but the IQ is bugging me (JPEG smearing).

I also have a very good compact superzoom (Canon SX10 IS), but it's really my wife's camera… and it doesn't have the dynamic range of my DSLR (Nikon D90), of course.

1. I really like an eye-level viewfinder. That's just me. Rules out most mirrorless options, used or new… unless I get the fidgety add-on VF.

2. I would like more DR. My D90 has spoiled me. Anything over ISO 200 on my compacts really doesn't work for me anymore. Even base ISO outdoors gives lots of blown highlights.
3. I would prefer not to spend more than $400.
4. I am willing to use a larger camera to get (1) and (2).
5. I'd like less size/bulk than my D90 (I have the 18-105 lens).
6. I shoot more wide than telephoto.

7. I'd be willing to let a less expensive rig get damaged or stolen. I really can't afford to replace my D90.

First options:
A: Get my wife a new camera and use the SX 10 for my "car" camera.

B: Get an old 6MP DSLR. The Pentax DS/DS2/K100D Super can be had with 18-55 lens for $300. I could also get a MF 24mm lens for an extra $100. It can be zone focused in daylight, but maybe I'm overreaching on the MF lens.

C: Spend a little extra for a D40/D60/D3000. (The D50 isn't really smaller than the D90.) Body+18-55 lens for less than $400. One bonus is this kit would work with my 35mm f/1.8 lens... but that's not a primary consideration. I could even use the 18-55 on the D90.

Other options:
D: Spend a little extra money for a G12 or maybe a lot more for an X10.

E: Admit that I have Gear Acquisition Syndrome and make do with what I have; let the Panny be my "beater" camera.

If a 6MP DSLR won't outperform the SX10, for example, then I'm better off with (A).
If a 2005 camera is likely to fail, then I'm better off with (A).

I figure this discussion will help out budget-minded camera buyers, too.

Thanks in advance!

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