At this time where most consumers are reserving judgment on products, the entry-level digital SLR photography marketplace provides some welcome reprieve, particularly when it comes to cost sensitivity, writes Jan Vorster, Canon product manager at Drive Control Corporation (DCC).

Indeed, it would seem that digital photography has become a truly worthwhile hobby that can take you on the road to a semi-professional or even a professional career in photography, if pursued.
With this said, there must be some hard facts that substantiate the above statements. Well there are: the advancements made in digital SLR photography from a price and functionality perspective have, if you will, unleashed an entire marketplace of photo enthusiasts that can practise their favourite hobby without the proverbial arm and leg associated costs. Some digital SLRs retail for as little as R5,999.00 and still offer everything and more you need to get started.
And it is not only about megapixels and cool casings; some of these digital SLRs incorporate all the R&D advancements of their professional siblings. So let's have a look at what you can expect today from leading photo enthusiast-focused digital SLR cameras:
There are currently digital SLRs available that offer 15.1 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensors that are ideal for large detailed prints and/or enormous cropping possibilities. Plus, if shooting in near dark is one of your objectives, these cameras include high ISO sensitivity up to 3200, which is expandable to 12800, enabling you to shoot in the dimmest light conditions.
Additionally, these cameras take image taking even further with integrated, full HD (high definition) 1080p video cameras, enabling you to capture the world in full detail, immortalising those memories with the latest high-definition technology.
Furthermore, for longer shoots, users can shoot lower resolutions in 720P or VGA.  These cameras also feature built-in HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) connections that enable you to connect your HDMI cable with your HDTV compatible monitors, viewing your captured scenes in full HD glory.
Like their professional counterparts, some of entry-level digital SLRs incorporate view LCD screens that feature a 920 000 dot count for ultra-detailed image review, accurate focus checks and clear access to relevant menu systems.
This enables photo enthusiasts to make educated and accurate decisions on preparation and shots taken, enabling them to improve their photography with practice and the helping hand of technology.
Again, like professional digital SLRs, these cameras incorporate fantastic processing with continuous shooting speeds of up to 3.4 fps (frames per second) and the capturing of up 170 JPEGs.
Also, some processors now work in conjunction with their CMOS sensors delivering noise reduction and 14-bit image processing for smooth gradation of tones and natural-looking colours. In addition, advancements in processor technology now allow cameras to achieve the fast start-up times and near-instant image review after shooting, which is a major plus in today's photography environment.
Well, today's entry-level digital SLRs offer a complete package, if you will, incorporating a compact, lightweight body with all the hallmarks of a professional system.  These cameras include features from large, bright viewfinders to intuitive menu systems, all designed to give you a fantastic shooting experience.
Image quality is also protected by sensor cleaning system technology, which reduces, repels and removes unwanted dust from the sensor.
Importantly, cameras today incorporate photo professional software that includes advanced editing packages plus the ability to adjust brightness, white balance and picture styles.  In addition, for social networking users, these cameras incorporate tools that allow them to create their own video podcasts and store images online.
Digital SLRs are also compatible with a wide range of lenses that will enable you to grow and refine your photography as you evolve as a photographer.