Top camera costs tumble

SAN FRANCISCO (11/20/2003) - SLR (single-lens reflex) digital cameras have reached a new low--in pricing, that is--with Canon Inc.'s EOS Digital Rebel, the first SLR priced below US$1000. The 6.3-megapixel unit is $899 (body only); for $100 more you can add Canon's EF-S 18mm-to-55mm lens, which makes the Rebel cost about $600 less than its closest competitors.

The Rebel won't remain the only sub-$1000 SLR for long: Around March, you can expect news of competition from Nikon and others, says Chris Chute, senior analyst at IDC Research.

Perhaps inevitably, some features are missing at this price. The Rebel's light, sporty plastic case seems less resilient than the solid, heavy-duty case and accompanying parts of its closest rivals, Nikon's D100 and Canon's EOS 10D (each costs $1499 for the body; lenses start at $140). And though the Rebel has the same resolution and processing chip as the 10D, the pricier SLRs take more frames per second (3 fps for the D100 and 10D, versus the 2.5-fps limit of the Rebel), which makes a significant difference when you are shooting sports events or other fast-moving subjects.

Pros should benefit from the Rebel's debut, since it will likely lower the prices of other SLRs. Meanwhile, less demanding users seeking an entry-level SLR can save over $500.

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