Best entry-level digital SLR cameras(Updated May 6, 2013 5:00 PM PDT)
A fine camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T4i's more expensive 18-135mm STM kit (or body with another STM lens) is the only version that merits an unqualified recommendation. You can probably find better alternatives if you just want a sub-$1,000 dSLR for still photography.
For the money, the Canon EOS Rebel T3i is a great choice for dSLR videographers--though the cheaper T2i can still suffice if you don't need the articulated LCD--and it's a solid choice for creative still shooters. But though the image quality and general shooting performance are top-notch, if you're upgrading to capture sports, kids, or pets, the T3i may not be able to keep up.
Though it doesn't rank first based on any individual aspect of the camera, the Nikon D5100 delivers a solid combination of image quality, performance, features, and design that puts it out in front if you're looking for a well-rounded option under $1,000.
A very good entry-level dSLR, the Nikon D3100 delivers excellent photo quality in a body that's streamlined for experienced photographers, but relatively unintimidating for the less advanced. Its only weakness is performance; though solid, it nevertheless lags behind the competition.