I’ve been planning to dabble in a bit more serious photography for some time now. Nothing so serious as to go for monster DSLRs with gazillions of pixels. Just enough to get to know the technical aspects. So the answer is one of those entry-level DSLRs that have been popping around all over lately. The choice has boiled down to the Pentax K100D and the Nikon D40. Both good entry-level DSLRs.
I’ve been comparing them for some time now and the way I see it, the K100D has higher-end DSLR features that the D40 does not: Shake Reduction (SR), dust removal, 11-point AF (D40 has 3-point AF), built-in AF motor, depth-of-field (DOF) preview, auto exposure bracketing, and top LCD status display. As a bonus, it uses widely available AA batteries. With 2500mAh and even 2700mAh rechargeable batteries becoming available, longevity should not be an issue.
On the other hand, the D40 has two things the K100D does not have: dedicated AF-assist lamp and large continuous shooting buffer. The D40 also is generally better in terms auto white balance (AWB), metering, noise reduction, and image processor.
However, in terms of picture quality, it’s a toss-up. From the sample shots I’ve seen, usually the K100D’s has better colors and the D40’s are sharper. But there are quite a lot of exceptions to this.