reply to post by DaddyBare
In terms of budget consumer DSLRs there's very little crap out there. But I have a few observations.
If you're photographing in poor light you want the fastest lens (with the lowest F-numer) you can afford, plus the largest sensor size you can
afford. The larger the sensor the less the sensor pixels need to be amplified, so in combination with a fast lens, there'll be a less noise, better
signal quality etc.
Some top-end consumer compacts, such as the Canon G11 and S90, Olympus EP-1 (sort-of consumer - rangefinder & unlike the Canons has interchangeable
lens), have sensor sizes somewhere between DSLRs and regular digital compacts. So they're kind of a trade-off between the two. Focus speed is an
issue on most non DSLRs.
Although some of the cheaper Canon compacts used to offer near manual controls, exposure compensation and the like, but, in their wisdom (I think
it's dumb) they've removed a lot of the manual stuff from the newest cheaper models.
It's also worth checking actual objectively measured performance at DxOMark, a camera benchmarking site (inc Sony):
They measure low light performance etc. Although they don't test lenses, so without a fast lens low light shots will be limited to high ISOs
regardless of an expensive camera.
Also, check lens compatibility, some budget DSLRs are less compatible by design, or may limit some older lenses to manual focus. I don't have a
problem with manual focus, but it's something to bear in mind.
I use the following when looking up many lenses (inc. Sony lenses):
It really comes down to checking out things like DxOMark and then going for the best bang for buck. Given you've got Sony compatible lenses, it
sounds like the Sony route, unless you put them on E-Bay and put it towards another brand.
But there really aren't that many bad DSLR cameras out there. Including older models, one back from the latest. Losing a megapixel or two isn't
that bad, and (if checked out on DxOMark) often there isn't that much of a performance boost buying the latest.