Hello there. I need a little help picking the right camera for me. At this point it would probably be good to write a little bit about myself. If you find that boring just skip to the next paragraph, however reading this might be essential in my case. I think I am the type of person that knows quite a lot about cameras but has way less experience in photography than most of you guys. Sadly I am also a bit of a pixelpeeper, I just can't help it. I got to use a rebel XTi for about a year with the old crappy kit lens, a cheap tele and a macro lens. Now that I can't use it anymore and miss it so much, I felt like it's time to get my own DSLR. Since I am still a student, my budget is pretty tight and not going to be any better in the close future. Of course I don't expect my low-end camera to be as good as a mid-level one. I am also aware, that keeping in mind the difference between low- and mid- level cameras, all the cheapest DSLRs are very similar, but still, it is a serious amount of cash for me, and I want to be sure I get the most bang for my buck. So, what I am looking for is obviously an APS-C sensor, with as clean as possible high ISO. Again, I know it's not going to perform like the newest mid-level cameras, but you know there are better and worse cameras even on the low-end market alone. I am not exactly interested in low light photography, but you all know better than me how useful it is to be able to crank up the ISO to without worrying much about IQ. The next thing will be probably a bit hard to understand from your point of view, but as I probably won't be able to upgrade to a better lens during the next year or two, it should come with a decent kit lens. Of course I am not expecting miracles here either, but the old Canon 18-55 II kit lens were really poor. It seems like the newer IS version is actually pretty sharp for a kit. Oh, and IS/VR is a must. Having these things in mind I started looking for the right model for me. The Sony Alpha A230 was the first one to catch my eye, probably because it is the cheapest one on the market. At first I was like 'oh, a sony, let's just skip this one', but... well, it uses the same sensor the D3000 uses. It delivers pretty crappy JPEG quality, but RAW seems fine, and because I love shooting RAW, I am ok with that. I must admit the body itself is a bit strange to hold, but it has some useful dedicated buttons, like ISO switch, that D3000 doesn't. What I am concerned mostly is the kit lens. The new 18-55mm seems to be a lot better than the old sony's old 18-70mm, but I am still not very convinced. I've also read, that the stabilization unit built into the body delivers only about 1 stop of benefit, which isn't very impressive. After that I decided to read some tests of the $50 more expensive Nikon D3000. I must admit I like it a lot. I like how it looks and feels, all the little advantages over sony, like an ISO display in the viewfinder etc. It just seems like a camera for someone interested in photography, and not for someone who just walked into the mall wanting to buy 'one of em big black cameras'. The 18-55VR kit lens doesn't seem bad either. My only concern here is the old sensor, which was used in D80. I mean not that it is a bad one, but it is already 4 years or so old. In 2 years it will be six, which in the world of digital cameras is quite a lot. Another $50 (at lest here in Poland) more, and it's possible to get a rebel XS. It also uses a pretty old sensor from the XTi, but ISO 1600 looks so much cleaner than with D3000. It really does make a difference. It also comes with live view. As far as I am concerned, I don't really care at all about it, I would probably never use it anyway. The thing is though, that the camera would also be used during walks/weekends out etc. with my girlfriend, and I think she would really be happy to be able to compose photos using the LCD display. So the live view comes as a benefit. There is only one small problem with the rebel XS. It seems to be going out of sale as a kit. It is almost impossible to get it now, and in one month (that's exactly when I am going to get the camera) I don't think it will be sold anymore. Of course I could get the body and lens separately, but then it doesn't seem like a good deal anymore. Then, once again for a bit more than the rebel, I've spotted the Sony NEX-3 mirrorless camera and decided to read a test or two about it. I was shocked to find out, that the 14 MP APS-C sensor delivers pretty much the same high ISo image quality as the Canon 500D or Nikon D5000. According to dpreview, the 18-55mm kit lens seem to have much better center sharpness than Canon's or Nikon's, but with quite a blur in extreme corners. The lens also has proper stabilization. There's 720p movie mode, which I guess could be fun in some situations and a high res LCD. So, what I realised, it is possible to get significantly better quality with this mirrorless camera, than with a D3000, for not that much more money. On paper it looks great. But of course it is not a DSLR, it lacks an OVF, which is probably a key feature for me, all the other DSLR features, and apart from that, it looks hideous, but that I guess would be a matter of taste. So, here I am, a guy that simply can't make up his mind. Too many possibilities, from the cheapest Sony A230, through the more 'serious' D3000, the better but probably harder to get a hold of rebel XS, and the entirely different, but pretty convincing in some aspects NEX-3. I could really use a few opinions of people more experienced than I am, and pointing (pushing?) in the right direction. Oh, and thanks for reading all of it, I hope it wasn't very hard to understand what I have in mind.