Going digital SLR on the 'cheap' with the Canon Digital Rebel XT

A warning before we begin: The definition of “cheap” is relative – expect to end up near $1000 CDN after accessories and taxes are counted up. Then begins the hunt for bigger and better lenses. As always, caveat emptor.

The ‘prosumer’ digital SLR market is entering a more mature phase as of late. The first blockbuster SLR cameras aimed for beginners came out in August 2003 (the Canon EOS Digital Rebel) and January 2004 (Nikon D70). Since then, various worthy successors of the two heavyweights of the prosumer digital SLR market have been released, as well as a number of lesser-known but extremely viable competitor models (the Pentax *ist D springs to mind). As we all know, increased competition means bigger bargains for our hard-earned dollar.

What really tweaked the noses of bargain digital SLR shoppers this month was an offer by Canon Canada to take another $100 off the purchase price of the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT via mail-in rebate. Slightly complicating the reception of the rebate was the stipulation that the camera be purchased from an authorized Canon reseller. The following is what I consider to be the best cobbling together of low pricing and rebate eligibility.

1. Enter the eBay store for Canadian camera dealer Robinson’s Camera Centre.

2. Depending on your preference, bid on their offering of the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) with or without the 18-55 EFS kit lens. With lens, expect a purchase price of $799.00 USD. Without lens, $680.00 USD. That translates into a Canadian purchase price of $910.86 CDN with the kit lens, or $775.20 CDN without. Add 7% for GST (no PST, as Robinson’s is located in Alberta) and a flat rate shipping fee of $30 for expedited delivery for the final purchase price of $1004.62 CDN, or $859.46 CDN.

Refrain from getting into a bidding war on the item. If you can’t win it at the initial offering prices listed above, wait for the next auction on the same item.

3. After winning and receiving the Digital Rebel XT, mail away for the $100 cash back rebate from Canon. This will drop your final purchase price to $904.62 CDN, or $759.46 CDN without the kit lens.

That’s everything – save for the memory card(s), carrying case and other lenses you will inevitably end up purchasing. The mail-in rebate’s final expiry date is the end of June 2006, so it might even be worth your while to stay on the lookout for even better deals on the Digital Rebel XT – but ensure that your place of purchase is an authorized Canon dealer to maintain eligibility on that rebate. Good luck!