Hi all. I'm thinking of upgrading my camera from a bridge/superzoom to a proper DSLR. My budget is pretty small and it's likely to see some pretty rough use, so I probably don't want to get anything new. I think I have a pretty good idea of my requirements, but navigating the world of obsolete DSLRs is a bit complicated for me so I would appreciate your recommendations.
OK, so for the last year or so I've been using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
for nature/vacation photos, specimen photography (I am a herpetologist and take pictures of my frogs) and general picture-taking duties. Mostly I love it – it's capable, versatile, not too big, and didn't cost a fortune. However, I've been coming up against the limits of its performance (mostly determined by its tiny sensor) more and more and I've recently decided that I would probably be better served by picking up a DSLR that's one or two generations out of date, plus a couple of basic lenses.
I'm familiar with the major camera review sites, but they tend to be pretty fixated on the latest-and-greatest models, so it's a little hard to figure out which camera is going to be my best bet given my budget and willingness to buy obsolete and/or used. That, hopefully, is where y'all can help me.
What I'm looking for is something relatively inexpensive that will give me the low-light performance and low-noise photography that the larger sensors on DSLRs provide. Ideally it should be on the smaller/lighter end of the DSLR spectrum as it's going to get humped around a lot inside of a backpack (though performance is more important than size/weight) and it would be nice if it were environmentally sealed since it's going to spend a lot of time in pretty rough places. It also should be able to take continuous 1080p video and have live preview so that I can frame my shots through the LCD rather than the viewfinder if I wish to do so. Anything 12MP and up is fine for my purposes.
I'm hoping for a camera that can be had in good used condition for $450 or less including a basic macro and zoom lens, also in good used condition, but I'm willing to expand that budget if it's unreasonably restrictive. I imagine that I probably want a Canon or Nikon as they seem to have the best lens selection and generally the best build quality and photo quality overall, but I don't have a preference for either of those two brands. I am also open to buying a current-model camera if it fits my budget and is better in some important respect than the previous models.
I think that that pretty much sums up what I'm looking for; this would be a pretty easy question for me to answer were it not for the fact that I'm primarily interested in obsolete cameras. If I've inadvertently left out anything important, please let me know as I will be watching this question and will be happy to provide further information upon request. Thanks very much, as always, for your excellent advice.