Sony Alpha 300
Price $999 with 18-70mm lens
The Sony DSLR-A300 is the largest of the four contenders but it packs some great features, especially considering the price. It comes with image stabilization in the body so that all pictures with all lenses are steady. The screen tilts down which helps the fast-focusing Live View work very well. It also has the longest zoom, takes great, high quality pictures, and is a reasonable price. For more advanced users and enthusiasts, there isn't a feature missing. For beginners, it is easy to use.
Canon EOS 1000D
Price $1099 with 18-55mm IS lens
The Canon 1000D is very easy to use for beginners, and it also comes with advanced features for photography enthusiasts. It is certainly a DSLR camera camera you can grow into. The lens with the kit is image-stabilised which makes it easier to get high quality, sharp digital shots indoors and there is a huge range of other features to choose from. The Live View is a bit fiddly to use but that is the only weak point with this strong, all-rounder SLR camera. It could be cheaper, though.
Price $999 with 18-55mm IS lens
Nikon's D60 is aimed more at the enthusiast user market. While it is the oldest of this group but that means the price of this SLR has dropped to an entry level price. Reviews show that it is not as quick to get to grips with as the other SLR cameras but the lens is the sharpest and the features and controls are topnotch. There is no Live View mode, which might discourage beginners, but this is a great DSLR camera to grow into.
Price $899 with 14-44mm lens
Olympus aims to make the transition from a compact point and shoot digital camera to SLR very simple. The Olympus E-420 is the smallest SLR around (at 380grams). It takes xD and CF memory cards, it comes with shortest zoom, and is the cheapest SLD camera. It also takes pictures in the squarer 4:3 format rather than an SLR's 3:2. Reviews show the Live View function works well. But it does feels like "my first SLR": once you master it, you may very well want something else.
While the standard is incredibly, the Sony's DSLR Alpha 300 is the recommendation. Considering the price of this DSLR camera, the 18-70mm lens gives a noticeable boost to zoom shots and, while we feel the Nikon lens is slightly sharper, the performance of the Sony is very impressive. The Sony has every feature a photo enthusiast could want. It comes with well-labeled switches and dials that make it easy to learn and use for all, including beginners.