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At work, I have access to a Canon Rebel T3i camera. One of the things I like best about it is the rotatable (vari-angle) LCD screen that can be used for live-viewing. It's handy when shooting from awkward angles.

It seems like this feature is mostly available either on point-and-shoots, or on rather expensive cameras. The Nikon D5100 is another example of a DSLR with vari-angle live-view screen. However, a lot of these are out of my current price range. I also know that some point-and-shoots have vari-angle screens you can use to live-view both still and video shots, but I'm not interested in those, either.

Are there any consumer-level DSLRs (say, <=500 USD) that have a vari-angle screen that works with still photos and video?

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@mattdm I'll have to locate the owner's manual and play around with the camera when it's back in the office. This was a thing that bugged me a while ago and none of us could figure it out, but it's possible there's something unintuitive about it or that we're just dumb. :) –  Laura Feb 28 '13 at 21:12
    
@mattdm I've updated the question. Bad UI on the thing, but mostly we were dumb. –  Laura Feb 28 '13 at 21:39
    
Problem solved! Glad to hear it was just a setting and you don't need to get a whole new camera. –  dpollitt Feb 28 '13 at 21:51
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3 Answers

This is an expensive hobby. I think we generally consider < $1000 to be consumer level. Margins are actually pretty cutthroat in this segment of the market, and it's expensive to make a strong and reliable articulating screen, which is why you're not seeing it on the lowest-level DSLRs even though it's a very consumer-friendly feature.

That said, you can find all of the current models with a rotating screen with this neocamera search -- and you'll see that there aren't very many, with the Nikon D5200 and the D5100 you point out plus the Canon Rebel T4i as the lower-range options. (You may also want to consider non-DSLR mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, as shown in this search; if you're using the LCD most of the time anyway, this expands your options somewhat -- take a look at the Panasonic G5, for example.)

That said, as of right now, with the D5200 coming into the market, the D5100 is actually a hair below $500 body only, from Amazon at least.

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@Laura you might also look at used cameras. The D5000 is a capable camera that you can pick up for under $400 these days. –  ElendilTheTall Feb 28 '13 at 20:40
    
Of course the upside to being an expensive hobby is it can also easily become a paying hobby if you invest and have skills. Professional event photography is stupidly expensive in most areas. –  AJ Henderson Feb 28 '13 at 20:51
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@AJHenderson - Experiencing bad event photography can be more expensive then having event photography that costs a lot :) I also wouldn't say that going professional is easy. –  dpollitt Feb 28 '13 at 21:22
    
@Dpollitt - this is true, and that's why I make the comment about having skills. To make a living going professional, I agree that it isn't easy. But when you are just trying to do it as a paid hobby where you can cover the cost of your gear, it's not that hard as long as you're good at networking and skilled enough to get shots right on the fly. Also, understanding that starting out working for free to get a portfolio and a name is key. –  AJ Henderson Feb 28 '13 at 21:46
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More options will be available if you consider mirrorless system cameras. They're more compact and often less expensive than DSLRs, but may not focus as quickly as DSLRs (though the latest models are just as fast for static subjects) and have fewer lens options. They're ideal for video capture and travel photography.

You may want to look at an older model like the Panasonic LUMIX G3 ($249 body only, $349 with 14-42mm lens), which has a fully articulating display. Many other options are available, but you'll probably need to pay more.

Note: I am not affiliated with B&H.

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Can someone explain the downvote? –  DragonLord Mar 1 '13 at 17:12
    
I didn't downvote, but I expect it was because this just gives an alternative, without addressing the main question. Or maybe someone just really hates Panasonic. –  mattdm Mar 21 '13 at 3:46
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The question is about 8 months old,but the following maybe of use to others.
I have personally found the following to be useful.

If you value flexibility more than ease of implementation then a custom solution may provide a superb result at a good price. Any camera that produces video output to an external monitor that meets your display needs can be used with an external display.

This arrangement allows you not only to "articulate" the display but to move it completely away from the camera - perhaps as a body or arm mounted viewfinder or mounted on a tripod or similar. This allows the screen to be used with the camera at ground level, or held above your head or pointing over your shoulder or similar.

The viewing capability of this arrangement depends on what the camera manufacturer provides, and needs to be checked on a case by case basis. I used this arrangement on early DSLRs many years ago, with a "hand holdable" LCD TV with video input serving as the display. Modern small LCD "monitors" are available that are far more compact than a complete LCD TV. Powering needs to be considered and will vary with monitor used.

"For extra points" a wireless connection can be used - with off the shelf monitors available with ranges of 10's of feet, and substantially more in some cases.

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I use the Wi-Fi capabilities of my DSLR along with a smartphone as a wireless live view screen. Works pretty well. I think this will become more commonplace in the near future as manufacturers add in Wi-Fi as well. –  dpollitt Oct 21 '13 at 18:29
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