A friend of mine has the opportunity to buy a Canon 20D (2004), 11000 actuations + 17-85 IS USM lens for about 380 USD. This would be his first DSLR. He took some sample shots with the Canon and a Nikon 5100 and asked me what do I think.
I thought I'd rather ask you what you'd think and whether or not other budget options won't be better choices.
I have both cameras and from a performance standpoint there is no comparison. The D5100 wins hands down. However the Canon 20D can still produce very nice photos if you limit the ISO to about 400 and maybe 800 if it means you can take the photo or not.
The advantages of the D5100 are
1. Higher resolution and better Hi ISO performance. 2. The Canon 20D rear LCD screen is really tiny and just about useless to view photos. The D5100 has the beautiful, large, articulated screen. 3. Dynamic range of the 20D is really very poor.
The advantage to getting the 20D and lens is it's a good price for a starter kit. However you can probably get a nice used D5100 with AFS 18-55mm VR lens for about $100 more.
I have nothing against Canon products but the 20D is really old technology.
In the 7 years between the introduction of the 20D and the D5100 there has been so many advances in performance in both software and hardware that even the entry level bodies of today significantly out perform the top of the line Pro bodies from back in 2004. The other thing to consider is the age of the 20D. With older bodies, it is usually cheaper to replace them than get them repaired.
Why not get the D3200 as a Starter its 24 Mp and you don't have to worry about the Articulating Screen breaking down. I am a retired Electronics Technician. and anything Flexible like that is subject to breakdown due to all that Twisting and Flexibility abilities. If I were to upgrade I would skip the 51/5200 altogether and go to the 7100's. To avoid that flex screen.