There was a time when the idea of an entry-level dSLR was an oxymoron. Even the least expensive dSLR was a large step up from the digital compacts at the time. These days, entry-level dSLRs are being made to be entry level, and their prices line up closely with the most expensive compact cameras.
For around £450 with lens, Nikon's D60 is a good example of the current breed of these dSLRs. It checks in with a healthy 10.2-megapixel CCD sensor, a slightly small-by-comparison 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD, and an upgraded, optically stabilised kit lens.
The fact that the D60 looks almost exactly like the Nikon D40x probably doesn't help Nikon's public perception on this model. Nikon even says that it has the exact same form factor as the D40x. Of course, that's not a bad thing, since the design is good. At 495g with a battery and an SD card, it's lightweight enough to shoot comfortably for a day, and the kit lens is one of the lightest Nikon lenses we've worked with, so it doesn't add much weight.
The body is also quite small and will fit well into smaller camera bags, though the grip will leave your pinky finger dangling off the bottom of the body -- something that tends to bother us, but doesn't bother most people.
As has become the trend, many of the camera's controls are accessed through a virtual control system on the LCD instead of physical buttons on the camera body. When Nikon first switched to this system, we were hesitant, but we can see why users that are used to a compact camera might find this system more familiar than trying to learn the layout of a hard-button-based system.
Nikon also includes a nice visual representation of aperture and shutter speed to underscore the fact that the aperture blades make a smaller opening for light in the lens as you make the f-stop a higher number, while showing bars that wrap around those virtual aperture blades as you make the shutter speed faster.
They still make you press the "i" button to get into the control system, which wasn't intuitive to us the first time we encountered it, though there's so little space on the camera back, and the button doubles as a zoom control in playback mode. That double functionality was our biggest gripe about this system though, since we ended up zooming in during the automatic image review quite and had to first press the shutter button halfway to exit that before getting into the control system.
We could have turned the automatic image review off in the custom function menu, but we don't think that is an adequate solution to this issue. One thing Nikon could do is relocate the playback button above where it is now, to the left shoulder of the camera, behind the lug for the strap. Then they could shift the other three buttons up one and give the control system its own button.
Given that Nikon prices the D60 higher than some competitors, notably Olympus's , Pentax's and the Sony DSLR-A200, you'd think that they would include more than this camera's three autofocus points. Even more so since the Pentax and Sony offer 11- and 9-AF points respectively and, along with the Olympus, offer sensor-shift image stabilisation systems that work with all lenses for their respective mounts.
Of course, the big benefit of optical image stabilisation is that you'll see the stabilising effect while you frame your shot, which becomes more useful when your lens' focal length becomes longer. However, this shouldn't be a major issue until you reach focal lengths in the range of 300mm and higher, so if you don't plan to get a very long lens, the edge provided by lens-based stabilisation may be moot compared with the sensor-shift alternatives.