If you have between £500 and £1000 to spend on a digital camera you are looking at buying a Digital SLR, a Compact System Camera or a highly specialised compact camera.
The cameras on offer in this price bracket are the top level consumer models. Typical improvements over cheaper models include better focusing system, faster burst modes and better build quality.
In this market you may well be looking to split your budget between a camera body, a lens or two and perhaps an accessory such as a flash gun. You also have the option to buy most of the cameras on offer in kit form. This means that as well as a Digital SLR or Compact System Camera body you also get one or two lenses when you buy.
The EP-3 has a range of manual controls (Fully Manual, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority). It is touch screen operated through a 3 inch OLED screen. Image stabilisation has been built in and the camera is capable of shooting High Definition movies with stereo sound. There is a 35 point Auto Focus system and images can be stored in RAW mode. The E-P3 has a metal finish and is available in white, black and silver.
The Coolpix P7100 offers a range of advanced features if you are looking for a smaller digital camera as an alternative to a Digital SLR. Features include manual control settings – fully manual, aperture, priority and shutter priority, plus the ability to store images in RAW format. For composition you can use an optical viewfinder or a high resolution, 3 inch LCD screen. You also have access to a macro mode that can focus from 2cm away from the subject and a High Definition movie mode.
The SLT A65 has a range of manual exposure controls, is capable of shooting at up to 7 frames per second and a 15 point AF system. Image stabilisation has been built into the camera body. You have access to an electronic viewfinder for composing images as well as a 3 inch LCD screen that tilts and swivels away from the body. The SLT A65 can record Full High Definition movies.
This mid range Digital SLR is capable of capturing up to 5.3 frames per second for up to 58 jpegs. It has a 3 inch vari angle LCD screen and a 9 point cross type AF system. ISO can be set between 100 and 6400. This is expandable to 12,800. In camera RAW processing allows you to adjust settings such as white balance and to correct distortion or chromatic aberration.
The Lumix DMC GH2 has a 3 inch, vari angle, touch controlled LCD screen, a viewfinder and can shoot at up to 5 frames per second. It can capture full High Definition movies with stereo sound. It is also capable of capturing 3D still images. It can capture still images in RAW and has a full set of manual exposure modes.
The Lumix DMC GX1 offers manual exposure controls (Fully Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority), Full High Definition movies and the ability to store images in RAW format. There is a 3 inch LCD screen. The screen allows you to change some settings by touch. There is also the option to purchase a viewfinder. This is attached to the Lumix DMC GX1 via a hot shoe.
The K-5 is a mid priced Digital SLR. It is waterproof, dustproof and can handle temperatures down to -10 degrees centigrade. It has a 3 inch LCD screen and a burst mode that can shoot at 7 frames per second. Image stabilisation has been built into the body and the K-5 can also shoot Full High Definition movies.
As well as having a very high number of megapixels the SLT A77 offers shooting at speeds up to 12 frames per second. It also has GPS tracking. Other features include a 3 inch LCD screen, an electronic viewfinder, image stabilisation, a depth of field preview button and a digital tele converter that can increase the magnification of your lens by up to 2x. A 19 point Auto Focus system is available and the SLT A77 is able to record Full High Definition movies.
The EOS 60Da is aimed at people with an interest in astrophotography. This is because it is more sensitive to infrared light than a typical DSLR. High speed shooting is catered for by a 5.3 frames per second burst mode. For focusing there is a 9 point autofocus system. All 9 points are cross type sensors. Canon have also included an electronic spirit level. Images can be stored in RAW as well as Jpeg. The use of 63 separate metering zones helps to ensure correct exposure.