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 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 D7000 is a mid range Digital SLR. Key features include the ability to capture still images at speeds of up to 6 frames per second for 100 images. The camera can also record Full High Definition movies with a maximum resolution of 1080p. You also have the option of adding a stereo microphone for recording sound. There is a 3 inch LCD screen in addition to the optical viewfinder. For focusing Nikon have equipped the D7000 with 39 Auto Focus points including 9 cross type points.
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 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.
Key features include the ability to shoot at speeds of up to 8 frames per second. This is ideal for fast moving subjects. Focusing options include a 19 point cross type AF system. The AF system is customisable to give you fine control over focusing. The ISO range is 100 – 6400. This is expandable up to 12800.
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.
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.