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 Canon Powershot G1 X Mark II is about as advanced as you can get without stepping up to a Digital SLR. Image quality is guaranteed through the large1.5 type 18.7 x 14mm CMOS sensor. This is a clear step up from other digital cameras, even models that are considered to be advanced.
The lens has a large maximum aperture of f/2, with a minimum focal length of 24mm. This combination gives you plenty of creative scope. You can shoot in lower light and squeeze in wider scenes.
As you might expect, Canon have equipped the Powershot G1 X Mark II with an array of manual controls. These include fully manual exposure, aperture priority and shutter priority. In addition to these settings there are extra options to fine tune white balance. You also get access to manual focusing, plus a 31 point AiAF. You can boost ISO up to 12,800.
For when you want to carry out post processing, the RAW mode provides you with far greater scope to get your pictures looking exactly the way you would like them too. With built in Wi-Fi images and movie clips can be shared easily. Wireless remote shooting is available too.
The LCD screen is touch controlled and is 3 inches in size. The tilt type screen makes your life easier when shooting at awkward angles.
You can capture Full HD movies with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Movies can be recorded at 30 frames per second.
Canon have packed a lot into the Powershot G1 X Mark II, making it an excellent choice for the more discerning photographer.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.