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 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.
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 G5 is one of the most advanced Compact System Cameras. It has a range of manual controls including Fully Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority. You can store images in RAW mode. You can select the auto focus point by touch through the 3 inch LCD screen. An electronic viewfinder is available too. You can shoot High Definition Movies with stereo sound.
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.
Canon has packed 18 megapixels onto the camera sensor. The EOS 550D is capable of shooting at rates up to 3.7 frames per second. It can also capture High Definition movies at a resolution of 1080p. It has a 3 inch LCD screen and is equipped with a 9 point AF system.
The Nex C3 has a 3 inch, tilting LCD screen. You can shoot still images at up to 5.5 frames per second. It can capture High Definition movies, 3D sweep panoramas and has a 25 point Auto Focus system. Lowlight shooting is catered for with a Handheld Twilight mode and the Nex C3 comes with tips and hints built into the menu system to help get you started.
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.
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 Finepix X-Pro1 has a retro look and feel to it. Inside the camera is packed with a lot of the latest technology. This includes a new type of sensor that is closer in design to how film operates than a typical digital sensor. As you would expect this camera has a range of manual controls as well as a hot shoe for attaching an external flash unit. There is also a 3 inch LCD screen and a hybrid viewfinder that has both optical and electronic settings.
As well as the extra large number of megapixels available the Nex-7 offers manual exposure controls, full High Definition movies with stereo sound, a 3 inch tilting LCD screen and a viewfinder. It can capture still images at a rate of 10 frames per second and has a magnesium based body. The sweep panorama mode also offers you a 3D shooting option.
The A57 is aimed at advanced amateur photographers. Key features include the ability to capture shots at a rate of 12 frames per second. It can also capture Full High Definition Movies at a top speed of 50 frames per second. Manual exposure controls are available in movie mode as well as when you are taking still shots. There is a 15 point AF system with 3 cross type sensors.
This is a mid range Digital SLR, popular with both professional photographers and advanced amateurs. Key features include the ability to capture HD quality movies, a Live View mode and a 51 point Autofocus system. If can capture photos at an impressive rate of 7 frames per second.
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.