Once you look to pay between £300 and £500 for a digital camera you open up a choice between the most advanced compact digital cameras and lower priced Digital SLRs and Compact System Cameras.
In almost every case a camera in this price range will have a fairly complete range of advanced features. These cameras are aimed at you if you see photography as a serious hobby.
Often the more advanced digital cameras on this list are used as second cameras if you already own a Digital SLR, but find it is not always practical to carry one with you.
Perhaps the biggest question you face shopping in this price bracket is whether to go for a top of the range compact digital camera or buy an entry level Digital SLR or Compact System Camera. If you are trying to decide what is right for you it may be worth considering if you plan to invest further in your camera equipment at a later date or if this is more of a one off purchase. If it is a one off purchase then a top of the range compact may be the answer. If you feel future investment is likely then a Digital SLR or Compact System Camera will give you much greater flexibility and the chance to build on and enhance your equipment when you are ready to do so.
The EOS 600D offers full High Definition movies. It has 9 point Auto Focus, an ISO range of 100 – 6400 (expandable to 128,000) and can reel off still images at a top speed of 3.7 frames per second. To help you compose photos from awkward shooting positions there is a 3 inch, vari angle LCD screen. If you are new to this level of camera then you are likely to find the on screen camera guide is very useful.
The Lumix DMC G3 has a 3 inch LCD screen that pulls out away from the body and also twists around. The screen is touch sensitive allowing some settings to be changed via touching the screen. It has manual exposure controls, a viewfinder and images can be stored in RAW mode. There is a High Definition movie mode. Stereo sound can be recorded to accompany your movie clips.
The stand out feature on the Coolpix S1200pj is the built in projector. As well as being able to display photos you have taken with the camera you can connect your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch® , iPod nano® or iPod® to the Coolpix S1200pj and display images from those sources too. Aside from the projector you get standard point and shoot ease of use, image stabilisation and a 3 inch LCD screen. You can also shoot High Definition movies.
The Lumix DMC GF5 can store images in RAW format. It gives you a choice of four different aspect ratios 4:3, 16:9, 3:2, 1:1. It has a set of manual exposure controls and can shoot Full High Definition Movies with stereo sound. The LCD screen is 3 inches in size and is made up of 920,000 dots. This camera is small and lightweight compared with other Compact System Cameras.
The IXUS 1100 HS has a wide angle lens. The lens also has plenty of scope for zooming in on more distant subjects. This means you have a great amount of flexibility from a camera that is small enough to slip into a larger pocket. There is an advanced movie mode with the IXUS 1100 HS able to shoot full format HD (1080) movies. Another movie option allows you to shoot slow motion movies. There is also a movie mode for shooting in Apple iFrame format.
The Lumix DMC 3D1 produces 3D images. It can also shoot 3D video clips as well as being able to shoot 2D High Definition movies. The camera uses two lenses to create the 3D images. When you are not shooting in 3D mode they can be used for dual shooting of 2D wide and zoom photos. Other features include a 3.5 inch LCD screen. The screen gives you touch control. The Lumix DMC 3D1 also has the capability to shoot 2D images at 8 frames per second.
The Cybershot DSC HX100V has a range of advanced features. These include 3D shooting capabilities and an advanced movie mode. It has a range of manual exposure controls as well as GPS positioning and a built in compass. You can shoot at up to 10 frames per second and there is also a background defocus mode to help produce photos where your subject stands out. The 30x wide angle lens offers wide angle capabilities.
The Lumix DMC FZ150 is one of the most advanced digital cameras on the market. As well as the extra long zoom lens it has a full set of manual exposure controls. It can take shots at a speed of 12 frames per second and also has a special 3D mode. Image stabilisation is included as is a hot shoe and the ability to store images in RAW format. It can capture Full High Definition movies with stereo sound. The LCD screen is 3 inches in size and pulls away from the body to make your life easier if you find yourself in an awkward shooting position.
The Lumix DMC LX7 is a small, but very powerful digital camera. A wide range of options have been packed into the compact body. These include manual exposure controls (Fully Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority), a f/1.4 maximum aperture, a 1cm macro mode and a burst mode that can capture a small number of shots at up to 11 frames per second. Full High Definition Movies can be recorded with stereo sound. High speed videos can also be made for slow motion replay.
Attractions of the Lumix DMC LX5 include a full set of manual exposure controls and manual focusing. The maximum aperture of f/2 is likely to make a difference to picture quality when shooting in lowlight. Panasonic have produced a number of options that allow you to customise the camera. These include optional extras such as an external flash unit and viewfinder. There is also a filter ring. A selection wheel or jog dial on the back of the camera makes it fast and easy to change settings.
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 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.
The D3200 is an entry level Digital SLR. As well as the high number of megapixels for a camera at this level it has an 11 point auto focus system and can fire off bursts of shots at up to 4 frames per second. One of the big attractions for someone stepping up to a Digital SLR for the first time is the comprehensive Guide Mode. The D3200 can also capture Full High Definition Movies.
The Nex-5n has quite an array of features. It offers manual exposure controls and can shoot at up to 10 frames per second. The LCD screen is 3 inches in size and is controlled through touch. There is an advanced movie mode with the Nex-5n being able to capture High Definition movie footage with stereo sound. Sony have also built in a number of tips and a help guide to make it easy for you to get started.
The EOS 650D has manual exposure controls and can shoot Full High Definition Movies. The 3 inch LCD screen pulls out away from the camera body and can be twisted round to give you a more comfortable shooting angle. The screen offers you some touch control too. There is a 9 point AF system. All the points are cross type. Photos can be stored in RAW and there is a burst mode that can shoot still images at a maximum speed of 5 frames per second.
The EOS 1100D is aimed at anyone looking to buy their first Digital SLR. It includes an on screen help to guide you through all the main features. Features include 12 megapixels, a 2.7 inch LCD screen, a viewfinder and High Definition movies, plus Eye-Fi connected features to help you upload your photos to your computer and photo sharing websites.
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 Lumix DMC FZ200 is one of the most advanced super zoom digital cameras. The 24x zoom lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8. This aperture is available right across the zoom range. Other features include manual exposure controls, a 3 inch LCD screen that can be pulled out and twisted round to give you a more comfortable shooting position and an electronic viewfinder. It also has Image Stabilisation, Full HD movies with stereo sound, Image Stabilisation and a macro mode that can focus from 1 cm away from your subject.
The big attraction of the Powershot S95 is likely to be the range of features packed into such a compact body size. There are plenty of advanced features to get your teeth into. These include a RAW mode, manual exposure controls, manual focusing and a maximum aperture of f/2. This large aperture is likely to come in handy when shooting in lowlight.
The Finepix X-S1 is an advanced super zoom digital camera. The 26x zoom lens also has wide angle capabilities. Key features include High Definition movies with stereo sound, image stabilisation, a tilting 3 inch LCD screen and an electronic viewfinder. For close up work the Finepix X-S1 is able to focus from 1cm away from your subject.
The Powershot G12 is packed with a range of features that would not look out of place on a Digital SLR. It is an ideal choice for anyone who is looking for a second camera for use when it is not practical to carry a Digital SLR. Features include manual exposure controls, manual focusing, a pull out and twist LCD screen, a RAW mode and a macro mode that can focus from 1cm away from the subject.
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.
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 Nikon D90 is a 12 megapixel Digital SLR. This SLR is aimed at serious photography enthusiasts. The D90 is compatible with Nikon’s NIKKOR range of lenses. It also includes a movie mode. For composing photos there is a Live View Mode.
The Powershot G1 X has a number of advanced features. These include manual exposure settings (Fully Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority), custom modes, RAW, a 4.5 frames per second burst mode and image stabilisation for both still shots and movies. High Definition movies with stereo sound can be recorded. The LCD screen is 3 inches in size and can be pulled away from the body and twisted round to find a more comfortable shooting angle. There is also an optical viewfinder.
The Cybershot DSC RX100 is small, but powerful. It has many of the features you would expect to find on a Digital SLR. The large f/1.8 aperture is one of the main attractions. This size of aperture is ideal for lowlight photography. This camera has a set of manual exposure controls, a 3 inch LCD screen and Image Stabilisation. In burst mode it can shoot at up to 10 frames per second.
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 Nikon 1 V1 has a wide range of more advanced features. These include manual exposure controls, a 73 point auto focus system and the ability to capture action at a rate of 10 frames per second. For composing images you can choose between a 3 inch LCD screen and an Electronic Viewfinder. The camera is also capable of recording where you are in the world when a picture was taken through its built in GPS tracking system. You will also find an advanced movie mode. The camera is capable of shooting Full High Definition movies, movies that can be played back in slow motion and capturing still images when you are shooting a movie.
The Nikon 1 J1 has a selection of manual exposure controls. If is capable of capturing the action at a rate of 10 frames per second. Focusing options include a 73 point Auto Focus system. Photos can be stored in RAW as well as Jpeg. For composing photos the LCD screen is 3 inches in size. Movies options include being able to shoot Full High Definition movies, shooting slow motion movies and being able to take still snaps when a movie is being recorded.
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 E-PL3 offers manual exposure controls (Fully Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority), manual focusing, image stabilisation and the ability to store images in RAW format. It has a metal finish and is available in silver, black, red and white. It is able to record Full High Definition movies with stereo sound. The 3 inch LCD screen tilts away from the body for when you find yourself in tricky shooting conditions.
The E-PM1 has image stabilisation, manual exposure controls and manual focusing. It also has a 35 point Auto Focus system and AF tracking. It can store photos in RAW format and has a 3 inch LCD screen. Your movie needs are catered for by the ability to shoot Full High Definition movies with stereo sound. Olympus have included an in camera user guide.