This section of the site features reviews of SLRs, interchangeable lens cameras and other hybrids and advanced-level cameras with large-format sensors. Bridge and compact camera reviews can be found in a separate section of the site.
All DSLRs take good-quality photos these days, even in low-light conditions (realistically usable sensitivity settings can top 3200 ISO or more). As a result, SLRs have been battling it out with video modes. They pretty much all film Full HD now, almost always in 1080p and often at 50 fps to keep things nice and smooth. However, the video autofocus is still a big issue for many SLRs. In fact, anyone who regularly shoots video may be better off with a hybrid camera or one of the exceptional new Sony Alphas—the only SLRs on the market right now that have an effective continuous autofocus in video mode.
Otherwise, controls, layout and design are still the main differences between consumer and expert-level SLRs (more buttons, weatherproofing, bigger viewfinders, etc.).
The biggest change in the market over recent years has been the arrival of interchangeable lens compacts or mirrorless cameras. The arrival of models from big camera brands like Nikon and Canon has brought more credibility to the sector. These cameras are clearly here to stay!
Interchangeable lens compacts are smaller and often cheaper to buy than a full-blown SLR, and they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, from ultra-compact touchscreen models to old-school rangefinder-style snappers. The various models offer different ranges of controls and options, such as Wi-Fi and GPS. They also vary in quality—in terms of electronics, some models are clearly closer to a compact camera than an SLR. Their versatility can appeal to compact camera users looking to move up a gear, as well as advanced SLR users looking for a more pocket-friendly snapper. In fact, for many users, a hybrid model is now their one and only camera.
With the best EVF we've seen yet, a high-end build and weather-proof finish, customisable controls and a swivel screen, the Sony Alpha 77 is an impressive piece of kit. Although its 24-Megapixel sensor isn't the most sensitive, it boasts the highest resolution in the consumer market right now. In fact, the Alpha 77 dominates the competition in almost every field. It has an excellent continuous shooting mode of up to 12 frames per second and the video mode has an effective autofocus—something you won't find in standard DSLRs. The 16-50 mm kit lens is pretty good too.
Best of the rest
Experts and Pros
The sensor in this full frame SLR (24 x 36 mm) is twice as big as the APS-C sensors used in consumer SLRs. It brings a real and noticeable boost to image quality (sensitivity, depth of field). With the D600, Nikon has brought the full-frame SLR down to a slightly more accessible price point. It's a must-have for anyone looking to go full frame.
Canon EOS 650D
The EOS 650D is the latest in a long line of bestsellers, offering everything you'd expect from an entry-level SLR. It's affordable, easy to use and takes great-quality pictures. The swivel screen is handy for lining up shots and for video, but the 650D is a little less responsive than its predecessor.
The D3100 entry-level SLR boasts picture and video quality worthy of a high-end model. The camera body is, however, quite basic, and the optical viewfinder is a bit tight. Note that some second-hand lenses won't work with the autofocus.
With its all-weather finish, 100% viewfinder and pair of settings wheels, the K-30 has loads of features you'd expect to see in a higher-end and more expensive model.
The D7000 was used as a base for building the D600. The cameras have similar designs and control layouts but the APS-C sensor in the D7000 will be interesting for anyone working at long focal lengths.