Best DSLRs for £700
If your budget exceeds the price of an entry-level DSLR but can't quite reach the price of a semi-pro camera, one of the models we've chosen for this test will make a great choice. Ideal for new starters, families and those who'd like a few more creative functions, they all feature their own unique selling points in a bid to fight off the competition and make them attractive options to their potential users.
So what stands out from our selection of five and why were these models chosen? The three DSLR manufacturers in this test are Canon, Nikon and Pentax. Canon's EOS 600D might be the oldest of the bunch, but it's a camera that provides a strong specification on paper with a tilting screen and full support of all Canon's EF-S and EF lenses. It fits the test in terms of price, too, and works out at £104 less than Pentax's K-30. The latter is a tank of a camera in terms of its build: with full weather sealing throughout and a stainless steel chassis, it's built to last and is designed to appeal to anyone who'd like a camera to survive all manner of challenging shooting conditions.
The D3200 stands just above the D3100 in Nikon's DSLR line-up. Producing the highest resolution of our five chosen cameras with an astonishing 24.3 megapixels squeezed onto its APS-C sized chip, we expect it to resolve the greatest detail of the five but we'll have to wait until we compare the image quality results to find out if this is the case. As with many advanced cameras aimed at those upgrading from a compact, the D3200 features a Guide mode that combines sample images and clear instructions to show how great photos can be taken very easily.
Sony's A57 isn't branded as a DSLR but is a DSLT. The ‘T' in its name represents the translucent mirror technology that it employs. Stripped of a conventional mirror box as typically found inside a DSLR, it splits the optical pathway of light between an AF sensor and the imaging sensor to give it an advantage of an uninterrupted AF performance. Rather than having an optical viewfinder it features an electronic variant and the key benefit it has over many rivals is the ability of shooting at 12fps, making it as fast as much more expensive pro-spec models!
Last but not least we have Panasonic's Lumix G5. Newest of the five, this compact system camera is notably smaller than a DSLR or DSLT. It is by no means out of its depth up against its rivals and offers innovative features such as a vari-angle touchscreen and touch-focus AF which allows you to focus on a specific area in the frame by simply tapping the screen. It's also on an equal playing field with the K-30 in terms of price, costing £599 for its body only.
With £174 separating the cheapest model from the most expensive, we've got some very strong contenders battling it out to be the best performer. We expect each camera to perform admirably in a multitude of different situations, so to give them a thorough workout we put them through a series of challenges on a What Digital Camera field test. This consisted of the team using each camera, taking a selection of portrait, landscape, action and low-light shots to uncover which camera is best suited to each situation. Head to the next page to read up on each camera in full.