‘Entry-level' DSLR cameras, as they're so often called, are ideally suited towards first-time DSLR users looking to take the step up from a regular compact camera and gain more control over their image making.
Entry-level DSLRs aren't necessarily ‘low spec' DSLRs at all; indeed many of the latest ‘entry-level' models are actually quite well specified.
At the very least you can expect your new DSLR to come with an APS-C sensor that's around ten times larger than the standard 1/2.3in sensors found in most compacts.
In addition, you can also expect the autofocus system to be faster and more flexible, with the optical viewfinder providing you with a window that allows you to concentrate on framing your image correctly.
Street price: £350 body only
The Canon EOS 1200D follows on from the EOS 1100D in a long line of impressive Canon entry-level models.
The DSLR is impressively compact, while managing to maintain an impressive specification.
The APS-C sensor features a boosted resolution, with the chip now delivering an 18.1MP resoltion up from 12.1MP. Even at this boosted resolution the 1200D still delivers a continuous shooting speed of 3fps with a burst depth of around 70 frames when shooting JPEG files.
Of course, there's also the fact that in buying Canon you'll be buying in to an impressive DSLR ecosystem that includes a proliferation of second-hand optics at affordable prices.
Best entry-level DSLR for: Joining the Canon DSLR tree at an affordable level
Street price: £340 with 18-55mm lens
The A58 takes the highlights of the older A57 and A37 models and condenses them into a single new model. Strictly speaking, it isn't technically a DSLR - rather it's what Sony calls a ‘SLT' (Single Lens Translucent) camera.
This basically means that it uses a fixed semi-transparent mirror that allows some light to the sensor and some to the phase detection sensor in the prism.
The upshot of this is that the camera employs a 1.44m-dot electronic viewfinder instead of an optical viewfinder. The payoff for this is increased shooting speed, with the A58 able to shoot at a very healthy 8fps - making it great for capturing fast-moving action with.
Best entry-level DSLR for: Continuous shooting
Street price: £430 with 18-55mm lens
The Pentax K-500 sits in the entry-level space within Pentax's DSLR range.
It's yet another strongly featured entry-level DSLR that's built around the same 16.28MP CMOS sensor that's employed by the mid-range K-30 although the K-500 lacks the water-resistant seals of its more expensive sibling.
Elsewhere, the K-500 features an 11-point AF system (nine of which are cross-type sensors), a 100% optical viewfinder, a 3-inch/920k-dot rear LCD display on the back and the ability to shoot continuously at up to 6fps.
Rounding things off are a generous range of built-in digital filters and image processing options along with 1080p Full HD movie capture.
Best entry-level DSLR fo: AF performance
£380 with 18-55mm kit zoom
The Nikon D3300 follows on from two incredibly popular DSLRs in the Nikon D3200 and D3100.
Perhaps the most note-worthy feature is the model's 24.3MP sensor, carried on from the Nikon D3200. What's different is that the camera's anti-alias filter has been removed and as such it should result in sharper images.
This high megapixel count and the lack of an anti-alias filter reuslt in some truly impressive image quality that belies the camera's entry-level status, making the D3300 worthy of a place on the shortlist.
Best entry-level DSLR for: High-resolution entry-level photography