Best Enthusiast DSLRs of 2014

The best enthusiast DSLRs of 2014: We've rounded up a selection of the very best enthusiast DSLRs on the market

If you can't quite afford a professional level DSLR, but want to make the step up from your entry-level or mid-range model and start taking your photography more seriously, an enthusiast DSLR could be right for you.

There are many benefits to enthusiast DSLRs that warrant the extra cost in comparison to entry-level models. These include enhanced build quality, extended functionality and a range of customisation options which will allow the photographer to make the camera work just how they want to.

Enthusiast models also benefit from having a host of camera controls located around the body, offering quick one-touch access to advanced functionality.

There are a host of impressive models in the enthusiast DSLR market, so to help you out we've narrowed down a selection of the best.

Nikon D7100

Street price: £840

At its heart the D7100 is built around a revised version of the 24.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor that's found inside the D5200, which is combined with the same EXPEED 3 image processor found inside the flagship D4 model.

The APS-C sensor gives it a crop factor of 1.5x, which essentially means that a 50mm lens will behave like a 75mm one on a full-frame camera.

Elsewhere you get a standard ISO range of ISO 100-6400 that can be further expanded to ISO 25600, a 51-point AF system with 15 cross-type points, 6fps continuous shooting and 1080p Full HD movie recording at 30fps.

Best Enthusiast DSLR for: High-res shooting

Read our review of the Nikon D7100

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Canon EOS 70D

Street price: £860 body only

The Canon EOS 70D arrived towards the end of last year as the most anticipated DSLR of 2013, and on the whole it delivers.

The model features some seriously impressive AF performance thanks to a 19-point AF set-up which allows for some of the best AF performance during shooting with Live View.

Additionally, the 70D also features Wi-fi connectivity as standard straight out of the box, while the DIGIC 5+ processor ensures some impressive processing speeds.

On the whole, if you're a video shooter or enjoy shooting in Live View mode, the 70D is an impressive model.

Best Enthusiast DSLR for: AF during Live View

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Pentax K-5 II

Street price: £650 w/kit lens

The K-5 II updates the  K-5 as the flagship model within Pentax's DSLR range. At a first glance the two models look remarkably similar, with both models sporting a rugged, weather-sealed exterior, a 16.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor and an 11-point AF system.

Despite the apparent similarity a small number of improvements have been made to the newer model though. Chief among these is the K-5 II's SAFOX X autofocus module, which has been optimised to perform better in darker conditions.

Elsewhere, the K-5 II largely carries on from where the K5 left off - not a bad thing, given that the original was a pretty decent camera in its own right. Sensitivity ranges from a standard ISO 100-12,800 (but can be further expanded to ISO 80-51,200), the optical viewfinder offers an impressive 100% view, continuous shooting maxes out at a healthy 7fps, and last but not least it's also possible to record 1080p Full HD movies at 25fps.

Best Enthusiast DSLR for: Weather-sealed body

Read our review of the Pentax K-5 II

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Sony A77

Street price: £1150 w/ 16-50mm kit zoom

Despite being nearly three years old now, the Sony A77 still represents an impressive camera.

Strictly speaking the A77 isn't actually a DSLR owing to the lack of an optical viewfinder, instead it's what Sony calls a Single Lens Translucent (SLT) camera. 

The upshot of this arrangement is that they are able to shoot much faster and the A77 duly clocks in with a top continuous shooting speed of 12fps - the highest in its class. And to make up for the lack of an optical viewfinder the A77 instead sports a high-resolution 2.36m-dot EVF.

Internally, the A77 employs an APS-C sized 24.3MP CMOS sensor, which is again one of the highest in its class. In addition, the A77 also offers a standard sensitivity range between 100-16,00 that can be lowered to ISO 50.

Best Enthusiast DSLR for: Speedy shooting

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