Best Mid-Range DSLRs 2013
Mid-range compacts costs a little more than their entry-level cousins, however for the extra expenditure you can expect to get slightly better hardware and more in the way of features. This might include such things as a higher resolution LCD display, or indeed a hinged or vari-angle display that can either be tilted up or down for easier overhead or ground-level shooting or pulled away from the camera body and rotated for easier framing of self-portraits.
In addition, you will also find that some of the best mid-range DSLRs offer better overall build quality or, in the case of Pentax DSLRs, fully sealed bodies that will keep out moisture and dirt. They also tend to be slightly larger than basic, no-frills entry-level models though still smaller than enthusiast and professional-grade DSLRs.
In terms of sensors, image processors and other core components, some mid-range models often ‘borrow' hardware from much more expensive cameras and pair them up with cheaper components from other mid-range or entry-level models in that manufacturer's range - the Canon 700D, for example, gets the same high-end DIGIC 5+ image processor of the 5D Mark III, but retains the 9-point AF module of the 650D.
In addition to hardware boosts, the best mid-range DSLRs also tend to offer slightly more advanced shooting features. This might include things like the ability to bracket images, or to use the pop-up flash as an off-camera flash trigger. You might also find that the best mid-range DSLRs also offer more in the way of customisation, allowing you to set up your camera in a way that best suits your needs whether through the in-camera menu or via Function buttons on the camera body.
With all that in mind, here's our selection of the five best mid-range DSLRs currently on the market.
£420 with 18-55mm IS lens
The Canon EOS 600D (also known as the Rebel T3i in some markets) was originally released in March 2011 and has since been succeeded by the EOS 650 (now discontinued) and, more recently, the EOS 700D. In spite of this the 600D is still listed by Canon as a ‘current' model and yet because of its age the 600D has dropped significantly in price, making it something of a bargain for the cash-strapped buyer. At its heart the 600D uses an 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor, Canon's DIGIC IV image processor and a 9-point AF module. Sensitivity stretches from ISO 100-6400 with an expanded ISO 12,800 setting also available, while continuous shooting stretches to 3.7fps at full resolution. On the back you'll find a tilt-and-swivel 3in/1040k-dot LCD display. In addition to the full complement of PASM exposure modes the 600D also provides 1080p Full HD movie recording at 30fps.
WDC score: 90%
£620 with 18-55mm VR lens
this year the D5200 replaces the two-year-old D5100 as Nikon's mid-range DSLR
model. The new model is equipped with a 24.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor, although not
the same one that's inside the entry-level D3200 model. In addition the D5200
also gets Nikon's newer EXPEED 3 image processor that enables a standard
sensitivity range of ISO 100-6400 (expandable to ISO 25,600) along with a
maximum continuous shooting speed of 5fps - impressive for a camera with this
degree of resolution. Furthermore, the D5200 also gets an improved 39-point AF
module that's been lifted from the enthusiast D7000 model and which includes
nine cross-type sensors. On the back is a 3inch/920k-dot LCD that benefits from
a side-hinge allowing it to be tilted and swivelled to accommodate all kinds of
extreme shooting angles (or even self-portraits).
WDC score: 90%
£590 with 18-55mm IS lens
Also known as the
Rebel T5i in some markets, the EOS 700D is Canon's flagship triple-digit DSLR
model and comes with a range of technical innovations. Chief among these is a
3-inch/1040k-dot vari-angle LCD display that offers touchscreen control over
certain aspects of the camera. While touchscreen technology is popular with
compact system cameras and compacts, the 700D is the first - and to date, only
- DSLR to offer this technology. Elsewhere the 700D employs an 18MO APS-C CMOS
sensor alongside Canon's DIGIC 5+ image processor (the same one that's used in
the significantly more expensive 5D Mark III). The 700D uses the same 9-point
(all cross-type) autofocus system as its predecessor, with some of the central
pixels given over to phase detection duties so as to improve focus speeds when
the camera is being used in Live View mode or to record video. Speaking of
video, the 700D keeps up to speed with the competition by offering a top
quality setting of 1080p Full HD at 30fps.
WDC score: 90%
£500 witb 18-55mm lens
Despite being nearly two years old the Sony A65 remains a
very well specified camera - especially given how it's now available a lot
cheaper than it's initial launch price of nearly £800. Built around a 24.3MP
APS-C CMOS sensor the A65 features Sony's Smart Teleconverter technology that
allows it to be used at 1.3x (12MP) or 2x (6MP) focal lengths, which is
especially useful if you want a bit of extra telephoto reach. Like other Sony
SLT cameras the A65 is not a DSLR strictly speaking thanks to its fixed
semi-transparent mirror design and lack of optical viewfinder. However, thanks
to its 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder the A65 remains a fantastic camera to
operate. Furthermore, the SLT design enables the A65 to shoot at a super speedy
10fps - the highest in its class. In addition, other hightlights include a 3-inch/921k-dot
LCD display that's double hinged to assist with shooting from high or low
angles along with the ability to record 1080p Full HD movies at 50fps.
WDC score: 91%
Pentax has earned
itself a deserved reputation for building great value DSLRs in the past few
years and the K-30 is no exception. While the Pentax lens range isn't nearly as
big as what's offered by Canon or Nikon their lenses do tend to be a bit
cheaper. This is primarily down to Pentax's decision to build sensor-shift
image stabilisation technology into their actual cameras rather than into
individual lenses. Another big draw with the K-30 (and indeed with several other
Pentax DSLRs) is that the body has been weather-sealed to keep out rain and
moisture. This makes the K-30 an ideal choice for those who like to shoot in
all conditions and don't want to be hampered by inclement weather. Internally,
the K-30 is built around a 19MP APS-C CMOS sensor and a Prime M image processor
that's designed to offer smooth HD video capture and low noise at higher
sensitivity settings. Speaking of sensitivity, the K-30 offers a standard ISO
range of 100-12,800 that can be further extended to ISO 25,600. Video capture,
meanwhile, extends to 1080p Full HD at 30fps. Elsewhere other notable
highlights of the K-30 include an 11-point AF module (including nine cross-type
sensors), a 6fps maximum burst rate and a 3-inch/921k-dot rear LCD display. Overall,
it all adds up to another solid DSLR from Pentax.
WDC score: 88%