Buying into a DSLR system
Canon's EOS system has been going for over 20 years now, with eight models in the current range. The 600D combines a small lightweight body with great image quality, while the 7D benefits from a more solid magnesium alloy construction and faster burst rate. At the business end of things, the 1D Mk IV offers a 10fps burst rate, with the 1Ds Mk III offering hair-splitting detail thanks to its 21MP full-frame sensor.
Current models: EOS 1100D, EOS 550D, EOS 600D, EOS 60D, EOS 7D, EOS 5D Mk II, EOS 1D Mk IV, EOS 1Ds MkIII
Both entry-level and professionals are served equally well by Nikon's DSLR line, with the successful D3100 model at the lower end of the scale, followed by the D5100 and D7000. For the aspiring semi-pro there's the D300s and full-frame D700, with the D3s and D3x models combining stunning image quality with a solid build and impressive low-light versatility.
Current models: Nikon D3100, D5100, D90, D7000, D300s, D700, D3s, D3x
They may be small in stature, but the Olympus E-450 and E-620 are packed full of technical innovations, as is the more semi-pro E-30, while the company's flagship E-5 combines waterproof sealing, an articulated LCD screen and a speedy autofocus system.
Current models: E-450, E-620, E-30, E-5
Sony has increased the number of Alpha DSLRs on offer steadily since their debut on 2006. The A290 makes for a great and easy-to-use entry-level DSLR, with the A390 and A580 adding live view along with tilting LCD screens. The A850 and A900 are pro-spec, sturdy models that are serious contenders to similar full-frame offerings from Nikon and Canon.
Current models: A290, A390, A580, A560, A900, A35, A55, A65, A77
Pentax's DSLRs are easy-to-use, lightweight models that range from beginner to intermediate. The K-5 offers a 14MP sensor, live view and protection against dust and water, while the K-r has scored well thanks to its ease of use and decent spec.
Current models: K-r, K-5