Top 10 Digital SLRs
8th Jul 2007 | 23:00
We count down the best SLRs money can buy
This has been one of the most difficult of our top 10s to put together.
Because with all due respect to owners of high-definition TVs, laptops or projectors, there's something a lot more personal about a camera. So picking a list of favourites is bound to be highly subjective.
What to some will be a deal-breaking flaw will to others be a reason to fork out obscene amounts of money. And brand loyalty counts for a lot.
In selecting and ordering these 10 cameras we have tried to consider value for money, although in some cases the cameras involved simply can't be compared. And of course you can't look at a D-SLR without also looking at lenses - another very personal decision.
So here's our list - click on the camera's name to read our review. We've also listed some key information, namely price as reviewed, CCD resolution, maximum ISO, shutter speed range (in seconds) and weight (body only).
10. Sony Alpha 100(£650; 10.2Mp; 1600; 1/4000 - 30; 545g)
Sony isn't exactly at home in a list of high-end camera makers. But physically this is actually a Konica Minolta, though with reworked innards. It performs well enough, and offers a way forward for anyone with older Minolta or Konica Minolta lenses. Our main gripe when testing it was the high price, but these days an Alpha 100 can be yours for under £400.
9. Panasonic DMC-L1(£1,500; 7.5Mp; 1600; 1/4000 - 60; 530g)
Panasonic's debut D-SLR includes a good few Olympus components, but the L1 is its own camera where it matters. Its Leica-esque looks have largely polarised opinion, and indeed there's something decidedly retro about the L1's layout and controls too. But it's a great performer - if a pricey one - and delivers quality where it matters.
8. Canon EOS 5D(£2,300; 12.8Mp; 1600; 1/8000 - 30; 810g)
The EOS 5D is a serious camera, and so its serious price has to be seen in context. Similarly, its size and weight go with the territory. Chief among its strengths is a quality of image that is astounding - clearly illustrating the benefit of its full-frame view. Professional photography isn't cheap, but the EOS 5D just about makes it affordable.
7. Olympus E-500 (£620; 8.0Mp; 400; 1/4000 - 60; 435g)
Olympus has just updated its digital SLR range. One of the new releases is the E-510, which replaces this model. Until we can give you our verdict on the new arrival, however, we'll continue to wax lyrical on the E-500. For an entry-level SLR it performs very well indeed. And considering you can now pick one up for around £300, it's a fantastic proposition.
6. Pentax K10D(£750; 10.2Mp; 1600; 1/4000 - 30; 710g)
Canon and Nikon have largely left Pentax standing still in photography's digital revolution. The K10D at least makes a fight of things in the D-SLR mid-range. It's a great all-rounder that re-establishes Pentax as a camera brand to take seriously. What it needs now is a range of lenses for a camera as good as the K10D.
5. Nikon D80(£700; 10.2Mp; 1600; 1/4000 - 30; 585g)
The D80 is Nikon's attempt to cash in on what many feel is the sweet spot of the digital SLR market. It's compact and affordable enough to appeal to amateurs. But enables those amateurs to take their photography to new levels of control and quality. It's a good all-rounder, with Nikon's build quality one of the key strengths.
4. Nikon D200(£1,299; 10.2Mp; 1600; 1/8000 - 30; 830g)
Spend over a grand on an SLR and you expect a serious performer, and that's just what the D200 is. It's a slightly more affordable take on the flagship D2X but still gives commercial-grade results at a competitive price. Cameras are often defined by their limitations. The D200 has very few.
3. Canon EOS 400D(£528; 10.1Mp; 1600; 1/4000 - 30; 510g)
The EOS 400D is surely the perfect affordable SLR. The 350D was close, but this is bang on the money. It has all the specs and features to make for a sensible upgrade for the enthusiastic amateur. Simultaneously it delivers all the trademark quality more seasoned photographers know to expect from a brand like Canon. And all of this comes at a price that gives nothing away to its rivals. As a first digital SLR you simply won't find a better option.
2. Nikon D2X(£2,931; 12.4Mp; 800; 1/8000 - 30; 1070g)
The D2X is here largely as a placeholder for its replacement, the recently released D2Xs (look out for a review on Tech.co.uk in weeks to come). Either way, you're talking about Nikon's flagship SLR, and the company's standard-bearer in its age-old battle for supremacy against Canon. Placing the D2X second tells you that we still think Canon is holding sway. But the D2X is a great camera nonetheless, and we look forward to the D2Xs being even better.
1. Canon EOS 1D Mark III (£3,050; 10.1Mp; 3200; 1/8000 - 30; 1155g)
There's no real surprise to our number one choice - after all, we called it the best digital SLR on the market only recently. But it's worth adding that it's not even a close call. The Mark III is a big step forward from the already excellent Mark II. We mentioned above that we look forward to the improved Nikon D2Xs, but in reality it needs to be a huge improvement to even come close to the Mark III. You might have to think long and hard about spending three grand on a camera. But once you do, you're unlikely to spend even a moment regretting it.
Reviews originally published by: Digital Camera, PC Plus and Digital Camera Shopper (discontinued)