Cameras labelled as ‘enthusiast’ models provide the flexibility to shoot a wide range of subjects but without the high price of a pro-level model
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
The EOS 6D Mark II serves as the entry-point to Canon’s full-frame DSLR range, and is less than half the price of the next model up: the EOS 5D Mark IV. Built around a 26.2MP CMOS sensor and DIGIC 7 image processor, the EOS 6D Mark II uses the same 45-point AF system as the EOS 80D and employs Canon’s Dual Pixel AF technology for fast live view AF. On the back you’ll find a fully articulated touchscreen.
Canon EOS 80D
Released in 2016, the EOS 80D boasts an expanded feature set, greater customisation and more durable construction than its cheaper EOS stablemates. Built around a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and Canon’s DIGIC 6 image processor, the EOS 80D also benefits from Canon’s Dual Pixel AF technology, which delivers impressively fast focus lock when used in live view mode. Extensive physical controls are complemented by touchscreen operation via the vari-angle rear LCD display.
The X-T20 is a small, attractive SLR-style mirrorless model that’s capable of exceptional image quality, thanks to its 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor and X-Processor Pro image processor. It offers continuous shooting at up to 14fps and a sensitivity range of ISO 200- 12,800 that’s expandable to ISO 100-51,200. Traditional analogue shutter speed and exposure compensation dials are joined by touchscreen control via the tilting rear LCD. Compared to its top-end cousin the X-T3, the X-T20 lacks weathersealing and cannot be used with an optional battery grip, but it does gain a small built-in flash unit.
Released towards the end of 2014, the D750 is a richly featured and highly customisable full-frame DSLR targeted at advanced enthusiasts. Built around a 24.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor and Nikon Expeed 4 image processor, it’s capable of 8fps continuous shooting and offers a sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,800 with expanded settings up to ISO 51,200. The large, clear viewfinder is complemented by a tilting LCD on the back, while built-in Wi-Fi provides smartphone connectivity. There’s no 4K video support, but the D750 can record 1,080p full-HD footage at up to 60fps.
The D7500 DSLR borrows some key hardware from the flagship D500, including its 20.9MP DX-format CMOS sensor and Expeed 5 image processor. While the D7500 is not quite as fast as the D500, (8fps vs 10fps) and comes equipped with a less-advanced AF system (51 AF points vs 153 AF points), it is nonetheless an agile and well-rounded DSLR. It offers a vast sensitivity range from ISO 100 to 51,200 as standard, that can be extended to fully ISO 1,640,000. Crucially, it’s £620 cheaper than the D500.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
As with all Olympus OM-D models, the E-M10 Mark III takes its design cues from Olympus’s back catalogue of 35mm film SLRs. However, beneath the neatly milled top-plate dials and sculpted handgrip lies a very modern camera. Built around a 16.1MP Micro Four Thirds sensor and TruePic VIII image processor, the E-M10 III benefits from a 2.36-million-dot EVF; a 3in, 1.04-million-dot tilting LCD touchscreen; and a 121-point contrast detect AF system. It’s a really charismatic little camera.
The PEN-F is a stylish, lightweight mirrorless camera that’s designed to ape the look and feel of the classic 1960s Olympus half-frame rangefinder cameras of the same name. It’s much more than just another hipster camera, though. It’s equipped with a 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, 2.36-million-dot EVF, vari-angle touchscreen display, built-in 5-axis image stabilisation and 1,080p full-HD video recording. ISO sensitivity ranges from ISO 80 to 25,600, while continuous shooting is available at up to 10 frames per second. The PEN-F pairs up particularly nicely with compact prime lenses.
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
Panasonic’s flagship Micro Four Thirds stills camera offers a blend of excellent image quality from its 20.3MP sensor and high-speed performance, built around a body that offers arguably the best feel of any mirrorless camera. It shoots up to a blazing 60fps, backed up by sprightly autofocus and a 5-axis image stabilisation system that offers up to 6.5 stops of compensation. Its 3.69m-dot EVF makes tracking subjects a breeze, while the 3in vari-angle screen is instrumental for tricky compositions. With so much to like, it’s a fine choice at this price.
Sony Alpha 7 III
With the A7 III, Sony has hit the sweet spot of what serious photographers want from a full-frame model that falls under £2,000. It plays the role of an all-rounder within Sony’s Alpha 7 full-frame mirrorless range and comes well equipped with a 24.2MP sensor, 5-axis image stabilisation, 10fps burst shooting and a superior arrangement of 693 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection points covering 93% of the frame. It advances hugely from the A7 II, with a revised control layout including an AF-area selection joystick, an improved viewfinder and a longer-lasting battery.
The APS-C equipped A6500 provides all the relevant tools required by enthusiasts, with its 24.2MP sensor, 5-axis image stabilisation and capable AF tracking making it an excellent performer. Given its compact size and ability to shoot 112 consecutive images in a single 11fps burst, the A6500 is equally well suited to street photography as it is to action, while landscape photographers will find that the A6500’s impressive dynamic range gives it plenty of scope for shooting beautiful scenery with. It is a superb all-round APS-C mirrorless model that offers something for everyone.