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Best mid range camera

 

If you're shopping for a mid-range DSLR or mirrorless Compact System Camera, you've come to the right place! At Camera Labs I write in-depth reviews of cameras but understand you're busy people who sometimes just want recommendations of the most outstanding products. So here I'll cut to the chase and list the best mid-range DSLRs and mirrorless Compact System Cameras around right now.

On this page you'll find the best mid-range models. These are aimed at those who want a step-up from an entry-level DSLR or mirror-less system without the cost, weight or complexity of a semi-pro model. Typically a mid-range camera will feature tougher build, quicker shooting, greater control and customization, more accessories and often better image and video quality than a budget model. As such they're ideal if you're after something more sophisticated that you can grow into without breaking the bank.

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Gordon's favourite mid-range DSLR right now: Canon EOS 70D

Canon EOS 70D review

 

The market for mid-range cameras is always an exciting one, offering a step-up from budget models, but without the cost or complexity of true semi-pro bodies. There's some cracking options here whether you're shopping for a mirrorless camera or a traditional DSLR. Nikon's D5200 and D7100 are very strong contenders as are the higher-end Olympus PENs, but for me right now my personal favourite is the Canon EOS 70D.

The Canon EOS 70D is a mid-range DSLR featuring a 20.2 Megapixel APS-C sensor, Full HD video, a fully articulated touch-screen monitor, built-in Wifi and an innovative new 'Dual Pixel CMOS AF' system which delivers far superior continuous focusing during Live View and movies. It's the latter which has always plagued DSLRs, but by effectively switching any of the sensor pixels into confident phase-detect AF points and back again, Canon's nailed the solution. It's literally revolutionary if you use your DSLR for movies, but Canon's not neglected the traditional aspects, bringing it close to the semi-pro 7D and even surpassing it in some respects. So with the 70D you get a camera that takes great quality stills and movies. Compose with the viewfinder and you'll enjoy a fast AF system and quick burst shooting which makes it ideal for action or quick portrait and street shots. Switch to Live View and you'll enjoy a fully-articulated touch-screen and Single AF acquisition that's as good as the best mirrorless models. Start filming video and you'll benefit from the best continuous movie AF on the market. It's an easy camera to Highly Recommend.

Pros: Quality stills & movies; best C-AF for movies; Wifi; articulated touchscreen.
Cons: Live View AF is confident but slow. No built-in GPS. No miniature mode.
Overall: A powerful DSLR balancing traditional and modern features.





Highly recommended Alternatives

Nikon D7100 review

 

The D7100 is Nikon's latest upper mid-range DSLR aimed at enthusiasts. Slotting between the D7000 and full-frame D600, Nikon describes the D7100 as being the best that the DX-format can offer. It inherits the 100% viewfinder, 6fps shooting and twin SD card slots of the D7000, but increases the resolution to 24.1 Megapixels, boosts the AF system from 39 to 51-points, offers 1080p at 24, 25 and 30fps, boasts full weather-sealing and introduces a new 1.3x crop mode resulting in an overall field-reduction of two times at a resolution of 15.4 Megapixels and boosted speed of 7fps. It also becomes the company's second DSLR after the D800e to dispense with the low pass filter for sharper images. In my tests the images may not have been perceptively sharper than the D5200, but the D7100 offers so much more to the enthusiast photographer that it remains highly recommended. Just remember that you can essentially match the image quality with the D5200 and enjoy many of the same features with the D7000, both at a noticeably lower price - see below.

Pros: 24MP; weatherproof; 6fps; 100% viewfinder; Full HD; dual SD slots.
Cons: Screen doesn't flip-out; no Wifi or GPS built-in; no better quality than D5200.
Overall: A very capable mid-range DSLR even if the lack of OLPF has little impact.



Canon T4i / EOS 650D review

 

The Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D is the company's second latest upper entry level DSLR. It's the model prior to the T5i / 700D, but is almost identical in every regard. So with the T4i / 650D you get virtually the same feature-set as the new model, but at a lower price. You get 18 Megapixels, 1080p video and an articulated 3in/ 1040k screen.The screen is touch-enabled with smartphone style gestures, the 9-point AF system has been overhauled with cross-type sensors in all locations, while a new hybrid AF system embeds Phase Detect capabilities into the main sensor, allowing it to offer better continuous autofocusing in Live View and movies. Other specifications include 5fps shooting, multiple exposure modes along with the chance to buy it in a kit with lenses featuring Stepper Motor Technology for faster and quieter autofocus during video recording - an 18-135mm kit zoom and a new 40mm f2.8 pancake prime. A great choice for those looking for a decent step-up from a budget DSLR, but also consider Sony's SLTs if you're into action and continuous movie AF.

Pros: 3in articulated touch-screen. Good continuous movie AF for a DSLR.
Cons: Basic 3-frame bracketing. Lacks the movie crop mode of T3i / 600D.
Overall: A step-up from budget DSLRs, but compare closely with mirrorless rivals.




Sony Alpha A6000 review

 

The Sony Alpha A6000 is a mid-range mirrorless camera that punches well above its weight. It packs a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor, electronic viewfinder, tilting screen, Wifi with NFC, 1080p movies up to 60fps and a hotshoe / accessory mount into a tiny body. Arguably most exciting of all though is the hybrid AF system which embeds phase-detect AF points across almost the entire sensor area, allowing it to confidently track moving subjects wherever they may be. It really works too, both when shooting stills at up to 11fps, and when pulling focus during movies; impressively you can even choose the speed and response of the movie AF. Annoyingly the viewfinder size and resolution is technically a step-down from the earlier NEX-6 and NEX-7, and like the 7 you'll need a decent lens to exploit the 24 Megapixels, but the overall handling and feature-set arguably make it an upgrade to these models, not to mention one of the most compelling cameras at the price. It's especially recommended if you shoot or film subjects in motion: sports and action shooters, not to mention parents of active kids, should have it in their shortlist.

Pros: 24MP, 11fps shooting, fast and continuous AF for stills and video.
Cons: Really need to upgrade the kit zoom for exploit full 24MP resolution.
Overall: One of the best mid-range cameras for the money, DSLR or mirrorless.




Nikon D5200 review

 

The D5200 is Nikon's 'upper entry-level' DSLR from last year, replacing the best-selling D5100 and offering a step-up in features over the budget D3200 without the expense or complication of the D7100. The D5200 inherits the 24 Megapixel resolution of the D3200, but employs a new sensor which in our tests delivers excellent results. It offers 1080p video at 24, 25 and 30p with stereo audio recorded by built-in microphones or via an external jack. The screen remains side-hinged for compositional flexibility and the viewfinder now regains the on-demand grid lines absent from its predecessor, although sadly there's still no proximity sensors. Completeing the specs are 5fps continuous shooting, the same 39-point AF system of the D7000 and support for an optional Wifi module for wireless remote control with a compatible smartphone. It all adds up to a worthy rival for Canon's EOS T4i / 650D, and while there are still pros and cons to each, those who choose the D5200 will be impressed by its quality. Look out for bargains now the D5300 has been launched.

Pros: Great quality; 1080p video with mic input; flip-out screen; optional Wifi.
Cons: C-AF in video distracting; no viewfinder proximity sensor or touchscreen.
Overall: A big step-up from budget models and one of the best Nikons for video.





Olympus E-PL5 review

 

The E-PL5 is the mid-range model in the Olympus PEN range. Like other PEN models, it's a mirrorless camera based on the Micro Four Thirds format, which packs a large sensor into a small body. The E-PL5 employs the same 16 Megapixel sensor as the OMD EM5 (see my semi-pro section), and this also means you get 1080p video. The continuous shooting isn't quite as fast, but is still impressive at 8fps. On the top is a hotshoe which supports flashes or an optional viewfinder, while round the back is a 16:9 touch-sensitive screen which tilts vertically for easy composition at unusual angles and can even flip round to face the subject. What really makes the Olympus PEN cameras stand out from the competition though is built-in stabilisation which works with any lens you attach. Couple all these features with great image quality straight out the box and you've got a great mirrorless body at a good price. If money's tight, also consider the cheaper E-PM1 in the budget section, or look out for discounted options on its predecessor, the E-PL3.

Pros: Built-in stabilisation; good quality; 1080p movies; 8fps; tilting touch-screen.
Cons: 16:9 screen not ideal shape for shooting 4:3 photos. No built-in Wifi.
Overall: Compelling features and quality make for a great mirrorless camera.




Sony NEX 6 review

 

The NEX 6 was Sony's previous mid-range mirrorless cameras, since replaced by the Alpha A6000 above. This in turn has seen prices fall on the older model and in one important respect it's actually better. The NEX 6 features a larger and more detailed electronic viewfinder than the A6000, and couples it with decent quality from its 16 Megapixel APS-C sensor. It may not boast phase-detect AF points across most of the frame, but it does feature a bunch of them in the middle to aid with tracking. It also has a tilting screen, hotshoe, and built-in Wifi which can push images to smartphones or direct to Facebook. Ultimately I prefer the superior AF and user interface of the newer A6000, but if you can find a good price on the NEX 6 it could be a bargain - and if any A6000 owners sneer at your choice, just show them your bigger and crisper viewfinder image.

Pros: OLED viewfinder, tilting screen, standard hotshoe, Wifi, phase-detect AF.
Cons: Lacks the 24MP and broad hybrid AF system of the A6000.
Overall: Look out for potential bargains on this older model.



Canon EOS 60D review

 

Canon's EOS 60D is the predecessor to the latest 70D and lacks much of its sophistication, but remains a worthwhile choice if you instead think of it as a classy step-up from a budget DSLR. It shares the same 18 Megapixel resolution and HD movie modes as that the cheaper T3i / 600D, but features a larger, brighter penta-prism viewfinder, faster continuous shooting, a fully articulated screen, a more sensitive AF system, wireless flash control, an upper information screen, virtual horizon indicator, and much more. The body materials may be the same, but the EOS 60D feels better in your hands and much more like a semi-pro body, even without the ultimate toughness of magnesium alloy. An ideal step-up model without the cost, weight and complexity of a semi-pro DSLR.

Pros: Articulated screen; 5.3fps shooting; Full HD movies.
Cons: No continuous AF during movies; out-featured by D7000.
Overall: An ideal step-up model, especially for movie shooters.



Nikon D7000 review

 

Nikon's D7000 is the predecessor to the D7100, but remains a great choice at a lower price. It captures 16 Megapixel stills or 1080p video at 24fps. Continuous shooting is 6fps and the viewfinder coverage delivers a 100% view. There's a 39-point AF system, while the metering employs a 2016 pixel RGB sensor. Nikon's also toughened-up the D7000 by using magnesium alloy on the upper and rear plates, whereas most mid-range DSLRs are all plastic, and there are also dual SD memory card slots. It's an impressive spec which still stands comfortably against the newer D7100 above; indeed Nikon's kept it in the range as it remains a contender against current mid-range models, and represents great value at the discounted prices.

Pros: Tough; 6fps; 100% viewfinder; Full HD; dual SD slots.
Cons: Screen doesn't flip-out; movie AF indiscreet.
Overall: Semi-pro features at a very affordable price now the D7100 is available.

     
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Best mid-range DSLR


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