Canon EOS 5D Mark II With the same resolution as the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III at less than half the price, the full-frame EOS 5D Mark II isn’t Canon’s flagship model, but it may as well be. Featuring a few important new items, like HD video capture and a high-resolution, 21.1-megapixel sensor, the 5D Mark II also offers a variety of improvements over its predecessor, the 5D.
Sony Alpha DSLR-A850 Sony’s Alpha DSLR-A850 is the first camera to bring full-frame digital photography under $2,000. Sony has accomplished this benchmark by paring down the feature set of its flagship A900 model. For $700 less, the A850 offers almost everything that the A900 does, including a 24.6-megapixel Exmor CMOS full-frame sensor, Dual BIONZ image processing, multi-stage noise reduction (including analog noise reduction on the Exmor sensor itself) and SteadyShot image stabilization, with some carefully chosen sacrifices.
Pentax K-7 Pentax’s newest D-SLR builds on the strong points of the K20D and adds lots of new features. The K20D’s 14.6-megapixel CMOS sensor (codeveloped with Samsung) has been revamped to allow Face Detection Live View and HD video recording. A new PRIME II imaging engine works with the sensor to improve image quality, speed operation and enable the new features.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Okay, we know it’s not a true SLR (as a Micro Four Thirds camera, it lacks the mirror and pentaprism), but it looks and shoots like one, and takes interchangeable lenses. And it brings to fruition the promise of the original Four Thirds System: dramatically smaller cameras. The GH1 is noticeably smaller than the smallest true D-SLR. The GH1’s 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor is the same size as standard Four Thirds System sensors (17.3x13.0mm); it’s the cameras that are “Micro,” not the image sensors.
Olympus E-3 This is actually Olympus’ pro D-SLR, but its price puts it squarely in the midrange category. The E-3 combines pro-camera ruggedness, performance and versatility with relatively compact size. It succeeds Olympus’ E-1; there was no E-2 model.
Nikon D300S Nikon made a really good thing even better when it created the D300s by adding a number of useful new features to its very popular 12.3-megapixel D300 model.
Canon EOS 7D The EOS 50D introduced Canon’s powerful DIGIC 4 processor to the EOS family; the new 7D features two DIGIC 4s working together.
Pentax K20D Last year, this excellent model was in the midpriced category. Now, at $699 for the body only, it’s nearly twice as good a deal.
Samsung GX-20 Another camera that’s dropped in price one category since last year’s Buyer’s Guide, the GX-20 is almost identical to the Pentax K20D, featuring the same 14.6-megapixel Samsung/Pentax CMOS image sensor, but with Samsung’s own image processor.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Like the Olympus PEN E-P1, the 12.1-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 is a Micro Four Thirds System camera, eliminating the mirror and pentaprism to reduce size. Unlike the E-P1, the G1 does provide an electronic eye-level finder—especially useful in bright outdoor conditions when using the LCD is more difficult.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 The newest Micro Four Thirds system camera from Panasonic is similar to the new Olympus E-P1 in its sleek, compact form. These two models are the smallest interchangeable-lens cameras currently available, so if you’re looking for the ultimate in portability, this is it.