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Best Cameras For Serious Photographers | Digital Camera HQ's Buyer's Guide

Last updated on 02/08/2010

If photography has become a serious hobby, or perhaps even a potential career, these cameras will fit the bill. Digital SLR cameras require attention and patience, but your reward will be stunning photographs that could easily hang on the wall of a museum or in the pages of a glossy magazine. dSLRs range from affordable, entry-level models to tremendous high-end models intended for professionals. Below, you'll find our selection of the best and most accessible digital SLRs for consumers, cameras that strike a fine balance between cutting-edge technology and bang-for-your-buck value.
Keep in mind that most of the prices below are for the body only -- unless we've indicated otherwise, they don't come with a flash, lens, or bag. New dSLR owners will need to invest extra cash in their rig at first, but it will certainly be worth the cost in the long run.

The Canon Digital Rebel T1i (aka EOS 500D) is a fantastic consumer dSLR. It's full featured, yet within a reasonable price range for most camera enthusiasts. The 1080p HD video mode is decent, even at only 20 frames per second, and the 15.1 megapixel sensor is the same one in the more advanced Canon 50D. The body is small and light for a dSLR but solidly built. If photography is the main passion in you or your loved one's life, but not a job, this is a great camera to own. This model ships with a lens.
[Read our full Olympus PEN E-P1 Review] The Olympus PEN EP-1 is the most compact and user-friendly of the Micro Four Thirds cameras. It's not actually a dSLR (it doesn't have a mirror in it) and is more expensive than dSLRs with comparable specs, but that power is compacted into the body of a point-and-shoot, making the EP-1 incredibly portable and easy to wield. The Micro Four Thirds format is still relatively new, but the EP-1 is the most accessible model in this small market. This model ships with a lens.
[Read our full Pentax K-7 Review] Pentax cameras maintain a cult following for a reason—they're sturdy, well-designed products with great picture quality. The Pentax K-7 is their high-end dSLR, and the fans love it—even recent converts are happy they decided to choose this over similar Canon or Nikon models. It features a 14.6 megapixel sensor, 720p/1080i HD video, image stabilization, and a sleek yet rugged weather-sealed body. It's not quite powerful enough to be a professional photographer's primary camera, but it's an awesome model to have in the stable.