Pentax K-30 DSLR.
Price: $1000 with Pentax 18mm-55mm lens
The low-down: This 16-megapixel DSLR uses, and in some cases improves on, the technology of the excellent K-5. The handsome, ergonomically fine body is polycarbonate over stainless steel, weather-sealed and freeze-proof to minus 10 degrees. The bright viewfinder gives 100 per cent coverage and the LCD is a 75-millimetre high-resolution device, displaying accessible menu items, selected through front and back knobs and a four-way selector. As usual with a Pentax, every conceivable shooting parameter can be controlled. The lens has a smooth zooming mechanism but the manual focus could be better damped. Autofocus is quick but a little noisy.
Like: The price suggests ''entry level'' but the features belong in an upper-specified DSLR. It feels good in the hand, and the rugged body and weather sealing mean it can withstand rough treatment. Image quality is excellent, although you do get the best pictures by shooting in RAW, which in the case of this camera is Adobe's universal DNG, another nice touch. The built-in three-shot HDR function has its uses.
Dislike: The noisy autofocus mechanism is cheap.
Verdict: We've said it before and we will no doubt say it again: Pentax DSLRs are designed by photographers, not marketing departments. The lovely K-5 competes with cameras that cost hundreds of dollars more and now the K-30 stands above its price level. There is no feeling of this being a cut-down model to differentiate it from more-expensive cameras in the manufacturer's line-up. This also means there are no concessions to the point-and-shooters - the K-30 is for a serious photographer. It is a joy to use.