Cameras for the enthusiast sector typically feature a greater abundance of direct-access controls for advanced shooting adjustments. These enable expert photographers to change settings quickly and effectively. A secondary info LCD on the tops of enthusiasts' cameras also helps to enable a running check on creative shooting settings. You also get faster continuous shooting and better build quality.
Canon EOS 70D
Sensor: APS-C format CMOS | Megapixels: 20.2Mp | Autofocus: 19 AF points, all cross-type | Continuous shooting: 7fps | Monitor: 3.2-inch, 1,040,000 dot, touch-sensitive | Video: 1080p
The 70D brought a genuinely exciting innovation to D-SLR photography, in the form of a brand new 20.2Mp 'Dual Pixel' image sensor which contains two photo diodes for each pixel. This enables much faster phase-detection autofocus performance in live view and video shooting modes.
Like the 700D, there's a fully articulated touchscreen LCD but pressing any desired point in live view shooting results in much quicker focusing. Regular autofocus modes also benefit from a 19-point rather than the 9-point AF module in Canon's cheaper DSLRs, and all the points are cross-type.
As an 'enthusiast' level camera, the 70D includes a secondary info LCD on the top plate, along with useful direct access buttons for controlling shooting parameters on the fly. As with the 100D and 700D, automatic in-camera corrections are available for chromatic aberration and vignetting when using most own-brand Canon lenses.
The 70D also offers built-in Wi-Fi and a 7fps maximum burst rate wrapped up in a lightweight polycarbonate shell that makes it only a little bigger and heavier than the 700D.
• Read our full Canon 70D review.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Sensor: APS-C format CMOS | Megapixels: 20.2Mp | Autofocus: 65 AF points, all cross-type | Continuous shooting: 10fps | Monitor: 3-inch, 1,040,000 dot, touch-sensitive | Video: 1080p
The 7D Mark II is the replacement for the veteran EOS 7D, and offers higher resolution, faster continuous shooting and an advanced autofocus system, with 65 points and the ability to tailor how the camera responds to subject movement. It's effecting, though it is also complex – the shooting scenarios help to some extent, but explanations that accompany them don't always seem that clear.
The evaluative metering system is also very good and manages to find a good balance between the brightness of the whole scene and the brightness of the object under the active AF point when suggesting exposure settings.
Surprisingly, perhaps, the 7D Mark II does not have built-in Wi-Fi, though it does have built-in GPS for tagging your images with location information.
Enthusiast photographers tend to shoot a bit of everything and they need a versatile camera that can cope with a wide range of subjects and conditions. The EOS 7D Mark II's weatherproofing means that it can be used in harsher conditions than all of Canon's other current SLRs apart from the pro-level EOS-1D X. Its autofocus system can also get moving subjects sharp quickly, and keep them sharp as they move around the frame or towards/away from the camera. It's Canon's best APS-C format camera to date.
• See our full Canon 7D Mark II review.
Canon EOS 6D
Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 20.2Mp | Autofocus: 11 AF points, 1 cross-type | Continuous shooting: 4.5fps | Monitor: 3-inch, 1,040,000 dot | Video: 1080p
The 6D is Canon's cheapest full-frame camera, and costs have been cut in certain areas. The build quality mid way between that of the 70D and 7D Mark II. It has a polycarbonate top plate but the front and back sections of the body are made from sturdier magnesium alloy.
The 6D boasts not only Wi-Fi connectivity but also built-in GPS. The only catch is that, when enabled, the GPS module really munches through battery charge, even when the camera is switched off.
We've come to expect the lack of a pop-up flash on professional grade cameras but it's a strange omission for an enthusiast level model. The 6D also lacks the advanced Dual Pixel autofocus of the 70D, or the more basic hybrid autofocus system of the 100D and 700D.
Where the 70D and 7D have 19-point autofocus (all cross-type points), the 6D only has 11 points and, of these, only the central point is cross-type. Even so, autofocus performance is good overall. The 6D's redeeming feature is its superb image quality with the kind of control over depth of field that you can only get from a full-frame camera.
• Read our full Canon 6D review.