550D

Even though it was only announced fairly recently, we're already seeing the EOS 550D discounted to around £740 with the 18-55mm kit lens, which makes it an extremely good buy.

While the lens is pretty basic, the camera itself is built to an extremely high standard, and is replete with helpful features that you normally only get on DSLRs costing several hundred pounds more. Remember also that the camera will be available with a range of lenses, so you are not just restricted to the 18-55mm kit lens.

We liked:

It's worth buying the EOS 550D just for the astonishingly good high ISO performance and sophisticated full HD movie recording; throw in cutting-edge metering and a quality 18-megapixel sensor capable of recording exquisitely detailed shots, and you've got a killer deal.

While the EOS 550D is a great upgrade from an entry level DSLR, it would also make a great first SLR, as it's very easy to use. Considering how much camera you're getting for the money, we predict it will convince a lot of Nikon and Sony DSLR users to make the switch.

We disliked:

The lens is a let down after the camera, but you can't have everything for just over £700.

It's not necessarily a bad lens, just cheap and basic, and it doesn't do the rest of the camera justice. Apart from this we're struggling to come up with many downsides.

OK, HD movie recording could be slicker, the top dial has more icons than a Greek Orthodox church and the optical viewfinder is cramped, but these are niggles rather than deal breakers.

Verdict:

The EOS 550D is something of a triumph. Shoot in RAW, invest in some decent back-up lenses and spend time studying the various exposure modes and options, and the EOS 550D will reward you with pro-quality images at a mass-market price.

And you'll be able to record quality HD home movies too. What's not to like?