It handles brilliantly; it feels natural in your hands and the number of features, settings and options available to you is frightening. In fact the feature list is so extensive it might seem a bit intimidating to someone who's never used a DSLR before.
The 450D is also a 12.2MP camera which is a step up from its predecessor and from the Sony A200 and Nikon D60. This increase allows for greater enlargements and finer detail when zooming in and cropping.
Essentially, what the 450D offers is a happy medium between quality and price. It has no large flaws like the two cameras above, but it's price isn't as high as some of the ones below. Read our full review
Sony A350 - £510
Like the Canon 450D, the Sony A350 is a midrange DSLR available at a relatively modest price.
With the A350, Sony has managed to produce a camera that's relatively inexpensive and yet capable of producing some truly excellent quality images.
As you'd expect from a £500-plus 14MP camera.
However, the downsides are the rather clumsy controls and a rather tacky build quality - the body is made of low-grade plastic, which means it feels rather cheap.
But if you can find it within yourself to live with the cheap body, an irritating shutter noise and the slightly unintuitive controls, then you're likely to be rewarded.
Because this is a camera that, in the right hands, can shoot some great images. Read our full review
Canon EOS 40D £620
The Canon EOS 40D is placed firmly in the midfield of the DSLR market.
It's certainly not for beginners, but not really for experienced professionals either.
It's aimed mainly at those people who've used perhaps a low-end DSLR in the past and who are ready to make the jump up to a higher level. But not to seasoned pro's who need a very high-end product.
It's a bit of a niche product then, but it's also an absolutely brilliant one.
While the headline megapixel count is not particularly earth-shattering at 10.1, the 40D is undoubtedly much faster and smarter than its predecessor.
Take the top shutter speed of 1/8000sec, which when combined with a burst rate of 6.5 frames per second in RAW mode, delivers an almost pro-level performance.
In short, amateur wildlife and sports photographers will love it.
For those ready to make the jump, the 40D may even be a preferable alternative to the 450D.
It's more powerful and flexible, while being almost as easy to use, and is sure to have a big effect on the quality of your photographs.
And isn't that what buying a new camera is all about? Read our full review
Pentax K20D - £740
The Pentax K20D really is an incredible camera.
It's lovely to handle and, has a lot of very cool features and ultimately, it takes some gorgeous photographs.
It's a match in almost every sense for the 40D apart from the external design.
In fact, were it not for some decidedly dodgy controls, a slightly confusing interface and an imperfect lens, this camera would have been awarded a five-star rating.
It's ideal for use in low-light conditions because the image processor is fantastic. And the K20D also makes use of the Pentax Shake Reduction system to minimise the amount of noise in these low light shots.
Other cool features include a simple Live View mode, pixel mapping (to identify and eliminate dead pixels), a dynamic range enlargement feature to cut down on blown highlights and a Dust Alert function to check for sensor dust.
The K20D is a great camera packed with great technologies that really work.
The only thing keeping it from a higher score are its controls and interface design. If the K20D's innards were in an EOS 40D body, it would be irresistible. Read our full review