The Best DSLR and CSS Camera 2016

If you want the ultimate image quality and flexibility, a digital SLR or Compact System Camera is for you. There's a lot of variation in this category, from hulking semi-pro DSLRs to fairly compact budget CSCs, but all of them have interchangeable lenses so you choose the best tool for the job. Generally speaking, sensor size is far bigger than on a compact camera, with this being the best, simple indicator of image quality, although big sensors do restrict zoom multipliers. Most of these cameras have plenty of manual controls, for those who want to fine tune their exposures, though this isn't always the case with the more budget CSC offerings.

1. Canon EOS 750D – Consistent all-round quality 

Canon EOS 750D

Canon EOS 750D

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The new Canon EOS 750D eschews fancy features to concentrate on what's truly important from a camera - consistent image quality. Images from its new 24-megapixel sensor are consistently brilliant, with the camera's new metering system providing enviable results in practically any conditions -measuring the brightness across the frame at 7,560 points, with 19 autofocus points.

It's got a great liveview mode too, handy for those making the leap from compact cameras or smartphones, with responsive subject tracking for sharp shots of moving subjects. It also comes with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC to make sharing photos easier via your smartphone. It's the perfect SLR for those buying their first one or upgrading from an older model.

Price when reviewed: £617. Now available for £570. For the latest prices, see our full Canon EOS 750D review Sensor resolution: 24 megapixels, Sensor size: 22x15mm (APS-C) Focal length multiplier: 1.6x, Viewfinder: Optical, LCD screen: 3in (1,040,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): N/A, Lens mount: EF-Mount, Weight: 771g (body-only), Size (HxWxD): 104x132x148mm

2. Fujifilm X-T10 - Class-leading image quality

Fujifilm X-T10 angle

Fujifilm X-T10 

With retro designs and hands-on controls for enthusiasts, Fujifilm's X-series cameras have built a solid following, mainly those who fondly remember the days of film cameras. it doesn't matter if you like the look though as the cameras also have stunning image quality for their price, and the Fujifilm X-T10 is no exception.

This is the cheaper model in the current range, so there's no metal body or weather-proofing here. You do still get plenty of dials and switches to play with, great ergonomic design and a well-thought-out control system. Still image quality is stunning, among the best you'll see from an APS-C based CSC. Video isn't its strongest point though and neither is raw speed, but pictures look great. At this price it's something of a bargain, shooting pictures just like cameras twice the price.

Price when reviewed: £595. Now available for £570. For more info see our full Fujifilm X-T10 review Sensor resolution: 16 megapixels, Sensor size: 23.6x15.6mm (APS-C), Focal length multiplier: 1.5x,Viewfinder: Electronic (2,360,000 dots), LCD screen: 3in (920,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 3.1x (24-75mm),35mm-equivalent aperture: f/5.2-8.4, Lens mount: Fujifilm X Mount, Weight: 576g, Size (HxWxD): 85x130x116mm

3. Sony Alpha A6000 - The classiest CSC around

 Sony Alpha A6000

 Sony Alpha A6000

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Sony's NEX brand is no more, and with it went the much-loved NEX-6; however, it's no cause for concern as the Sony A6000 is its direct predecessor in all but name and it lives up to the billing. This is a serious CSC, from its aluminium shell to its wide range of controls, including nice and chunky mode and command dials, so you can quickly set up the camera as needed.

The sensor now has a big 24 megapixels, and is the same size as the sensors found on most consumer DSLRs, so there's no lack of detail. Sony's cameras continue to impress us for their low noise, with ISO 1600 being practically noise free and even ISO 6400 being usable.

It's fast too, bursting at up 11fps and the phase detect autofocus system covers practically the whole frame and is blisteringly quick and accurate. It's also amongst the best video cameras you can buy at this price. In fact, the A6000 is so good, and so reasonably priced, that it really could be the beginning of the end for consumer-grade DSLR cameras.

Price when reviewed: £650. Now available for £494. For the latest prices, see our full Sony Alpha A6000 review Sensor resolution: 24 megapixels, Sensor size: 23.5x15.6mm (APS-C), Focal length multiplier: 1.5x, Viewfinder: Electronic, LCD screen: 3in (921,600 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 3.1x (24-75mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/5.2-8.4, Lens mount: Sony E mount, Weight: 460g, Size (HxWxD): 70x120x70mm

4. Nikon D610 - Full-frame for a lot less than you'd think

 Nikon D610

 Nikon D610

Full-frame photography took a price crash last year, with both Canon and Nikon selling such cameras for around £1,500 for the first time. We preferred the Nikon D600 over its Canon rival, but then it started to suffer problems with dirt on the sensor. Now the problem wasn't critical but it did through a spanner in the works of a great camera.

So now we have the D610, essentially the same camera but with the problem well and truly fixed. There have been a number of other minor tweaks, notably faster continuous shooting of 6fps, up from 5.5fps, and a new quiet continuous mode at 3fps.

Most things stay the same then, but that's not a problem. Image quality is sublime, with colours that both sizzle and subtly recreate skin tones with ease. There's barely any noise, even at high ISO speeds. There are all the controls you need and this should be high on your list if your serious about buying a DSLR.

Price when reviewed: £1,449. Now available for £1,049 (body only). For the latest prices, see our full Nikon D610 review Sensor resolution: 24.2 megapixels, Sensor size: 35.9x24mm, Focal length multiplier: 1x, Viewfinder: Optical TTL, LCD screen: 3.2in (921,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): , 35mm-equivalent aperture: , Lens mount: Nikon F, Weight: 850g, Size (HxWxD): 113x141x82mm

5. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 - In a 4K league of its own

 Panasonic GH4

 Panasonic GH4

The GH series has long stood out among CSCs. Rather than use a mirrorless design to simply reduce the size of the device, Panasonic has concentrated on the technology's leaning toward video capture. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 then builds upon its predecessors' reputation for excellent video quality and features with support for 4K footage, which looks stunning.

Even if you're not yet in a position to enjoy such video, shooting in 4K has its advantages. When you downsample 4K footage to Full HD the new camera is capable of twice the colour resolution of previous efforts. Shooting this way also lets you crop into the frame in editing without a big noticeable loss in quality. There's loads of video quality options, mic inputs and outputs, and uncompressed video can be streamed from the HDMI port.

As a camera, it's also impressive, though you'll find better examples at this price admittedly. Still it keeps up with most CSCs and image quality is solid and consistent rather than outstanding. For video though it has no peers given its price and portability, so if you're a video enthusiast looking for a new camera, look no further.

Price when reviewed: £1,299. Now available for £967. For the latest prices, see our full Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 review Sensor resolution: 15.9 megapixels, Sensor size: 17.3x13mm (Micro Four Thirds) Focal length multiplier: 2x, Viewfinder: Electronic, LCD screen: 3in (1,036,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): N/A, Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds, Weight: 560g, Size (HxWxD): 95x144x84mm

6. Canon EOS 70D – Our favourite enthusiasts' SLR 

Canon EOS 70D

Canon EOS 70D

The Canon EOS 70D is the new top-end model in Canon's APS-C range, so if you're looking for a great DSLR but aren't ready to move to professional-class full frame cameras then this is a good choice. It's extremely consistent with features, image and video quality all impressing. It has a new sensor-based autofocus which makes it far easier to use in live view (and for video) plus an articulated screen for shooting at unusual angles.

The new sensor has 20 megapixels, automatic exposures were brilliantly judged and the details were precise. Noise levels were low up to ISO 5000, but it's not the best performer in this area admittedly. The consistency of the images it produces is the real highlight here, plus its flexibility as both a stills and video capture device. It's our narrow favourite though pure photographers should seriously consider the Nikon D7100 as well.

Price when reviewed: £999. Now available for £939. For the latest prices, see our full Canon EOS 70D review Sensor resolution: 20 megapixels, Sensor size: 22x15mm (APS-C) Focal length multiplier: 1.62x, Viewfinder: Optical, LCD screen: 3in (1,040,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): N/A, Lens mount: EF-Mount, Weight: 755g (body-only), Size (HxWxD): 104x139x79mm

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