Could you please elaborate on this? I currently have the A550 but am planning on returning it and waiting for the A560. What I really want is a good performing 6+ MP camera that is reliable and easy to use. I know that this is going OT but how do you feel about Panasonic cameras, the DMC-LZ7S, for example?
Cramming more megapixels into a small sensor is just not a great idea...
Well, I'm no electrical engineer nor hard-core digital camera geek, but here is my simplified explanation: when you cram more pixels onto a sensor, the sensitivity of each photosite is diminished, and this, in turn, creates noise.
There seems to be great difficulty in the point-n-shoot universe regarding balancing the need for detail, low noise and marketing. The marketing deptartments want more megapixels, because to "Joe Public" more megapixels = better image quality; this is often referred to as the "Megapixel Myth". In bright, outdoor conditions, there may indeed be a bit more detail captured by a 10mp camera versus a 6mp camera, but this may only be noticeable or usable if you crop away a large portion of the photograph. Finally, some web sites - DCResource.com comes to mind - have pointed out in their reviews that when there are two nearly identical cameras which use the same sensor, and one camera has 5mp and the other 7mp, the 7mp camera often has either noisier images, or photos that are smudgier because more aggressive in-camera noise reduction needs to be used inorder to reduce noise.
This is very generalized info, and specific sensors may have better noise characteristics than others.
I don't have much of an opinion one way or the other regarding Panasonics. If 90% of my shooting were done outdoors, I would probably own a Panny FZ30 rather than my Fuji S6000fd. Panasonics are noted for producing noisey images, particularly at ISO 200 and up. Panasonic superzoom cameras are popular among those who photograph wildlife (and especially birds) because they have sharp, fast lenses. I don't know anything about the LZ7S, though.
Whynot8, I hope you get the chance to post some pics from that A550...