Yet another newbie - I'm the last one, I promise!
I'm a pretty good amateur photographer. For years I used a Canon AT-1 and loved it. Then it broke and can't be fixed (they don't stock parts.) I have tried for a number of years to get it fixed or replace via Ebay, but just haven't been able to do it. In the meantime, I have been using the throw-away cameras - cringe - and I simply cannot bring myself to shoot another roll of photos on one of those.
Now I'm going digital. From spending some time on this site and on dpreview, I am getting schooled in this subject a teeny bit.
Here are my requirements and wishes:
Must have a hot shoe. I cannot tolerate red eye and have found red eye reduction is worthless. Also worthless is fixing the red eye in edit as then my photos don't show the true color of the person's eyes. I do a fair amount of close-ups and my kids have different shades of blue and green eyes. I also hate it when the dog's eyes aren't the right color.
I shoot mainly family photos, which run the gamut - vacations, holidays, indoor, outdoor, kids' sports, snow pictures, you name it.
I need a camera that focuses well in low light. It's only twice a year but I take 4th of July photos and Halloween photos, not to mention all those low light indoor pix. This focus in low light feature is a must for me.
I'm used to focusing with the split image viewfinder. Are there any digi cams that do this? (Why do I doubt it.)
Oh, yes, need a camera that will do automatic everything and manual everything. (Not that I don't trust those auto cameras but I like to be in control.)
I had an Olympus fully auto P&S once and it did great with landscapes and far away photos, buildings, etc. Did very lousy with people photos and close-ups. I really only used it when I was going skiing or something and wanted it in my pocket. Altho I did usually just ski with my Canon on me with a cuban hitch. I don't care at all about size in this new digi cam. I'll just buy a bigger purse. <g>
I like to get close in but when I can't, I'm wanting an optical zoom. Ideally in the 150 range.
I kinda like those camera with the twisty screens (rotating lcd's?), but I'm not married to that. But I'm always behind people taller than me and when holding the camera up to shoot, it would be real handy. I do need the lcd to be well lit as I have that over 40 eyesight thing going on and I don't see well in low light at all.
We're getting the family a digi video cam for Xmas this year (which will be a whole nuther search), but I'm intrigued with the movie modes on the digi cams. If it came down to a choice between two cameras and one had a good long movie mode with sound and the other didn't, I'd go for the one with. But my main concern is obviously the features for the still photos.
What else - good battery life.
Price range - $500 - $800.
So, I'm mostly a family picture taker but when I had the Canon, I did take a lot of nature photos, macros and such. It seems there's really not a camera that 'does it all,' even in the $$$ pro range. And I'm not able to go there price-wise at this time anyway.
And you want to know what size I'll print in. 90% will be 4 x 6. If I want to frame a photo, I always go 5x7. I occasionaly will do an 8x10, esp if it's for a gift.
Will there be a camera that will make me happy for most everything? Since I've been using those silly throw-aways for so long, just about anything will knock my socks off, I'm sure.
Having never used one, but having read a bit about them, I'm thinking I will almost always shoot in 'best quality' mode and will also delete like crazy as I shoot. I don't mind getting one of those drives you save photos to in order to free up your card, esp for vacation time.
I've looked at the Canon G3 and G5, the Nikon Coolpix cameras, a couple Olympus, Pentax Optio 555, 550, Minolta, the new Panasonic coming out, ditto Sony. I understand there are a couple new cameras coming out in the next month or so. Is it worth my while to wait for them (there will always be new technology coming out), or should I jump in and buy now? My husband is getting it for me for my birthday, which is next week, but I can be a little patient.