Hello, I've been doing a bit of research for the past 2 weeks, and keep flip-flopping on whether to buy a P&S or an SLR, so I'm hoping based on my answers here you can give some advice.
* What budget have you allocated for buying this camera? Please be as specific as possible.
Haven't really assigned a budget, since we'll just save up as long as is necessary, but obviously the lower the price the better. Definitely want to keep below $1000 though.
* What size camera are you looking for? Or does size not matter at all to you?
Full-size is not a problem
* How many megapixels will suffice for you?
6mp should suffice since we usually print in 4x6, and only rarely want to print a cropped 8x10
* What optical zoom will you need? (None, Standard = 3x-4x, Ultrazoom = 10x-12x, Other - Specify)
Tried a Panasonic TZ3 with 28-280 and found it coming up a little short of where we'd like the zoom to go, so I guess at least a 12x, but we also like the idea of 18x.
* How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)
Not sure how to rank image quality -- we don't look at the pictures at 100% on screen, nor are we printing poster size...so as long as they'll look good on screen around 1280x1024, or print nice 4x6's (with the occasional 8x10), we'd be happy.
* Do you care for manual controls?
I wouldn't know what to do with the manual controls!
* What will you generally use the camera for?
Usage is all-purpose. My wife works at a daycare, so would like to be able to take exterior shots of the kids at play, as well as interior portraits of the kids. But we'd also like to take more telephoto exterior shots (nature/countryside photos) as well.
* Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?
We'll usually print 4x6, with the odd 8x10 if it's a really nice shot.
* Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?
Yes, there'll be lots of indoor or low light photos.
* Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?
Not sports, and only as much action as a 3 year old can produce!
* Are there particular brands you like or hate?
My Dad has a Pentax *ist D that we've used and really like, but we have no experience with other brands (aside from Kodak, since our existing camera is a CX7330)
* Are there particular models you already have in mind?
On the P&S side we're looking at the Canon S5 IS, and also thinking of the Fuji S8000fd (really wish Jeff had a review of that one up as well!). If it's worth it to upgrade, we'd also consider moving up to an SLR, where our main interest is in the Pentax K100D. And for it, the lens I'm interested in is either the Pentax or Tamron 18-250 F3.5-6.3 (we'd rather not have to carry multiple lenses and have to switch them around all the time).
This is where the trouble deciding comes in to play -- The Pentax with that lens is about $900 CDN, whereas the two P&S cameras are both around $400. Even going with two lenses for the Pentax (18-55 kit lens and Sigma 70-300 F4-5.6) still only drops us to around $650.
* Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)
A lot of our shooting will be done without a tripod, so from what I've read IS would be a great thing to have. Aside from that, the only real special considerations are that we'd like to be able to use our existing 2500mAh NiMH batteries and our SD memory cards. Although if there is reason enough, the last two requirements aren't set in stone.
Thanks for any suggestions you can give!