I have always been happy with Olympus cameras. I have owned two of them and my dad has had about 4 of them over the years. They are easy to use and give a great picture.
One of the biggest features I will look for when I purchase my next camera will be the optical zoom. The standard 3x isn't enough for a lot of the pictures I want to take. Something with a 10x optical zoom would be ideal.
DrCool, can a 10x optical zoom deliver quality images? Now that digital cameras are approaching or exceeding film resolution, the optical quality is going to start getting significant. I've been out of the pro photo arena for a bit, but film-based pros tried not to use zoom lenses at all (since inevitably there are some compromises), and good zoom lenses generally covered a fairly limited range of focal lengths.
I suppose for web work a massive zoom range would be fine, but for high quality prints I'm dubious. Have you had a chance to see the output of any of these 10:1 zooms in 8x10" or 11x14" formats?
The last thread I remember on this subject is here [webmasterworld.com].
My suggestion then, and now (if you can still find one), is the Fuji FinePix 6800.
Some other solid cameras from the Fuji line-up are the FinePix 3800 [fujifilm.com], FinePix F401 [fujifilm.com] and FinePix S602 [fujifilm.com]
I purchased an Olympus D-550 a couple of months ago after doing some research. You can get it for around $250 and I use it for web-shots for clients, scenics to macros. When I am not using it the wife uses it for family photos and neither of us can fault it in any respect. It even takes non-rechargeable AA batteries if you run out of power on location, as I did when I was learning to use it!
"can a 10x optical zoom deliver quality images"
I am not sure how these images would compare to a professional SLR camera. For what I would need them for they would be fine but if you are looking for "professional" type photographs you can get some high end SLR digital cameras.
From what my untrained eye can tell I don't see any drop in image quality with a 3x zoom. My father has a 10x zoom and he says he doesn't see any drop in image quality unless he is in low-light situations.
I have 2 Olympus cameras and 1 Sony. If you are looking for quality of pictures, I would select an Olympus. The model just depends on how much you want to spend.
However, for ease of use, I love my SONY!
I use my Sony twice as much as the other two. I really like the Sony memory stick.
Once in a while if I need a really high quality image, I will dig out the Olympus.
I guess you will need to take into consideration what kind of pictures you will be taking. For example, If you need animated images, I would suggest a Digital Video Camera instead. I have a site that sells tabletop water fountains, and the digital video camera is really nice for putting together animated .Gifs of the fountains actually running. My Olympus and Sony digital cameras can do the job also, but they don't work nearly as well for this. The Digital video camera will also take still pictures, but they are of pretty poor quality. If you are taking pictures of wildlife, or other things from a distance, then the Zoom becomes very important. Or, maybe you take pictures that are very close up. If this is the case I suppose there are certain cameras out there that work better in Macro mode. Some cameras can have special lenses attached and some can't.
What kind of pictures were you planning on taking the most of?
I guess I'm looking for the Swiss Army Knife of cameras... :) I would use it both for quick & dirty web snaps - small product photos, eBay photos, and other applications where quality isn't a huge issue, as well as a replacement for a film camera (printable images of quality comparable to a decent 35mm camera).
I just purchased a nikon 4500. I had a coolpix 995 and it was stolen. I am happy with this camera. Actually i was happy with the 995 as well.
Great macro. Ability to shoot in bulb setting 5min max.
You can do full manual, or fully auto. The panarama feature is pretty cool too, and may be marketable to your clients...like if you do a real estate site or something...
At first you may think the swivel is worthless, but once you get used to it, it is hard to shoot anything else.
I would wait as long as you can before you upgrade...or at least wait until the next series of megapixels is released. Right now I am guessing 5(maybe 6) is the high end on consumer stuff...when 6 or 8 comes out everything else will drop.
I know the "professional" series of cameras are coming out with 11 and 14 meg slr digitals...last year they were at 5 or 6...
message me if you want more info on the 4500
I just bought a nikon coolpix775. Its fine for most pics, lots of modes, very easy to use, decent zoom fior the price.
It was reccomended to me over the sony at the same price, With extra 128Mg ram, backup battery came to £250.
How wide of an area does the Panorama mode take. I help my sister with real estate, and she might find that useful. We use a virtual stitching program now.
it will only shoot one frame wide, however it does this cool thing where it ghosts a portion of the image. on the screen so you know where to line the next shot up.
also included is stitching software that will allow you to stitch many together and export it as a quicktime 3d type movie. the one where you can navigate back and forth with your mouse and scroll around the space.
you can also just stitch them into an image that is 3 pictures tall or 4 pictures wide.