I have three camera brands I consider when I go camera shopping, Olympus, Cannon and Nikon. I know there are good cameras from other brands out there but when it comes to dropping lots of money on something, I tend to stick to the safe side.
Cannon and Nikon are definitely the most respected camera brands. Please read both good and bad reviews of the camera you want to buy before you make your final decisions. I do not own any of these cameras, I have just been able to spend a little time with them. Here is a camera review site so you can do more research on your own.
Nikon Coolpix S630
This is the point and shoot I am currently in love with. I do not own one but I hate my point and shoot and keep wishing I had bought the Coolpix. This point and shoot runs for about $180.00. It has 12 mega pixels, which is better than some SLRs out there. It has a 7x optical zoom (which is great, stay away from digital zoom too much, it makes your pictures grainy.) It has a 2.7 LCD screen on the back. This is a good little camera.
Pros: This camera produces quality video, audio and pictures. It is small and portable. It is reasonably priced and does well in Low light.
Cons: There have been complaints about the zoom motor. It seems to go too fast and it overshoots where you were planning to take a shot. This camera takes a rechargeable battery that is made for the camera, instead of double As.
This is my current favorite mid-size camera. It does more than a point and shoot but it doesn't have changeable lenses like a DSLR. This camera has 12 mega pixels and a 26x zoom. This camera is not a DSLR! If you want all the features of a DSLR that is what you are going to need to buy.
Lots of different shooting modes.
Really good zoom for a non-SLR camera.
Have the ability to shoot fully automatic, fully manual or shutter/aperture priority.
This camera does have live view.
2.7 inch LCD screen.
This camera seems to need plenty of light. It also shoots best at 100 iso or below. The pictures tends to get really grainy when you try to bump up the ISO.
The D40x is currently my favorite beginning SLR. I have used this camera a few times. Although I prefer my camera because I know it, I did like this one and the picture quality. This camera has 10.2 megapixels and a 2.5 inch LCD screen. This comes with one lens. This camera sells for about $800.
Good picture quality. Camera shoots 3 frames per second. Cool in camera features and scenes. The graininess is not horrible at the higher ISO settings and there is an auto iso setting available. You can shoot with a flash or without and you can buy an external flash to go on top. This camera has the least negative reviews that I have ever seen.
Auto focus does not work on some lens. There is no easy button to change your white balance and ISO settings. It only has three focus points.
What are your favorite cameras? I didn't include a higher priced DSLR because if you are going to be buying one of those I suspect you are already doing tons of research. Have you had any experience with these cameras? What did you think?