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Choosing a Digital Camera under $500

I am currently looking to purchase a digital camera, but need some help choosing one. I have photography experience (it was my college major) but feel like I'm in the dark when it comes to digital cameras. I'm used to using a manual 35mm Nikon with a 28-200 lens. Picture quality is very important as is a fast response time. So far all I know is that I am looking for at least 5.0 mp, a decent zoom lens and have up to $500 to spend (I'd like to get some extra memory with that too). Am I expecting too much? Any suggestions would be great!

Thanks!
Karen

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Digital Camera Under $500

I don't think you're expecting too much. Prices continue to fall on high end digital cameras. There are a lot of "semi-pro" cameras available in your price range if you shop around. I'm an avid amateur photographer. I ended up with a Nikon E8700. It's 8 megapixel with 8x zoom Nikkor lens(35-280mm) and 4x digital zoom. It accepts filters, tele and wide angle lenses. I paid $455.00 for the camera. I purchased a couple 256mb compact flash cards from Walmart for about $33.00 each. You can see lens capability at http://usera.imagecave.com/rodax/

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Possible, but not easy

You are not going to get the interchangable lenses with a digital for $500 but you can get a 10x zoom. The SLR functionality is not as important because you can see the actual image on the camers LCD as it will be captured. Some of the 10x zoom cameras actually have a second lcd in the eyepiece so you see the exact image rather than a rangefinder.There are many deals and many sites out there selling these and the competition is fierce, so look around. I abandoned my old Nikormat 5 years ago for a 2 MP olympus. Have since stepped up to a 3 MP. Two good rescources online are Steves Digicams (he reviews cameras with sample photos). A friend told me about a site called pbase. They let you view photos that people have uploaded(thousands) by camera model. This can give you a good idea of what the real pics will look like. Some are heavy to one color etc. I have been extremely happy with the move to digital and have not regreted it in the least!

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Narrowing down choices

Thanks for the info and sites! I'm keeping my Nikon, so if I want to do really "serious" photography, I can grab that. I'll be using the digital mostly for snapshots, pics of the kids, horse shows, etc. But I'm still picky on quality... So I think I want at least 5 mp (I don't think I'll be making enlargements over 8x10, although I will crop photos occasionally), at least a 3x optical zoom, point & shoot but also manual controls, quick response, ease of use (so my husband can use it too.

I've narrowed it down to these cameras within my price range:

Casio Exilim Pro EX-P600, Olympus C7000, Canon G6, Canon PS S70, Olympus C5060 or C5500. The Nikons I like I can't find in my price range.

Opinions? Suggestions? I'm finding it hard to make a choice!

Thanks,
Karen

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