For example, do any of these fit all my criteria/not a step down from what I have right now?.
Have you looked for another (used) CP 5400?.
Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..
Amazon has the Panasonic FZ50 for $456.55 which is just a tad over your $450..
It has an excellent Leica lens with a much longer zoom than your 5400The zoom and focus rings on the lens are quick, easy, and precise.One of the most (if not the most) powerful flash around, + a hot shoe..
I use it (mostly) in manual mode. My wife uses it it (always) in automatic mode. We both get good results..
From the review: "And so, to sum up; for the serious user the FZ50 is without doubt the best equipped, best specified and best handling 'bridge camera' on the market today, and under the right conditions it produces superb output." See the review athttp://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicfz50/page19.asp.
Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..
Is it ideal to duplicate the same kind of camera? What about a different type of camera so that the family can take their interests in photography to another level, either of convenience or better image quality?.
A rerfurbed Nikon D40 DSLR would be great for kids photos and you can add lenses to it as you go along..
Another option is to go for a capable but pocketable camera like the Canon A720 recently reviewed on this sitehttp://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canona720is/or if RAW is essential (rather than just JPG) you could consider the Canon G9 .John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..
*works with RAW not TIFF(or both) - I'm sick of TIFF slowing down mycomputer and not being to upload them anywhere online.
Uuuuh, doesn't make sense. Online you'll put jpegs, not tiff nor raw. And you can convert file formats, so it's hardly an issue..
*good depth of field.
Good = large, or small ? .
*wide range of manual apertures.
On a compact that's useless, on a DSLR, ok..
I know this is probably a waste of time for most of you, but what youcould tell me in 5 minutes off the top of your head is way more thanwhat I could research with a 3 year old and a 1 year old- can't be onthe computer all day....
Kids ? Get a cheap DSLR. Any of them...
*somewhere between amateur and professional*roughly $400, +/-$50*similar in popularity/positive reviews/features as CoolPix 5400*works with RAW not TIFF(or both) - I'm sick of TIFF slowing down mycomputer and not being to upload them anywhere online*good depth of field*wide range of manual apertures.
You're describing a DSLR. The Nikon D40 is one of the cheapest, yet is very, very good. Far superior to the 5400 or any point & shoot for that matter. It's about $475 new, so don't pay the same for a refurb. You can shoot raw + jpg, so you can upload the jpg's directly and still work on the raw's when you want..
Downsides? Much bigger camera. No movie modes...
Thank you so much to everyone that tried to be helpful! I REALLY appreciate all of your advice, a lot!..