If you're wanting to stay under $600 max I'd go with a compact. It will still have decent pics. For your price range you're going to have issues staying under $600 for a digital SLR, a D40 goes for about $550 retail. For that much money you can get a great compact and won't have to worry about additional costs like lenses. Granted the pics won't typically be as good of quality as a digital SLR but it sounds like compact's the way to go for you...
I agree with the previous poster, especially since camera prices are higher in Europe than the US. Go for a good quality compact..
To answer your original post, in good lighting conditions a good compact can produce images of a similar quality to a DSLR. DSLR's come into their own when shooting at the extremes: low light, fast moving subjects, etc..
DSLR's are also much faster to use, especially focussing, and they have better handling - a bigger body means that there is more room to put controls on the body instead of hidden away in menus. Most people much prefer the type of optical viewfinder that you get in a DSLR to an LCD screen or electronic viewfinder..
Disadvantages of a DSLR: cost and size. Buying a basic DSLR is only the starting point. The kit lens that comes with the camera is often poor and good lenses will cost more than the camera body. I have only 4 lenses but in total they cost more than twice as much as my quite expensive camera body. Add external flash, remote shutter release, camera bags, filters, etc and the price soon mounts up.Chris R..
You can get very good images from a compact but they do have limitations as mentioned in the previous posts. The biggest ones are that they are only really usuable at iso 200 or below and sometimes iso 200 is very noisy. Therefore in low light or poor light they are much more difficult to use even with i/s and a reasonably fast maximum aperture, I often use iso 400 or above for portraits in natural light indoors. You also tend to get some purple fringing and blown highlights with compacts. If you are keen on photography and can afford it I would go budget DSLRI got an Olynpus E500 with two great kit lenses for 360 about $720 dollars and I guess this would be cheaper stateside..
Another great reason is that budget DSLR are only a little more expensive than decent compacts or superzooms and offer better overall image quality and far more flexibility. I previously owned a Sony H1 and H5 and my Olympus E500 beats both of these easily in image quality. If you want some image samples from all three just let me know..
After reading your post, my original gut feeling was you should go for the compact given your budget, however there is a very big problem..
You have said that the two main areas of photography you are interested in are portrature and landscapes, and to be honest, these two areas tend to be where compacts tend to be weakest due to the lack of a true wide angle lens on most models..
Personally I would look at the entry level Nikon, Pentax or Olympus DSLR's. All come with a decent kit lens that generally cover the 18-55mm range and will do a better job at the wide end then any compact you can buy. The added advantage is that when some more funds become available you will be able to buy a true wide angle lens that will take your photography up a whole new level..
I've got a Fujifilm F20 compact, Panasonic FZ30 ultrazoom , and Canon 300D DSLRI use all of them..
I use the F20 compact most frequently, especially in social situations. I almost always have it with me "just in case"..
I recommend buying a refurbished Fujifilm F20 for less than $100 USD as part of your camera kit. It'll cover many situations where your DSLR or Ultrazoom won't be suitable (or with you.).
That leaves you $500 for a DSLR or Ultrazoom..
Is it even possible to get image quality and possibilities with acompact compared to a SLR?.
In a word: No. At any setting above the lowest ISO setting, no compact will come close to the image quality of a dSLR. And even at base ISO setting, a compact camera doesn't have the dynamic range to cope with harsh lighting. At least, not as well as dSLRs would..
The camera will mainly be used for portrait foto's but also landscapes..
At minimum, you need a decent wide angle lens (ie 28mm) for landscapes. Very few compacts have this... and those that do, usually have mediocre Image quality at the widest angle. More importantly, landscape photography really shines when using ultra-wide angle lenses. No P&S digital camera in existance comes close to having that angle of view..
For portraiture, dSLRs have the advantage of having a shallow depth of field. I'm sure you've seen those photos nice portraits of people against a beatifully blurred background..
For your stated needs (ie landscapes and portraitures), dSLRs is in a different league from compacts. I think compacts are more suited for other types of photography candids, vacations, etc..
I must be perfectly honest I have not read many posts on this orother forums. But I would love to hear peoples experiences..
Any advice is welcome..
The biggest disadvantage of dSLRs is that they're expensive, and they're bulky. If you're willing to put up with those two big inconveniences, then there's no reason to settle for compacts..
I believe B&H Photo is selling the Nikon D40 kit with 18-55 lens (ie 28-85mm equivalent) with 1 GB Memory Card for $520. I think that's an incredible bargain, especially compared to something like a Powershot G9. If you can stretch your budget, there's another kit with an extra lens (85-300mm) for $680. That would give you full coverage from 28-300mm, or the equivalent of a 10x superzoom...
Steve Russell wrote:.
After reading your post, my original gut feeling was you should gofor the compact given your budget, however there is a very bigproblem..
You have said that the two main areas of photography you areinterested in are portrature and landscapes, and to be honest, thesetwo areas tend to be where compacts tend to be weakest due to thelack of a true wide angle lens on most models..
Personally I would look at the entry level Nikon, Pentax or OlympusDSLR's. All come with a decent kit lens that generally cover the18-55mm range and will do a better job at the wide end then anycompact you can buy. The added advantage is that when some more fundsbecome available you will be able to buy a true wide angle lens thatwill take your photography up a whole new level..
I agree. Unless you just want simple snapshots you really need a DSLR to get real portraits with short DOF. And landscapes will get much better with the increased resolution in lens and cleaner sensor, with higher dynamics too..
And since you dont seem very interrested in tele/wildlife/macro you dont need loads of lenses either, just a fast wideangle zoom and you'll cover all your needs.http://sebastianfoto.se/..
Djek said..."Is it even possible to get image quality and possibilities with a compact compared to a SLR?".
For a direct comparison of a Fuji F-series with a Nikon D50/prime lens see:http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/FujifilmF31fd/page15.asp.
I'm not saying the Fuji is a replacement for the DSLR's versatility, but it sure is a handy adjunct to a DSLR and I consider it a critical part of my camera kit...