My search for a digicam is starting to home in on a few candidates. But before I get to that, I want to thank the people who made suggestions and comments on my last post.
Jovifan mentioned the Fuji 4.1 MP camera her boyfriend bestowed upon her (lucky girl). And while it looks like a nice basic camera, I really am looking for a camera with better resolution than that.
Next up, D'arcy Norman, another Fuji user, mentioned his Fujifilm FinePix E510. To go by the photos on his blog, this quite a good camera. Among other things, you can manually control the aperture size and shutter speeed, which is a big plus IMO. However, the video resolution isn't great, and D'arcy did mention that the flash takes forever to recharge.
Finally, Peter Collins, who is quite a fine photographer himself and runs his own little online retouching business thinks I should just bite the bullet and go the DSLR route right away. Pete, you're not helping matters one bit! I've agonized over this for months, finally (for the time being) coming down on the side of portablility. I don't need you to rub salt in the wound. But joking aside, portability really is a deciding facture right now, and while a camera like the Rebel XT is quite small (some say too small in fact), it's still too bulky to be lugging around Europe for three weeks, especially if you don't have a car.
Indeed, the size factor is haunting me more and more. I've been looking very seriously at Canon's lineup. As far as I can tell, they have the best reputation of all the digital camera manufacturers, and their cameras have some very nice features for very competetive prices. I've been looking at two model types, each of which has a high- and a low-end model: the SD450/550 and the A610/620. To give you an idea, here is a link to a page on the Digital Photography Review website comparing the A620 and the SD550 side by side. The two are very similar in most respects. Both have 7.1 megapixels, both have very nice video functions. But the main differences illustrate, in a nutshell, the features I'm wrestling with. The SD550 is nice and compact with a big 2.5" LCD screen, while the A620 has manual aperture and shutter options, along with a sweet 4X optical zoom, but is somewhat bulkier and has a smaller, 2" LCD screen. The low-end models mirror these differences and don't make the choice any easier.
I guess it comes down to wanting my cake and eating it too. Decisions decisions. Anyway, as of this moment, I'm leaning toward the A610, which seems like a very nice quality/price ratio. But catch me in an hour and I might be dreaming about how nice the SD550 would feel in my breast pocket...