questionsare dslr cameras worth the money when compared to…

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"Mirrorless" is a technology that can be used in both point and shoots and DSLRs. If you are trying to get into photography for work or as a hobby to shoot creative shots, by all means, get a cheap Rebel and hone your craft. But if you are going to use the camera for shooting pictures with friends or snapping shots on the go, your GF5 will serve you very well. I own a very expensive D7 DSLR and I only use it for work. For everything else my Cybershot does everything I need it to and more. I even use it for work sometimes when I just need a quick shot and nobody can tell the difference. Go to dpreview.com and see detailed examples for any DSLR camera (and most high quality P&S). The important thing to remember is that even if you are shooting with a cheap camera you can still get really good shots, it just takes a little bit more effort to get them.

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@skispeakeasy has some good advice. I used several DSLR and point-and-shoot cameras and they both take great pictures but they are really for different purposes.

If you want to carry around a camera with you everywhere you go in case you find something photo worthy, I'd get a simple point-and-shoot; however, if you plan to take professional quality photos then a DSLR is the way to go.

Looks like that Panasonic can use interchangeable lenses and that's generally the main benefit of using a DSLR but I'd still recommend a Nikon or Canon due to the variety of lenses that you can get.

Some people are more concerned about how many megapixels the camera has but it is my opinion that it's more important to have high quality glass that doesn't cause any distortion and a great light sensitive sensor (high ISO). You can take better pictures with a Canon 1D Mark II at 8 M pixels than the typical 13 M pixel point and shoot.

Frames per second specs are important for sports photography.

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I used to sell digital cameras at a retailer that no longer exists. From my experience, >99% of people who take pictures fall into one of two groups - those who take mostly pictures of people and those who do not. The latter group is your wildlife photographers in particular but in general is the people who need the best focus, the longest zoom, and generally the fastest shutter speed. The earlier group in general wants a camera they can put in their coat / pocket / purse etc and mostly takes pictures of thing that are no more than 10-15 feet away.

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@lparsons42:

I fall into the second category. I use a Canon 1Dx. My largest lens is the 300mm f2.8. Even when I use a 1.4x multiplier on it, it's still not long enough for some of the nature shots I try to get. I need the fast shutter speed to catch the fast motion of a bird flapping it's wings or a duck catching a fish.

I rarely take pictures of people. Many friends ask me to take professional photos of them and I have to setup the light boxes and the backgrounds. They never pose like I want them to even when I give them very clear instructions. It's not fun.

Wildlife, on the other hand, is more unpredictable so when you do catch that one awesome shot you've been trying to get for several months you get much more satisfaction.

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I agree with the above comments. Most people are fine with a Point & Shoot, and not a DSLR. Your Lumix is a great camera and should have what you need without the added expense.

I have a Sony A65 and a Canon 5D MIII. The pictures are basically the same. I said basically because the Sony is a small format and the Canon is full frame. While both cameras take excellent pics, as a landscape photographer (hobbiest) the full frame is better. However, the Sony pics are still awesome. I find I carry my Sony more than the Canon because I like the Carl Zeiss lens better. As for the auto focus, I don't use it so I can not comment on that.

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@pyxientx: One of my first digital cameras was a Sony F828 and it came with a Carl Zeiss lens. I can tell you from experience that it was the worst lens I ever had. There were so many chromatic aberrations when taking pictures of high contrast. You would see a purple fringe around the objects and it was annoying.

I sold the camera and bought my first real DSLR -- The Canon 20D. Never had that same problem with the Canon glass. Canon uses hi-tech materials like fluorite and coatings to prevent from the same issues I experienced with the Carl Zeiss brands.

If you don't care about the lens quality and are shopping for price, you can get cheap Tamron or Sigma brands. Cheaper lenses may also lack the fast autofocus USM motors you get with the Canon brands.

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Thanks a bunch for the replies! I appreciate that I was able to get feedback from people who have had some relatively extensive experience using cameras.

I probably won't be going through an identity crisis in which I decide that I want to become a professional photographer any time soon, so it looks like my good ol' GF5 will be more than good enough for quite some time to come.