questionswhat bridge camera would you recommend?

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are you looking for one with interchangeable lenses?

edit: actually, how about this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Canon-PowerShot-Wide-Angle-Stabilized-3-0-Inch/dp/B00908BMVE

30X optical with manual shutter/aperture control (or full auto mode for wife and kids). lots of other shooting modes as well. no interchangeable lens, but after reading your post again, doesn't seem like you want that right now.

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A bridge camera may not be worth it if you're intending on working towards a bigger photography hobby. I really love this guy for his matter-of-fact suggestions in pursuing srs bsns photography: http://www.kenrockwell.com/

The thing I like best about him is that he really tries to enforce mastering photography with the tools you have rather than throwing money wildly at the hobby. But he has some really good recommendations for "bridge" cameras or even starter DSLRs you could save up for.

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@carl669: Right, I'm not interested in additional lenses. When I want to take REALLY nice shots with multiple lenses, I pull out my Nikon. I want something digital between the DSLR and point and shoot (hence the bridge camera).

@agingdragqueen: I'm more of a amateur hobbyist. But I am always interested in beginner DSLRs, just don't dig the additional expense of lenses. Bodies are expensive enough. I will check out the Ken Rockwell site out fo shizzle though!

Thanks for the info so far!

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Stay with Nikon or Canon because they are the best cameras for the price and the optics.

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@brotherhalo: Ken may be a good resource for you if nothing else but to see how far you may want to go with your hobby. Lenses can be super expensive, but the one I use most was "only" about $200. If you go used, you can really get into DSLR stuff for fairly cheap!

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I do agree that for a bridge you are better off jumping into a DSLR, get the best one you can afford and get one really good basic lens to start. The quality of the lens, imho, is the most important part. As other posters have said, go with the Canon or Nikon . It really depends on how you will use the camera .
I'd go to a camera specialty store and try them out, see how they feel to you.

That said. A friend went in a different direction and purchased this Panasonic
She wanted a big zoom and to take action shots. Side by side comparisons of her shots and those taken with a high end Nikon DSLR and Canon DSLR, these pictures were nicer ! I was shocked. Just thought I'd throw it out there at you.

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i've gotten some great shots out of this one: http://goo.gl/sxr1q

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I suggest you look at the Test_Freaks website. They aggregate reviews and links to give you a great reference point. See at http://www.testfreaks.com/digitalcameras

That said, look at the better Panasonic Lumix models for some nice cameras. Look at the Canon Powershot series if you're serious. The G11/G12 models are pricey with less zoom than you seek, but they are packed with all the REAL features you'll love and with great optics. Love it!

That said, the best camera is the one you have handy when you need it. I have a several nice cameras and lenses, but a G11 fits in a pocket and handles 95% of the features & settings you can use. When I plan pictures I use the DSLR, but I'm glad every day I have the small Canon handy.

About wide zoom ranges: the best zoom lenses have a limited ratio because sharpness and aperture matter more to serious users. Wide range zooms trade optical quality for greater focal length range. Besides, it is hard to steady a camera at 10X, let alone 30X.

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Any chance that Nikon sells a digital back that's compatible with the lenses you already have? Canon's DSLR and SLR lenses are somewhat interchangeable. A used DSLR with no lenses might be cheaper than a bridge camera.

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@ceagee: My sister-in-law has a Panasonic Lumix and they take really nice photos. Unfortunately, that one is slightly above my budget range. But yes, they are very nice cameras!

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@omnichad: I've thought about that. The lenses I have are Tamron and I have not yet had the chance to check.

Since several people have suggested it, what sort of luck has anyone had with getting used or refurbed DSLR bodies?