Outside of the 7 year old Finepix p&s that has sufficed for my family album/Facebook/general needs, I am a complete camera noob. Looking to take the next step, but not budgeting for a dslr. Here's where I'm at. Budget * What budget have you allocated for buying this camera? Please be as specific as possible. $300-$500 (absolute top end) Size Not a huge deal. Features I like a lot of out-of-the-box features. I'm not a big accessory guy, so I like the multifunctional superzooms. I certainly want video capability, and would like a really good video quality. Would also like decent fps. How many megapixels will suffice? Again, I'm a noob, so I don't know whether megapixels necessarily translate to a superior end product. I think they do, but correct me if I'm wrong. The models I'm looking @ are 12-15mp. What optical zoom will you need? (None, Standard = 3x-4x, Ultrazoom = 10x-12x) Prefer a lot. I'm looking at the superzooms. * How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10) I can't quantify it. It is definitely important, but I believe that anything I get will be such a huge step up for me that the differences that you all see as huge will be borderline undetectable for me. In other words, I'm not smart enough to know the difference in a truly superb picture and a really good one. Do you care for manual exposure modes (shutter priority, aperture priority, manual)? Sounds cool. Should I care? The models I'm looking at do have these functinos. General Usage * What will you generally use the camera for? General usage. Family photos, sunsets (we watch it over the lake every night, and would like to record a few). Everyday stuff. Some close ups, but nothing intense. * Will you be making big prints of your photos or not? I would like to think so, but this is not a determining factor for me. Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos? Probably some. Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos? Some sports, but this is minimal. Miscellaneous I don't know what other questions to ask. Are there particular brands you like or hate? No. Would prefer to stay with a "name brand," but I'm not really considering any off-brand stuff anyways. Are there particular models you already have in mind? Yes. I have looked at (online) all of the front-running superzooms. I have also seen the entry level Sony DSLR's, but I think that for my usage and budget, the DSLR is just untouchable for me. I have essentially narrowed it down to the Canon SX30IS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-F100Z. My brother has the Canon; I have held it and played with it. Pretty cool. The Panasonic shows to have full 1080 HD video, burst mode (11fps), and a few other extras. The zoom on the Canon is longer, but that's not huge for me. They are priced the same. (If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD) Image stabilization, zoom, video, color isolation So, do I need to go with the Canon, the Panasonic, or something entirely different. I think I've looked at all of them, but maybe y'all can throw something fresh at me. I have had seemingly savvy people tell me to go with Canon, because they build a better camera, and I have had seemingly savvy people tell me to go with the Panasonic, because low-light pic's will be better, and the burst mode and video are kicka$$. What to buy? Thanks for the help!