Entering the digital age

For half a decade now, I've resisted giving up my Pentax SLR and going digital. Dave made the change in 2002, and recently upgraded his digital camera. I inherited his Pentax OptioS, which fits into an Altoids tin. It's the perfect size to keep in my pocket or bag, and it takes pretty good pictures. But I miss the ability to zoom in close, and using the zoom to crop photos.

With the Alaska vacation coming up, I finally decided to do some research into digital cameras, and finally replace my SLR. Can I find a long-zoom digital without going to a DSLR, one that still takes great photographs? I keyed in on the ultra-zoom digital cameras, because one of the best features of my film camera is the 70-210mm zoom lens. I love the photos I can take when friends and family don't know I'm there. I've gotten some wonderful close-ups, with no posing or artificial smiles, and don't want to give that up.

So with the help some great camera review sites on the Internet, I'm narrowing the field. There are so many things to consider with digital, from sensor size to image quality, noise to soft edges, speed to power up, and time between shots. Things strictly digital, not even issues with SLR camera. So much research is needed... which is fine with me. I love doing research.