Anne asked what camera I finally purchased: That would be a Nikon D70.
I had an Minolta Dimage (and before that a Sony and before that a Canon and before that a Sony -- this will be my 4th or 5th digital -- oh yeah, I also had a Vivitar and two generic things from Radio Shack. Wow, I guess that makes 8.) - It was a great little camera -- and took great pictures, but I really put cameras through the gristmill and it's got a couple of problems.
I purchased a Nikon D70 after playing for a while with a Nikon D100 (after playing for a while with a D1). It's a good and relatively inexpensive camera (compared with the D1X) and should be rugged enough to endure for quite a while.
It's two things that limit resolution in a camera -- the optics and the CCD array. Most cameras do not have the optics to match their CCD array. I would purchase really good optics if you are going for a fixed lens camera (meaning that you cannot change the lenses.) Look for the words "Optical zoom" and not Digital Zoom. You will get better results that way. Look at the apature (diameter) of the lens. The bigger they are around, the better they will collect light and the better the image. Digital cameras tend to either be made by Computer type companies or Camera type companies (with a few exceptions). The ones made by Camera type companies are most of the time easier to use (a real generalization, I know.)
I have been a camera junkie for a long, long time and have quite a collection of Nikon bits and pieces. I now have consolidated to two camera bodies -- a film camera (Nikon 8008 -- old and very heavy, but very reliable) and the D70 - they can share my flip-frame, they share the Speedlight 28 flash and most lenses. The Speedlight will not do all that the newer flashes will do, but only looses two modes of operation on the D70. The only thing that the two cameras don't share is the remote and media (film vs. flash memory card.) They even share most methods of operation -- not much of a learning curve between the cameras.
I now only own three film cameras that are usable -- an ancient double lens reflex purchased by my father in 1948, my husband's 25 year old Pentax and my 8008. I've owned many others -- I loved the F3, FG, FM cameras -- each for a different reason. The F3 didn't work really well after I dropped it.... As I said, the 8008 is such a solid camera and a really good buy for the money. It's still very easy to use -- the programmed modes are easy to understand, but it can also be fully automatic.
I own about 6 Nikon lenses, a couple of them are broken or have problems. My favorite is a Nikkor that is easily 15 years old, but the optics are excellent, the weight is nice and is a 35-135 -- a good all around lens. I used a doubler on my 70-300 and got a 600 lens that I used this weekend -- and the D70 had no problem with camera shake. Excellent. Next test will be in an airplane and I will see if I get too much motion or if the camera will be OK with the lenses that I already own.
My next widget will be the wireless unit to put in the camera so that I can shoot directly to the laptop. Too cool!!
Very much a camera geek, am I not? I'm planning on shooting a lot at conference next week -- and maybe I'll get some more in the conference paper.
End of Boring Camera Posting.