Moving on from bridge cameras to...? Help!

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
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emeybee
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Moving on from bridge cameras to...? Help!
6 months ago

Hello,

A little background. I need a camera for travel-- landscapes/buildings, people and sometimes sports (but purely as a spectator not a pro). My pictures are here for reference:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/emeybee/sets/

I had posted in the Panasonic compact forum last week asking about the ZS40 vs the FZ200. I had the FZ200 and was considering the ZS40 for the convenience of the smaller size. I got the ZS40 but didn't like it (blown highlights, smeared details) so returned it. I thought about the Sony HX50V, but the more sample images I looked at the more I realized I probably wouldn't be happy with that either. So after some thinking I've decided that if I'm going to carry a large camera I might as well get better image quality for it. So now I'm looking at getting my first "serious" camera. Which leads me to posting here for your advice.

So a little about my needs/wants:

- I've had about 4 hours total photography instruction in my life. Ideally I'll get better at the PASM settings, but right now it's not intuitive to me and I feel like I'm spending half my day staring at a camera screen instead of enjoying the place I'm in. So 99% of the time I leave my cameras on Auto. Sacrilege around here I'm sure, but nevertheless I need a camera with a good Auto mode. Hopefully as I learn more it will become a security blanket more than a crutch.

- Features: I want GPS, good panorama stitching, and a good handheld burst mode for night. I don't care about WIFI or NFC, or the Instagram-style modes.

- Lens: I am coming from super zooms but obviously will not get the same range with one interchangeable lens. I'll most likely be getting a 18-250ish lens as an all-in-one, because, again, I don't want to be lugging a bunch of gear around Rwanda. I know the quality will suffer compared to other lenses but it will still be a marked improvement over a bridge camera, yes?

- Image quality: I care about exposure and how the photo will look on a large computer monitor. I'm not concerned with how the pixels look at 100%, but since I'm losing the zoom range I may do more cropping than I otherwise would have. I use Lightroom and don't mind doing PP, so tone/saturation are less important to me since they can be adjusted once I'm home.

- Budget: Nothing crazy, under $1500 total, ideally less (I don't mind buying used).

So that's about it.

I had all but decided on a Sony a65, but then I read that the a77 has weather sealing, which makes me nervous that the a65 might act up in some of the crazy places I travel to. But I'm a little afraid that the a77 will be shockingly large/heavy, so I keep going back and forth. My reasons for settling on Sony are that I think they're a little more geared toward amateurs like myself, and I know from experience that Sony's panorama mode works really well. But I can certainly be talked out of it if there's a better camera brand for me. I had also looked at the A6000 coming out, but unfortunately it doesn't have GPS. Otherwise it would have been pretty perfect.

Anyway, any suggestions would be most appreciated, thanks!

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