a simple guide for deciding between a dslr and a prosumer digital camera

In the age of relatively inexpensive so called ‘prosumer’ digital cameras offering massive 18x or more tele-zoom lenses, integrated HD video capabilities, advanced optical stabilization mechanisms, high ISO settings, and endless features deciding between a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) and a prosumer digital camera is more difficult than ever.
While many sites and articles discuss technical specifications of each and every model, very few answer the most basic yet important question: will this type of digital camera work for me?
This guide will help you selecting the type of camera that best matches your lifestyle and your personal needs.
Digital Camera Selection Guide Questions:
1. I am prepared to spend $600 or more in the foreseeable future to get a digital camera system that will best suit my needs.
If your answer is NO, you should not be considering purchasing a DSLR. A DSLR body with a set of 2 or 3 lenses and a flash unit will run you more than $600, and more likely somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500. On the other hand, a full featured prosumer mega-zoom camera can be purchased for under $400, with many models available at $300 range - for example the very capable Lumix FZ35.
2. I take most of my pictures indoors or under poor lighting conditions?
If you answered YES, then you should not be considering a camera without a dedicated flash unit. Most DSLRs, but also few high end prosumer mega-zoom digital cameras, come with a hot shoe for attaching external flash units. The built-in flash will provide mediocre results at best.
3. I don’t mind carrying 10lbs of camera equipment everywhere I go?
If your answer is NO and you like to travel light, you should be considering a prosumer mega-zoom digital camera. A DLSR system with 2 or 3 lenses can be quite a chore to carry around.
4. I will be mostly taking pictures where the subject is moving such as sports, fast action, toddlers and kids playing, etc.
If you answered YES, you will definitively need a DSLR. Even the best prosumer cameras will not match the focusing speed of a DSLR. With a prosumer camera you can expect on average 40-60% of pictures of fast moving action be well focused. The rest will be blurry and out of focus. Even an older DSLR will result in 90-95% of your photos of fast moving action be sharp and focused.
5. I mostly find myself taking pictures of landscape, buildings and groups of people.