Prosumer and Semiprofessional Cameras
The next level of digital camera costs from $150 to about $600. Dubbed “prosumer” (meaning professional consumer products), these cameras should do just about anything the advanced amateur and even professional photographer may want to accomplish. While bulkier than the basic digital cameras, these cameras are light and compact with tons of features for the most demanding photographer.
The next step above basic digital offers capabilities and quality images that are about as good as you can get. Expect a wide range of features and settings. Resolutions up to about 8 megapixels are available, as are zoom lenses up to 12″, multiple sophisticated exposure modes for just about any lighting situation, manual override for creative control, a wide ISO range, and sophisticated flash exposure with the ability to add either a dedicated or an external flash. Lens quality should be excellent. The in-camera menu and preview should be quite sophisticated.
Many cameras will come with an electronic LCD viewfinder in addition to the LCD monitor on the back of the camera. This viewfinder solves many of the problems of shooting in sunlight as well as parallax problems that are encountered when you take pictures at close range. Movies and voice recordings are often possible. You may be able to take very close pictures in the macro mode. Compared to the next level of camera (DSLRs), prosumer cameras are quite compact, although they are considerably bulkier than the lowest cost level of point-and-shoot cameras.
If you want a camera that allows you to make large prints up to 12″ × 17″, you'll find that a prosumer camera can provide those sizes with good detail. Pick a camera with the highest megapixel rating but do not think that you must buy a super-high megapixel DSLR unless you need the extra features (and headaches) that a DSLR offers.
These cameras do not allow interchangeable lenses, and for maximum resolution you will want to move up to a DSLR camera. Virtually all prosumer cameras will save pictures in a JPEG format, which does not offer as much control over the final image as the RAW format offered by many DSLR cameras. You will probably not find the sophisticated flash controls or ability to connect a flash to the camera that are available in DSLRs. The high-end Olympus UZ, ultra zoom, series, for example, will take extreme close-ups and extreme telephoto shots all in one self-contained camera.