Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50
Weight: 1 lb., 7.5 oz.; $650; www.panasonic.com
PROS Want SLR-like performance without the expense? Movie mode in a camera that won't wobble like a compact? This Lumix is the perfect midrange choice, with slick antishake technology and a 12x Leica lens that takes you right from the skybox into the batter's box. You'll appreciate the swiveling 2-inch LCD monitor for tough-angle shots. Ditto the wide-shot images, which are tailor-made for showing off on an HDTV.
CONS What you see from the electronic viewfinder is much less than what you get from the lens. The DMC-FZ50 also suffers from what geeks call "noise"--the image get soft in 8-by-10 prints.
BUY THIS ONE IF ... You want the eyelash closeups that SLRs are known for, without the hair-raising price.