Need help from my photographer buddies

Ok gang, on my friends list are some folks who take amazing photographs…and even one or two professionals….(Vy, I’m looking at you…). ;) Anyway, here’s the deal. My digital camera is a first generation Sony Mavica. Nobody wants that. Picture quality…not so much, no. We bought a digital video camera which takes amazing video, but the still picture quality is fairly low and it doesn’t do well at all in low light situations.

I have the most amazing 35mm camera, that I love my than anything, but I can’t generate pictures fast enough with that to keep the grandparents from calling and asking for more pictures. Also, I’ve got about a zillion rolls of developed film that nobody has seen, since I can’t find my scanner. I mean, I know it’s got to be in the house somewhere…but damned if I’ve seen it in 2 or 3 years. And ordering CD’s to go with your film is prohibitive when you’re a new parent shooting as much film as we shoot. :) (Really…2 cds = a giant box of diapers…and diapers are way more important. ;)

I’ve decided to use some of the money from selling Jezebel to buy a digital camera to take pictures of the boy. But…and this is a big but…I know absolutely nothing about digital cameras…and my eyes tend to glaze over when I try to read and remember all the various statistics, functions, yadda, yadda, yadda. Honestly, it’s the same look I used to get in trig class…I knew they were speaking English, but damned if it made any sense.

So, I really need some help from my friends who know and understand digital cameras. Could you give me some recommendations? I don’t need anything professional quality, but I do need to be able to shoot pictures that are clear enough and high enough resolution that they can be printed. Some level of zoom would be great. Firewire transfer to PC is desirable as well. The camera doesn’t have to be idiot-proof….but it wouldn’t hurt. ;) I’d like to keep the price under $500.00 if possible.

Any and all recommendations welcome…at least it gives me a foothold from which to start researching. Thanks gang!

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