Compact or SLR

Hi Cecilia,
I am one of those amateurs running around with a compact Panasonic 10x zoom and a Nikon D40x SLR with an 18-200mm zoom lens. I use the compact for macro shots and for carrying with me everywhere. I use the Nikon when I take serious photos. The Nikon is heavier and bigger and announces you as a photographer, but the quality of photos is better, no doubt. However, an SLR cannot be used for macro shots without a macro lens whereas the compact can take macro shots as it is. I find the real difference is that the Nikon SLR responds immediately - no measurable delay from you turn it on till you take your photo - whereas the compact takes a few seconds to get ready. If your concern is macros, I wouldn't take that as a reason to go for an SLR. As said, you would need to change lenses, and whenever you do that you run the risk of getting a speck of dust onto the sensor. If, however, you are serious about portraits and sports photos, where quick response is essential, you need an SLR. It is more expensive, heavier to carry, less discrete, but for sure the quality it delivers is better than a compact. The new Nikon D90 takes high quality photos and video and it has the feature for cleaning the sensor of dust. Check if you are ready to foot the USD 1000 bill (plus USD 800 for the 18-200 mm lens and another payout for the macro lens) for the Nikon. If you do, you have an investment you can build upon forever, but in the meantime you might be happy with a compact you can use and replace.