just my humble opinion...

in the debate for which camera to buy... a SLR or a compact... the answer is quite easy. your friendly salesman was correct... if you want to take macro shots and artistic photos you should get the SLR. even a cheaper SLR with a good macro lens will take much better pictures than a compact with a large zoom and macro capabilities.

the main trade off is size and weight. if you have to carry the big SLR with a couple of lenses, external flash and a few supplies, you really need to get a camera bag. on and on more things to carry. the compact will fit in your pocket. so if you think about it... are you willing to lug the whole set up of the SLR? or will you be discouraged to be carrying the 30 extra pounds? the compact will always be with you (well... mine is) and its just a snap shot away of getting very decent pictures of a flower in the lobby of a hotel, a little girl playing in the sand, a sunset that glows bright red and yellow and orange and purple... i think you see what i mean... if you don't have your camera you miss all of that.

so to sum up SLR better quality, compact more quantity... the ideal is to get both... carry the SLR for when you KNOW you need the power, carry the compact ALL the time... i hope i helped a little...