I think I can finally relax now. I have ordered the digital camera for my summer course. It isn’t a true SLR like I was originally looking for, but its just as good for manual adjustment. I have selected the Fujifilm FinePix S5200 for now. It isn’t exactly a Nikon D80, but I think it will be a good camera to get trained on SLR techniques. The S5200 is quite an impressive camera for its model class, as well as for the price. For the technical geeks, you can read about it and drool from the Fujifilm website. For those of you who aren’t geeks, or don’t care to read that page, the S5200 is as close to an SLR camera as you can get without using a camera that has a rotating mirror inside. Because of this, the camera is substantially cheaper than the typical SLR, but provides the same functionality. Features that I like about the camera that aren’t a requirement for the course are the 10x optical and 5.7x digital zooms, allowing me to zoom up to 57 times. In addition, the camera can detect shaking and compensate for it. Additionally, the camera is designed to avoid needing flash for most situations, creating a warmer, less washed out feeling to the images. However, when needed, the camera will deploy the flash by itself (unless told not to).
I am really excited and am hoping my camera will ship on Monday, so that I may begin playing with it on Thursday. I have ordered an additional memory card for it from Amazon, as well as a compatible reader. The only downside to the camera is it uses the xD picture card format, but I suppose I will adapt, as I always have.