This Camera is a perfect median between high end DSLR cameras and point and shoot ones. It's great for casual photographers who want their photos to look great. It's classified as something called a 'digital superzoom' which basically means that it has one fixed lense (unlike a DSLR which you can change lenses on) which has a MEGA zoom. The optical zoom on this camera is 35x! that means you can get 35x closer to the subject without losing any image quality which is amazing for shooting sports, bird watching etc. The versatility of the camera is very surprising, as well as being great for long range shots it also handles macro shots well too. This is an advantage to having to carry around lenses and keep on changing them for each shot.
Apart from having a fixed lense, another difference between a DSLR is that this camera has a significantly smaller sensor. This means that shots are sometimes underexposed and the image can become grainy on high ISO settings. In my opinion -even though this is annoying- it does not justify the price difference for paying the extra $250 for a cheap DSLR.
Overall the image quality is fantastic and the auto setting is moderatly intelligent however I tend to use the program setting which allows me to override any of the stupid decisions that the camera sometimes makes in auto. It's a great camera for learning on because it's a good size, easy to use but also has features characteristic of more expensive cameras like white balance setting and ambience. The video is also in HD and the quality is impeccable although movement isn't captured as well as I would like. The build is solid, scratch resistant and the camera itself looks awesome! It also feels good in your hands and is a comfortable size to hold which is actually very important. It is a little heavy, but that is the price you pay for having such a large zoom. I highly recommend this camera to anyone looking for a versatile, mid price ranged camera. The one other thing I will say is that it is annoying not having some of perks of a DSLR camera and this sometimes makes me ponder my decision to get this camera. If you are really undecided between this and a DSLR, I would take the bullet and get the DSLR just because it gives you more options if your interesting in going forward experimenting with photography