Years ago in high-school I played with a 35mm and developing photos in a darkroom. I enjoyed it and even had a couple of my photos used in some local publications. However I didn't have time or money to keep up with the hobby once I graduated.
I've played around with photoshop here and there for a number of years for graphic design, and I use GIMP now for resizing and cleaning up some photos, but using these tools for more advanced stuff has been beyond my ken. I've never played with a raw file and the terms and jargon are pretty alien to me.
After years of point and shoots in the 3MP range, I was looking seriously at a DSLR but the cost was a bit much for the wide range of photos I wanted to take - macro shots and long-range wildlife.
So I decided to split the difference and pick up a Panasonic FZ-200 which gives me pretty decent macro, 24x optical zoom, and f2.8 through the zoom-range, plus most of the bells and whistles save for interchangeable lenses.
So anyway, here's the first (usable) pics I took tonight after I got the camera. I'm having a little trouble getting them really crisp. At 3MP these would have looked fine, but at 12MP it seems that even the slightest movement can cause blur.
I'm going to have to work on my techniques. Any advice would be appreciated and helpful, critiques of the photos below, and if someone could point me to information about how to work with RAW files to do interesting things and/or clean up photos (I'm using GIMP with ufraw) that would be helpful as well.