Several silicon valley billionaire gadget freaks turned me onto a hybrid camera they had discovered: the Lumix. Made by Panasonic (a name not usually associated with cameras) the Lumix seems to have a secret following. The mid-level model has the glass lens of a SLR, but at a smaller scale. Attached to a hand-sized 5-megapixel sensor is a very fast, extremely sharp zoom lens made by legendary optician Leica. Best part -- street price below $350.