Off the bat, I love this forum so far, and congrats to all of those who have made it a nice community, especially you, Gordon, you big brain you! I've been through ALL of the video reviews and most of the written ones. I've searched the forums on cameras yet am still a little puzzled as to narrow my options down. My brain has officially exploded from the information I've looked through the past 5 weeks. In fact, I'm shifting through the pieces of skull on the floor as I'm typing this.
Specifics of what I want to do with a DSLR: Mostly macro shots, mostly in black and white, sharp pictures and detail--all of which I know can be manipulated with software, but having solid basics w/o software is a good option, no? Oui! I'll be looking through the software forum soon. lol Oh, and I won't be taking shots of sports or kids or pets. Nearly all will be taken outdoors either at night or near dusk. A camera where I can tweak adjustments with the focus and with depth would be tops. There's a Hassleblad I want, but I'd have to sell my body for a few years to afford that, and even then, I'd prob only get 10 bucks and a Coke for my efforts. A T-shirt saying, "Ninjas kidnapped my wife and kids, need $20 for karate lessons" at best.
For cleaning of the lenses: I'll have to learn sooner or later and I know the Olympus and Sony offer the dust reduction systems, but that's not always up to snuff 100% So, that's not a big problem. I'll clean as I go and learn to help others as well. I love mental tool boxes and right now, my toolbox is full of cobwebs--for DSLR's anyways.
The LCD is not a big option for me. The live view on the Olmypus E-510 is kind of a turn off as I like it simple and that option seems kinda pointless for what I wanna do. Not out of the question, but, you know. I need fast, steady and sturdy with a good frames per second and low noise levels. I can easily sacrifice comfortability if it means a better picture and quality overall. There's no suffereing without reward.
A lense with the IS is a bonus. I'd imagine the lense will cost half as much as the camera. Uuuuugh. OT at work and fewer iced coffees, here I come.
Fine art. I am leaning more towards that side of things, but without the cliche nudes or close-ups of chair arms or dirty and abandoned rooms where the light shines through the window revealing scars on the wall. I will hopefully carve out my own niche if everything goes right-- with much practice, patience and moolah/pounds.
What would I need for MP's for making large and clean prints on the as-yet-boughten printer? Say, at least 20x20? At least 10MP's methinks.
Conclusion: Bang for the buck, will the Nikon D40X with the right lense(s) be sufficient? And can it hold it's own against the D80? Will the E-510 be better for macro given the lense? The Sony, Pentax and Cannon are out, gone, see ya, so far by these eyes for what I want to spend--about 1,400 USD. Sorry for the long intro, but I thought I'd lay it out there and see who'll actually read this.
Your new friend in darkness/light, well played heavy metal and iced coffee,
ps. This guy is amazing and an inspiration. Check out his portfolio: