Hi Doug, welcome to the Cameralabs forums!
Shame you can't straetch to a DSLR, but as you say, if you want movie clips, you'll have to look elsewhere anyway!
To compare nosie levels in real life between the Olympus 550UZ and Pannie FZ50, see this page:
http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Olymp ... e4ca.shtml
You can also compare the featrues of the best superzooms here:
http://www.cameralabs.com/buyers_guide/ ... mera.shtml
As you'll see, I really rate the Panansonic FZ8 - there's some issues with image quality, but then no non-DSLR is perfect - but everything else about thsi camera works really well, and the movie modes on the Panasonics are very good, with widescreen options too.
Again apart from IQ, the only thing I felt let the FZ8 down was lack of wide angle, and we now have that with the FZ18. I'm actually testing one as we speak, so look out for a review coming soon.