I went DSLR 2 years ago from point and shoot. I got the D60 kit which included the 18-55 and 55-200 VR lenses. I went for an entry level DSLR camera which was not too complex and which would allow me to grow a little in understanding and technique.
I have overwhelmingly used the D60 in auto mode or in a pre-set mode such as portrait, sport etc. I have experimented with the MASP modes, generally with very variable results.
The big let down about the D60 is the 3 point focus ring. It struggles especially in low light/indoor conditions. I also would ideally like not to have to swap the lenses around at times, and I don't think I will ever become the type of enthusiast who lugs a bag of lenses around.
So, after research, I am thinking of the 18-200 VRII lens to solve the 2 lens problem. All reviews I have seen say it is a great all-rounder multi-purpose lens. If anyone disagrees, please speak up. (By the way, I am planning on selling the D60 and 2 lenses.)
That leaves the decision over the body. I am not limited by budget (within reason), so I can go up to a D7000. I am not necessarily fixated on Nikon, but all the research I did 2 years ago said there was little to choose between Canon and Nikon, but Nikon has the better lenses, so I went with Nikon.
As I see it, my choice is the D3100, D5100 and D7000 in ascending order of price, complexity and features. I am not all bothered about video capabilities on any of the cameras, as I have a HD video.
Having looked at the specs and reviews for all 3 cameras, this is my take - the D3100 is closest to the D60 and has more focus points, the D5100 would be an upgrade but is still relatively user-friendly, and the D7000 takes things almost into semi-pro territory.
The D7000 gives the most learning room, but at my current level of knowledge (using mainly the auto and pre-set modes) I wonder whether it would be like buying a Ferrari and then driving it around in 1st gear. Just how user-friendly is the D7000 - can a fairly basic user pick it up and use it on auto until he builds up knowledge and sophistication? I really don't like the D3100 and D5100 swivel screens but recognize they are the cameras aimed at the more basic user.
When it comes to computers, conventional wisdom is buy the best spec you can afford so you future-proof yourself as best you can. Is it the same on cameras?
So, what advice can everyone give to help me out? I recognize this is a Nikon forum, but if someone wants to suggest another brand, please do so. Thanks for your collective help.