Hope my exp will help people moving from a PnS buy their dream camera.
I a 100% noob. Camera size to me use to be the size of a stack of playing cards. I just auto and shoot. At most, I just select the scene and shot. Simple.
But, PnS are terrible low-light camera. And I hate flash. Many times, I could not capture those beautiful moments,eg, at a romantic dinner and still keep the mood of the moments. Flash just kill the mood.
So, here is my thinking process (in order) and why DSLR is not for me, at least for the moment:
Decide what you want? A pro/hobbyist or just want to take good enough photo for memory. For me, it is the latter. I don't care the details.
Decide how size affects your decision to carry the cam? Yes, size does matter, and it matter a lot. For me, I can't imagine bringing a big gun (metaphorically) to a causal dinner or pub without feeling out of place and too over =). If a cam is not with me most of the time, it is useless. And I am not a bag guy. I hate carry bulky things and go places.
Decide the class of cam best suits you? Adv PnS for max portability, DSLR for max quality or Micro4/3 for something in-between. For me, Adv PnS is not a good enough upgrade. DSLR is too big even for the smallest I can find (Kx, A33, 3100 is still too big for me).
But, there is one more thing, haha. There is a new class of cam thanks to Sony and Samsung. DSLR sensor but Micro4/3 size. It could match and suppress Micro4/3 IMHO just on the sensor size, everything being equal. This is the one for me.
Only after going through the above points, then you decide the brands.
I had make the mistake of deciding the brand first, you know, those red and yellow brands that nowadays boy and girls are carrying on the necks and in the end, realise they are just not suitable for me. Not because of the brand, but the size.
I need a cam that is with me most of the time, that I will bring with me and use it without feeling out of place. A cam that is good and appropriate for all occasions. Don't follow trend and fashion, and realise when the inital excitements dies down, you are not going to bring that bulky piece of plastic or metal alloy with you. Not when you need to bring that baby traveller and milk powder too.
And so, I bought a Sony NEX today. But, a Samsung NX would be just as good. A compact with DSLR performance. That's exactly what I need. For those casual events, I just put on the 16mm and I'm ready to go. If I need some zoom, then the 18-55 is the one and still, it is not too bad in term of size or out of place.
It will take quite sometimes for me to ever outgrown my NEX. And if I were to do that, then perhaps I ready for some serious photography. That's when I will move on to DSLR and start to build a systems (lens and equipments) that will suits my needs. Else, I will be a happy man just capturing memories.
As many old birds in this forum say, DSLR is never about the body (or brands), but the entire system. Don't follow trends, overkills, and waste your hard-earn $.
Hope the above is useful and cut show your research time (I took months surfing through many forums and reviews before knowing what I really wants and what is my dream cam). Now, my journey to capturing memories starts. Hope to learn more from gurus here!