I am an artist (oil painter) and I need a camera for two main purposes;
1) Taking reference photographs - everything from landscapes to macros
2) Photographing my art (my paintings range from 6" square up to 30" or more)
For many years I've had a Fujifilm S5500 (SLR-shape 4mp) that I've been very happy with, but this year I wanted something with more MP. I ended up with a Pentax Optio W90 and it has been a huge disappointment - it takes nice landscape and macro photos but for some reason it takes horrible pictures of my art - the colours are all wrong, the resolution is fuzzy, it either completely loses the canvas texture or drastically exaggerates it. It's not a question of lighting - the same painting in the same location on the same tripod photographs beautifully on my S5500 or my wife's Nikon P90. I have read and re-read the manual for the W90, tried more settings than I can remember, all to no avail. I don't have the time or inclination to try further, I just need a camera that's going to work with little fuss.
I don't want to go to a full DSLR. I want a camera that's in one piece that I can keep in my bag to pull out whenever I see a scene I might want to paint. With that in mind, I have been looking at the Fuji HS20, especially since I've been so happy with the S5500.
But before I proceed -- what other cameras would you recommend in the same price bracket? (~ $600)? I'm probably best with an SLR shape as I have large (and not especially steady) hands so I find it easier to hold.