Which camera do you prefer to buy? Long Zoom Point to shoot camera or an entry level DSLR?
I prefer to buy either. I went with a Sony Bloggie. It's a new and features 1080p HD pictures and video recording. There are some downsides like it's poor at night for video and pictures due to no lighting or flash but the daylight pictures and video are impeccable. It has auto focus which might take a second or two to focus in but once it does it's pretty nice.
I am definitely a fan of the DSLR's, I purchased an Canon Rebel a few years back and the quality of the pictures are amazing, I only have purchased a few extra lenses for it as well, one of them was one of the zoom lenses so when I was at a Yankees game I was able to take better pictures. No matter what, for the money I spent, I have been able to get GREAT pictures. I think that Canon takes amazing pictures, although my friend has said that Nikon is a better way to go. But for a recreational use, with a little more features than just a typical point and shoot camera, I'd go with the DSLR. And to be totally honest, no matter what DSLR you get, if it's just for recreational use, you'll be happy. Just with the Canon I feel like you have more options to upgrade to better lenses.
Canon and Nikon both make excellent cameras and lenses, and so do many other manufacturers. Settle for one that has a wide array of lenses and are easy to locate in your part of the country.
If possible get a camera that does not have a built in flash but rather a hot shoe to mount a flash unit. These types of flash provide better illumination and are more powerful than the built in type.
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