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ok compact cameras state magnification in their specs, say 3x zoom with 4xdigital zoom.
Well 200mm = 4xzoom.
What you have to remember is a compact camera has a tiny lens i mean what 5mm, SLRs start with 52mm and go up beyond 77mm, quite a difference, this increased diameter means more light, which means a greater accuracy when capturing the subject.

I have a canon eos20d- its a digital slr, and i would dearly love a 400mm lens but i cant afford it, as it has a highstreet proce of £800!!
Unlike compacts the slr camera is only half the equation, the other half is the lens that sits on it.
Digital SLR's have come down in price considerably of late. Though i would advise to stick to the dominant brands, Canon and Nikon, it may be tempting to go for Olympus or Sony but they are far smaller brands and cannot offer the wide range of lenses and 3rd party lens/accessory support of canon and nikon.
I chose canon as it is arguably the better of the two at the moment, they have developed cameras that record less noise, although many nikon owners will argue withme- depends on personal preference.
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