I have been happy with my Lumix DMC-FZ5. It combines the advanced electronics of Panasonic and a fine Leica lens (for much less than a Leica brand camera). As I cannot afford a true digital SLR, this one has most of the features you would find on one. The best feature is the 12X optical zoom; my only complaint is that you have to purchase a specialized battery if you want to carry a spare (a good idea if you are doing a lot of shooting at one time, such as at an air show). The 12X telephoto (400 mm equivalent is really handy when you have to shoot from a parking lot. I got mine 2 years ago, so I don't know how much prices and models have changed; I got a good deal and excellent service from J&R in New York City (over the Internet). The camera has gotten very good reviews.
The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery