Well, the new camera has arrived and I've had a good few days to play around with it and see what it's capable of. You can definitely call me impressed. While the critical image quality will never quite match the large-sensor performance of my SLR, it really is very good. The focus is crisp, the speed is acceptable, the zoom range is almost frightening and the resulting photos are detailed and have pleasing colours.
I'm actually using it almost exclusively on Auto at the moment, but I've experimented with switching into Program mode to do some macros of flowers with excellent results. I have even taken a couple of sequences to turn into panoramas and the lack of distortion at medium zoom settings makes this a pleasure.
I can't quite hold it steady at maximum zoom, but I only need to lean against something solid and let the shake-reduction take a hand and the results are really good. I don't think I will ever get used to not having a viewfinder, but I can live with it for the convenience of having such a powerful camera in my coat pocket all the time.
So, the birds are visible and identifiable (most important for a trip to the dark continent and a competitive list). I haven't had time to do any real landscape stuff yet - I did struggle into Dhoon Glen yesterday with really painful results, but the images are a bit too busy for my liking - but as the trees gain their leaves in the upcoming weeks I'll get more chance I hope.
There are sure to be more photos to follow and I hope they continue to surprise me with their quality as the coming weeks unfold.