Nothing riles up photo pros on forums more than a newbie "Canon or Nikon?" question. And yet, the fact that this question is asked by so many people is an indication of a large communications inefficiency that has spawned a thriving camera review industry.
Remember how marketing textbooks always said that people don't really buy drills, they buy holes? Well, you'd imagine that when shopping for cameras, people are really buying pictures and not the expensive black boxes, but you can't really tell by the way cameras are sold today.
There are a lot -- a huge unmanageable lot -- of resources that let you compare the boxes down to their smallest and, to many, meaningless details. About the only way to compare pictures these different boxes produce is to shovel through the Cameras section on Flickr.
This doesn't make sense. I'm trying to think of another consumer electronics product that you buy for its output where you want but are unable to compare the output of different models. You can compare TV sets by walking up to the wall in Best Buy. For shredder shoppers, confetti samples are readily available on display. It might be tough to compare irons, but then I guess most people don't expect deviations in the quality of heat and steam.
I wish there were an easier way to make up my mind about a camera than trying to understand complicated reviews when all I need to know is what body+lens combinations produces nice baby pictures for under $700.