IHF: This photo http://cameraclicker.com/galleries/g14/m/pages/2010-06-03_07-15-10_IMG_0222.htm was taken with a Canon G11, which I think of as a high end P&S. It was taken as a raw file and cleaned up with the noise reduction in ACR. I took it with my wife’s camera because my gear was in the overhead bins and her camera was in her purse on the floor, when the lights came on and I thought the effect was cool. If she had a lesser camera without raw capability, I would have climbed over someone and got my camera from the bin. Most of the photos in the gallery were taken with a Rebel T2i, the rest were taken with the G11. Photos taken with the T2i were with a Sigma 18-250, Sigma 10-20 or Canon 50 mm f/1.8 II. I took a Canon 18-55 and a tripod, both of which remained in my suitcase for the entire trip and returned unused.
If shooting JPEG works for you, that’s awesome. I shoot in low light and sometimes scenes that would benefit from HDR technique. Shooting raw lets me process out the noise and/or process two or three times to recover data that in camera JPEG processing would throw away, so I shoot in raw rather than switching back and forth between raw and JPEG. It is just personal preference.
My page has some comparisons of macro capabilities from P&S/bridge cameras through dSLR with macro lenses, teleconverters and extension tubes. And some comparisons of telephoto, but nothing like browneyedgirl89 did with portraits — I don’t do a lot of portraits and it never occurred to me. The concept of what the average P&S owner will do with their camera compared to a mid level photographer with a Rebel or similar verses an experienced photographer with professional grade gear, is completely different to the concept of what can an experienced photographer do with three or four levels of gear, say cell phone through a 1Ds or 5D.