I think I must hold a camera differently to Forseti, because the wheel has never given me a problem, I tend to grip the camera between finger tips and the palm , rather than wrapping my hand around it. The lens cap is the standard two push button type, I never had a problem, but then I didn't ever bother with the lens hood.
Noise is a problem with every single digital camera to a greater or lesser extent, generally the larger the sensor the lower the noise, so the Olympus would be better than the SX1, but the Canon & Nikon SLR's are better still.
You will still get good results from a bridge camera, and if you want the whole range of focal lengths then it's the only way at a modest budget. Sues advice is good providing that you don't mind spending more on extra lenses later on.
Just to give you a couple more options (and probably confuse you further!) I think there are 2 more bridge cameras worth your attention.
The Fuji S200 EXR is built like an SLR (so it's bulkier than the Canons) and has a a 14.3x zoom and all the manual controls you would expect from a camera in this range. Costs around £300 and you currently get £50 cash back from Fuji when you buy one. My girlfriend has just got one and I'm very impressed with it all round.
The other one to look at is the Panasonic FZ-38 which has an 18x zoom and should be around £270.
Along with the Canons, I think these are you best options. All of them are very good cameras which will give you everything from fully automatic point and shoot modes to complete manual control over everything.
Thanks for your reply. Sadly I do not know any photographers near me, which is part of the reason I haven't bought a camera sooner. From what I have read a 'bridge' camera would probably be best but I am still unsure as to which model would be best.
I've had bad experiences in the past with cameras that have taken blurry and grainy shots and I am concerned that the same will happen again. I am unsure about lenses since I have been using 'traditional' cameras for years. My current camera is a Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z10.
Any further help would be greatly appreciated!
If you're considering buying a 'Bridge' camera then also take a look at the Canon SX10 IS or the Sony Cybershot DSC-HX1 as these are two of the most highly rated of their type along with the two cameras that Chris has already mentioned.
If you're still hankering after a full DSLR then take a look at the Sony range, because you should be able to use the lenses from your existing camera with them as they use the same mount.
I believe the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z10 is a bridge camera - part of the range that began with the odd looking Z1 [had one and a bit fell off it after a couple of days use!] - rather than a camera that has interchangeable lenses.