> one of my concerns is that a newer, more complex camera might mean taking fewer photos.
Been there, done that. I used to use an expensive SLR with film and many lenses, and I found I was missing lots of good shots. By switching to a slightly smaller camera which I can carry in a pouch on the shoulder strap of my pack, I get to take MANY more shots. Also, the slightly smaller size means I can get the camera out with one hand while I am doing something else. A wrist strap is a very good idea if you are going to do that, btw. That doesn't meant going down to the phone camera or tiny P&S size though.
> I am struck by how clear, sharp, and vivid the images are vs. my humble Canon 880.
I am going to disagree slightly with some comments about this (sorry Rick and Chris and all). The dynamic range found in a jpg image from an ideal silicon sensor is 256:1. That is because the data has only 8 bits resolution. This is a far cry from the 3+ decades available from Kodak Gold etc!
However, that is a bit misleading for 2 reasons. The first is that the transfer function found in modern cameras is S-shaped, which gives the *appearance* of greater dynamic range. The second is because noise plays a big part in how an image looks. If the sensor is cheap and noisy, the dynamic range looks much worse. (Little P&S and phone cameras have tiny CHEAP sensors.) If the electronics uses lots of gain (=high ASA), the noise will rise.
This leads to a couple of questions. Do you use your camera on Auto? If so, be aware that it will often push the gain/ASA up to keep the shutter speed fast. That can put a lot of noise into your pitures, which will make them look lower in quality. The solution here is to never use Auto; use P(rogram) instead and keep the ASA down. This may mean you need to rest the camera against something at times: do so.
The next question is how have you set you camera to save the images? If you are using medium to high compression, then image quality will suffer. I never use anything but the maximum allowed image size, or even RAW. I don't think the 880 can save as RAW however.
Then there is cheating - well, editing. Many of the photos I see on the web have been enhanced. A photo-editor can balance the colours and boost the contrast a bit to make the image look better. A little adjustment of the jpg settings can boost the edges just a little to make images look sharper. Oh, there's so many trick to the trade! (And Playboy Bunnies are 50% photo-enhancement, along with any other 'enhancements'!)
I am not saying you can't take better photos with a more expensive camera, but I am saying that the skills needed to properly use a DSLR can be applied to a pro-compact to get VERY similar results.