Each of the following offers an excellent value for quality/features. If you are looking for specific features ask me on twitter @camerarec or send me an email and I would be happy to recommend something specific to your needs.
A note about Mega Pixels (MP). No longer should you choose one camera over another because it has more MP. Recently some camera manufacturers have reduced the number of MPs in order to increase low light performance. The SD400 and S95(both listed below) are two10MP cameras that offer excellent low light performance and image quality for a P&S. Also note – zooms reported below are optical, I don’t bother mentioning digital zoom.
Nikon Coolpix L22 12MP 3.6x Zoom 3″ LCD Simple, uses AA batteries and includes smile and blink detect. Image Quality is decent.
Panasonic Lumix FH20K 14MP 8x Zoom & 2.7″ LCD (Black) Slightly wider lens, 28mm, a nice 8x optical zoom and HD video for less than $150. It is not going to be great in lowlight and it is not speedy but overall quality and reliability are very good.
Canon PowerShot SX130IS 12MP 12x Zoom & 3″ LCD A bit more bulk but you get 12x zoom with stereo audio for HD video. Tons of fun features/effects like fisheye etc. Also uses AA batteries but reports on battery life are not great.
Panasonic Lumix ZS7 12 MP 12x Zoom & 3″ LCDHuge Zoom, HD video recording, GPS for automatically tagging your photos with the location and excellent image quality in a form factor that slips into a pocket.
Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 12MP CMOS 5x Zoom & 2.7″ LCD Super slim with new CMOS sensor – low light images are excellent. Full 1080p Video and super slow mo video along with a very wide, 24mm lens. *NEW* Post comparing the 300 HS and the cheaper 100 HS
Canon PowerShot S95 10MP 3.8x Zoom & 3″ LCD
Extremely high quality images with very little noise, even at higher ISOs, almost DSLR like quality. Genius control scheme lets you have as much or as little control over manual shooting.
Hope this helps and please let me know if you have any questions.
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