I'm bumping this back up on your behalf as it hasn't had an answer yet despite being a clearly-written and sensible question... I can't help directly as I don't know much about the current compact camera market.Good luckMike..
Depends on your priorities. The Fuji 30/31/32 are easily the best compact cameras in low light, and OK for your other priorities. In daylight, however, your images would be better with some of the alternatives, and you can get a lot more camera for your money. Look at the new Canon A650 or the older A630, or for a camera with excellent image quality and superior build quality that will give you a lot of room to grow (but may be over your budget depending on local prices) the Nikon P5000...
Go over your budget and buy a small DSLR..
Stop making blahh photos..
We lived for years without image stability and make brilliant shots..
If you want night / low level performance and day performance, you need a bigger sensor..
Go to a shop and look through the view finder of say a Pentax d100, Canon 350 or Nikon D40..
Then look through one of these little key hole things..
Add 200 and buy something that will work..
Doesn't matter how cheap it is, if it doesn't work, you will be wasting you money and building frustration galore..
Are pictures important to you?.
Persuasive Marketing Systems -inc Copywriting, Design & Photography..
To follow from the previous post: an entry-level DSLR has a lot to recommend it if you don't mind paying a little extra. In particular you will get MUCH better performance in low light. Yes they can be daunting to learn all the settings, but to start with you can stick it on 'P' (fully programmed autmoatic, like a compact) and get pictures at least as good as with a compact, and often better. When you get the hang of it you can learn what the rest does..
The Pentax K100D is cheap at the moment (and has image stabilisation) and is very good (I have one). The Nikon D40 has also attracted a lot of new users to DSLRs because of it's ease of use combined with quality..
Something to consider....
Thanks everyone for helping me choose - I think I want to stay away away from the DSLR's for now, especially since I want something to take with me with ease..
I think my mind is pointing towards a Canon A630 - but still not 100% sure, for some reason I have tha Pansonic's TZ3 in my head with the 10x zoom..
Will let you know what I decide..
Geez, we've got so many Mikes in this thread, you could mistake it for a recording studio or radio station...(I know, it's mics)....
MikeB, Henry's put something up on their Web site the other day and it blew me away when I saw it.
Olympus E-330 with 14-45 favourably-reviewed kit zoom (28-90 film equiv) for 599.99 Cdn. Maybe the zoom isn't as long as you'd like and there's no IS (probably not necessary for the shorter long end) but they're things you can work around as you get started..
Mind you, the Pentax K100D with in-body Shake Reduction and slightly shorter 18-55 zoom (27.5-84 film equiv) is only 30-dollars more, so they could both be cameras worthy of consideration..
Whatever you choose in the end, you two enjoy your vacation!.
Mike marshall: Panasonic FZ50..
For some reason I have tha Pansonic's TZ3 in my head with the 10x zoom..
Quality lens. Don't worry about the "noise" talk associated with the Panys. As a famous man still sings, it's a beautiful noise..
Mike marshall: Panasonic FZ50...
Sorry for the negative but I think you failed to read the stated priorities.1. easy to carry i.e. small in size.
I am faced with the same questions. I own a D200 and a DiMage A2 but want to add a very easy point and shoot with superior image quality. Many times I find myself wishing I had a very small alternative, price is not the issue, portability is...
1. Easy to carry2. Has a good zoom3. Image Stability (I am assuming this is a must from what I read).4. Good in low lights (moonlight, sunsets, night time, etc&) withouta lot of manual changes.5. Beyond good at night, I need a good landsaping camera for the daytime as well..
The Fuji F30 or F31 would be best fpr low light and will do very well generally as a compact. No IS, but it is very effective without it..
The Panasonic TZ3 I would have only one reservation about and this is the noise. The camera is ideal for travel, but for low-light I personally would be looking elsewhere..
Your needs explicitly eliminate the Fuji S6500 and the Pentax K100D ( too big ). I'd really suggest you look at those more closely if you can. The basic 18-55 kit lens on the K100D and the fact it uses AA's makes it very useful and would be perfect for landscapes. The S6500 is lacking in IS, but the sensor and general handling make it very nice..
The TZ3 or F30/31 is otherwise my suggestion. The TZ3 if you must have a 28mm wide angle, the Fuji if you can live without these..
Pentax K100DFuji S5200Fuji E900PCLinuxOS..