To summarize your post - you want auto, auto and auto..
1. Good Auto-Face detection (as I will mainly be taking shots ofpeople)..
Face detection is a gimmick - standard focus modes usually do just as good a job.Anyhow most of the new models have it..
2. Good Red-eye reduction..
As a result all compacts are prone to red-eye..
3. Good Optical Image Stabilization (I have shaky hands)..
Using a camera with a viewfinder and a SLR-like design usually helps this..
4. Good low-light performance (I don't mean in a *darkened*room...just a room not well-lit). But at the same time, I don't wantbad performance in other lightings..
Not a Panasonic then. .
Canon A710 IS or A570 IS.Fuji F50fd.
The Fuji does red-eye reduction on the fly ( if you want ). I think the Canon's IS is a little better. The Fuji is a little better at higher ISO..
Pentax K100DFuji S5200Fuji E900PCLinuxOS..
Thanks for the recommendations. I am really only interested in buying a camera still in production, so that eliminates the A710 for me. Therefore, I guess the A570IS would be a better option than the A720IS due to the cheaper price? I know megapixels don't really increase image quality if same sensor size...and I am not interested in printing large photos. And from what I understand, the A650IS, although it has a better sensor, increased megapixels too much to actually make it useful?.
Another thing I was concerned about was the AA batteries the Canon A series uses. People seem to prefer Lithium Ion batteries. Should I also consider the SD800IS and SD850IS? (I guess the SD870IS would be out since it lacks a viewfinder) Or are the missing manual options too much even for me, if I plan to do atleast some quick minor adjustments between pictures?..
Thanks for the recommendations. I am really only interested in buyinga camera still in production, so that eliminates the A710 for me.Therefore, I guess the A570IS would be a better option than theA720IS due to the cheaper price? I know megapixels don't reallyincrease image quality if same sensor size...and I am not interestedin printing large photos. And from what I understand, the A650IS,although it has a better sensor, increased megapixels too much toactually make it useful?.
The A720IS has longer telephoto and is larger..
Another thing I was concerned about was the AA batteries the Canon Aseries uses. People seem to prefer Lithium Ion batteries..
I prefer lithium ion (smaller, last longer), but many people like AA's since you can buy them anywhere..
Should Ialso consider the SD800IS and SD850IS? (I guess the SD870IS would beout since it lacks a viewfinder) Or are the missing manual optionstoo much even for me, if I plan to do atleast some quick minoradjustments between pictures?.
Most people have no need for manual. The SD800IS and SD870IS have a wider-angle lens and that's a major advantage. The 870 has a little better sharpness, but no optical viewfinder. Canon's newest LCD's are good enough that lack of an optical viewfinder is a minor issue..
Red-eye is best fixed in your computer after the fact..
The Fuji mentioned above does have better low-light capability...
I've been recommending the Fuji F20-F30-F31-F50FD series to a few people in your situation, and they've all been amazingly happy..
It has the characteristics you mentioned, and especially the low light performance is absolutely fantastic (read the reviews here on the site). This will be especially interesting for you considering your 'shaky hands', or the fact that you'll probably will want to shoot on social occasions, inside, or during the evening/night... all of these are low light situations and this is were this camera line really stands out..
Other pros: the camera is definitely small and easily pocketable, is snappy and fast with little shutter lag, and the included Lithium battery should give you 300-500 shots per charge...
The A720 would be fine. It has a 6x zoom, which I think is plenty for most people..
AA batteries are my preferred choice. They last a long time on Canon powershots, and the A710 IS and 570 IS use only two. Make sure you use decent rechargeables - 2500's are best. The advantage of being able to use ordinary AA's from a shop in a pinch is great. Having said that if you're careful to recharge you lithium Ion they do last well in some cameras ( the F30/31 for example )..
You are correct to not worry about megapixels. However that does not mean you cannot make quite large prints ( 8x10 or more ) - depending on the particular shot and more often than not in good light. Low light shots will probably not be very good at print sizes above 7x5, at least not usually. It is important to keep in mind that no camera, and certainly no compact, gives perfect results in low light, even the F30/31 will not work miracles..
Pentax K100DFuji S5200Fuji E900PCLinuxOS..
For good low-light performance, consider the Fuji F40fd, fewer megapixels than the F50 but better low-light images..
Regarding your preference for a lithium battery, are you aware that Energizer makes AA lithium batteries? They're pretty cheap (I paid $12 for 4) and they last a very long time, even in energy-sucking digital cameras...