Well you're going to find a lot of brand loyalty on most forums, and who am I to break from that tradition? You need to go handle the cameras, and read reviews of them and set a price range. I'd suggest that you buy a P&S that gives you the option of viewfinder and LCD, and allows for external and/or off camera flash. That said, a Canon powershot G9 is a truly remarkable camera for it's price! .
In my view Step One is to figure out just what camera size will be most comfortable for you. And I mean physical size, not Megapixels. In fact, forget Megapixels for now. I once got a SLR-like ultrazoom for all the cool features packed into it. But soon found it wasn't much fun lugging that much weight around. No one size is perfect for everybody, different strokes for different folks.
Start by looking at the Panasonic TZ5. It's not the most compact camera there is, but is probably the most versatile, with a wide-angle lens, 10x zoom, 3 inch LCD and the ability to take HD movies. You can even zoom while shooting movies - a very rare feature..
As an all round camera, it's hard to beat. It does everything. And it's dead easy to use, like all Panasonics..
If it's too big for you though (it's not that big) you need to then look at cameras from Canon, like the Ixus (called Elph in some countries). There are several models, all good, with different features..
Or there's the Panasonic range. The FX35 is particularly useful, with a 25mm wide angle 4x zoom lens and HD movies. The similar FX500 has a 25125 5x zoom and a three inch touch screen..
Sony's W150 or W170 are excellent 5x wide zoom cameras with optical viewfinders (a feature some Canon Ixuses have too).
Olympus haven't done too well in recent years, but their Stylus 1020 with a 7x zoom in compact body looks good..
Fuji F100fd (5x zoom, sharp lens, good IQ, good low light performance).Canon SD890IS (5x zoom, good IQ, OVF)Or SD770IS (3x zoom)..
The camera with something that takes better quality pictures..
Best Wishes, Ajayhttp://picasaweb.google.com/ajay0612Thanks for your time...
I think the Panasonic TZ5 would be a great place to start (and maybe finish as well). The camera is so versatile, compact and produces really very good quality images. Other choices I'd recommend - Canon a650, Canon sd870 and Canon sd790. The Canon G9 is a high end point and shoot camera with advanced features that may not be useful to a beginner unless you are a beginner who intends to advance in photography. But you should certainly look at that camera as well...
I third the TZ5....the intelligent automatic mode is pretty dang good. The only pet peeve I have with mine is no manual aperture setting..
I think the Panasonic TZ5 would be a great place to start (and maybefinish as well). The camera is so versatile, compact and producesreally very good quality images. Other choices I'd recommend - Canona650, Canon sd870 and Canon sd790. The Canon G9 is a high end pointand shoot camera with advanced features that may not be useful to abeginner unless you are a beginner who intends to advance inphotography. But you should certainly look at that camera as well..