New digital cameras powered by AA-size batteries are pretty rare. Of the 10 or so major manufacturers, only a few of them have more than two models in their lineups that take these convenient cells. Whether it's for size, cost, or better performance, the use of AAs is quickly fading and might soon be gone along with the all-but-extinct optical viewfinder.
For the most part, new models using AAs are either entry-level compacts or larger megazooms where you already have a bigger body because of the lens. If you're looking for something in between, you're options are slim--but there are options. What follows is a breakdown by manufacturer of what's currently being offered. Some of them are on their way out, though (such as the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS pictured), so if you see something you like, you might want to jump on it.
Sony's 2010 Cyber-shot lineup has just one camera that takes AA batteries: the S2100. It's a basic 12-megapixel snapshot model with a 3x f3.1-5.6 35-105mm lens. Given its sub-$120 price, it does have a larger than usual 3-inch LCD. And, like all of the company's 2010 Cyber-shots, it has a card slot that accepts Memory Stick Pro Duo and SD/SDHC memory cards for storage.
Panasonic hasn't officially announced it, but it certainly looks like the company has abandoned AA batteries for its cameras. The last time we saw one around was in 2008/2009.
The Lumix DMC-LZ10 was one of those models, a 10-megapixel compact with a 30mm-equivalent lens with a 5x zoom, a 2.5-inch LCD, and manual control over aperture and shutter speed.
CNET didn't review it, but a look at user reviews on Amazon turns up more positive than negative, which makes it even sadder that Panasonic doesn't have a newer version in its lineup.
Nikon's Coolpix lineup has just two AA-battery cameras in it: the 15x megazoom L110 and the compact L22. Though both are considered simple point-and-shoots, at least the L110 has a couple features that put it ahead of entry-level.
For $279.95 (and it can be had for much less), the 12-megapixel L110 has a high-resolution 3-inch LCD, has a 720p HD-quality movie mode, a built-in stereo microphone, and use of the optical zoom and autofocus while shooting video. The package even includes four, AA lithium batteries for 840 shots or 7 hours of video.
The L22 is just a basic 12-megapixel camera with 3.6x zoom lens, a 3-inch LCD, and electronic image stabilization. Versions in black, red, blue, and silver are available for $129.95.
For 2010, Fujifilm so far has five FinePix models powered by AAs. They are entry-level and megazoom models, however. At the top is the $499.95 HS10 with its full manual and semimanual controls, 1080p HD and high-speed movie modes, and a monstrous 30x zoom lens. If that's more zoom than you need, the company has two 18x megazooms, the S1800 and S2550HD that have fewer shooting features, but sell for far less--$229.95 and $249.95, respectively.
If you're just after something to slip in your pocket, check out the FinePix AV100 and AX200. Both are 12-megapixel compacts with 2.7-inch LCDs and feature 720p HD movie capture. But the $109.95 AX200 has a wide-angle lens with a 5x zoom to the $99.95 AV100's standard 3x zoom.
Though 2009's top-of-the-line Olympus SP-590UZ 26x megazoom featured them, the 2010 30x zoom update, the SP-800UZ uses a rechargeable lithium pack instead of AAs. If you want a new AA-powered megazoom from Olympus you'll have to settle for the step-down Olympus SP-600UZ, which stops at just 15x.
If you don't want a megazoom lens, but still want AA batteries, Olympus gives you one entry-level compact option, the FE-47. It's a 14-megapixel point-and-shoot with a 5x zoom lens and 2.7-inch LCD for $119.99. And thankfully, Olympus dropped xD cards for storage; the 2010 models take SD/SDHC memory cards.
Pentax offers up the only current digital SLR that takes AA-size batteries, the K-x. Unsurprisingly it is an entry-level model, but still it's definitely worth considering if you want manual and semimanual controls, an optical viewfinder, and good photos along with convenient batteries.
The company makes one other AA-battery camera, the Optio E90, a nice-looking 10-megapixel compact with a 2.7-inch LCD and a 3x f2.9-5.2 32-96mm-equivalent lens. It sells for about $100.
Casio seems to have just one camera in its current lineup that takes AAs. That is the $399.99 Exilim EX-FH25, a refresh of the FH20 20x megazoom. The FH25 has many of the same features as the prior model, including a number of high-speed shooting modes. However, this time around it uses a backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, so it should have better low-light photo quality.
Kodak probably has the largest number of AA-powered cameras on the market. It's whole EasyShare C-series uses them and consists of five models with various point-and-shoot feature sets and states of availability. The new C142, for example, is a basic 10-megapixel compact with a 3x zoom lens and 2.5-inch LCD that sells for less than $90.
For $40 more, though, you can get the EasyShare Z915, a 10x compact megazoom with manual controls as well as a fairly reliable auto mode. Of course, if you want to zoom even more, Kodak's Z981 goes out to 26x. (It replaces 2009's Z980.)
Canon appears to be the company that is the last to change with market trends. Because of this, you can still find a handful of AA-size battery-powered cameras in its 2010 PowerShots. This includes the entry-level A490 and A495 and the slowly disappearing A1100 IS. Canon introduced its first lithium-ion-powered A series models this year, so who knows how long it'll be till the company pairs down to just one or two models.