For good low light performance you really need a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera.
But they are not small and not withing the budget you listed.
Small cameras do not do well in low light because of noisy CCD sensors.
Fujifilm developed a "Super CCD sensor" that produces less noise at high ISO settings. Any of their cameras that use the "Super CCD sensor" will be as good as you can get for low light in small cameras.
The Fujifilm F50fd is their current small model that has that sensor.
Hello to everyone, this is my first post here on the forums, and I could really use some suggestions for a digital camera. I currently use a Sony DSC-T20 8mp camera for my business. It's light and it's compact and fits in a pocket, all important features for me. My problem now is that for my business, we're attending a lot of music concerts and meeting with celebs and things at night where the lighting is always terrible. Places like dressing rooms, in a restaurant, backstage, and some during a concert. My T20 is not good at taking pictures if the lighting is bad. When you're standing next to someone famous in the dark, you get one, maybe two shots at the most to get it right. I'd like to spend about $300-$500 to get a small compact camera that takes exceptional pictures in dark settings. It needs to react quickly to the flash and get the shot in focus and not blurry the first time. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Thank you ahead of time for your response.