You should read the reviews on the Canon A530 and the Nikon L3.
That is how you get all the details. The reviews also have sample photos so that you can judge the image quality for yourself.
Steve's Digicams review more of the lower priced cameras than dpreview. So Steve's is where you should start.
Here are links to the A530 and L3:
$150 to $200:
You mentioned the Canon SD600 and Fujifilm F20....but they do not have the manual controls that you want.
Here are the reviews on the Canon A540 and the Fujifilm F30:
The Fujifilm F30 costs more than $200, but just barely if you use the mail-in rebate.
I noticed that newegg.com shows the F30 for $258 (with shipping) and they have a link to a Fujifilm mail-in rebate for $50:
Here is that link:
Regarding the lack of viewfinder for the Fujifilm F30.
I have used the F30 and found that the LCD was difficult to use in bright sunlight. Then I discovered that there is a button on the back of the camera that increases the brightness of the viewfinder temporarily, and by doing that you can see OK in bright sunlight. So that is a "non-issue" on the Fujifilm F30.
The cost of memory cards is quickly becoming a non-issue too.
A few weeks ago, at Staples, I found a name brand xD memory card (1 gig) for $35 and it came with a $10 mail-in/internet-in discount, for a final cost of $25.
A word or two about low light photography.
Trying to hand-hold a camera to take photos in clubs, concerts, bars, and social events, without using flash will result in lots of blurry images.
Any of the cameras mentioned above will work well in such places if you use a tripod to support the camera. Low light (without flash) means that the camera MUST use slow shutter speeds. Sometimes that speed is several seconds long.
The Fujifilm F20 and F30 have the least noisy CCD sensor and perform better in low light than other small cameras.
For the best performance in low light situations (without flash) you will have to spend about $800 for a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera and a bright lens. For that amount of money you can hand hold the camera in low light situations.
That price will be coming down soon. Nikon has announced the D40 DSLR which may sell for around $500, then you need to add the bright 50mm f1.8 lens ($100).
Dear moderator, Firstly thank you very much for all the suggestions and comments that you had given me and others that helped a lot. I managed to eliminate and narrow down in my options..
What i need: 2 cameras in price ranges $100-$150 and &150-$200. The lesser price range one is for my dad as a gift.. As already mentioned in another thread he is a beginner, and its his first camera, so want it to be simple and automatic..
The under $150 range:
Major concern is that it should be simple in usage and should produce good photos. I chose the Nikon coolpix L3 and Canon Powershot A530. Any idea which one produces better photos.. Well the A530 has manual features but probably my dad may never use this feature. So in the automatic mode which camera do you suggest. I like the sleek design of the L3. I also saw the comparison of these 2 in depreview.com and found that they differ in very few features.. Wel once again, i want to know how they perform in the automatic and scene modes like the portrait or the night mode.. Please give your opinion.. Also if you wanna suggest anything else then please.. the usage of this camera would be mostly limited to indoor, portraits, and sometimes low light photos..
Camera in the range $150-200:
Well this one is for me.. I had been using digital cameras for about a year now.. I love taking photos and would love to learn more about digital photography.. So i'm looking for a camera with good automatic and as well as an introduction to more manual features.. I had the Nikon coolpix L6 in mind earlier.. But since it has no manual controls i'm drifting away from it. I have some cameras in mind which are Canon A540, SD600 and the Fujifilm Finepix F30, F20... What of these do you suggest. Probably the F30 and the A540 is the most recommended in various review from Steve digicams, dpreview.com and dcresource.com.. I also compared them but again could find little difference. Now I'm getting the A540 for a solid $50 less than the F30(the F30 goes a bit more than $200). A540 uses SD cards, AA batteries and has an optical viewfinder. Do these count as big advantages over the F30 for a cheaper price?? I also understand that the F30 is much more sleeker.. Hence i'm very much confused.. Please advice.. My major concern is the output quality of the photo and the consistent performance of the camera.. Well i would be taking indoor and outdoor photos including portraits, landscapes when on vacations, party photos etc.. I have developed a passion for digital photography wanna learn the basics of digital photography by using this camera..
Sorry for making it this long. I just wanted to express myself fully so that you could understand my needs better.. Please advise..
Thanks a ton in advance.