Originally Posted by griffin
I do take pictures of family and friends, but it seems that most of what I want pictures of happens outside. It would be ideal if the thing could handle a variety of situations and lighting conditions - sometimes I'm dealing with things that hold still (plants, sunsets, people posing), sometimes not (the dogs, wildlife). Capacity for panoramic views would be nice.
Manual control is not that important - if I get to the point where I think I have the patience and skill for manual control to matter, I'd invest and upgrade.
If I wind up paying for it myself, I could go as high as $300 - if I can get someone to chip in as a present, who knows. At this stage I don't even know what money buys what features. Obviously, different models are going to have trade-offs. If I had to pick between say more zoom and a panoramic view option, I'd pick the zoom. Light weight vs. storage capacity, I'm going with weight (within reason). I probably won't be printing my own photos in the near future, although my sort-of-step-mom may decide to do it for me now and again.
Kodak EasyShare V570 5MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom
this is a good bet. its pana is GREAT, it is very small and at amazon for $308 you might be able to find it cheaper but amazon is a great place to ready reviews
from the Manufacturer
With the Kodak EasyShare V570 zoom digital camera, Kodak has introduced the world's first dual-lens digital still camera. Using proprietary Kodak RETINA Dual Lens technology, the elegant V570 camera wraps an ultrawide angle lens (23 mm) and an optical zoom lens (39-117 mm) into a small, sleek package less than an inch thin.
The Kodak Easyshare Z570's dual-lens system
The innovative EasyShare V570 camera's ultrawide angle lens coupled with its optical zoom lens produces a total 5x optical zoom range, providing more options to help today's picture takers capture the perfect shot--group photos, scenic landscapes, dramatic portraits, and close-ups. No other consumer digital camera offers such a wide angle of view, nor the unique, sophisticated design of this model, whose all-glass, stacked Schneider-Kreuznach C-Variogon prism lenses never extend from the camera body.
The Kodak Easyshare Z570's panoramic possibilities
Use the Z570's ultrawide view to take 180-degree vistas in just three shots.
Wide-Angle Panorama Stitching and Advanced Video Performance
In addition to its dual-lens design, the 5-megapixel V570 camera boasts a variety of notable features to enhance the photography experience, including in-camera panorama stitching, which automatically combines three pictures into a panorama photograph. Using the ultrawide view in panorama scene mode, people can take in a 180-degree vista with just three shots--an industry exclusive.
Packing advanced video performance, the camera makes it easier for users to shoot all types of action in the way that many filmmakers prefer--with an ultrawide angle to capture more of the scene. The EasyShare V570 camera records TV-quality video, up to 30 frames per second (fps) using advanced MPEG-4 compression. Built-in image-stabilization technology reduces on-screen shaking from unintentional hand and camera movement. The camera also offers an optical zoom feature for video including autofocus. It's simple to select any frame in a video, then save and print it as a "freeze frame" still picture in just seconds.
The Kodak Easyshare Z570's Photo Frame 2 dock
The multipurpose Photo Frame 2 dock also turns the camera into a stylish photo viewer.
Other notable features of the V570 camera include:
* A big, brilliant 2.5-inch, high-resolution LCD screen
* The exclusive Kodak Color Science image processing chip for phenomenal image quality with rich color, accurate skin tones, low noise, and precise exposure
* Automatic red-eye reduction, on-camera cropping, picture blur alert, and auto picture rotation;
* In-camera distortion correction to compensate for ultrawide angle fish-eye effects, which can be turned on or off
* Twenty-two scene modes plus three color modes, helping snap shooters capture the best possible shot with the least possible effort
* The Photo Frame Dock 2, which provides one-touch picture transfer to a connected computer while keeping the camera's high-capacity lithium-ion battery charged and ready to go, and which can play video and photo slideshows on the camera's high-resolution LCD screen
* 32 megabytes of internal memory, plus a SD card slot for additional storage
The Kodak EasyShare V570 camera includes Kodak EasyShare software for Windows and Macintosh systems, providing effortless digital picture organization, editing, sharing, and printing--and even CD and DVD burning. The exclusive One Touch to Better Pictures feature takes advantage of proprietary color technologies developed by Kodak to help users get vibrant, true-to-life prints from inkjet printers, while the enhanced favorites feature helps you always have your best shots at hand, whether on your camera, on your computer, or online via the Kodak EasyShare Gallery.