A good place to look is at amazon.com. I have purchased 5, or 6 Hewlett Packard digital cameras in the past year for use in the construction industry by several "electroncially challenged" individuals.
They have all held up well and are relatively easy to use and inexpensive. You can't go wrong with any of the major brands, just be sure you get the features you want. The optical zoom is more important that the digital zoom if you want to be able to shoot pictures of objects with a higher level of detail.
You should be able to get a camera like you want for around $ 200, or even less.
ok, here is what I have learned in my recent research.
after my 2 y/o tossed my nikon 8700 into the ocean this summer, i found myself looking for a new camera. I wound up getting two, because I wanted an slr, but everday carry was out of the question with it, so i got a compact point and shoot also. after extensive research, i purchased the pentax optio s5z,HERE from b&h, for $264, plus tax. added 2 one gig SD cards, and three extra batteries, and tiny belt case and total came to $550.
Reasons i chose this one, and I looked at them ALL, in person, is as follows.
smallest overall package, just a hair bigger than my cell phone
5 mp, with 3x optical zoom
2.5 inch screen
yada yada yada
but the ONE DECIDING FACTOR was .01sec shutter lag. best in class by a margin so wide that it became a no brainer.
anyone who has ever used a P&S digital know how frustrating shutter lag is. It is non-existant with this little gem, and I love it. The quality of pics is great, and it is one of the most intuitive little guys I have ever used.
check it out, you will be amazed by this one.
no optical viewfinder, but more than compensated for by the screen, big, bright, and sharp.
also, I have been a nikon guy for 25 years, and it was hard for me to consider a pentax just because, but it made the comparable nikon look huge by comparison, even though the specs were almost identical otherwise EXCEPT shutter lag
Lemme email one of my friends and get back to you. He was just looking for a replacement for his "pocket" digital camera (which died a horrible death I believe from ending up in a mountain stream while skiing, but I could be wrong) and had found one that would probably meet your needs as well depending on your price range.
So...assuming the photography forum doesn't get amazingly busy and bury it, I'll find this thread back when I hear from him.
Nono... it ended up in the Pacific Ocean. Apparently electronics and salt water don't like each other.
Canon A510 or A520 are excellent choices IMHO. Full control compact cameras with high image quality and low price.
Forgot he had an account here. If he didn't, the above is what I would have posted for him.
I LOVE MINE!