damn it - my long reply gone cause i had to back up a page...
brands to reference and explore:
nikon, panasonic, canon, fuji, olympus and minolta.
brands i'd run from:
vivitar, dvx, mitsubi, and others you've likely never heard of before.
brands that are ok, just not my "top shelf" brands:
kodak, sharp, and to a degree, fuji (although i listed it up there)
get at least 5 or 6mpx and get a good range on our telephoto.
for just general use, kodak can be a good buy for the $ feature wise.
if it were me, canon, pentax or panasonic. if none of those were making me happy, olympus, nikon and minolta.
i canít make a mind see what a heart looks past in hope