I'm looking for an easy-to-use budget-priced compact camera with viewfinder as well as an LCD screen? Any suggestions, folks?
Cannon Ixus or a Sony Cybershot
I've had a Canon Ixus 400, which was a superb camera, but the memory card reader/writer in it eventually failed. That had a good viewfinder and I'm sure the more recent ones do too.
Currently I have a Sony Cybershot DSC-W100 which has an optical viewfinder. Its a very good camera although the control dial seems really sensitive and sometimes has a life of its own.
Would recommend either Canon or Sony. However both of these suffer from the parallax effect of not being a true TTL view of the photo (which you get in DSLRs) - but generally they are fine for close photos.
not exactly compact, more SLR-lite, but a superb camera that can be found for around the £100 mark if you hunt about a bit.
Sony DSC-W55 or successor?
Sony DSC-W55 I bought recently is OK, it seems to do the trick. It is pretty standard and feels quite OK to chuck about. It isn't worth paying more than 100 pounds for, if that. It may be antiquated tech, and as such might be worth getting one of its much newer versions, if they're not much more money.
The Canon IXUS 960 IS
or the Canon G9 if you want it black with RAW mode, and a little bigger to grip.
As you asked for a simple to use camera, if you go with the IXUS, a Sandisk Extreme III 2 or 4GB SD memory card, and a spare battery, you'll be sorted. Make sure you get the fast memory card recommended here, it's only about £12 from the usual large online retailers, and it will speed up the camera. You'll probably want the Canon leather case too as that's only about £7 online.
Optical viewfinders are a rarity these days, but the IXUS has a better viewfinder than most.
Canon A710 IS & A720 IS
I have used various A series Canon cameras over the years and been pleased with them all. Of course my Nikon Digital SLR D80 is better but for convenience my current compact Canon A710 IS is great.
It has 6 times zoom, image stabilisation, 2.5 " display, 1cm macro, VGA movies, and more. See www.dpreview.com that gives this and the current A720 IS models a great report. Current model A710 IS is available from Jessops for £149.
Also you can download the free if unsupported SW from http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK to add lots of features including RAW support!
I recently had a hands on a Canon G9 which was very nice to use but of course much more expensive and once you have applied above sw does not have a lot of extra features over the A710.
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