Since the FX36 was too noisy, SX10 doesn't have the image quality (though an hugely versatile lens and lots of features), and most other cams didn't have a wide angle lens - I suggested the canon SD890 IS. (Which i still think is a great camera for the purpose).
However, at the time i did not know about the Lumix LX3. The wider lens, lower pixel density, RAW ability and better quality video mode definitely make this a better choice!
(Cons: Slightly bigger size and not as friendly an interface).
GTO once you get the LX3, I suggest you take a trip to Bangalore, and learn how to shoot cars from the old man. There is nobody better than him. Learn from the master himself!
Wnenever I shoot white elephant , I always have the old mans shots as inspiration in my head!
Frankly one should go to Rudra to pickup the finer points of photography, not to learn basics. But GTO clearly wants to point and shoot, he doesn't want to fiddle around. Besides, his compositions are already very decent, can't get more without getting technical.
Rudra: Move out of Auto mode, use raw format.
My parents need a camera
1. Point and shoot, pocket-able.
2. 28 mm wide angle at least. (24mm would be great)
3. Macro facility
4. Decent battery life.
5. 4x to 5x optical zoom.
6. Budget about $250.
They go on Himalayan treks where they dont necessarily have charging facilities.
I remember Samurai having such requirements sometime back. And he chose some Panasonic model (IIRC). I couldnt search for that post.
When I trekked in Sikkim, I didn't have charging facility for 6 days. All I did was carry couple of extra batteries. Just be mindful of how much charge is left and keep the camera off when not in use. I didn't even need the second battery until the last day, I take lots of photographs.
Adding AA battery support to the requirements will severly compromise your photographic requirements.