unrelated to audio- digital camera buffs please

sorry for the unrelated to audio thread, but I need some quickly dispensed advice on buying a digital camera, preferably less or way less than $300 for a upcoming vacation. it needs to be compact, good battery life & best pic quality possible. My wife already has a Fuji S5200 that way too big & complicated for a luddite like me. she said we already have fine pix viewer on our computer (whatever that is & buy a Fuji, it'd be compatible w/that). it will be carried on a motorcycle & see some harsh treatment based on where I'm headed. (Oregon & burningman so you get the picture) thanks & cheers!
Check out Canon they have always made nice P&S digitals as well as very nice $8K high end bodies.
I can't be of too much help, except that a camera with a battery that you can re-charge is really good. Then, also get a back-up battery.

Also, estra memory cards are good to have, too.
Rugged and compact usually don't go together so I can't speak to how durable a digital point and shoot will be on a motorcycle. Also, the Fuji S5200 goes to 380mm so you won't get that kind of zoom range in a compact digital camera. But if you are interested in a compact with a wide angle zoom, you might consider the Canon SD800IS which goes for about $300. It has a wide angle zoom from 28mm-105mm and has image stabilization.

This camera just became obsolete this week with the introduction of the Canon 870IS which I don't believe is available yet. Still, you might be able to get a good deal on the SD800IS. You can read a review on SD800IS from Ken Rockwell here.

You can read Ken Rockwell's other suggestions here.

If you need a little bit longer zoom, the Canon SD850IS goes from 35mm-140mm, but I find the wide angle 28mm much more useful than the zoom of 140mm. You can read Ken's review here.
Canons are good. I have a Toshiba and really like it. The most important thing for motorcycle usage (I'm a biker, too) is to find one that is ruggedly built. It would be nice if it had a built-in lens cap, not a separate plastic one that can get lost.

You also want one with an optical viewfinder, the LCD will get washed-out in bright sunlight. It would be nice if you could work the main controls with your gloves on.

Check out this site, I researched there extensively before I bought my Toshiba: http://dpreview.com/

BTW, the Canon PowerShot A710 IS looks like a nice piece, and it's less than $300, the A560 IS looks good for around $200 (I think IS stands for "image stabilization")...

I have used all makes and models as a pro. If you can spend a little extra without a doupt the best travel point and shoot is the Canon Powershot G9 and the new model supports RAW.
Good Luck
Built in rechargable batteries are nice but they can also leave you stranded. My Canon runs on 4 AA. I bought rechargable batteries for it but have used regular ones in a pinchs as well. Just somthing to keep in mind on long rides.
Advice from personal experience.
Get the biggest, brightest LCD screen you can find for the money.
Get rechargeable batteries, they last longer.
Have a look @ Panasonic. I am waiting for the new LUMIX DMC-FZ18 W/18X zoom to hit the shelves in Sept. I have a Cannon S520 and although it does well outside it does not do well in low light. Canon is lagging in that Dept., so I hear.
I use Lithium batteries when storage and space are an issue.
Sams Club have good prices.
thanks for all the great info. i'm going to head out today & pick something up....sounds like Canon might be the way to go.
If you can find the way to swing another $50, the Canon SD900, with 10 meg is highly recommended, and even does video very well.

Very small, titanium case, and extra batteries are 2 for $10 on ebay. I have the camera, recharger, extra memory card and 3 extra batteries in a case 3 inches tall, by 2 inches wide. It goes everywhere with me.

I also have the sd600 with 6 meg, and while it's good the sd900 is outstanding. Have fun.
I've got smaller Fuji's that are awesome and indestructible for the price. Spend $125, get 5.2megapixels and that should do. Also, for that price, who cares if you drop it, lose it or get it wet? Check out ritzcamera.com They are a real store with great service.
I second the Canon suggestion. Small canon's can't be beat IMO. Good lenses and good electronics (metering etc) is more important that lots of megapixels. Canon has a very usable optical viewfinder - I use this instead of the LCD to save the battery when on vacation - can take 100+ shots per day without refueling.
What was said about having an optical viewfinder is important, both for saving battery as well as when a screen gets washed out in bright daylight.

If you're doing video, you can also follow much better with the optical viewfinder.

After having one Nikon digital camera without it, I would not consider buying a viewfinder-less camera again.
Knowing the OP has made his decision, I thought I would share a great comment on this for a recommendation. Olympus makes a great digital point and shoot rugged compact camera which happens to also be able to shoot underwater.

The pictures are good, no complaints and it is easy to use (I have thousands of dollars worth of Canon Digital SLR gear and the photos on this p&s are good).

The beauty of this camera is that it is rugged (can be dropped onto concrete from 5 feet), can not only get wet, but can be submerged in water (and yes, even take underwater pictures). All openings on the camera are o-ring sealed. My nephew just took it to Africa for a Safari/studying gorilas - an environment that kills many cameras.

It's reliable, takes good P&S pics, light and small, easy to use and you don't have to treat it like a baby. It is my most highly recommended P&S camera for people that like the outdoors. It's all metal - obviously. They came out with a new/updated version in 2010.

Don't get caught up in Megapixels - these numbers for comparison are over rated. Look more at the quality of the lense and the sensors use.
What snofun3 said! When it's sunny out, the lcd screen is very difficult to see. Must have an optical viewfinder.