Thanks zackiedawg for the good input we needed to narrow down choices for our new camera. Here are my answers to the Q's:
1) I will use cam 70% outdoors on vistas, forests, animals, nature's "actions", flowers and flower gardens, and 30% indoors on portraits, artwork, parties.
2) most important features for me include: high quality pix using a big zoom NEARLY AS Well as with wide angle, good stability system, takes good action pix like fish jumping out of the sea or birds taking flight; is very reliable and rugged; has both an elect viewfinder and LCD; LCD needs to be useable in fairly bright conditions, and sufficient resolution to induce me to stop using viewfinder; reasonably portable; fairly long battery life; easy transfer of pix to either PC or TV. Price @ Amazon or Best Buy up to $400 including case, basic lense filter, spare battery and charger, and with transfer interface to PC. Connection for optional external flash and/or rotating LCD would be good, but not deal breakers
I am NOT particularly interested in the video aspects of modern cams
3) In the past I have taken pix 99% in Auto, and with viewfinder, vs LCD, but now that I am retired I hope to devote more time to cam and will begin to use more manual settings.
4) I am not interested in pocket-sized NOR DSLRs; the bridge cam seems near perfect if only I can find the features of most importance listed above.
I started narrowing cams down a few weeks ago, and have narrowed possibilities to the following: Sony HX100v, the Panasonic FZ 40 and FZ100, and the Canon 30 IS .. all super-zooms with lots of auto and manual features.
I would really appreciate any help you or other experienced photo buffs choose to make. I have already asked Camera Labs to try to run a comparison of the best 2010 super-zoom bridge cams (all those listed above) with the Sony, but your input will bring different perspectives to the issues.