The Panasonic ZR-1 would not be a good choice for your stated purposes because it has poor indoor image quality caused by a very week built-in flash unit. The Kodak Z-915 and Z950 have pleased many users on the Forum. For example, the Z-950 sells from around $130 at Amazon and offers 12mp, 10X optical zoom, full manual and auto controls, and HD video that allows zooming while filming. The Z-915 is 10mp, 10X optical zoom, with full manual and auto controls and shoots standard video. It sells at Amazon for around $100.