Originally Posted by krich525
... I work in the golf course business and I'm constantly needing to take quick pictures for reference purposes. These don't have to be high quality.
When I do want to take the higher quality photos, odds are they'll be in the early morning (sunrise) or late afternoon (sunset), so thats why I want the manual setting abilities. ...
You have two very different needs, easy to carry and use for documentation vs. the best quality possible.
I'd suggest getting a simple camera for documentation having some manual controls so you can learn with it, and save some money to get a better one in a few months/years. You will still have a use for the simple camera, and the price of the better cameras will keep coming down while their capability goes up. So in the simple camera look at price (saving for that better camera) and durability as the primary issues. Durability is hard to quantify, but the cheapest camera tend to be those that have been on the market for a while and are recently discontiued. Those will have a track record to look at in the forum for the specific camara, e.g., lots of reports of broken bits.