I like taking pictures, but I mostly use a bulky DSLR for that (a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark-II primarily). I also like hiking in Lapland, often for extended periods up to six weeks, and my backpack is heavy... So in 2010 I bought a used Canon PowerShot A720 IS to take photos when hiking. Oh boy, did I get my money's worth! When choosing this camera, my criteria were:
Why AA batteries? Because I mostly do not use this point-and-shoot camera for anything else—only hiking, once or twice a year. Such infrequent use is really bad for the well-being of proprietary lithium battery packs, but on the rare occasions when I do use the camera, I need several spare batteries as well (because I use it for several weeks without a chance to recharge). Low self-discharge NiMH AA cells are what fits the bill—they're cheap, well behaved, and find loads of other use as well. I have found Sanyo/Panasonic 2000 mAh Eneloops to be very good for all purposes. I have no experience of higher-capacity later-generation Eneloops, because these old ones just refuse to die! :)
The A720 IS was introduced around 2007, so it's definitely not a hot new product. It has "only" 8.0 megapixels and a "modest" 6× optical zoom, and the sensor goes to "just" ISO 1600, with ISO 400 being all-around usable. But it does have lens-shift image stabilization and good manual adjustments i.e. it has P, Tv, Av and M modes, +/− 2 EV exposure compensation in 1/3 stop increments, flash with fully manual control (though not very fine-grained) and even 2nd curtain sync. Still, it's not trying to be a professional camera, or an especially rugged one either—it's just a plain, plasticky point-and-shoot. But man, oh man, has it ever stood up to use! It has survived my 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 summer hikes, totaling some 28 weeks out there in the wild, plus several shorter excursions, including some in winter. This camera has been through hell, as far as cheap plasticky consumer electronics are concerned! Along the way it has seen all kinds of use and abuse, absolutely stupid weather, rain, and dampness in general for prolonged periods—things I would never have expected any compact camera to take! In fact, light snowfall killed the battery grip on my EOS 5D DSLR before I obtained my A720 IS! So this is one tough, tough camera!!!
It was so tough, and such a good performer overall, that when I saw
another A720 IS on an online auction site in 2020, I grabbed
it as well. At that point, the model was 13 years old, but still fit the
bill for my use just fine! (And I got it really cheap, can you
believe?) So now I have a spare, in case the first one ever does break.
Or rather, I have two spares, because...
...soon after picking up the second A720 IS, I found a used
PowerShot SX120 IS in good condition, and it's now a contender
to take over from the venerable A720 IS. It was introduced
in 2009 (so it's all of two years newer technology), has a whopping
10 Mpix and a 10× zoom, but is otherwise very similar
(i.e. it's a plasticky compact, has lens-shift image stabilization,
and the ISO range ends at 1600, ISO400 still being quite usable). Its looks
are not quite as retro, though. But let's see if it can handle the
elements as well as the A720 IS! For my money, the
A720 IS is the king of bad weather conditions!
I may have slightly overpaid for the SX120 IS, but no matter. And I wouldn't mind at all paying up for a brand new aluminum-body (or is it magnesium that's all the rage right now) compact camera, one with a more modern image sensor, if only I could find one that takes AA batteries! But I honestly haven't put much effort into finding one, as even the plastic A720 IS just refuses to die... :)
*** UPDATE! *** No, this camera does not handle the elements nearly as well as the A720 IS! I took this camera with me on my 2021 hike, and after one single day of rain, the display fogged up on the inside, and the image stabilizer went berserk, rumbling like crazy even when deactivated! Everything did get back to normal after a day of drying in the sunshine and wind, but this camera obviously cannot hack bad weather! Don't get me wrong, this is otherwise a fine camera (I would otherwise prefer this to the A720 IS), and this lack of waterproofness is what I'd expect from a cheap plastic toy camera like this. It just goes to show, how awesome the A720 IS is in that respect!