Originally Posted by RaffyK
...what I am looking for is a camera that is small/compact, has good resolution, zoom, movie making capabilitry and doesn't have too much of a lag (setup) time from when it is turned on. Under $300.00.
On the other hand, I could spend some $s and get a higher end digital camera like with SLR type features and just snap pics when I stop.
Last option is a digital video camera with snapshot capability.
Let me attempt to address all three of your possible choices (based on the 3 paragraphs above), but first you need to really do some thinking about what's important to you, because they really serve 3 very distinct purposes. It depends on what your PRIMARY goal is. Partially because my other primary hobby is underwater photography, I own all three (a small point & shoot digital, a DSLR - actually two, and a digital video with still capabilities), and I use them for VERY different purposes.
1. If your primary concern is having something you can take everywhere, so that you are always ready and able to take good photos (as in Blazing Saddles - "Pardon me while I whip this out..."), then the small point & shoot is the best option, and I would highly recommend a Canon digital Elph.
I have an SD400 (5 megapixels) Elph that's several years old, and have been extremely happy with it. It easily fits in my pocket to take to dinner or wherever. However, for a few dollars more, they now have a 7 megapixel version (the SD550) that is even better (hell, just reading about it for YOU to see if they've reduced shutter lag and other such things, I got so excited that I'm probably going to have to buy one myself!). The Elphs are amazingly small, and yet have great optics and features. If you're going to go small, this is about as great a camera in as small a package as I know of.
This link has a detailed review of the SD550 - use the pull-down menu to skip to the "Conclusions" page for a summary of the key advantages (1.1 second startup-to-first photo, FAR less shutter lag than most point & shoots, larger screen, macro capability, etc.):
2. Digital SLR -- if your primary concern is being able to get the best photos, using a variety of lenses (true wide angle to long telephoto), such as to take wildlife photos from considerable distances, then DSLR is the best way to go. Without getting into the whole Nikon vs. Canon debate, I'll just say that there are excellent DSLRs from both makers, and I'd go one of those two routes (since they will always have the most upgrade options in the future).
If you choose to go with Canon (as Randy Prade and I have done), I'd suggest that you get the Digital Rebel XT (also known as the EOS 350D) rather than the original Digital Rebel (EOS 300D). While the 300D is a very good camera (I had one), for the few hundred extra dollars, you get a significantly better one in the 350D (8megapixel vs. 6 and an entire generation later technology). The next step up is the 20D (what I replaced my 300D with), but like Canon's professional cameras (e.g., the Mark II series, which is what I primarily use underwater), the 20S is considerably more money, and for your purposes probably unnecessary expense.
My suggestion if you go the DSLR route would be to get a 350D (Digital Rebel XT) or -- if you need to save a few hundred dollars, the 300D (Digital Rebel). In either case, buy just the BODY with NO lens, and buy a Sigma 18-200mm zoom lens separately. It is far superior to the lens Canon packages with those cameras, and it will cover 95% of all the shots you will typically want to take, so there's no use wasting the extra $100 on the lens that comes in a "kit" with the camera. Later, you can add the 10-22mm wide angle, 60mm 1:1 macro, and/or a longer telephoto lens if you really "get into" photography. Whatever lenses you do buy, be sure to buy a UV filter (primarily to protect the lens itself) and a polarizer.
Here's a comprehensive review of the Digital Rebel XT (you can also find the old Digital Rebel and other great reviews on this site):
3. The final option is to get a digital video camera that also takes fairly high res stills. You would choose this option if your primary goal is to take video, and you only rarely care to take stills. There are some very good camcorders that take good stills; I have a Sony DCR-PC330, which takes 3.3 megapixel stills, as well as excellent video (it was $1,700 or so when it came out, but one can now be had new for about $1,000). While something like this is a viable option, it is not necessarily the "best" option. Personally, I think it makes more sense to buy a good still camera, and if you really want to take video, get a good 3CCD video camera separately. But if you really want/need to take both video and stills, and want to do both at a reasonable price in ONE package, you can certainly do so.
One important thing to remember if you plan to take photos from your bike (or have a passenger do so) while moving is shutter speed. While you can take decent video from a moving bike (assuming you mount the camera somehow), you will NOT be able to get decent stills because you cannot manually select a fast enough shutter speed. With either option 1 or 2 above, you can use a high shutter speed (especially with the DSLR, with which you can set a specific speed like 1000th of a second) and likely freeze any scene you're riding past. Taking stills with a video camera while you (and/or the subject) are moving will result in nothing but blur.
One other suggestion. Once you decide what you want, if you plan to buy it online, I suggest that you use B&H Photo (www.bhphotovideo.com)
. They're widely considered the most reputable mail order/online photo and video shop. In fact, if you're shopping prices online, and somewhere else is advertising a price significantly below B&H's, it's likely a scam (e.g., doesn't include a battery or charger, or isn't really in stock and they end up trying to bait & switch you to something else...). Most of the professional photographers I know order most of their gear (as I do) from B&H. (I have no financial interest in B&H - I just recommend them because I'm a satisfied customer...kinda like I refer lots of people to you for LT accessories, Raffy!
I hope the above is helpful. I'm not sure you'll get what you're looking for for $300, but you can sure get a fine substitute for your last one for around $500 (B&H is currently selling the SD550 for $450)!