DW, it's a great pocket camera, for sure, but there are things it just doesn't have. I really want at least a tilt LCD. There have been numerous times with my current camera where I had to lift it up over the crowd to take a picture -- you can imagine how those pics came out. With a swing-out LCD you can easily take a picture of yourself and it has the added benefit of protecting the LCD screen itself (flip it over when not in use). I've also had issues with the built-in flash being either too much (most close shots) or not enough, so the hotshoe is a really nice-to-have addition.
I've been reading up on some of these numbers, specifically the aperture value (after Shabbs saying he was impressed with the f/2.0 on this camera). The aperture range on the SD4000 is f/2.0 - f/5.3. Surprisingly, the G12 is f/2.8 - f/4.5. I really thought it would be more versatile than that; the HS10 is f/2.8 to f/11 but that 11 is at the 30x end of the zoom range whereas the G12 is only a 5x. I'm not all that sure how everything comes into play, but I think the higher aperture value at the top end of the zoom range is more a *measure* of the lens limitation (i.e. at 30x the aperture *is* f/11, meaning you've got to use a slower shutter speed or have an under-exposed picture). Regardless, both the G12 and the HS10 have a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which is not as good as the SD4000's f/2.0.
I must admit that I am still not very clear on exactly what all of this means, but enough to say that the f/2.0 probably gives the SD4000 better lowlight performance, and allows a faster shutter speed (for action shots) in non-flash situations. The ISO sensitivity also plays a hand, and all of these cameras have similar ISO ranges. Not sure how ISO ranges play a hand in digital photography because I always thought the ISO measured the speed of the film (and the camera would adjust its aperture/shutter speed settings based on the film being used. Since we're not swapping in different sensors like we used to load film, I'm not sure what changes as the ISO settings are adjusted.
The continuous shooting mode on the SD4000 is actually not bad -- the 3.7 fps is at the highest resolution, and you get 8.4 at low light setting (the G12 is 4.2 fps at the low light setting, so half as fast).
Frankly, I'm more confused than ever. I realize I'm not going to get the perfect camera in my price range, but it's frustrating when each camera sacrificing performance/features for price in different areas.
The HS10 has almost all the features I want, but the LCD is kinda low-res and only tilts up/down.
The G12 has a much nicer LCD (higher res and full swing out) but not as many features and a just-OK continuous shooting mode.
The SD4000 takes great pictures but no tilt/swing LCD or hotshoe.
Panasonic makes some nice cameras in my price range but they all have a fixed LCD.
I usually don't like Sony as a rule, and their cameras didn't really do anything to change my opinion.
Maybe I'll wait until next year