I have used Canon cameras for 10 years now - SLR, DSLR and Ixus. I was torn between the SX200 and the Panasonic TZ7 and plumped for the Canon as the other cameras have not disappointed, and I wanted an element of manual control. Oh dear, how wrong I was. Having just spent an afternoon trying to take shots with it, I am pretty close to hating it, but I will persevere.
It does take some clear shots in day light, but the colours are wrong - purple flowers appear blue. Auto focus in darker (but not dark) situations is difficult, you cannot get close to a subject to take macro type shots as the autofocus does not work - and the macro function on the camera is not intuitive. The control dial on the back is fiddly if you want to do anything other than fully automatic. It's not worth having the manual function as the amount of flexibility you get with aperture is not great - not really the camera's fault as it is ultimately a compact. But what is the point of a manual function if you don't get to play with it?
I don't like the pop up flash either - but I knew that when I bought it thinking that the plus points would outweigh this irritation. Unfortunately they do not.
Plus points are the optical and digital zooms. If I hadn't spent as much money on it as I have, I would definitely plump for the Panasonic. I bought my parents a TZ4 and that is brilliant - but no manual controls.
I did not buy this camera from Amazon - my moan is about the product, not the distributor. My suggestion is that you should go with something else if you don't want to get frustrated by constantly having to step away from your subject and help the camera to focus. There are better point and shooters than this one, in my opinion.