I make it a point to do everything the easiest way possible. When you're as busy as I am there's no other way. I normally shoot with a basic Kodak Z650. This simple point and shoot camera is good enough for pics for use on the web and small magazine photos (when set to 6.5mp).
The other day I needed a camera with more power and a higher resolution. In addition, it needed to be easy to use, light, and durable. A friend let me use his Nikon D40 and it was all that and more. I found it easy to handle throughout the entire 4 hour shoot. The onscreen instructions were very clear, and best of all, I was able to take decent photos on the AUTO setting. Keep in mind, I'm not a professional photographer, I'm a clothing designer. The pictures were for an 8X10 semi-glossy magazine. I used a polarizing lens and UV filter to help with the sun (even on a cloudy day it's sunny in FL) I left the rest up to the camera.
Most casual picture takers can get by with a point and shoot camera, but if you step up to the next level of picture taking (i.e sports, concerts, nature, or any kind of print) I found the Nikon D40 to be the perfect entry level camera. Prices range from $200 to $600 depending on age and condition.