When someone asks me for a recommendation for a straightforward but good quality case for their compact camera, I generally point them in the direction of the Lowepro range. The brand seems to me to balance manufacturing quality and value for money extremely well on the whole, and the D-Res 8M I use for my Canon PowerShot A710 is no exception to this rule. The A710 is my "go-to camera" and is used more heavily than any of my others, yet the case is still in pretty good nick after a couple of years of this hard usage.
"D-Res 8M" is perhaps not the most exciting moniker you will ever come across, but then which would you rather have: a case with a boring name that lasts and lasts and lasts, or a case called something like "SuperZapUltra 8000" that falls apart after a couple of weeks? Exactly. Much the same goes for the colouring, which is a very restrained black and grey, the only bright colour being a little orange accent on the Lowepro logo itself. It doesn't look thrilling, but it certainly *does* look professional, even if the camera that goes inside it isn't!
The 8M is quite a large case, and is designed for fairly chunky compact cameras (like my A710) although it is not suitable for the really large "bridge" superzoom models. Naturally, Lowepro offer cases for many, many other sizes of camera too, so there is no need to buy this one unless yours fits well. If it does, however, then you will find yourself reassured by its quality. Made of a mixture of nylon and a substance with the frankly worrying name of "ballistic TXP", it is strong without being inflexible, and the soft padded lining means that, although it won't help much if you drop your camera from a great height, it should soak up everyday bumps and bangs with some ease.
The case comes with a matching nylon shoulder/neck strap, which continues the understated look by being in plain black and - refreshingly - not being plastered with garish logos. It's a little bit thin to have round your neck for long periods, but otherwise it's very comfortable and the clips that hold it on to the case itself are of sturdy black plastic and have never let me down. Nor, for that matter, has the solid zip on the top-opening case. In fact, the whole thing gives the impression of being well made and thoughtfully designed, and that only adds to the certainty on my part that I chose well by buying this case.
There is a sort of belt clip on the back of the case, secured very nicely with Velcro, but to be honest a camera like the A710 is a little bit bulky and heavy to be carried in that way with much comfort. More useful is the pocket inside the case which can be used to hold spare batteries or memory cards. I find that into this pocket I can fit four loose AA cells and a single SD card in its plastic case without stretching things unduly, and this is a tremendously useful facility to have available with an AA-powered camera in particular; I don't think I would ever want to move to a case without this type of internal pocket.
At the time of writing, this case was out of stock at Amazon, but I would consider it good value at anything up to around the £12 mark - and given how important a good case is, perhaps even a little dearer. Do be careful with the model designation, though: while searching I came across an eBay seller advertising, as 8M cases, what were clearly the 8S model, which is for much smaller cameras. If you own the right type of digicam and can find a genuine 8M then you will find it an excellent and thoroughly reliable container for your camera. I really can't fault it at all, so happily award it a full five stars.