If i recall correctly, you were looking for a digital proconsumer. In that case, you don't have to be bothered much as lens quality difference does not reflect much in digital. You should be looking at the pic quality from the different digital camera as it reflects the whole package better.
But if you are really interested in lens branding, the best would proberbly be lecia popularly used in panasonic digi-cams, followed by carl zeiss popularly used in sony. But even then, both are said to be currently manufactured in japan rather then germany.
Many factors to consider. First the number of elements and the number of groups used affects quality. Then the barrel design too. But to me, the most important factor is the lens coating on the frontmost and rearmost elements.
Hi Hi Trish, we met at SEEDs, I'd recommend you the Canon Powershot S50, and Sony V1, or the simpler & smaller Canon IXUS 400. Since they're pretty stylish imo and the performance is good too.. not too big in size as of your concern.
As for lens performance, and as far as prosumer cams are concerned, you may want to look at the lens speed, as in F stops that controls the aperture. faster lens allows faster shutter speed under same low light, to prevent motion blur.
Other than that, i dunno what else on d lens is important, unless you're getting a DSLR, which gets pretty darn technical. :bsmilie:
The only way to test a lens properly is to shoot with it. And you have to evaluate it yourself. While people can give their own experiences, some lenses have great variation in their quality, and in the case of digital cameras, the onboard processors have a part to play in final image quality as well.