You are looking for lightness in weight and today it has to be digital purely from an economic view. At this point you then have to decide how serious you are going to be. Do you go for a cheap camera or do you push the boat out? Well first thing to do is to forget all about cameras and go out and buy yourself a kite and fly it.
Seriously, that's what you do then come back and read on. My reason for saying that is it will help you in the selection process and it will also tell you whether or not its worth continuing, if you can't get on with kites no point in going on.
OK so you are fine with flying kites. The next decision is, keep it simple or be ambitious. Well its really down to your pocket and aspirations.
For me it meant a total re-appraisal of my camera gear. I love the 360 degree panos I have dabbled with over the years and I wanted to produce the same only from the air. To do that I needed to loft a serious lens weight, plus camera but because the way the photos are taken I didn't need radio control or complicated rig and to fire the shutter I could rely on something called an intervalometer. So my first camera was chosen with this in mind.
My latest camera is a Canon PowerShot A640. Bought from the Canon Shop on E-Bay. Its great, the user interface is to me easier than the Nikon. It's 10 mega pixels. But it will also accept some of my conversion lenses. Likewise the camera has a USB facility which will allow me to control the camera through a third party interface, URBI . It has vidoe out for the video downlink. The wide angle range is the only downer but at the expense of weight can be overcome by using a conversion lens. Indications are that this camera will give me some good results. I just need to explore settings now.
The ability to accept conversion lenses will be important if you want to take 360 degree panos. This is not because of the field of view as you might think. It is because you will just take fewer photos! Up to date image stitching software can handle huge files so if you have the computing power and the time full 360 degree panos are possible with your stabard lens.
If you choose a Canon camera you can use CHDK. This hack enables Canon camera users to extend their cameras capability.
Co-incidently the camera was also reasonably OK for KAP generally, its a Nikon Coolpix 5000. It ticks all the boxes, compact and reasonably light with add on lenses, it accepted third party hardware to allow it to be controlled remotely and triggered. It has a relative called the 8400 which boosted the mega pixels to 8 and incorporated an above average wide angle facility. This camera for awhile was the one. Like everything these days there are now better and lighter cameras coming out all the time.
As you get further into the subject you will find that you may end up having different cameras for different jobs. Auto Kap is very popular and manufactured rigs will accept any of the small compact cameras.
As the price of affordable DSLR's comes down and an effort by the manufacturers to trim weight off them, they are becoming an alternative. In my view their only advantage is image quality, a big issue I agree when taking photos!! But hang on - 1. You'll never be able to look throught the view finder to take the shot. 2. Many of the compact cameras now take images superior to many older DSLR's