Seeking experienced advice:

Discussion in 'Digital Point & Shoot Camera' started by Ken, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. Ken

    Ken Guest

    I am planning on purchasing my first digital camera, and since I am
    neither a photography expert nor intend to become one, I thought I would
    see what others thought I should buy. All comments are welcome:

    I would hope to purchase the camera for less than $250. Any
    suggested merchants?

    I believe I want an optical resolution of 10 or 12 since I feel I would
    be unhappy with only taking photos at close range.

    I do not intend to do anything other than family type photos and
    possibly some landscape shots. Based upon this, I don't THINK I need a
    lot of mega pixels. Most would never be printed larger than 5x7.

    I do not intend to print my own photos. If I wanted a print I would
    probably have a service print them.

    I have read some reviews about digital cameras and it appears some
    cameras "eat batteries." If this is an issue, and one brand or model is
    better than another, this would be helpful to know.

    The majority of comments seem to suggest that rechargeable batteries are
    the way to go. Any comments?

    I see some models for sale that are refurbished. Is there a downside to
    buying such a camera?

    Are there other issues I should be considering such as image
    stabilization? Or is that feature just for pros?

    Brand reliability? Needed memory card size? Please feel free to
    suggest anything I did not mention. I just don't want to buy a camera
    and find out I should have asked more questions. Thanks.
     
    Ken, Mar 12, 2008
    #1
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  2. Ken

    Michael Guest

    A few items from my own experience:
    The only refurbished digital camera I ever bought was from Kodak and it
    never worked properly and completely died in two months.
    If you get double A LITHIUM (not rechargeable) batteries you will do
    very well. Built in rechargeable batteries are useless if you run out
    in the field. Get a camera with double As and get the Lithiums.

    I have no idea what you mean by optical resolution of 10 or 12. If you
    are talking megapixels you don't need anything close to that for what
    you are doing. 5 to 7 is plenty. You can get a very good camera for
    your needs for well under $250. If you are talking zoom range then that
    is not reasonable if you mean 10X or 12X. You won't likely find it.

    I don't know what you mean by "merchants" but a good photo store would
    be your best starting point.

    Any of the name brands would do you well: Nikon, Fuji, Canon, Olympus etc.

    I use mostly film, but I bought a Nikon point and shoot digital with
    7.1 megapixels and a 3X zoom for about $100 at Bj's and it does a good
    job for what digital does best: passible photography done quick.
     
    Michael, Mar 12, 2008
    #2
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  3. Ken

    Ken Guest

    Thanks, I shall keep that in mind.
    I was talking about optical magnification. Sorry for the wrong
    terminology. My thoughts were a 5-7 megapixel camera would be adequate
    for my purpose as well.
    My thought was buying the camera via the Internet, that is why I used
    the term merchants. I like the ability to compare prices as well as
    retrieve information on the net.
    Thanks.
     
    Ken, Mar 12, 2008
    #3
  4. Ken

    C0mdrData Guest


    Actually, The Fuji S700 (S5700 outside the US or at Ritz Camera) has 10X
    zoom, 7 Megapixel and sells for about $200. It is a good value for the
    money. I recommend alkaline or NI-MH AA batteries however, since the
    manual advises against using lithiums. Battery life is pretty good with
    alkalines, unlike most cameras, and very good with decent NI-MH's.
     
    C0mdrData, Mar 12, 2008
    #4
  5. Ken

    Ken Guest

    Thanks, I shall check it out.

    I have a question about the batteries: If I go to a sellers web site
    on the web to view a camera, they have accessories such as the NI-MH
    batteries. Many sell a charger and batteries for close to $90 as an
    accessory. If I search for the batteries and charger by itself, they
    can be had for a lot less.
    http://thomas-distributing.com/sony-lcd-rechargeable-battery-charger.htm

    Is there something wrong with the above charger and battery combo or is
    this simply a case of the seller of the camera trying to get rich??
     
    Ken, Mar 12, 2008
    #5
  6. Ken

    C0mdrData Guest

    The Sony combo is a fine system. NIMH batteries come in various capacities.
    Look for 2500mah or more, if you want maximum capacity. Sanyo eneloop
    batteries offer lower capacity, but have a slower self-discharge rate. This
    means they won't lose charge as quickly as others when not used.

    Anybody trying to sell a set of AA rechargeables and charger for $90 is
    definitely overcharging (no pun intended), and should be avoided at all
    costs.
     
    C0mdrData, Mar 13, 2008
    #6
  7. I used to use rechargeable AA batts with my Fuji S7000. I had absolutely
    horrible luck with them. Various brands, no good luck. I could charge
    them until the charger indicated a complete charge *and they checked out
    at 1.6x volts with my voltmeter*, put them in the camera immediately, and
    get a batt warning light. Sometimes I could get two or three shots;
    sometimes it would just shut itself down. I wanted to recharge, but I
    just couldn't.

    I reverted to alkalines, and I *never* have problems like that with those.
    Now, if I hadn't been checking those rechargeables with that voltmeter,
    I'd just say that I got a bum charger, but I checked scores of recharged
    batts only to have them then not work in that camera. Can anyone shed any
    light on this?

    I like the idea of conventional batteries, available at a reasonable price
    everywhere. A couple months ago I bought a compact (Fuji A820), and using
    AA's was a hard rule when I was shopping.
     
    Blinky the Shark, Mar 13, 2008
    #7
  8. Ken

    Whiskers Guest

    I'd query the accuracy of your voltmeter. NiCd and NiMH cells won't
    deliver much more than 1.2v - but they do stay at that level until almost
    completely discharged. Rechargeable alkalines have the wrong
    characteristics for heavy-drain appliances and will discharge very
    rapidly.

    I don't know the Fuji S7000 but in general terms if an appliance has a
    'battery state' indicator that is based on voltage readings and is
    calibrated to work with disposable batteries (which start out at 1.5v or
    slightly more and decline to 1v or less) then a NiMH or NiCd might be
    below the voltage that triggers the 'low battery' warning. I've also
    encountered a portable radio that refuses to run at all on NiMH or NiCd
    cells because it uses six of them in series and actually needs more than
    8v - but 6 1.2v cells only adds up to 7.2v. My 2xAA Mini Maglite torch
    works with some NiMH cells and not with others; I think some makes are
    shaped so that they don't actually make electrical contact inside the
    torch - the casings on rechargeable cells tend to be bulkier than on
    disposables, and the positive 'button' ends up less prominent on some.
    Presumably you were using the right sort of charger for the batteries ...
    Using AA sized batteries is certainly a useful feature, especially if you
    carry lots of gadgets that all use the same size. But I'd be surprised if
    alkaline cells (rechargeable or disposable) would work out more convenient
    or economical than NiMH cells.

    This site might be interesting
    <http://www.greenbatteries.com/aa-battery-faqs.html>.
     
    Whiskers, Mar 13, 2008
    #8
  9. Ken

    Dave Platt Guest

    I'd query the accuracy of your voltmeter. NiCd and NiMH cells won't
    deliver much more than 1.2v - but they do stay at that level until almost
    completely discharged.[/QUOTE]

    The open-circuit voltage of a NiCd or NiMH which has just come off of
    a charger can be well above 1.2 voltl During the charge cycle it
    will rise to above 1.5 volts (or more depending on the charge rate)
    before it hits the zero-rise inflection point which indicates full
    charge.

    It'll drop quite rapidly when discharged - to 1.3 almost immediately
    and to 1.2 once about 20% of the charge has been withdrawn. A normal
    digital voltmeter has such a high input impedance that it wouldn't
    load the battery down at all, and thus you'd probably read a rather
    high open-circuit voltage for a cell that has just come off of a
    charger.

    I suspect that the original poster's camera has a low-battery detector
    which is improperly calibrated or adjusted - most likely it's set for
    alkaline cells rather than NiMH/NiCd. A detector set in this mode
    would tend to interpret the normal (plateau) voltage of a rechargeable
    battery as if it were an alkaline battery which is just about to die.

    The Nikon point-and-shoot cameras I bought for my wife's use have a
    three-way battery-type selector in the menu - standard alkaline,
    rechargeable, and AA lithium non-rechargeable. As I understand the
    manual, this setting controls the detection threshold for the
    low-battery indicator.

    From a quick look through the FinePix S7000 manual, it doesn't look as
    if it has this degree of adjustability. Unfortunate!

    I've had varying luck with NiMH batteries... there does seem to be a
    fair bit of brand-to-brand variability. On the "poor" side, I had
    disappointing results with Lenmar "NoMem" cells... even when freshly
    charged they'd often "go flat" after about half of the expected use
    (based on battery rating and the radio's known current draw during
    operation).

    The new generation of low-self-discharge NiMH (e.g. Uniross Hybrio,
    Rayovac Hybrid, Sanyo Eneloop) seem to be much more consistent. My
    wife took her L11 point-and-shoot on vacation a couple of weeks ago
    with a fully-charged pair of Hybrio batteries in it - when she got
    back, the low-battery indicator was on the screen, the camera still
    worked, and she'd taken over 500 photos (many with flash).
    True. As I read the data sheets, the internal resistance of a
    standard alkaline is high enough that the high-current drain of a
    digital camera is likely to result in almost half of the stored energy
    being dissipated as heat in the battery. I don't imagine that the
    rechargeable alkaline batteries are any better, and might well be worse.
     
    Dave Platt, Mar 13, 2008
    #9
  10. Ken

    Whiskers Guest

    The open-circuit voltage of a NiCd or NiMH which has just come off of
    a charger can be well above 1.2 voltl During the charge cycle it
    will rise to above 1.5 volts (or more depending on the charge rate)
    before it hits the zero-rise inflection point which indicates full
    charge.[/QUOTE]

    I haven't been able to find any NiMH discharge curves peaking above 1.4v,
    nor have I seen a reading higher than that on my own equipment. But I'm
    prepared to believe that it might happen, if two people tell me they've
    seen it.

    [...]
     
    Whiskers, Mar 13, 2008
    #10
  11. Ken

    Dave Platt Guest

    They sure do when the others don't work.[/QUOTE]

    My wife and I have settled on a sort of two-battery-type approach for
    her point&shoot cameras.

    For use around home - typical everyday shooting - I've loaded them up
    with Hybrio or similar low-self-discharge-rate NiMH cells (2100 mAh or
    so), bought a similar number of spare cells, and provided her with a
    simple low-current plug-into-the-wall charger. Swapping battery pairs
    and recharging happens when necessary, or when it seems like a good
    idea (e.g. after an intensive photo-shooting session). This approach
    drops the incremental battery cost of each photo taken to as close to
    zero as matters.

    She can also use these batteries, and take a two-cell charger, when
    going on short trips.

    For overseas vacations, where weight and space are of primary
    importance (she prefers to pack everything in a carry-on bag, and not
    check luggage at all) and where AC-plug and voltage compatibility is
    in question, I'm going to remove the rechargeables and load up the
    camera with lithium AA cells and include at least one set of spares
    per camera. With two cameras, and two sets of these batteries, I
    figure she should be able to take a couple of thousand photos before
    having to buy new batteries, and could (if necessary) finish out the
    trip with ordinary disposable alkalines. This approach is certainly
    more expensive than using the NiMH batteries with a travel charger,
    but she feels it'll be less hassle and worry, and thus worthwhile.
     
    Dave Platt, Mar 13, 2008
    #11
  12. For the record, my rechargeables were all NiMH.

    I got the same readings with two different voltmeters.
    Re bulky casings: Side note: Those rechargeables - brand aside -
    didn't fit in the battery caddies for my Vivitar 283 and 285 strobes. I
    wish I'd slapped my dial calipers on 'em. I *could* get them into the
    caddy, actually, but then the caddy woudn't fit into its bay in the strobe
    body. The caddies were obviously engineered to be a very close fit; I
    wouldn't have had that problem using them in a typical clock or Walkman or
    something like that. And not only were the batteries from various
    manufactureres, but I tried aftermarket caddies from two sources *and* the
    original Vivitar caddies, while scratching my head and mumbling
    obscenities.
    Good presumption.
    They sure do when the others don't work. Well, in terms of convenience;
    as for economy, though, I suppose one could argue that since I couldn't
    install the rechargeables in the strobes and they wouldn't work in the
    camera, figuring their cost versus their *shelf life* would make them the
    most economical -- they'd last for years. :)
    Will check. Thanks!
     
    Blinky the Shark, Mar 13, 2008
    #12
  13. The open-circuit voltage of a NiCd or NiMH which has just come off of a
    charger can be well above 1.2 voltl During the charge cycle it will rise
    to above 1.5 volts (or more depending on the charge rate) before it hits
    the zero-rise inflection point which indicates full charge.[/QUOTE]

    Good info. My 1.6x readings were taken with two different voltmeters.
    I'm with you...
    That's me.
    Well, then it would be nice if they had a battery-type toggle for that in
    software. :)
    Hah! Yeah, like that. My camera is but a lowly Fuji.
    Bingo.

    But thanks a lot for the above information. That situation bugged the
    snot out of me. Even more so than just having to revert to nonrecharble
    batteries. It was the WTF aspects that got to me the most. :)
    Wow.

    Thanks again for the good info, Dave.
     
    Blinky the Shark, Mar 13, 2008
    #13
  14. Ken

    Whiskers Guest

    [...]

    I believe there is an international standard for the dimensions of
    [LR06|AA|HP7|MN1500|Mignon|...] batteries, but NiMH cells seem to err on
    the large side of the tolerance - and there may be no specified dimension
    for the amount by which the positive button extends beyond the top of the
    casing, so battery makers and appliance makers can both claim to be working
    to the same standard yet end up with products that don't work together.
     
    Whiskers, Mar 13, 2008
    #14
  15. You just reminded me that I *did* mic those batteries, and yes -- they
    weren't out-of-standard but were at the high end of case diameter. And I
    guess I didn't actually say, earlier, that it was case diameter that was
    my fit problem with those strobes.
     
    Blinky the Shark, Mar 13, 2008
    #15
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