NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, March 2003
Getting Advice on a Digital Camera
Responses to the club president's request for advice on a digital camera.
From Coastal Area Users Group (CAUG)

President's email request
OK, camera folks, is the camera a good deal, and does it have everything I would want?

    PowerShot A40 Digital Camera

    -The Chief Nerd

Response #1

Only you can answer, "Does it have everything I want". Sounds great for the money. Where do you get it for that price? I would search DPReview for references to how close the 16cm macro focus can get: 1-to-2 or what. You should plan on never wanting anything bigger than 5x7 size printouts and never getting just- the-right-moment action shots because of typical digital camera shutter-lag time. Also, remember you need a bigger CF card ($20 per 64MB I good), a set of NiMH AAs for $15, an intelligent battery charger (a 1-hr possibly), and perhaps a CF card-reader for about $20. A multi-card-reader might come in handy later on for $10 more.

'Tis the season to get free compact flash cards and gift cards with purchases so look out for those deals. H-E-B will be open for getting a newspaper with all the after-Thanksgiving ads, if you don't already subscribe. How about writing a brief on what you have found for Bill to put in the newsletter? The features and price of the Canon Powershot A40 sound superb.

Bruce Switfa-la-la-la-la, la la la la
(Bruce Switalla \Email: bswit@usa.net)

Hola Chief,

David, this looks like it would be just fine. The main personal caution I have on it right off the bat is the use of conventional batteries. This drives me nuts on the low to medium end cameras. Manufacturers oughta be shot for even thinking of designing alkalines into a digital camera. They just don't work well. Not even the ones that say they're for digitals. Balderdash and hogwash. If you can't get a camera with a lithium battery (best), spend $60 extra dollars for two sets of rechargables and the charger/conditioner (always keep a backup set of batteries in the chute). Don't even think of using alkalines. Waste of time and money. You won't believe how fast you can go through them once the shooting frenzy begins. We're talking minutes here, quite frequently. Not hours. Rechargables will last a lot longer, even using the flash (which REALLY eats up battery juice).

Also, immediately purchase at least one additional flash memory card. You can get 16MB or 32MB; but don't. Get a 64MB. That's really the smallest capacity you want to mess with. A 128MB card is better. Sounds massive, but once you start shooting, remember that your images are going to be about 700KB or so each at a 2.0 megapixels resolution and the math becomes more evident. If you play with the MPEG function, it'll eat up space like a tapeworm on speed. Forget the free 8MB; use it for an emergency backup only. You won't get nearly enough pics on it before you run out of room and get frustrated. Trust me on this point.

Otherwise, looks like you get a lot of bang for your buck for this baby.

By the by, Digital E-Tailer lists the camera for $222.

-Patty Beasley
Email: patty@ccbirding.com

Thanks for the input, since I have a digital camera (very weak, cheap) and I am not collecting them I want to get one, period, that will last for 20 or more years ;-)

- The Chief Nerd

Again from Bruce Switalla.
Uh, do you use the same computer you did 20 years ago, ;-)? Technology constantly changes and I'm quite happy with 35mm, actually, but I got my second Canon from Best products since all I had to do was add a body to go automatic exposure. Then they added auto focus and now my lens collection is old tech.

For a digital purchase, I would go for a recent price drop like the letter I forwarded you for Gary Spencer. We are, however in a deflationary state with this technology and only recently, I think, have digital price drops affected the stagnant 35mm pricing structure. I think everybody wants sharp 8x10s which necessitate at least 3 Megapixels.

I prefer zooms that include 28mm equivalent because you never know when you need to shoot in a tight room. The Minolta D7 series does this but not as sharply to a very critical eye as the Nikon 5700 that John Hoffmann just bought. But the Nikon only widens to 38mm. I checked out dpreview.com to find that out.

Some very exciting things are on the way in digital, like the ability to pile all color information into one pixel instead of three, as the new Sigma SLR. It uses one-third the file space. And the new Canon and Fuji (Nikon lenses) SLRs that use a larger CMOS, so there's no wasted lens or "tele- photo effect" on all your lenses which focus on a too-small area, on all the top digital SLRs except, those mentioned.

So, just like computers, there's always going to be a "carrot" out in front of us we never catch up to. Plan on giving your cameras to someone who will appreciate them...just like you replace computer parts. I feel good about spending only $99 for my HP when it was similar to $600 models when they came out.

- Bruce Switalla

These responses to our president's request for advice on a digital camera are a good example of what takes place in a computer user group hundreds of times a year. We constantly call on each other, aware that out there in our membership is someone who has had a related experience and is willing to tell it like it is.

As a digital camera wannabee player, I was privileged to be copied on these delightful responses to our president's request for feedback on his choice of a digital camera. - Ed.) Coastal Computer News (CAUG), Corpus Christi, TX

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using the article as long as it is kept in context, with proper credit given to the author. This article is brought to you by the Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization to which this user group belongs.

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