Best Buy Sales Guy's digital camera thoughts...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Greg, Sep 24, 2003.

  1. Greg

    Greg Guest

    Hey all,

    I went to Best Buy today to look for a digital camera after getting a
    top 10 list from PC World's web site (I know, there are probably
    better sites...let me know please). I was looking at the Canon A70,
    rated tops on the list for sub $500 cameras.

    Here are a few things the guy told me (comments appreciated on

    1) There is NO WAY I should use AA batteries in any digital camera.
    They can ruin the LCD. I have to buy rechargables or buy the Kodak
    camera (forget the model) that has a special battery and Kodak docking
    station to charge it. Also, the 4 AA batteries that the A70 needs
    will only last as long as 2 AA batteries in other cameras (more power
    draw in the A70).

    2) I'll only get about 4 pictures on the 16 MB flash card. I should
    buy a 256 MB card (may 64 seems more reasonable??).

    3) Don't bother with video/audio capture on any digital camera.

    4) Good & unique things about the A70 are panoramic mode and the
    ability to use different lenses with it if I want to.

    As an amateur photographer, I don't mind spending $300 bucks on the
    camera but I'd like it to work well without having to spend a bunch
    more right off the bat. What should I really be thinking about??
    What would you recommend for somebody who wants a $300 camera, wants
    to get 25-30 pictures before downloading to the PC, and wants the
    batteries to last long enough to take at least that many pictures?

    Thanks in advance,

    -Greg in MA
    Greg, Sep 24, 2003
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  2. Sorry, my camera uses proprietary batteries...
    If you go on vacation and have nothing to offload pictures to, you'll
    want at least a 512, probably more. IF you don't you could get by quite
    nicely on a 128 if you take pictures near home. I'd still suggest
    getting the 256. Fry's sells 256 MB Compact Flash cards for about $40 IIRC.

    It sucks!
    can't argue with that!
    Bay Area Dave, Sep 24, 2003
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  3. (Greg) wrote in
    You have no choice but to use the shape of battery that fits in the battery
    compartment. So if it takes AA, you have to use AA.

    Maybe what the sales guy meant was that you should not use alkalines...?
    Constantinople, Sep 24, 2003
  4. Greg

    Vince_Z Guest

    comments inline:

    Go with Ni-MH (Nickel Metal Hydride) of at least 1800 mAh. The higher the
    mAh, the longer lasting the battery. Invest in a smart charger if you like.
    Smart chargers typically drain the battery before recharging to keep the
    battery well-conditioned.
    At least you have something to start with as you shop for another card. My
    10D came with no cards. Check out Rob Galbraith's site for a list tested CF cards.
    CF card prices and capacities are going down and up, respectively. Go with
    the highest capacity you can afford, you won't be disappointed.
    Vince_Z, Sep 24, 2003
  5. Greg

    EF in FL Guest

    Hey all,
    Rule #1: Avoid Best Buy sales advice at all costs. Do your own research or
    ask questions here.

    EF in FL, Sep 24, 2003
  6. In case you hadn't noticed, he IS asking questions here!

    Bay Area Dave, Sep 24, 2003
  7. 1) There is NO WAY I should use AA batteries in any digital camera
    ..... buy rechargables

    Whether or not the LCD is affected, DEFINITELY buy rechargables. You will
    save a FORTUNE relative than buying throwaway AA alkaline batteries. Nice
    NIMH rechargables ( I get mine at Thomas Distributing online, but WalMart
    has cheap ones at $10 for a 4-pack) are the ONLY way to go.

    buy a 256 MB card (may 64 seems more reasonable??).

    Absolutely buy one or more 256MB cards--but don't them at BestBuy or any
    other walk-in retailer. is a great online retailer that
    will usually get you top rates on a decent sized card. 16MB is absolutely
    useless. It is just enough to get the camera to work and take a few
    pictures. I have a pile of 8MB and 16MB cards from different cameras that I
    use sometimes to quickly transfer files between computers, but which
    generally just gather dust.

    They are cute for an occasional little clip. I've had digicams for a couple
    years now, and I've virtually forgotten that they take video too. They are
    just not that interesting or worthwhile from digicams.

    camera but I'd like it to work well without having to spend a bunch more
    right off the bat.

    The cost of extra memory card(s) and extra battery(ies) is an absolute when
    buying ANY digicam. The next additional cost is a card reader that can be
    used to transfer files to any computer you might use ($20 or less). The
    next additional cost is additional software to help edit or organize the
    images you download to your computer. These are all absolute essentials,
    and are the 'hidden' costs of buying a digital camera--though you still
    won't regret it!!!
    Douglas W. Hoyt, Sep 24, 2003
  8. Greg

    Matt. Guest

    I own the A70, got it in May. I'm very pleased. I'm a complete
    amateur, and yet I've managed some very "artsy" shots with this puppy.

    I would definitely go with the 256 MB card (I had a 128 on vaciation,
    and it wasn't enough).

    I used NiMH AA batteries, and they lasted the week without getting
    recharged. Over120 pics, with the LCD on, 30-40% of the pics had
    flash. Fine compression, Large size. I chose the A70 over the
    Coolpix 3100 because it was heftier with the batteries in. The
    smaller camera just didn't seem stable enough for a slightly longer

    I actually experienced a bug with the panoramic mode. Still haven't
    got that worked out, but I don't need it.

    I haven't tried movies, yet. But the audio annotations are a neat

    Matt., Sep 24, 2003
  9. Greg

    JC Dill Guest

    I used to have a Canon G1 and now have an Olympus E100RS.

    IME, you need to budget for at least 1 extra set of batteries, a
    battery charger, and more storage media no matter what digital camera
    you buy. The default (battery, memory) that comes with any digital
    camera is enough to get you started, but not nearly enough for long
    term enjoyment.

    One of the nicest things about digital is that you CAN buy a large
    memory card and then shoot and shoot and shoot and not "run out of
    film" or pay expensive lab processing to see the images you took. Get
    enough memory that you don't worry about running out, you will never
    regret it. The G1 came with a 16 meg CF card. I sprung for the 1 GB
    microdrive (which was ~$400 at the time), and have *never* regretted
    it. I've been using the microdrive for 2 years, thru 2 cameras, and
    when I migrate to compact flash (it's faster than the microdrive) I'll
    still use the microdrive for backup and portable memory on the laptop.

    The G1 sipped power, the E100RS gulps it. I used to be able to go
    days on a single battery with the G1 and I can drain the 4 NiHM AAs on
    the E100RS in under 2 hours. I have 3 sets of AA batteries and a
    recharger, and if I put the first set on the charger after they are
    drained they will not be fully recharged after sets 2 and 3 are
    drained. So I have to start using set 1 before it is fully recharged.
    To get thru a full day of shooting I should have 4 sets, or more, and
    another charger. I'm looking at getting one of the fast charge sets
    and then alternating the fast charge set with the slower ones.

    JC Dill, Sep 24, 2003
  10. Greg

    Lucas Tam Guest

    (Greg) wrote in

    But you should use NiMH batteries not Alkalines.

    Depends on the Megapixels, but at 3 - 4MP, you can get about 10+ photos
    on a 16MB card at high quality, maximum resolution.

    Do buy a 256MB card - it's only ~60USD... with a 256MB card, you'll be
    able to take ~200+ Photos!
    Well, he got something right! Video capture is a neato feature, but don't
    expect it to be as good as a DV camcorder.
    A lot of cameras have teleconverters + panoramic mode... so it isn't such
    an unique feature. Anyhow, don't kid yourself and believe that
    teleconverters are as good as SLR lenses.
    Lucas Tam, Sep 24, 2003
  11. To answer...

    You CAN use AA batteries in most digital cameras that accept AAs, but in
    most of them the battery life will be incredibly short. Ni-MH rechargeable
    batteries are best. Kodaks are no different than any other brand regarding

    You do need a larger memory card. On the A70, that little sales geek was
    actually probably right on this one. The A70 has a neat 640x480 sized movie
    clip mode on it that takes good quality movie clips... better than many
    other cameras out there. Bad thing - that takes HUGE amounts of memory
    (about 22 megs per 30 second clip). So, if you're just going to take
    photos, a 64-128 meg card is just fine. If you plan on using this movie
    feature on top of taking pics, yeah, a 256-512 meg card is much better.

    Don't bother with video capture on any digital camera? Uh... why? It's
    not the same quality as a dedicated camcorder, but how many people do you
    know that carry a camcorder AND a digital camera around on vacation? SOME
    video is better than NO video, so use it.

    You can do panoramic shots on any digital camera, though some offer modes
    that overlap the last image on the LCD screen to help you out. But just
    take pics from left to right, and overlap them by 30% or more. Then use any
    panoramic "stitching" software and it'll put them together for you. The
    Canon comes with this software.

    You can purchase lenses that will screw on via an adapter to the front of
    the A70. They cost $$ however, so it's up to you.

    I'm in the process of doing a good review for the A70 for my site, but it'll
    probably be a few days before I'm done with it. Hope this info helps.

    DigitalCameraBasics, Sep 24, 2003
  12. Greg

    CNT Guest

    This is to my understanding... comments after your statements.
    wrong site... use (yeah, it's too through, but that's where
    we go!)
    proprietary batteries or regular batteries... I'll leave that to others.
    I use 128MB and get about 60 or more pictures (with my 3MP). I will be using
    it for my next 4MP and see. 60 pictures is enough for me, however, 256MB
    should be great.
    Yes, and it's 3MP. The A80 is 4MP, better off with that one (for you?)..
    Canon G3 has the best battery rating (not the top, but for the class).

    I have made up my mind to get the Canon S45 (4MP), its got almost everything
    the G3 has, but no hot-shoe, no extra zoom, no len thread, no remote, and no
    panoramic (but just do it with a software, same thing and better). You don't
    want the 5MP (with 1/1.8" sensor, as that's what prosumer camera level is,
    e.g. under $700). Make sure you check and be aware of if batteries/charger
    are included, because if not, that's extra more money.

    Maybe it's not important, but important enough to consider the file formats.
    General almost all digital camera has JPEG, but not all have RAW/TIFF (if
    you had to choose, make it RAW, your choice).

    CNT, Sep 24, 2003
  13. If your panorama software is PhotoStitch (that's the one I got with my A40),
    you don't really need the camera in panorama mode. The software will take
    care of everything.

    Juan R. Pollo, Sep 24, 2003
  14. Greg

    Whatevah Guest

    I felt like adding on to what everybody else said... :)

    keep away from pc world, pc mag, any of those. their info is usually
    biased, or outdated.
    first, most guys in department stores or retail places like Best Buy usually
    don't know much. just what they've heard, or read on the boxes the cameras
    come in. (I said "most", there are always exceptions)
    never heard of akaline batteries harming an LCD. the sales guy was spouting
    a rumor he heard...

    like others said, definately go with rechargeables... get the highest
    capacity batteries you can, and a good smart charger. depending on how fast
    the camera goes through them, you'll need to get a few extra sets.
    4 megabytes a shot? don't think so, not with the A70. if you shoot in
    maximum JPEG quality, you'll get around 1.5 megabytes per image, which gets
    you closer to 10 pictures...

    definately go with a 128mb card, or two... I have 2 128mb cards, and 1
    256mb card. 128mb gets me around 70 shots or so, on maximum quality.
    while it's true that the quality "ain't so great", it's better than nothing,
    and is fun to play with. movie mode is really just a gimmick to get you to
    buy the camera, but it's pretty cool.
    others have already covered this well.
    sadly, my favorite camera website is offline. ( ) a
    brand-new A70 runs at $300, if my memory serves correctly. don't forget to
    add on the cost of batteries and charger, memory cards, and shipping (if you
    do it from an online store)

    I'd recommend looking for Canon or Nikon cameras... quality is usually the

    if you decide to buy online, I'd suggest using or (yes, they sell some digital cameras!)
    good luck
    Whatevah, Sep 24, 2003
  15. Greg

    Ron Hunter Guest

    I suspect he was referring to alkaline batteries which really are not
    suitable for digital camera use. NIMH or Lithium AA cells are just fine.
    Pretty much true. You will get only a couple of full resolution minimum
    compression shots on a 16 meg card. Anything under 128 meg for a camera
    like the A70 is a waste of time.
    It isn't a feature I would particularly require, but I have it on my
    camera and I find that it is often very useful, particularly if one
    wants to get shots of things that won't stand still.
    Good, sure, but hardly unique. Many cameras have these features.
    My camera uses AA NIMH batteries. I get 100-150 shots from a set of
    batteries (2 AA), and a 128 meg card affords me 120 (approx.) full
    resolution (2 mp) pictures.
    Ron Hunter, Sep 24, 2003
  16. Greg

    Mark B. Guest

    The bit about ruining the LCD was crap. But alkalines will only last for a
    few shots. Buy a charger and a couple sets of NiMH batteries. I think the
    line about the 4 batteries in the A70 lasting only as long as 2 in other
    cameras was crap also.
    Get at least a 128MB, or maybe a couple. Don't buy them from Best Buy. Do
    a search on the net.
    I'll agree with that for the most part, it's a gimmicky marketing feature.
    It doesn't really have a panaroma mode, but you can stitch photos together
    to create a panaroma. Canon's software supplied for this is pretty good.
    Accessory lenses are useful, but not necessary.

    Mark B., Sep 24, 2003
  17. Greg

    Andrew Guest

    I would consider 256MB to be the bare minimum. I would recommend getting
    a 512MB card. A 1GB card might be nice, but many people dislike putting
    too many eggs in one basket. A 512MB card is nice because you can archive
    the entire card onta a CDR.

    Andrew, Sep 24, 2003
  18. Greg

    JK Guest

    It is okay, except that the lens is slow at the telephoto end. The Olympus
    C4000 is only around $50 more (around $330) and has a lens that
    is f2.8 throughout its entire zoom range. The C4000 is 4 megapixels,
    and can focus to within less than an inch for awesome closeup images.

    buy rechargeables, as alkaline batteries last a very short time in digital
    Getting something with a lens that is reasonably fast at the telephoto end.
    Olympus C4000.
    Get a 128 meg Smart Media card.
    Get a battery charger and at least 2 sets of nimh batteries. All this
    would cost you around $400. You won't get a decent camera, two sets
    of rechargeable batteries, and a decent sized memory card unless
    you buy something used. Be prepared to spend at least $400.
    JK, Sep 24, 2003
  19. Greg

    Greg Guest

    Great comments guys! I knew this was the right place to come. I
    don't mind getting the extra stuff if it's really worth it, but I just
    didn't trust that Best Buy guy.

    They did have the A70 for $300, which may be comaprable to online
    prices. I think I'll look for memory & batteries online though, and
    also check out the suggested sites.

    Thanks alot!

    -Greg in MA
    Greg, Sep 24, 2003
  20. Hi Greg,

    I read with interest your questions and all the answers in the thread so
    far. Obviously being based in the old world (Germany) I cannot be of much
    help in the 'where to buy cheap' category.
    However, I am joining into the discussion because I found quite a number
    of responses in the thread that touch on a lot of points I was unsure
    about when I jumped into the fray and bought a 4 MP camera (Canon G2)
    before my camping holiday. Some of the postings are ranging afield from
    your proposed questions but I think you could actually ask for more than
    you did in your posting e.g. 25 pictures between downloads ...

    1) I was surprised on the quality of the pictures the 4 MP chip yielded at
    about 1,2 MB file size per picture. For the first time I felt it worth to
    have hard copies up to 6x8 inches made from digital shots. I feel
    confident that one doesn't need to look further for cameras beyond the 4
    MP range for this size of prints.

    2) The 256 MB CF chip that I bought works out to about 220 pictures. I
    bought three 256 MB CF chips and backed them up on my notebook. But I did
    not erase the files from the CF chips either because the harddisk of a
    notebook may crash fatally at any time. I think I may even limit myself to
    memory chips of 256 MB because when travelling they may get faulty too (or
    get lost or stolen), losing all their content.

    3) I started my holiday with the G2, one Li-ion batterypack and a charger.
    I fretted all the time to minimize battery drain because I was unsure if I
    could load the battery out there at all. Actually I couldn't and actually
    I didn't need to. The battery lasted through 600 pictures and weeks on
    after the holiday with more frequent usage of the LCD screen. I had
    ordered two more battery packs through ebay that had arrived only after
    my holiday. It may prove to calm the nerves in future travels to have
    these spare batteries but I would be happy with just one spare.

    With my previous experience with digital cameras I joined the troops of
    the futuristic electronic media world. Digital pictures would be happy on
    electronic displays, eg LCD screens, TV-sets or the like. Now I think that
    digital shots are so good that only large format prints will do justice to
    them. So beware of other costs besides the ones you were calculating for
    equipment: namely paying up for hundreds of color prints to distribute
    among your friends and relatives because 4 MP cameras are now quite
    capable to far outdistance any electronic display that I know of or expect
    to appear in the forseeable future.

    Some remarks on the choice of the G2 that could possibly be generalized to
    other choices:

    - I felt I didn't need the 4x zoom facility of the G3 or the 5 MP CCD of
    the G5. With aftersight I am not so sure about the 4x zoom but quite sure
    about the 5 MP.
    - I did know that the G2 was weak in the categories of 'shutter lag' and
    'time to shoot' but thought I would adjust to this quirk. Some thousand
    pictures later I would definitely rethink and chose faster models like the
    G3 or G5.

    - The G2 was categorized as a 'substantial' (heavy) camera that can be
    gripped securely and would reduce jitter. This seems true enough to me but
    I will not carry this weight with me all the time.

    - With the advent of the really stunning pictures a 4 MP camera can yield
    (especially when avoiding shooting in the harsh midday light) the pictures
    themselves will become of importance: how to securely and redundantly
    store them, how to view or display them properly, how to distribute them
    to loved ones.

    Wish you luck
    Guenter Fieblinger, Sep 24, 2003
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