Small cameras getting too small?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by GRL, Jan 28, 2006.

  1. GRL

    GRL Guest

    My wife has been using a Canon S400 for the past couple of years and it had
    just a great balance of size and function. Took great snapshots and even had
    a very nice fitted soft leather case. Very easy to hold/use. Well, last year
    the camera was lost on a vacation which put us in the market for a
    replacement. The S400 is gone and replaced by the SD400, a thinner model
    that uses SD (ugh) instead of CF media. Since we have other cameras that use
    CF and have lots of CF cards, I'm not thrilled about getting one that uses

    I looked in Best Buy, Staples, and Office Max and on-line for alternatives.
    What I'm finding is that the manufacturers seem to have gone over the top
    with pocket camera miniaturization. They are making them so thin, in
    particular, that they are hard to hold except with finger-tips...and even
    then... The optical view-finders are also getting smaller or, even worse,
    disappearing entirely. I almost never shoot with the LCD on as I think it a
    waste of battery. We just use the screen to view images already taken.
    Looking over the SD400's competitors from pretty much all brands, and there
    are loads of them, none was any better in terms of feel in the hand and some
    were too plastic in construction. The Canon Elphs all have a great metal
    body design. CF was in none of them, too. If one wants something that is a
    bit larger and easier to hold, you have to go into another class of camera
    that tend to have a molded-look grip (good), but they are made of plastic,
    are a bit TOO thick with their larger lenses and have a cheap feel. (There
    are exceptions, like the Canon S60/70/80 line - I have an S70 that I carry
    when I use my big Sony camcorder, but these are a bit above the $250 I want
    to spend and, for that matter, are a bit wide for easy pocket carry vs. the

    Fortunately, the son-of-S400, S500, while not manufactured, is still to be
    found at a few places and I picked one up at NewEgg for $245 plus ship. So
    we still end up with the excellent balance of size and performance (and CF
    use) that the Canon Sxxx digital Elph series offers.

    I do think that the camera makers are creating a market hole, though, in
    their pursuit of smaller and smaller, less handleable, pocket cameras with
    near-useless, in some cases, view-finders...or no view-finder at all.

    Anyone agree/disagree?
    GRL, Jan 28, 2006
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  2. GRL

    Alfred Molon Guest

    There is nothing wrong with SD cards and in fact they are better for
    freqent insertions/removals than CF cards, because the connector doesn't
    have so many pins (which might break).

    As for the size and weight, I guess it's a matter of taste, but at the
    moment there seems to be a strong market demand for compact cameras,
    judging from the number of compact models launched. By the way, those
    flat compact cameras with big LCD screens look cool in my opinion.
    Obviously they can't compete with DSLR cameras, but probably they
    deliver results good enough for the casual user who does not make big
    Alfred Molon, Jan 28, 2006
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  3. GRL

    Paul Rubin Guest

    I think consumer digicams are irreversably abandoning CF. I'm told
    the reason is the number of warranty repairs from CF contact pins
    inside the cameras getting bent up when the cards are inserted
    incorrectly. This is much rarer with SD.

    IMO if you're willing to put up with the S400's limited battery
    capacity and general fiddliness, it's because you want a small,
    take-everywhere camera, so an smaller one fills those desires even
    more. If you're willing to deal with a bigger camera, there's lots of
    possibilities, like the A610 or whatever.
    Paul Rubin, Jan 28, 2006
  4. CF cards are toast! The bent pin issues (alone) have done them in.
    Charles Schuler, Jan 28, 2006
  5. GRL

    Paul Rubin Guest

    One thing I can't understand is why cameras don't also work as USB
    card readers. That is, you should be able to just plug the camera
    into a computer and read the card like a drive, maybe without even
    turning the camera on. Cameras instead generally require a huge
    amount of battery power when connected to a computer, and (even when
    they act like a USB drive) still insert their own software layer which
    is frequently buggy and confuses the computer. They should have a
    setting to completely get out of the way and just let the computer see
    the card. That would avoid a lot of card removals/insertions.

    Similarly with wifi: some professional cameras have wifi interfaces
    that let you transfer files to the computer through ftp or http or
    some similar standard way. That's great. Consumer wifi cameras,
    though, insist on crazy nonstandard interfaces that only work through
    special PC software supplied with the camera, that's usually designed
    by idiots. Again, the solution is for the camera to just stay out of
    the way and let the computer get the files with the user's choice of
    software. Camera makers just don't seem capable of grasping that
    Paul Rubin, Jan 28, 2006
  6. I don't see any reasonable (affordable) way to do that. My Epson printer
    does that but must be turned on.
    That will soon come. Operating systems such as XP are almost there.
    It's called the bleeding edge. Getting all of this stuff talking to one
    another is a major effort when the technology is evolving so fast. It's a
    modern version of the Tower of Babble. You and I know how we would like it
    to work, but to actually accomplish that is fairly complicated.
    Charles Schuler, Jan 29, 2006
  7. GRL

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Huh? Seven dollar card readers do it. All the camera should do is
    expose the card directly to the computer instead of interposing its
    own bogosity between them. That would be simpler than what the
    cameras do now, not more complicated.
    Nah, FTP has been around since the 1970's before anyone ever heard of
    digicams. Professional cameras do the obvious, simple,
    straightforward thing, which is transfer the files using the same file
    transfer protocol that computer networks have used for the last 30
    years and which can be downloaded (code and specifications) for free.
    It's about as bleeding edge as an ox-cart. The complexity and
    difficulty comes when manufacturers of computer cameras ignore what's
    been shown to already work well, and instead needlessly inject their
    own bizarre protocols that don't interoperate with anything else. If
    they just stopped doing that, everything would be fine.
    Paul Rubin, Jan 29, 2006
  8. GRL

    nopcbs Guest

    I think you miss the point. Small is good until it becomes so small
    that people with normal size hands start having problems finding a good
    way to hold the thing with two hands let alone one. I think the optimum
    was the S400 et al. and now Canon has gone over the top with the SD
    versions of same.

    As for bent pins with CF. OK, I have never experienced the problem in
    some 3 years of using CF and, frankly, given how tight the CF slots
    I've used have been, I'm surprised it is a problem at all.

    I'm sure that CF will be around a long time and if it ever does go
    away, I will not much care since I will have a big stash to work from
    anyway. I like it's reasonable size (not so small that it gets lost
    easy), robustness, huge memeory size range, option of baby HD's, proven
    reliability, and low price. I also like that it serves to put a lid on
    how small a manufacturer can make a camera. Sometimes I think these
    guys make 'em really small just to show then can (and there will always
    be someone who will buy them for the cuteness factor alone and forget
    about ease of use - fashion is king, after all).
    nopcbs, Jan 29, 2006
  9. GRL

    Skip M Guest

    Or good enough results for the guy who sees something cool at the side of
    the road when on vacation, but doesn't want to root out the 5D, 24-70, take
    a photo and put it all back again, just to email to his friends at home.
    (Casio EX-Z50...)
    Skip M, Jan 29, 2006
  10. GRL

    Skip M Guest

    I've used CF cards since my D30 nearly 4 years ago, and never had a problem.
    But, then, I treat my equipment with respect.
    Skip M, Jan 29, 2006
  11. GRL

    Paul Rubin Guest

    No matter how small you make a camera, some users will always want it
    smaller. As for problems with the controls, that's a matter of the
    design, not the size. The Minox EC is a highly useable camera
    (subminiature film, not digital) and it's half the size of the SD400.
    So if the SD400 is too small to use, it needs more careful design, but
    should be smaller, not bigger.
    From a user's point of view, if 2% of CF users have bent pin problems,
    you're fine: chances are 98% you'll have no problems. From the
    manufacturer's point of view, making 10 million cameras a year, if 2%
    of them have bent pin problems and switching to SD lowers that to 1%,
    that's 100,000 less warranty repairs, saving many megabucks.
    I don't think it will go away anytime soon but I stopped being upset
    about it when flash memory got towards its current price levels. I
    don't feel I need multi-gigabytes of flash for a pocket camera. A
    256MB or so card is fine and costs just 20 bucks. I was more
    concerned about the issue back when a 45MB card cost $200 (I bought
    one at that price).
    Paul Rubin, Jan 29, 2006
  12. GRL

    editor Guest

    The Pentax Optio S is already right at the practical limits in
    shrinking the size of digicams. I've got small hands - and some of its
    controls are hard to handle for me; it's also somewhat hard to hold in
    some situations (like longer exposures).

    No $4 to park! No $6 admission!
    editor, Jan 29, 2006
  13. GRL

    Dave Cohen Guest

    I'm not sure if there would be a problem supplying power to the card from
    either computer or camera.
    But you can't be correct in claiming camera is a power hog when connected.
    At one time I used a cd player ps which would let me download files ok, but
    didn't have enough power to let the camera turn on in record mode, lens
    would extend then retract and camera powered off. The connection is only for
    a relatively short time anyway. If I have lots of pics I use the card
    Dave Cohen
    Dave Cohen, Jan 29, 2006
  14. GRL

    Jack Mac Guest

    I certainly agree with you. Several years ago I bought a Canon S100 to get
    snapshots mainly of the grand kids. This in addition to the larger camera...
    I forget which I had back then. Then I thought I'd like to have one of the
    smaller cameras that were beginning to come out. I tried a Casio and
    a small Pentax but I just couldn't handle the little things... I couldn't
    hold them still so I guess I was "jabbing" the shutter release. I returned
    them and bought an S400 and I suppose I'll keep it for a long time.
    I use it more than I do my Rebel XT! I put a lanyard on it and wear it
    around my neck with the camera in a shirt pocket.
    The battery may be small but I sure get a lot of pictures out of a
    single charge.
    I've never had a bit of trouble with CF cards. They fit so well into the
    camera and my card reader I don't see how anyone could bend pins
    on them. It's impossible to plug them in wrong without a ball peen

    Jack Mac
    Jack Mac, Jan 29, 2006
  15. GRL

    ant Guest

    I have a little Elph 400 thing I bought as my first digital camera in 2004.
    I wanted a small one that I'd carry around and have when the shots happened,
    and I'd learn what I liked/didn't like in digitals, so I could then buy my
    Fat camera.
    I love the little 400 but I think I'd buy the newer version in a shot. The
    thinner body, and massive screen, both attract me a lot!

    I never take the CF card out anyway, I just plug the camera into my laptop.
    But I'll now be mindful of the warnings. New Fat camera has SD.
    ant, Jan 29, 2006
  16. GRL

    ant Guest

    I'm pretty pleased with XP. I plugged my little Canon Ixus/Elph into the
    laptop when I first got it, and the computer knew what to do!
    Likewise tonight, with the first shots I had taken with the new Lumix FZ30,
    just plugged it in and the laptop knew what it was.
    I never use the software they send with the cameras.
    ant, Jan 29, 2006
  17. I just bought a small camera for just that reason, it is small. I want it
    to be shirt pocket friendly and my Toshiba is too heavy for that. My use is
    for taking vacation shots, not serious photos for large blowups, etc. For
    that, the SLR or a DSLR is the ticket. There is a limit, but personally, I
    don't have a need any longer for the middle sized models. I do like the
    optical viewfinder though. Less movement when held close to the head
    instead of a few inches away.
    Edwin Pawlowski, Jan 29, 2006
  18. GRL

    Robert Haar Guest

    Other than having to turn on the camera, this is how it does work for me. I
    connect either my Nikon D70 or my wife's Canon SD400 via USB cable to my
    Mac, turn on the camera and it appears as a USB hard drive. I can copy
    images directly off the card. I never loaded any software from the camera

    Despite having to turn on the camera, I have not seen any "huge" battery
    Robert Haar, Jan 29, 2006
  19. GRL

    Paul J Gans Guest

    That's because the computer thinks you have mounted a USB stick.
    That's the interface the camera presents.

    Yes, it is pretty neat. I'm a great fan of standard interfaces.

    ---- Paul J. Gans
    Paul J Gans, Jan 29, 2006
  20. GRL

    secheese Guest

    Most do!
    secheese, Jan 29, 2006
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