Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Digital Camera Bleg

The Darwin family is hesitantly getting ready to step into the modern age by buying our first digital camera. (It's a lot easier to comparison shop the holiday sales online when part of your job is analysing the prices for all major players on consumer electronics.)

Question for those of you who for whom this brave new world is already old hat: Do you need a SD memory card reader in order to get the pictures from the card onto your computer, or can you just use the USB connection from the camera to the computer to move pictures off the card and onto your hard drive? (the camera itself has a certain amount of memory, but it looks like with high resolution it would only be a couple dozen pictures, so I'm thinking a 2GB card would be a good move.)

Here's the prospective new family member.

17 comments:

jawats said...

DC,

Recommend you read this: http://reviews.cnet.com/4370-6501_7-111-111.html?tag=dir

General thoughts:
1) Most cameras will connect directly to the computer, and will act as a drive for whatever media card you put in it.
2) Consider the extended warranty.
3) Unless you're really into photography, avoid the D-SLRs...but you'll see that if you look at the above link.

--Jonathan

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't need anything but your USB cord to remove the pics from your camera; more than that I am not qualified to say! :)
Caitilin

jawats said...

BTW - the ratings on the Fuji from CNet aren't particularly good-

http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras/fujifilm-finepix-s700-black/4505-6501_7-32401643.html?tag=prod.txt.9

PB said...

You can use the software that comes with the camera to move them right to the computer via the USB cable. However I did read somewhere that doing so drains the camera batteries pretty fast. Plus we have a card reader now and I prefer it to the USB camera option.

When we bought our digital camera I wanted a camera that wasn't plastic (like my sister's Kodak one), therefore could take a drop from a toddler here and there, plus one that had a decent rechargeable battery (lithium ion, not Duracell AA's). I got both and I am very glad I did.

I wish I had a larger memory card, you find quickly that even the 170 pictures my card holds isn't enough. 2GB is fine but if the 4 (or even 8 now) is reasonably priced enough I'd spend the extra.

PB said...

Actually the Canon Powershot SD750 (#4 on jawats 1st link) is the camera I would buy if mine broke beyond repair. There were no comments when I was typing mine :)

Jason said...

1) The short version of advice is that Canon (in general) makes the best PaS cameras. In SLR land, they have lots of competition, but for any given PaS model class, they're going to be #1 or #2, so it's the shortest piece of advice

2) You don't NEED a card reader, but it is almost always faster and more flexible than using the camera/comes with software. And they're around $15, so it's not a huge cash outlay.

3) Since you're not in DSLR land, don't buy into the crazy super fast SD cards. Getting a zippy one is nice, but getting a large one is better (though better still is 2x2gb rather than 1x4gb for redundancy)

Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I have never had a card reader and find the USB cord does me fine for transferring photos to the computer. I have 2x 2GB cards (bought more cheaply in Singapore.) For various reasons I find two cards useful, especially if I want to retain some pics on one of the cards for a while for some reason.
Good luck with your purchase and enjoy!

Darwin said...

Wow, thanks for all the quick feedback, guys. (Sounds like I should be fine with the USB cord unless I find a reader particularly cheap.)

Thanks for the CNet links, Jawats. I'd read a bunch of reviews on Amazon and some other etailers, but that helps to fill in some gaps.

The Fuji S700 is kind of a compromise choice. Up to this point, our only cameras have been my two old film SLRs (Pentax ME and Minolta X700), and eventually I want to get a DSLR such that I can carry over one of those sets of lenses (hopefully the Minolta ones) however that's a lot of money and MrsDarwin had very bad luck with the SLRs (expecially as they're all manual).

So the idea was to just get an <200 point and shoot for MrsDarwin and general don't-want-to-wait-for-developing kind of photos. But since I found the Fuji S700 and its the same price as something like the Sony DSC-W80, the thought was to get that so that I could get used to some DSLR-like features while still having a simple point-and-shoot for MrsDarwin and something that wouldn't break the bank.

jawats said...

The Fuji won't really have d-SLR features, unless you're thinking about the shape and moving lens (unless I'm missing something...). Other than that, you'd do much better to get something smallish like the Canon, and less expensive. The Fuji doesn't have many of the features of the Canon (especially the image stabilization) - the Canon's features would also be shared by most d-SLRs.

Darwin said...

Well, the Fuji will allow using manual focus and setting ISO manually (though as I read more on the Canon SD750, it looks like you can set ISO perhaps), both of which I'd appreciate. And I do prefer the larger form factor and separate view-finder. (I suppose I'm being a bit biassed here by a long-held idea that little block-like cameras are inherently unserious...)

What is the difference between digital and optical image stablization? The Fuji says it has digital image stablization (for stills and video) but CNET blames it for not having optical image stablization.

Because of a few different factors, I could also get the Fuji rather cheaper than the Canon, and at the same price as the Sony W80 (about which CNet seems to consider the main virtue to be price).

Still, maybe some additional reading over the next couple days is required. Being a film stick-in-the-mud, I guess I've had a "the more it looks like my cameras" bias.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

My digital camera is very old so my advice may not be much use. However, the USB cord does fine fore downloading the photos to the computer. Also iPhoto will open and download the photos allowing you to bypass any software that comes with the camera. (I know you have a Mac.)

1990bluejay said...

Hook it up to the USB cable! 2 gig is the smallest capacity - not difficult to fill w/ 3 little ones. :) I own a Fuji (plus use one at work) and it is a very reliable camera and is what we're using to shoot the images that the better half is using on the family blog. The photo of the spouse cradling the 2 girls was taken in the dark with a Fuji! It may not rank the highest on CNET, but you ratings aren't all they're cracked up to be either.

Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I still have my Pentax K1000 SLR.... but it tends to get little use these days. Apart from not being digital, it is too heavy for everyday use with a zoom lens etc. But I miss it!

I know people who have bought digital SLRs, and I am truly in awe of the photos achieved. But personally I am dubious about how long a digital camera will actually last for, and whether the extra cost for SLR digital is really justified.
Whereas my sturdy PentaxK has had one servicing of the shutter...but has otherwise been going strong since 1981.

Darwin said...

I still have my Pentax K1000 SLR.... but it tends to get little use these days. Apart from not being digital, it is too heavy for everyday use with a zoom lens etc. But I miss it!

Ah the memories! I hauled a Pentax ME-Super with three lenses (including a massively heavy 70-320mm telephoto) all over Europe in my backpack. 25 roles of film and scarcely a bad picture. (Other students laughed at the weight of my camera stash until we started comparing photos the next school year.)

When the ME-Super body finally died, I replaced it with an ME body off eBay, the slightly older version with more metal parts, and that remains one of my cameras to this day. I think the body is probably about the same age as I am (which I guess isn't saying much...) and it keeps on trooping.

My only complaint against is it that it's just not very conventient to wait on film developing these days, and it seems like a lot of places aren't very careful with their developing anymore. It's becoming a digital world...

Jim Janknegt said...

It isn't becoming a digital world-it is a digital world. I work at the Harry Ransom Center at UT and just this year we totally did away with our analog dark room, completely converting to digital. We had a hard time finding anyone on campus to give our darkroom equipment to. Everyone has gone digital. I just hope the electricity holds out.

Puckpan said...

Take a pic or 2 - and upload it to your blog. Let's see how you do.

Daddio said...

Perhaps a little late to the party, but I'd go ahead and get a digital SLR if you've had a film SLR before and know how to use it. You can just do so much more with it, it's truly worth the effort and cost. The entry level ("prosumer") SLR's have all the manual controls the experienced photographer in the family will enjoy, and will also have fully automatic and plenty of scene modes (action, low light, etc.) for when the other spouse just want to point and click.

Personally, I recommend the Olympus E-410, it's far and away the best bang for the buck (I heard somewhere it was only $499 at Sam's club with the two kit lens that cover 28-300 mm).

Oh, and as homeschoolers, you can really teach the kids a lot about light and physics and such by using an SLR in manual mode.

Having said that, I had a Fuji previously and was very happy with it overall. Great sharpness and color. That's an excellent price on a very good bridge camera. CNet reviews are not worth much, try dpreview.com and dcresource.com, much more comprehensive and knowledgeable.

And as others have noted, you don't need a card reader, but if you take a lot of picture, a card reader will be quite a bit faster downloading a full 2GB card, and save camera battery life. Might be worth the $20 or so.