CompactFlash cardsWhile many brands are available, most most CompactFlash cards use SanDisk, Lexar Media or Hitachi controllers, and Toshiba, Hitachi or Samsung Flash memory chips. And it's the combination of controller and Flash memory that determines the basic performance of the card.
(Lexar CompactFlash cards are speed rated - a data transfer rate of 1X equals 150 kilobytes (KB) per second; so 24X equals 24 x 150KB/sec, or 3.6MB/sec. The higher the speed rating, the faster the camera will be able to write to the card.)
However, another factor in card performance is the the way the camera and card communicate, and this can vary from one camera model to another. So while a certain brand of card may out-perform others in one camera, it may not compare so well in another.
Cards for the A40Because the A40 is writing relatively small files, it cannot take the same advantage of a fast card as the more expensive D-SLR cameras, but you might notice some small difference with a faster card, especially when taking movies or shooting in continuous mode.
It has been reported that write speeds with Viking, Transcend and SanDisk Ultra cards appear to be faster on the A40 than SimpleTech and Sandisk non-Ultra cards, with the read speed on just the Viking being slightly faster.
But perhaps under normal circumstances, it's probably not worth spending a vast amount of money for such a small advantage.
256MB have been used without problem in the A40 and, according to Canon, 512MB cards can be used as well. On the other hand, if a 512MB card full of photos was lost or damaged, the loss would be enormous - a few 64MB or 128MB cards might be less risky.
Most CF cards are now shipped pre-formatted, so don't worry if you forgot to format a new card but it still appears to work fine.
Writing to the card takes power, but there doesn't appear to be any significant difference in power consumption for different brands.
(For further information on CompactFlash card performance see http://www.dpreview.com/articles/mediacompare/default.asp?sort=fwwrite)
(This does depend upon having a spare USB port. Serial Port card readers do exist, but they tend to be more expensive.)
The reader appears in Windows Explorer, or any other software, just like any other mass storage device (floppy, CD, etc), so files can be dragged/copied/opened directly in the usual way ... and the correct picture number is in the filename.
I simply create a new folder in my Photography folder, and select and drag the photos from the card to this folder ... and it can also be used to delete photos, and upload to, or even reformat, the card. (Haven't touched ZoomBrowser since!)
NiMH BatteriesNiMH (nickel metal hydride) batteries don't normally come pre-charged - they lose charge over a relatively short time (on average 1-2% per day), so there wouldn't be much point. So they need to be charged before first use. Battery performance normally improves a lot after a few charge cycles.
Using the LCD on my A40 all the time, I get maybe 150-200 shots, depending on use of flash, etc.
The 'battery low' indicator gives very little warning ... there'll be enough power for a few more photos, even with flash, before the 'Change Batteries' instruction appears and the camera switches itself off.
I have two sets, and find this is sufficient. It is important not to mix them, but to keep the sets apart, so one always uses equally charged batteries in the camera.
Extensive information can be found at http://www.cliffshade.com/dpfwiw/batteries.htm
Green Issues - Alkalines and Nicads
The manufacture of disposible alkalines can take fifty
times more energy than they give out in their lifetime, and uses fossil
fuels. Zinc, present in zinc chloride or zinc carbon disposables, is a
non-renewable resource. As well as the toxicity of zinc, extraction and
refining releases lead, antimony, arsenic and bismuth, which are all
toxic, into the environment. Cadmium is a by-product of the extraction
of zinc. NiCads contain Cadmium.
Health effects associated with ingestion or inhalation of water, food, or air that has been contaminated with high levels of heavy metals, such as cadmium, mercury, silver, lead, nickel, and zinc, range from headaches and abdominal discomfort to seizures, cancer, comas, and even death. Cadmium is an acutely toxic metal and a known carcinogen that has been shown to affect lung, liver, and kidney damage, anemia, and decrease in male fertility. Batteries that contain heavy metals are considered toxic waste - the vast majority end up in landfill where metals can leach into the environment. They should be disposed of as hazardous waste or recycled.
See: http://www.wastewatch.org.uk/informtn/batteries.htm and
But in any case, NiMH batteries have distinct practical advantages over Nicads:
- Less prone to memory effect & therefore can be topped up - do not need discharging before charging
- Live longer than NiCd batteries
- Cheaper to recycle than NiCd batteries
- Provide more power and last up to 3 times longer per charge than NiCd batteries
- Have a superior operational temperature range compared to NiCd batteries
- Work well in high demand devices eg. cameras & PDAs
By all means keep a set of alkalines in case of emergencies, since they hold their charge well, but for regular use use NiMH rechargables.
Lithium BatteriesI tried searching for some information on this ... the following links to the Canon PowerShot groups might help:
See also bit about batteries in:
Might be worth joining the Canon PowerShot A-Series Users Group and posting an explicit question there before trying it - wouldn't want to void the warranty - but it looks like it might be OK. Samsonite 'Trekker'. What I like about this is that the camera compartment has a draw-string top, rather than a zip, so the camera slips in easily without risk of scratching the LCD.
(It also has belt loop and shoulder strap, and front zip pocket for spare batteries & card, and nicely fits in my handbag.)
But then I wanted something just big enough to hold the camera with the lens adapter in place - with spare batteries and card, and maybe a filter or two - yet which will still fit in my bag. The Jessop 'Town and Country Mini Bag' is just right for this.
I bought the Jessops 'Alfa 3' (17.99 UKP) the week before Christmas, but realised quickly that I just wasn't taking it out with me because it was too bulky ... it did have nice features (quick release platform, 3-way pan & tilt, braced legs with clip leg locks), tho' the plastic parts felt rather cheap.
So I exchanged it for the relatively inexpensive Velbon VPT-815 Travel Tripod - 19.99 UKP (in Jessops) - 505g, 10.3" when folded, 40.8" when extended - 2-way pan & tilt and that's about it. It would have been nice if the Velbon VPT-815 had had a quick-release platform, but I've since bought a universal quick-release platfrom adapter to fit it. The tripod is just over a pound weight, but seems sufficiently sturdy for the A40.
(If you decide on the Velbon, I'd check it out carefully in the store first ... the first one I took away had one leg that wouldn't quite extend properly, and a metal trim (at the base of the black) on one of the legs just fell off ... a same metal trim also fell off the next one the salesman brought out when he extended it to check it ... but the third seems fine ... so far)
I haven't used it much yet, but even without the tripod, I always try to brace preferably the camera but if not at least myself against something solid.
There's an interesting article at http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/content/2003/janfeb/gadgetbag.html, which might give some other ideas.
For instance, there's the 'Xtend-a-View' LCD shades/magnifier described at
See a few reviews at
Another idea might be to make your own using an inexpensive slide viewer, as in
(note the warnings about focusing sun on the LCD)
or even something like
http://home.hiwaay.net/~drcannon/cp950/eyeshade.htm http://www.powershot-a.com/mb/viewtopic.php?t=2009&highlight=webcam, it can be done /if/ you happen to have a capture device to hand, to connect to the camera.
On the other hand, I've seen references to certain webcam functions provided by the Cam4you software for PowerShot cameras at http://jpegclub.org/cam4you/
I have no idea if this is sufficient to get the A40 working as a webcam in any way, but it might be worth a look.