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-   -   compact camera for cold weather that uses AAA or AA batterie (

henry99 Aug 5, 2007 1:21 AM

I'm a mountaineer and want to buy an ultra compact camera (that can be stored in my jacket pocket) that can be used for cold weather applications. The Canon SD800 is really nice but uses LiIon batteries and I can be away from the power outlet for months so really want a camera that uses standard AA or AAA batteries. I've also been thinking of the Canon A710. Any suggestions?Thanks a lot.

slipe Aug 5, 2007 11:49 AM

If I were going into the mountains without any electricity for three months I would probably be insisting on lithium batteries. Sanyo has Eneloop AA NiMH rechargables that make it a little less of a clear choice. But the Eneloop batteries don't have a large capacity by current standards and you still have a weight and volume advantage with lithium.

I've had good luck with $20 aftermarket lithium batteries. I found some on sale for my old Olympus for $10. I do ask on camera specific boards what batteries people have had good experience with. But decent aftermarket lithiums seem to hold up as well as the originals and give me as many shots.

Lithium batteries have a discharge of only about 2%/month after the first day. Even in a cooler environment like the mountains you would find that regular NiMH rechargables had lost a good bit of their capacity through self-discharge over that time. If you get a camera with AA don't consider anything but Eneloop batteries. If you already have a good charger Eneloop batteries might make economic sense if you want to take a few thousand photos while away from electricity. The volume and weight increase over lithium probably isn't that significant. Alkaline AAs give about a third of the shots you get from good NiMH batteries and aren't worth consideration IMO.

You get a smaller and lighter camera with lithium batteries. But if the Canon A710 suits your carry requirements you have a pretty wide choice of cameras. The A710 is an excellent choice. You lose the wide angle and compact size compared to the SD800, but gain in control, image quality and telephoto range. In most situations you can take three quick panorama shots with long side up (portrait), and end up with a standard 4:3 crop around 26mm equivalent from the 35mm lens on the A710. And a little wider if you crop 2:3 for a 4 X 6 print. It doesn't work in some situations – a boiling rotor cloud in the mountains probably wouldn't stitch right for instance. But it works for most things.

I notice both of your choices have optical viewfinders. I find that almost necessary here in the Florida sun, and would consider it even more desirable with the intense sunlight you get at altitude. If you want to consider something with more zoom range plus wide angle like the Panasonic TZ3 there are foldable shades you can buy that might make the LCD useable in very bright sunlight. http://www***** or An optical finder is probably a better approach, but they are getting hard to find.

fishycomics Aug 5, 2007 12:08 PM

would a solar charger be an option they can be built into the pack if you're handy

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