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Digital Camera Question - docks, no docks
Old 12-24-2008, 11:17 AM   #1
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Digital Camera Question - docks, no docks

Over the past few years, I've bought a few Casio cameras for the family. They are a great value, IMO. One thing bugs me though - they use a dock rather than connect directly to the computer thru USB. Or, a special cable for the computer, and a separate charger. So, you have this nice small camera, but unless you carry a big bag of stuff with you and a jumble of cables, you may not be able to charge it or DL your pics to a computer away from home.

I just bought DW a new Casio EX-S880 to replace her old one that was acting up, and I'm thinking of returning it. It is more of a jumble than the old ones, a power supply, a dock, just a mess of stuff that seems so stupid to me. Of course, when you look at the packaging, you can't tell what the hook up is, they don't give you that info until you get it home and open it up... so, my question...

Are there any good quality, compact digital cameras out there that with the following set-up?

A simple mini-USB port which can be used to transfer pictures to a computer, and charge the battery, through USB? This way, the ONLY thing you need when out and about is the camera and a standard mini-USB cable. You could charge from any computer USB port or generic USB charger (we have one that plugs in the cig lighter of the car, and provides 120V AC). Since USB mini cables are so ubiquitous, you might not even need that, you can almost count on having one at any computer.

I don't want a 'special' cable - I want standard mini-USB cable connection.

So, why do these companies complicate my life with all theses stupid dock things? I can see having a dock as an accessory - maybe some would view it as a convenience, but it should not be mandatory to carry stuff bigger than the camera to really use it as a portable.

Any suggestions? This is the kind of info it is tough to find w/o downloading manuals and such, Sure, mega-pixels, you-tube ready, ebay ready, bla-bla-bla, but what about the real day-to-day usability? That gets a back seat so often.

TIA - ERD50
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Old 12-24-2008, 11:23 AM   #2
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I don't know of a camera like that, but have you considered cameras with removeable media cards, like compact flash or SD? I've had cameras with memory cards and popping out the card and popping it into a usb card reader was always a simple operation compared to docking (and usually faster in my experience). You'd still have to deal with disposable or rechargeable batteries in the regular way. I know this doesn't match your original request, but just a thought.
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Old 12-24-2008, 11:27 AM   #3
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For your picture transfer needs you could just take the SD card out of the camera and put it in the slot in the computer. Since you mention travel I assume you will take a laptop with you. All newer laptops I know of have SD card slots.
For power needs maybe a 2nd battery is enough. Most Casio's make many hundred pictures before battery needs recharging.

I know this doesn't answer you question, but I am not aware of a digital camera that charges via USB. We use Canon and they come with external charger, although much smaller than the Casio docking station.
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
A simple mini-USB port which can be used to transfer pictures to a computer, and charge the battery, through USB? This way, the ONLY thing you need when out and about is the camera and a standard mini-USB cable. You could charge from any computer USB port or generic USB charger (we have one that plugs in the cig lighter of the car, and provides 120V AC). Since USB mini cables are so ubiquitous, you might not even need that, you can almost count on having one at any computer.


The camera we have had for the last 3 years (Olympus) uses a standard mini USB cable, and disposable batteries. We decided that as we travel a lot we didn't want to carry around a charging unit. I don't know if there are cameras with re-chargeable batteries that plug into a USB port.
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:15 PM   #5
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Thanks, I know you can pop the sd card out and such, or carry a spare battery (and the Casio does go a long time between charges, but if you forget....) - but these seem like such poor solutions compared to the simple, elegant, and obvious solution of just plugging in a mini-USB cable to handle all of this. One of the manufacturers must offer this option.

And in case anyone is thinking that there is a technical obstacle to this, trust me there is not. I've done some design work regarding USB support in products, so I'm well aware of what can be done (and is done on some products). Charging and transferring are all supported by USB, in fact, just to check this, I plugged my daughter's RAZR into a USB port, charging away just fine with the standard mini-USB cable.

Someone must be doing this!


-ERD50
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:21 PM   #6
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I didn't read this whole thing, but perhaps you'll find some answers here:

Cameras that can charge via usb or have inbuilt charging? - Digital Camera Resource Page Forums
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:23 PM   #7
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My canon (A590) uses the mini USB cable and two AA batteries -- I use rechargeable batteries and they last for days. I have four batteries so take an extra set which takes very little room. Since it uses an SD memory card that most laptops will accept, I never take the USB cable, just the camera and an extra set of batteries. But to answer the question, I don't know of any cameras that recharge batteries via USB.
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:55 PM   #8
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It is a good idea, ERD50, but one disadvantage is that you can't charge the batteries while you are using the camera. Also, the computer has to be on while charging. And you have to take the computer with you on vacation.

Now, you could avoid the first problem by making this:

Electronics - USB Powered AA NiMH and NiCd Battery Charger - Stefan Vorkoetter

or buying this:

Amazon.com: Sanyo Eneloop AA NiMH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries with USB Charger (2 Pack): Electronics

But that isn't giving you any advantage over having a small, lightweight wall charger.

With my Canon A560 I need only take the camera, the little (non standard ) USB cord, and a few eneloop batteries. I don't need the small wall charger, but I take it just in case.
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Old 12-24-2008, 02:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by simple girl View Post
I didn't read this whole thing, but perhaps you'll find some answers here:

Cameras that can charge via usb or have inbuilt charging? - Digital Camera Resource Page Forums
Thanks - I just had time to skim it for now, but it does look like they make some good suggestions for brands that do this. I'll look in more detail after I awaken from the next two days of over-eating and over-drinking

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
It is a good idea, ERD50, but one disadvantage is that you can't charge the batteries while you are using the camera. Also, the computer has to be on while charging. And you have to take the computer with you on vacation.

Now, you could avoid the first problem by making this:

or buying this:
Not a disadvantage at all T-Al, but another option. You don't *need* a computer, that is just an option. You can buy USB charge devices - this way, they are universal and can charge any USB device (iPod, many phones, cameras designed by companies with a brain....). And I could always have an extra battery with a separate charger if I really needed to use it while charging. The other stuff could be handy in some cases, but I'm trying to eliminate the need for extra 'stuff'.

Here my typical 'use case' - that might clear it up:

A) DW uses camera at home, takes pictures, puts them on computer - typical stuff. With this Casio, she needs the dock and cables to xfer and charge (or a separate battery charger).

B) DW goes to work, takes a few pics at an event, and want to put them on her computer at work - ooops, dock is at home. OK, you can do the SD reader thing, but to me, that is an extra complication to pull a card out, and rely on having a reader wherever you are. Maybe you drop the card behind the desk, etc, etc...

C) Same as 'B', but - battery is dead. But the dock is home - ooops. And if she did bring it, that is extra stuff that is bigger than the camera which somewhat defeats the small size of the camera itself, and you have to find a place to plug it in, etc.


The standard mini-USB solves all this. Just keep a cord plugged in at home, and one at work, and all charging and xfer needs are resolved with a simple plug in of a cable. It just seems so simple. Even if the ports are hard to reach, just leave the cord plugged in and accessible.

So, later i will check out the other brands.

Thanks everyone - Happy Holidays!

-ERD50
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An Update:
Old 12-28-2008, 09:24 PM   #10
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An Update:

First, I'll emphasize that I now more fully realize why this is important to me. It is not so much just a camera issue, but all the stuff we are accumulating, each with its own chargers, cables, etc. So I really want *any* new purchase to be able to charge over USB, w/o a special cable or dock, to simplify and standardize. I'm also afraid that with the collection of different chargers, someone will plug the wrong one into something and damage it, or just grab the wrong one by mistake and then be stuck with a dead battery.

Second, thanks for the links - I looked into them, but these manufacturers have so many different models, and are constantly updating them, so I had to go to their sites to try to find current features. Well, after a few hours of searching on and off, and only making it through a couple manufacturers, it is so hard to find this info buried in there, if they provide it at all. soooo....

I started writing each manufacturer I saw in ads. I sent them a canned letter with my requirements (First Choice: in-camera charge/xfer thru STANDARD USB cable; Second Choice: same via custom cable to USB). That was a task in itself, just to navigate to the page and fill their forms. Some seemed buggy, some really wanted you to choose a product versus general question. I wrote to nine so far:

NIKON, KODAK, SONY, CANON (actually had a "question about a product you are looking at" section), SAMSUNG, PANASONIC (kept telling me my message was too long, had to really shorten it), OLYMPUS, CASIO (also had to shorten message), FUJI (website does not seem to accept and send my email - no error or anything - just no response?).


So far - responses from NIKON and CANON say no in-camera charge (of any sort) - sorry Charlie.

I'll update as I get responses, or if people can offer other information here.

-ERD50
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Old 12-28-2008, 10:22 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
First, I'll emphasize that I now more fully realize why this is important to me. It is not so much just a camera issue, but all the stuff we are accumulating, each with its own chargers, cables, etc. So I really want *any* new purchase to be able to charge over USB, w/o a special cable or dock, to simplify and standardize. I'm also afraid that with the collection of different chargers, someone will plug the wrong one into something and damage it, or just grab the wrong one by mistake and then be stuck with a dead battery.
Agree entirely. DW & I have often complained to one another about this. I think they do this simply to bring in more revenue. we've owned 4 cell phones over the years and every one has had a different charging unit - with a special connector so that it is not just voltage and current specific.
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Old 12-29-2008, 12:11 AM   #12
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I've pretty much given up on my hopes that industry (or government) will ever come to recognize the benefits of standardization. Imagine if every electronic device used exactly the same voltage/charger. Every laptop used the same (inexpensive) battery. Every USB cord: exactly the same.

No boxes full of useless old chargers with different voltages, plugs, etc. You could charge the batteries in the device or out of it.

It would be great, but it's not going to happen, so you take what you can get. AA/AAA batteries are one standard that works pretty well. I can use my Eneloop rechargeables in our walkman, camera, remotes, flashlights, MP3 player, headlamps, walkie talkies, and a few other things.
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Old 12-29-2008, 04:43 AM   #13
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those little ports on cameras can be extremely fragile when used alot, i always take the cards out and read them out of the camera
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Old 12-29-2008, 11:18 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I've pretty much given up on my hopes that industry (or government) will ever come to recognize the benefits of standardization. Imagine if every electronic device used exactly the same voltage/charger. Every laptop used the same (inexpensive) battery. Every USB cord: exactly the same.

No boxes full of useless old chargers with different voltages, plugs, etc. You could charge the batteries in the device or out of it.

It would be great, but it's not going to happen, so you take what you can get. AA/AAA batteries are one standard that works pretty well. I can use my Eneloop rechargeables in our walkman, camera, remotes, flashlights, MP3 player, headlamps, walkie talkies, and a few other things.
T-Al, I think you are looking at the glass half-empty. Certainly there could/should be *more* standardization (the reason I posted in the first place), but there is already a lot.

CDs and DVD that play in just about any player.

USB flash drives and HDDs, recognized and usable w/o added software via the Mass Storage standard (these are amazing, IMO).

USB itself (yes there are a few variations defined by the standard - B and mini B, but that's not too bad).

SD memory cards for cameras.

mp3 sound files.

The internet.

gasoline, brake fluid, coolant (non-electronic example)

Sure, you could point out variants that some companies use for most of those (sony memory stick, etc), but the point is that there *are* standards, and they *are* widely used in many cases.

The AA/AAA Eneloop solution (NiMH) is good, but many products really need the higher performance that lithium provides. I do wish they would standardize on a few basic rechargeable lithium batteries. A standard size contact with maybe 3 different capacities, such that a smaller one would fit in a larger case if the product had space, but the larger would provide longer use.

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those little ports on cameras can be extremely fragile when used a lot, i always take the cards out and read them out of the camera
The standard USB ports (mini-B) are quite rugged, and they are only about 3/16" by 5/16". And a common (don't know if it is an official 'standard') 1/8" mini-jack will handle Audio/Video. Maybe the custom type they put on to get usb and video all squeezed into a proprietary port are fragile, but I don't want those either. And I'm always afraid I'll drop that tiny little SD card and lose it when I take it out. I like just plugging in the cable. Simple.

-ERD50
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Old 12-29-2008, 01:54 PM   #15
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while the usb jacks themselves seem pretty sturdy those flimsey pin connections that mount to the camera circuit boards look like they can stress those circuit boards pretty good....
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