Sound Advice: Older digital camera worth keeping

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 27, 2012 - 2:25 PM

Answers to your multimedia questions.

Q I have a Fujifilm S5200 digital camera. I am completely pleased with it but am running into limitations operating it.

The first issue is the battery life. It takes AA batteries. Although I have good-quality rechargeable NiMH batteries, they never last long unless I take them right off the charger, and that isn't always convenient. My friends who have cameras with included rechargeable batteries don't seem to run into this as often.

The second issue is with the memory cards. The camera uses xD cards, and no new cameras seem to use them anymore. My biggest is 128 megabytes, which I purchased when I got the camera, and it was expensive then. The cards fill up quickly. Using movie mode is simply not an option, given how quickly it fills up.

I had an older camera that used SmartMedia cards. When the format was discontinued, I quickly found that it made more sense to get a new camera than invest in expensive, obsolete memory cards. Am I at that point with my S5200?

A If you are happy with your S5200, there are solutions to keep you clicking along for a good while.

As you've discovered, rechargeable batteries lose a bit of their charge every day, and if you charge typical NiMH batteries and try to use them a few weeks later, you can quickly find yourself out of power. The problem gets worse as the batteries age and are recharged over and over. Taking them out of the camera when it's not in use will slow the rate of discharge but won't solve the problem entirely.

Sanyo's Eneloop rechargeable batteries hold their charge much longer than others, maintaining 75 percent of their charge after three years. They cost more than other models but are worth it. They require a special Eneloop charger, so you can't just buy a four-pack and charge them with your current charger.

A starter kit with four AA batteries and a charger sells for about $20. Buy a starter kit and an extra set or two of batteries. Given how long they hold their charge, you probably won't run out of power again as long as you charge them after you use them and top off your extra sets once in a while.

With their slow discharge rate, Eneloop batteries are the perfect rechargeable battery for remote controls and clock radios. Learn more at www.eneloop.com.

I had a SmartMedia camera many years ago, and you're right that the memory cards were expensive once the market moved on to new formats. Fortunately, this hasn't happened with xD Picture Cards, which are used primarily in Fujifilm and Olympus cameras. The cards are not big sellers so you might have to go online to find the best deal, but if you shop around you can find 2-gigabyte cards under $20. That's about 16 times the capacity of your tiny 128MB card. You probably won't be able to use it in your next camera, but it should see out your S5200 with room to spare.

Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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