I had been looking for a new camera for over a year. I've used a Minolta XG7 for several decades and it took great photos but my biggest complaint was that it felt like an anchor around my neck (and therefore didn't get the use it could have.)
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Here is what pushed me to finally get a new digital camera. One day, as I was mowing my backyard, I saw to my left the huge shadow of a bird flying near me. I looked to my right and saw nothing. I spun around and if I had been quick enough, could have touched a low-flying hawk. I am 5'8" and this hawk was flying at about 4' from the ground. It was a gray-blue color. It turned its head to the left and I could see it's big, black eye! What a wing-spread! It was thrilling!! I let out a big WOW! I stood there mesmerized until it was out of view.
I had no idea at the time what type of bird it was. So, I did some investigating. I found a very helpful website in Canada and a gentleman there corresponded with me sending me photos of hawks. None of them looked like "my" hawk although they all resembled one another. He said that was the trouble with trying to identify them! I have since searched the Internet thoroughly and have just never been satisfied in finding out what type of hawk it was.
Part of the problem was that all I saw of the bird was his top feathers. I couldn't see his underside which could have helped me determine what type of hawk he was. I figured he was looking for the mouse that was hiding in my garage. I also figured that he knew that when I mowed my lawn I would be opening the back door of the garage and also inadvertently scaring up any critters in the yard during my mowing. With this in mind, I was persuaded to buy a new, lightweight camera. I had procrastinated long enough.
Given that I was already familiar with many digital cameras out there, the Canon PowerShot A470 caught my eye because at the time I bought it, (May 19, 2008) it was a new product at Meijer. It was $129 which was more than I wanted to pay but I was getting desperate!
LIGHT IN WEIGHT
I took it home and when I was getting ready to mow again, I slipped it into my blouse pocket. Oh the joy! It was so light in weight!
However, I forgot it was in my pocket, bent over and out it fell. CR*P! Luckily for me, it landed on the grass that hadn't been mowed yet. It was not damaged in any way. Whew! But that's a testament to it's durability!
EASE OF HANDLING
Some digital cameras are just too small which makes them easy to accidentally drop. The Canon A470 is perfect in size for me: not too small and not too big. The size of your camera is an important feature. Don't overlook it! I would also say that its size helps to prevent the user from getting too many fingerprints on the LCD screen which could easily occur with a smaller camera.
The Canon A470 comes with a wrist strap. I always use it when I am getting ready to shoot. Better safe than sorry. The on/off button determines whether the lens cover is automatically closed or open protecting the camera lens. I recommend you get a small case for your camera.
GET THE RIGHT BATTERIES
The batteries that came with the camera didn't last long. I recommend Energizer Ultimate Lithium. They last a long time.
THE BATTERY DOOR COVER
The battery door cover is a pain to open. It holds the batteries and the memory card. Be careful that you don't accidentally break the LCD screen while trying to open the battery door! It's much easier to close than it is to open.
THE MEMORY CARD
A lot of people complain about the limited space of photos on the memory cards that come with their digital cameras. The Canon A470 comes with a 32MB memory. However, I always download my photos to my computer as soon as I get home so for my usage, it hasn't been a problem yet. The guide states that Canon brand memory cards are available in 128 MB and 512 MB capacities.
The Canon A470 came with two separate guides: one in English and one in Spanish. Canon refers to them as the "Getting Started" guides. They ask that you refer to the PDF Manuals on the included CD-ROM. There are three of them: Advanced functions, Connecting to a printer, and connecting to a computer. For me it is way too much to read online. I much prefer a hand-held guide. I still haven't gotten through the first PDF Manual.
INSTALLING THE INCLUDED SOFTWARE
I love the software that came with the Canon A470. It stores and organizes my photos by date. It allows me to crop my photos and I can reduce "red eye" and more. It downloads my photos in seconds and it is easy to connect the included cable to the camera and my computer. There are two ways to download: via the camera menu or the software menu. I always use the software menu because it is so easy to read (big print).
The flash has served me well and I haven't had any need for a more high-powered flash. However, if needed, you can purchase this accessory (HF-DC1) to supplement your Canon A470 flash. I'm still adjusting to the focus/shoot button. I take each photo probably 3 times to make sure that I've got the shot. It's: press the shutter button halfway (what the heck is halfway?) then, press again fully. It beeps twice when it has focused but I must have turned off all sound. I also still bring the LCD screen too close to my eye occasionally because I'm so conditioned to my Minolta where I had to rest my cheek against the camera. This was partially to steady the camera and partially to see in the viewfinder. Old habits die hard!
You can also turn off the flash completely on your Canon A470 (for example, if you want to take a shot of fireworks or neon lights in the evening) to get a good night shot.
The Canon A470 is capable of shooting and viewing movies with sound. How cool is that? I haven't tried this yet.
It is easy to erase photos. I like that it asks you again after you tell it to erase.
WINDOWS OR MAC?
You can download your images to Windows or a Macintosh platform with the included software.
The Canon PowerShot A470 has many other features - more than I'll ever need. For the money, it is a bargain!
Oh, and by the way, I never did get a shot of my hawk. He never flew that low again and flew in a group from then on (even though hawks are not known to fly in groups - go figure, although I see them circle solo.)
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Amount Paid (US$): 129 tax
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Flexible Enough for Enthusiasts