View Full Version : Which digital camera?

10-20-2002, 01:23 AM
I know this isn't a machining question but I'm ready to buy my first digital camera. I'm hoping to capture/document some machining projects that I'm working on so macro capability would be essential. Any recommendations? I have a budget of about $1000 CDN ($600US). Thanks for any advice.

I'm leaning on getting the Nikon 4500.


10-20-2002, 09:30 AM
With the cost you listed, I think you will have lots of choices. As the megabites go up the older ones lose there value fast. Check e-bay. But first go to www.google.com (http://www.google.com) and type in digital camera forum or something similar and there will be sites that test and evaluate many cameras.

10-20-2002, 10:53 AM

I agree with Walt. You should have a dozen or more brands and 3 or 4 times that in models to choose from for $600 US. Your problem will be in determining which suits your purposes most completely. It will be frustrating (to say the least). The forums are a good place to start.

A feature that you might want to consider is the ease of downloading photos from the camera to your PC. Most brands require that the PC have "their" unique program or special cables/fixtures to download. This can be a problem if you are "out of the house" and want to download to a "foreign" (someone else's) PC. That is, unless you are willing to carry the whole sheebang with you. My Sony unit (given as example, not as a recommendation) uses standard 3.5" discs as the recording media and puts data in .JPG format that most PC's can handle. I can insert the discs into any 3.5" drive and download. There are also "memory cards" available (for it) that emulate a 3.5" disc that add megabytes of storage capability.

It is only 2 years old (ancient by digital camera technology) but works very well and has a great (16:1) zoom capability. One drawback is that (due to the 3.5" disc use) it is rather large (about half the size of a standard house brick) and is a little heavy. Some brands will fit in you shirt pocket and take great pictures.

Good luck with your search.


10-20-2002, 11:34 AM
Also look at www.epinions.com (http://www.epinions.com) Lots of camera info there.

10-20-2002, 12:24 PM
One thing not often mentioned is the smallest focus distance, i.e. how close will it focus. This is NOT zoom ratio, which is always prominently trumpeted.

I guess close-ups are not the norm, I have to dig for the info if I can find it at all.

10-20-2002, 03:40 PM
I've had several digicams and always come back to Sony, I just bought a new DSC-F717 (about $1300 after buying memory sticks), but I need it for my work, it's way overkill for most uses.


Don't be fooled by the low prices offered by the NYC stores (all owned by the same shysters) they are "grey" market cams w/ no US warranty and they remove all the standard accessories (charger, batteries, memory, carrying straps, etc) and sell them separately.

Look for larger glass lenses instead of a super high Mega Pixel count, a 1.6-2.1 M-pixel is plenty high for most uses (unless you want to make poster size prints) if you have good lenses.

OPTICAL Zoom is much more important than Digital Zoom (which really fuzzes things up fast)

Check on the battery capacity, the digi-cams suck up the juice.

Also check on the memory included, as it can add up $$$$ fast.

I also have one of the 1.6 M-pixel Mavicas (sounds like the same one) like Rodger and the photo quality on it is MUCH better than several of my friends w/ other 3.0 M-pixel cameras.



NRA Lifetime Member

[This message has been edited by Hellbender (edited 10-20-2002).]

10-20-2002, 04:07 PM
I have a Sony Mavica that i'm REAL happy with. Battery lasts 2 hrs., film is a cheap 3.5" diskette, can get to within 2" of a subject for real close closeups, optical zoom, special efx, normal, high, or email resolution. I've taken some real nice pix with that camera.

10-20-2002, 04:18 PM
I have a Nikon 4500 which I bought a few months ago, and I am happy witth it so far, although I am just starting to learn how to use it. How much experence do you have in photography? I thought I was a fairly competent amature photographer, with a 35mm, but I am still using the digital camera with the camera in one hand and the manual in the other. It does have an "Auto" mode though which makes it pretty much point and shoot. You may not need this much camera to just take pictures of your projects. It does do good closeups. I believe it will focus down to about 10 to 12 in. in the middle of the zoom range. Don't forget the cost of accessories, in deciding what will fit in your budget. The memory card that came with the camera will only hold from 1 to 10 pictures, depending on the resolution. An additional memory card will be another $125 - $200 US, depending on what size you get. It also takes a propriatary (sp?) battery which costs around $30 US, and you will probably need at least one spare. Maybe someone who has had projects published can give you an idea of what resolution is required. I suspect that you could get by with less that 4.0 meg.

10-20-2002, 05:47 PM
The macro function is an asset to project photos. A lot of the cameras on eBay are factory reconditioned, not a problem, but something to be aware of.
Keep in mind that the camera and shop environment may not be the best situation, I bounced a fairly new Toshiba across the garage floor a couple of months ago. It did not survive. Maybe not best to tie up a major amount of $$$ in something for this use.
Fairly high resolution and 2x-3x zoom pretty much cover most situations. Some have 2x lens and 3x digital others the opposite.

10-20-2002, 09:53 PM

Your absolutely correct. Mine is a Mavica. It is the FD-90. A dinosaur by today's standards, but still a very good camera. With some optional close-up lens, it can take pics from about 1" away. While I love the ability of digitals to take photos and review instantly (not to mention downloading and modification ability), the biggest problem that I have with them is that they are worthless for what I consider "snapshots". Give me an old 110 "insta-matic" or 35 mm with a decent lens and 400 ASA film anytime when I am trying to take a picture of a grandchild riding their first bike or a skier doing a trick on the lake. On those subjects where you only get "one shot", the digitals just don't seem to be in the same race.

What the hey......anything is better than a hammer and chisel.


10-21-2002, 04:13 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Rotate:
..I'm ready to buy my first digital camera. I'm hoping to capture/document some machining projects that I'm working on so macro capability would be essential. Any recommendations? I have a budget of about $1000 CDN ($600US). Thanks for any advice. Albert</font>

I have an Olympus C-2020Z. The C-3030Z is current, and is highly-rated by Consumer Reports. These Olympus digital cameras can be fitted with inexpensive telephoto and (more important for your work) macro close-up lenses by Raynox.

Alistair Hosie
10-21-2002, 02:46 PM
Could anyone tell me what the best value for money dicam movie camera is only I have sixteen year old son who fancies himself as the next Quentin Tarantino around six to eight hundred GBpounds i e Thousand to twelve hundred dollars Alistair

10-22-2002, 04:03 AM
This is kind of a repeat of some of the others but here goes. I have a Sony MVC-FD83 and it is about 3 years old. Size was not a consideration but download was. It uses a 3.5 floppy. I have used it in all kinds of situations, hot, dusty etc. It has worked perfectly for in all situations and the quality is great. I used it overseas on some consulting jobs where the client wanted the results now. This was the one that had that capability without loading software in the clients computer. I bought a wide angle lens for it but it needs a lot of light to work. I would not recommend one. Get an extra battery when you buy one. The lithium batteries are the way to go as they don't take a memory like some of the batteries do. If size is the main consideration them Sony is not the way to go. I would think that used Sonys would be available because lots of people want the smallest one they can get.

Cliff Lawson
10-22-2002, 02:59 PM
My 1.5 year olod Olympus D-490 Zoom has been great.

Uses AA batteries. Don't get suckered into buying one with special batteries. With LITHIUM AA size batteries this camera takes about 300 pictures pwer set ($10)on the lower resolution setting 640 x 400 pixels, which is very suitable for sending photos by e mail. This incudes some with flash and some with the lit up rear screen. Wall Mart carries these batteries.

I'd not fool around with recharegeable batteries. This is mainly because I had some and accidently threw them out whn discharged.

Also, get one with common storage media. Mine uses these little 1" x1" SMART media cards that now are available with lots and lots of storage of pictures.

Then, think about how you are going to put the pictures into the computer so you can print them or store on CD's or similar storage. I would not go for a serial connection, due to being slow. I use a separate card reader that acts like another disk drive. This goes to the USB port. You can play with your photos there, such as transfer to other storage, modify and store on the camera card,print, send e-mail, etc.

Also, it is nice to have some spare cards along with you on a trip. I recently took a trip and had enuff storage for 600 photos, some at resolution of 1650 x1200 and others by 640 x 400. I used two sets of lithium batteries and still had power left when done.

Where you gonna store these photos??

Well, you certainaly won't be printing all of them (printing takes lots of ink and there are questions on how good the photos store). I prefer to store on floppies for a while, some on Zip disks and finally for more permanent, I transfer them to CD's.

If I were buying another camera, I would not go over $500 and I'd get all sorts of capability. Those rare times you need a photo at high resolution so you can print a 8.5 x 11 photo of high resolution I bet are pretty rare times.

A 2.1 Meg camera will do all most folks need, as I view it.

10-22-2002, 06:29 PM
Thanks everyone. Some of your ideas have got me rethinking about which model to buy, which is a good thing.


10-24-2002, 02:16 AM
Some of the Hi-8 Digital Cameras have still abilities, and seem to cost less than a crappy digital camera of the same Megapixel size. Plus, some can see in the dark!

10-24-2002, 03:18 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Rotate:
[B]. Any recommendations? I have a budget of about $1000 CDN ($600US). Thanks for any advice.

I'm leaning on getting the Nikon 4500.

For more than you will ever want to know
about cameras: www.dpreview.com (http://www.dpreview.com)
There is a review of the Nikon on the site
now. There are also active forums with
excellent Q&A on every kind of camera.
The Nikon 4500 sounds like a good choice.
From my own experience I would wait on getting accessories til you have a few months experience with the camera. An extra battery may be superfluous. You are much more likely to run out of storage than battery. A 128MB CF card will run $60 or so
and hold about 70 shots at max resolution or hundreds at 640x480 resolution. If you have XP the camera will be recognized as soon as you hook up the USB connector and down load takes only a few minutes. Macs are similar but older Win OS may require you to install the camera software. It is not needed with
Win xp. The Nikon 4500 focuses down to 2-3cm
but the flash may not cover the subject at such close range. A bounce card can be used to illuminate. Steve