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mikem
04-05-2006, 06:29 PM
My digital camera is a Fuji and it is 5 or 6 years old and on the fritz right now. Even when it worked, it was hard to get a natural color balance. Then when I posted auctions on eBay, my pictures really looked worse than I wanted. I can't justify more than about $300 to $400. What brands do you guys like? I have seen some really nice photos posted here--that is why I am asking you all> Thanks--Mike.

Evan
04-05-2006, 06:42 PM
Buy a digital camera made by a company that makes cameras. By that I mean Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Olympus etc.

tattoomike68
04-05-2006, 06:44 PM
I think canon and nikon are hard to beat, I chose canon so I could use normal AA batteries. I use ni-mh rechargeables but can pick up regular ones anywhere in a pinch. My canon powershot A-70 is getting old but is still going strong after 5,300 pictures.

Leigh
04-05-2006, 06:49 PM
Evan makes a good point. I normally shoot Nikon 35mm, but I have an Olympus digital. Good camera, about 3 years old.

The most important spec is probably the optical zoom range. Should be at least 3:1, preferrably more. The digital zoom range is irrelevant. The greater the pixel count the more information in the photo, but also the larger the file size. I doubt that most people would really use more than about 4 Megapixels.

rockrat
04-05-2006, 06:54 PM
I bought my wife a Nikon Coolpix 4600. Not too much cash, good photos, color looks good.

rock-

mikem
04-05-2006, 07:06 PM
My Fuji uses AA batteries and they don't last at all. It uses USB cables to attach to the computer and would like to have something easier to connect to the computer. What kinds and models do you use? Thanks--Mike.

Tinkerer
04-05-2006, 07:16 PM
I have a Olympus... all kinds of setting to fool with Good Camera. But most of my ebay photo's are taken with a cheap Kodak CX6200 Camera I originally picked up for my wife. It's easy to use and is takes good photo's with little fuss. I would recommend it and to picking up some nickel metal halide rechargeable batteries. ;)

irontoart
04-05-2006, 07:21 PM
I think canon and nikon are hard to beat, I chose canon so I could use normal AA batteries. I use ni-mh rechargeables but can pick up regular ones anywhere in a pinch. My canon powershot A-70 is getting old but is still going strong after 5,300 pictures.

I really like my A70 as well. Easy to use and if you let your rechargables run down at a bad time you can pop in some AA alkalines and be ready to go again.

speedsport
04-05-2006, 07:31 PM
If you plan on taking good closeup shots make sure it has Macro settings. I have an Olympus, takes great closeups, sometimes too good.

tattoomike68
04-05-2006, 08:38 PM
My Fuji uses AA batteries and they don't last at all. It uses USB cables to attach to the computer and would like to have something easier to connect to the computer. What kinds and models do you use? Thanks--Mike.

older cams have realy bad battery life , my old HP was about 100 pictures, my canon will take 350-450 shots before it needs hot batteries.

Rich Carlstedt
04-05-2006, 09:15 PM
I have an Olmpus 750 with 10 optical Zoom
It wil go down to 1 3/8" inch for Macro. At that range, the screen covers a postage stamp. absolutely superb..for my use
Rich

if you are into Action sports, like auto racing, watch out for slow speed cameras

Rooter
04-05-2006, 09:22 PM
I agree with Evan as far as the brands, but some other things to think about are what else you plan on using it for and when.
I have a Canon Power Shot SD400. I bought it due to its compact size for travel. It fits easily in my pocket, is a 5 megapixel, and the best option (for me) is the menu's are words as well as symbols. I had a 4 Mp Olypus, nice camera especially for low light shots, but it was bulky for travel and I could never remember what all the symbols meant in order to change modes unless I took the manual along with me.
So, think about if you will be using it for action shots, travel, close-ups, night or low light. Also, if you get a 4 megapixel or larger, I would recommend getting a fast card. The one I have is the Sundisk Ultra 2, 1GB card. This allows for fast repeat shots and holds enough pictures for an entire vacation.

meho
04-05-2006, 09:35 PM
I have an Olympus Stylus 600 and absolutely love it. I have had two Sony cameras and both were pure crap.

James

MikeHenry
04-05-2006, 10:02 PM
I've had pretty good luck with Canon - a G1 from a few years back and a G3 that I'm presently using. Both cameras featured various white balance setting for standard lighting (incandescent, fluorescent, etc) as well as one or two custom modes where one uses a white object to let the camera figure out it's own white balance. If color fidelity has been a problem for you look for a digicam that has decent white balance options.

Here's a closeup pic of a die file and 6" scale:

http://member.newsguy.com/~mphenry/Nicholson-Crochet-3_8-No_00-NFS-1.JPG

I've liked the G1 and G3 well enough that I'm about to upgrade to a Canon Digital Rebel XT which should be here in time for the NAMES show.

There are plenty of good camera brands and models out there and it might help to do some research at www.dpreview.com or http://www.steves-digicams.com/ .

Mike

J Tiers
04-05-2006, 11:17 PM
I am another with a Canon A70.

I like it, it generally does well.

Color balance is good, usually. But I still haven't got it perfect, no more than with film.

Gripes specific to it about color include the fact that it, and every other digi-cam I have seen, picks up the slightest tinge of rusty color, and makes it look like a Hoffman project.

I don't know why that is, but the default error is always way too red overall. Never too blue.

But the battery life is much more than advertised, the zoom is acceptable and macro is almost as good as I could wish for as an ideal.

The flip-out display is so nice I am going to hate not having it, since it seems to be a dead feature, although I have not examined new cameras closely yet. The "replacement" for the A70 didn't have it..... boooo hissssss

4 megapixels is enough, I agree, except for the most nutty fussy person. Or one needing to blow a pic up to 4 x 6 feet. And at 4MP, the file size is fine, not stupid huge.

The problem with digicams is that by the time you find out what's good, its long out of production. I tried to get an A70 from the place that convinced me it was best, and it was out of stock, never going to get more. I went elsewhere.

Leigh
04-05-2006, 11:47 PM
...I don't know why that is, but the default error is always way too red overall. Never too blue.

Cameras err toward red because they think they're looking at flesh tones. Skin is not blue (usually).

Leigh
04-05-2006, 11:51 PM
...Both cameras featured various white balance setting for standard lighting (incandescent, fluorescent, etc)

Fluorescent light has an extreme excess of green (of the red/green/blue primary color set). Incandescent has excess red and is deficient in both green and blue, moreso blue. Both descriptions as compared with direct sunlight.

Evan
04-06-2006, 01:23 AM
Digital cameras have trouble with artificial light sources. The sensors are very sensitive to infrared light and the white balance system can't compensate for it. Incandescent lights, especially halogen lights, will produce unpredictable results. The camera contains an infrared filter on the sensor but it is not completely effective. You can see this by looking at the preview screen while pointing the camera at an infrared remote with the button pushed. Blinkety blink. The general result in any scene with excess infrared is the the red is enhanced as the red filters also allow the infrared through but the green and blue do not. This can also happen under natural light if there are very hot objects in the scene.

J Tiers
04-06-2006, 09:23 AM
Sure and incandescent light I can understand. But under flourescent?

Even with a flourescent, all the cameras err towards red.... that does not seem quite as reasonable since the infrared should be less present.

In any case, I really couldn't care less in some ways WHY they do it, it annoys me because it is apparently uncompensatable no matrer if you know why or not. Unless you can change the light source.

Now, outdoor and indoor film had the same sort of trouble.

But it ticks me to take a pic of some metal item and have it come out loking like it has the rust of years on it.. For one thing, it would screw up an ebay sale..... (not that that is a problem for me).

Your Old Dog
04-06-2006, 09:44 AM
I would reccomend, as a cheap but extremely affective digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 990. It takes regular AA batteries, has good battery life, has a twist body which is awesome for photographing workbench projects and low angle shooting too.

They can be had on eBay for around 200.00 all day long. The biggest feature to a HSM'er is their Macro ability. They do a great job on miniscule subject matter. You can lay a dollar bill on the lens and focus on it! Or, focus between there and infinity if you choose. If you get the later model, the 995, you have to buy special batteries and not much other benefit that I can see. The 990 is 3.3 megapixel and makes a really nice 8x10 photo.

I'm up to a Nikon D200 now and sold my 990. That was a mistake as the 990 worked much better for shop needs.

Evan
04-06-2006, 09:53 AM
Your best bet for indoor lighting with a digital camera (other than flash) is to use full spectrum fluorescent lights. The warm white have too much red output and will also fool the camera. The human eye has an amazing ability to compensate for color shift, far better than the camera. I have full spectrum "daylight" fluorescent lights in my shop and never have any trouble with excess red with either my Nikon or my Canon.

You can see the difference in these photos:

This was taken with fill light from a single 60 watt incandescent added to the normal shop lighting.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/toothp1.jpg

This image did not have the fill light turned on. Note how the red on the chuck is gone.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/tpg1.jpg

pcarpenter
04-06-2006, 10:56 AM
I can't remember if anyone posted this or not, but www.dpreview.com (http://www.dpreview.com) is a good resource for information when shopping. You can pick your price range or feature set, etc. and it will spit out a list of cameras. They do allow customer reviews, which you will have to read with the usual filter as some have unreasonable expectations or are clueless, but you can find trends if there are problems.

I bought a Minolta DImage 414 about 3 years ago. This model has been replaced a time or two, but it was highly rated at the time. I liked the size when I got it because I have big hands, but would probably opt for something more pocketable today. I have to carry this in a Tamrac belt pack.

Typical AA alkaline cells have notoriously poor life in cameras and I use NiMH rechargables in mine and have to recharge more from sitting than from use. I just accept that for the added luxury of being able to pop in a standard set of batteries in a pinch...AA cells are available everywhere. A set of 4 AA NiMH cells and a charger are less than a proprietary battery pack for some cameras.

Edit-- A friend suggested that the new disposable Lithium (Energizer Lithium) cells last *much* longer in digital cameras, justifying their cost. They are available in quantity at Sam's Club, lowering the costs.

Picture quality exceeds needs with my 4M pixel camera. I can still record more resolution than I can typically use on my 17" monitor, much less a 4x6 print. You likely don't need 6Mpixels...unless you are printing poster size stuff.

Evan
04-06-2006, 11:14 AM
NiMH batteries are not a problem. Both my Nikon and Canon use them. What a lot of people don't know is that they are available in both rechargable cells and primary type non-rechargable that have a very long shelf life of years. I carry one non-rechargable with me as a backup if I run out of power. The non-rechargeable type have a higher power capacity too.

John Stevenson
04-06-2006, 11:24 AM
Mikem,
I recently bought a Fuji S3500 to replace the aging Sony DSC-F55.

Don't bother it's absolutely crap. The hand signal for low light is on all the while except in direct sunlight and if it's on it won't auto focus correctly.
Takes 4 AA batteries and the life isn't bad, good job as you need to take 15 pics of the same article.

I have this terrible urge to throw it at something like next doors cat.

The Sony is a nice camera but uses Sony's own battery's which are mega expensive here in the UK, about £50 UKP or $80 each.
They only cost about $40 in the US.
I keep meaning to get some shipped over. Most of my shots on this forum were with this camera. it still works but needs the mains lead all the while.

JCHannum
04-06-2006, 12:10 PM
I also recommend dpreview.com for good information and rating of the cameras.

When choosing a digital camera, don't overlook manufacturers such as Sony or Panasonic. They were among the pioneers in video cameras and developed the technology while the makers of film cameras had to play catch up.

I have a Panasonic, and am quite pleased with it. It has Leica optics, but like most digital cameras has little else in common with a film camera.

Wayne02
04-06-2006, 12:16 PM
I received a coolpix 5400 for Christmas last year. My hope was it could be used in auto mode to get mostly acceptable pictures, but I've been disappointed so far. I don't like to have to drag my dslr and bag of lens out to the shop for quickie pictures. I "thought" my shop was pretty well lit but apparently I was wrong (think I have the daylight bulbs but not certain of that).

Does anyone have the manual for this camera? I've misplaced mine (found the spanish version (:) and can't remember how to set it for macro. Most cameras have the flower picture but I don't recall seeing that on this model - must go macro through the menu system???

Also, I seem to recall there was some sort of florescent light mode on this camera? How do I get to that?

Thanks
Wayne

Evan
04-06-2006, 12:59 PM
You can download the manual here:

5400 manual (http://support.nikontech.com/cgi-bin/nikonusa.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=8418&p_created=1073681299&p_sid=krU48m4i&p_accessibility=0&p_lva=&p_sp=cF9zcmNoPSZwX3NvcnRfYnk9JnBfZ3JpZHNvcnQ9JnBfc m93X2NudD0xNCZwX3Byb2RzPTEsNTAmcF9jYXRzPTE4NyZwX3B 2PTIuNTAmcF9jdj0xLjE4NyZwX3NlYXJjaF90eXBlPWFuc3dlc nMuc2VhcmNoX25sJnBfcGFnZT0x&p_li=&p_topview=1)

I hope you aren't on dialup, it's 16 megabytes.

J Tiers
04-06-2006, 01:02 PM
I have had the excess red and picking up on rust color even with flash.

The key seems to be, as I look back through some pics, not the light per se, but the presence of any red in the picture which could reflect off an item.

Red alone isn't bad, but reflected red seems to "paint" itself on everything.

Here is a bad case:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0803/jstanley/L_Acc.jpg
Obviously, straight reflections are going to happen, red will reflect as well as anything else. But there is a lot more "rust" in the pic than is on any item in reality. The not-so-reflective surfaces picked up if anything, more than the more mirror-reflective areas.

Daylight flourescents aren't a sure cure.
This is with a daylight flourescent and no flash (IIRC)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0803/jstanley/sipdraw2.jpg

This is with flash but same daylight flourescent. No incandescents around for either pic.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0803/jstanley/sipdrawr.jpg

Evan
04-06-2006, 02:46 PM
JT,

The nice thing about digital pics is they are easy to fix. This is your pic with a color temperature adjustment, a slight desaturation and a slight contrast increase.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/jtchucks.jpg

pcarpenter
04-06-2006, 03:04 PM
One other thing that came to mind that you should look for is macro focusing capability. I get really annoyed with ebay pictures that were taken at a range that was necessary to show detail, but were outside of the camera's close focusing ability.

My Minolta has a macro mode that is quickly accessable from a button on the camera that allows focusing down to a few inches. Really handy for the sort of pictures that you need say on this forum, sometimes :-) I am sure many others do also...but clearly some do not, which is the reason I like the detailed info available at dpreview.com.

Paul

J Tiers
04-06-2006, 05:30 PM
Yeah, that looks more like the real drawer.... you de-rusted everything! But evn that is more blue-weighted than the real thing, particularly in areas that DIDN't get as much reflection, like the back of the faceplate.

The irritating thing is HAVING to fix the colors...... not that THAT never happens with film and color printing...... but one has this feeling of not quite getting the "true" colors either way.

What program did you use to do the adjustment?

I didn't find a good color temp adjustment in the POS M$ product I use for basic cropping and re-sizing. There are some color sliders, but they never seem to do what I want, quite.

I didn't try the Gnu processor, but it isn't great at that either. Somewhere I have Irfanview, but it didn't look very capable the couple times I tried it.

Wayne02
04-06-2006, 08:53 PM
You can download the manual here:
Thank you.

Evan
04-06-2006, 08:59 PM
I used Paint Shop Pro 7 for that. If you look around on the net you can find it as a free download. When Corel bought JASC as far as I know they didn't care about the versions before PSP8 since previous versions are on a different and no longer supported code base. Anybody who did know how to support it are elsewhere now as Corel basically dissolved the company.

mikem
04-10-2006, 11:56 PM
Just tried one of my friend's Casio Exilim cameras. Pretty neat little camera with longer battery life and it takes better pictures than my Fuji, but still not what I want. Another friend said that I should use natural sunlight outside and that would give more natural color. I don't want to have to resort to that all the time. How much light does it take to keep the flash from coming on? I have some 500 watt halogen work lights and some flourescents. What lights do you guys use?

Evan
04-11-2006, 12:05 AM
Halogen lights are NOT your friend for digital photos. They put out a lot of infrared which messes with the image sensor. Fluorescent is much better. How much light it takes is entirely dependent on the camera and the settings. One thing I do if I must use flash is to back off and optical zoom in so the flash isn't so bright that it washes everything out.

BillH
04-11-2006, 12:16 AM
I shoot in Raw and change my color balance in the raw plugin for CS2. Great thing about digital photography, you can be as anal as you want to be, and still find ways to improve things.
I think the biggest problem is getting or creating the correct profiles for your monitor and printer. Both easily fixed with money, or painstakingly done by trial and error.

Your Old Dog
04-11-2006, 07:06 AM
I shoot in Raw and change my color balance in the raw plugin for CS2. Great thing about digital photography, you can be as anal as you want to be, and still find ways to improve things.
I think the biggest problem is getting or creating the correct profiles for your monitor and printer. Both easily fixed with money, or painstakingly done by trial and error.

On that note:

http://www.wpdfd.com/wpdgamma.htm

will help you get in sync with the rest of the world wide web.

mikem
04-11-2006, 08:58 AM
Thanks for all the help on this. I see so many good pictures on the web and mine look like they were taken by a grade school kid!

I don't think that the problem is how my monitor displays the picture. The item I was trying to photograph is a Fender amplifier that I want to put on eBay. The pictures were too dark, a little blurry and when I tried to brighten them up with photo shop, they looked too shiny, like wet vinyl. It also amplified things that were barely noticeable into glaring defects. Little scuffs looked like they were big tears. Where the vinyl was over lapped and glued down looks like it is a big bumpy seam. In short, the photo looks worse than it does in real life.

I have trouble photographing drafting machines where the metal reflects the
light so much that the glare obscures the detail of the closeups.

Evan--You mentioned the daylight flourescent bulbs. The ones that I have are kind of orange compared to the cool white which are on the blue side. Is there a certain brand or color temperature that is best?

My friend suggested that I use indirect lighting by shining the lights at the ceiling and using the reflected light. Any more suggestions? Thanks-Mike.