View Full Version : Workshop Camera

03-25-2011, 06:54 PM
I know this topic has come up a few times before, but the market keeps changing so I would like to ask for views on the best choice for a workshop camera. My last one is broken beyond repair and I really could do with a new one. What I need is:

1) Small compact camera, able to go in a pocket in my overalls.
2) Good picture quality without needing excessive megapixels
3) Must have good macro capability - l need to take close up pictures.
4) Flash not so important - I don't use it much.
5) Low cost - I don't expect it to last many years in this type of environment
6)Tough - I can't baby the camera and will use it without washing my hands. 7) A case that can withstand a short drop would be good.
8) Simple controls, so I can take it out of my pocket, point and shoot preferably with one hand only.

I don't want a DSLR, (well I do, but not for this type of use).

The last camera was a Fuji FinePix Z2 which I was quite happy with, so that might represent a baseline.

I am in UK if that matters.

What do you suggest?

03-25-2011, 07:25 PM
I was thinking of the same, dont really want my dslr in the workshop so


I think most of the manf do a version of this.


03-25-2011, 07:27 PM
I'm a Nikon DSLR guy who has now fallen in love with a Canon. It outdated now, but look up the specs for a Canon SD880is. This focuses down to about 1" from the lens, but also has a wide-angle lens with the "35mm equivalent" of a 28mm focal length. I shoot 95% of my photos with it using no flash, but it has good controls for that when you need it.

03-25-2011, 07:31 PM
Awww, come on a Canon 1Ds Mark III would be perfect... ;)

I like my old Sony DSC-V3. One of the better point and shooters for its time. In fact it was the first digital camera I was really happy with. Has both memory stick and compact flash slots.

But for Canon there is the alternate firmware, CHDK. It gives a whole lot of extra features.

03-25-2011, 07:31 PM
I have a Cannon SD1400 that works very well. It will do what you asking of a pocket sized camera. Except for dropping it. They are selling for about $180.


03-25-2011, 07:33 PM
The Olympus looks very good, but perhaps too good for my usage. Cheap for me would be a lot less than the UKP 250 that it seems to retail for.

03-25-2011, 07:51 PM
100 cheaper



Frank Ford
03-25-2011, 08:59 PM
Everybody's camera needs are unique, I suppose, so I all I can talk about is the stuff I use. I take photos of my work almost every day, both at the guitar shop and in my home shop. At first, I thought all I needed was very basic stuff. Over the years my interest in getting good shop photos has increased, so I keep my Canon 5D MK II with 14-105 zoom on the tripod in the corner, ready for use.

For more casual shots, I like the Canon "bridge" camera SX-30is. It's not shirt-pocket size, but it makes great photos and has the swing-out viewer so I can shoot from any angle. Image stabilization frees me from flash, which, in my opinion, basically kills most shop photos. This camera lives on the "Magic Arm," over the mill or lathe, and pops off for mobile use:


03-25-2011, 09:17 PM
I like and have an Olympus credit card size camera's. Do an online search for the credit card size camera's to see which have the features you like.

J Tiers
03-25-2011, 09:44 PM
Canon seems to be the best brand for focus and color, they just work.

I have an older Canon A-70 (maybe its an A-80, have to look) and a new canon digital elph pocket camera.

Both are super. The new one is up to 12 MP, the older one is 4. I leave the new one set to 5 MP, and it still takes pictures that I can zoom in on and see things I missed.

I use the older one in the shop mostly. Focuses at about 1.5 inches min, which is fine. One hand operation possible if you preset common stuff like close-up mode, flash, etc.

03-26-2011, 09:43 AM
I second Frank Ford's point regarding articulated screens. Perfect when setting up the camera in the positions we need to get the shot over machinery.

I have an old Olympus C7070 that is perfect for this. I am sure they (and other similar makes) are available second hand. I have a wireless remote which helps a great deal.

Thanks for the photo of the Magic Arm. Regular tripod legs get in the way and this looks to be the solution.


J Tiers
03-26-2011, 09:52 AM
Frank's photo suggests one other comment......

For a shop camera, get one with a flip-out display that turns and adjusts to any angle.... the Canon A80 does have that feature..... it lets you take the pic and still see the display so you know what you are taking the pic OF.... without being a giraffe or a monkey for shots from above the work, etc.

03-26-2011, 07:16 PM
Mr Ford!

You are bad (good?) influence. Just picked up the Manfrotto Magic Arm shown in your post. Was convinced by the sales guy to get this one (#244) over the #143 which has a cam lock mechanism, and I'm glad I did.

This is almost as smooth as my Nioga DI clamp. It will easily hold a DSLR and lens.

Thanks for the lead. This is the cat's meow.


03-26-2011, 08:20 PM
I bought one in the '90s, and another four years ago when the first one died. For the second one, I set a price limit of $100, found something decent for $89.

My idea of a shop camera is something that'll get greasy fingerprints all over it, get carried in a pocket, and generally abused. A friend of mine has $5,000 worth of camera equipment that stays in his safe because he's afraid it will get damaged...

Mark Hockett
03-27-2011, 04:04 PM
I have a few digital cameras but the one I use 90% of the time now is my iphone. It is small, I have it with me most of the time, it is a 5 MP camera and it is the easiest camera I own to get pictures from the camera to Photobucket. I have the Photobucket app so a few taps on the screen and the pictures are in my Photobucket album. I can also post here with the same phone so no need to even turn on the computer. One of the things I like the most is I can talk to a customer on the phone, take a picture and email it to him as we speak with just a few taps on the screen. I can get instant feedback which can save me tons of time. It will also take decent videos and post them to my You Tube album with a few taps on the screen.
When I'm done taking pictures I use it as my ipod for shop music or machinist reference guide using one of the machine shop apps available.

03-27-2011, 04:47 PM
Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

Just picking up a few:

Mark Hockett - I have been using my phone for a few weeks to take workshop photos. It is convenient but I don't like getting it dirty and the pictures that I get are not really good enough, particularly close up (but then my phone is not an iphone).

Frank Ford - your idea about having a flip out screen and a magic arm looks great, but I still would like someting that I can just put in a pocket, take out and take a quick picture wherever I am and in whatever position.

TRX - I think you have the same idea that I have. I definitely don't want something expensive that I would be afraid to use in the workshop.

Any reasons why something like this would be a bad idea?

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Canon-PowerShot-A495-Digital-Camera-Silver-/130499548085?pt=UK_CamerasPhoto_DigitalCameras_Dig italCameras_JN&hash=item1e626113b5

Thanks for your help.

Alistair Hosie
03-27-2011, 05:14 PM
I bought Bronwen the olympus she loves it anyway last Christmas I bought a newer version lighter etc does more or less the same thing but she loves them smart and light,have fun .Alistair

Alistair Hosie
03-27-2011, 05:24 PM
The manfroto articulated arm is very variable in oprice fro 36 to 100+ pounds we are supposed to be so called engineers couldn't we who are always looking for projects make one? I understand not all of us have the time.Then again the cheapie at 36 plus a very few quid postage makes it hardly worthwhile unless like me you enjoy this sort of project? Alistair

03-27-2011, 07:16 PM
I have an old Olympus C7070 that is perfect ...It's big brother, the Olympus C8080 has very nice macro & super macro
modes, a wireless remote, as well as the (smallish now) flip-out articulating
view screen.