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Semi-OT: Digital Camera for the Shop

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  • Semi-OT: Digital Camera for the Shop

    I haven't taken a lot of pictures in the post 35mm film era - I've mostly left the bulk of that to my other half. When it comes to the shop and any projects that I do, she really isn't that interested and can't be on call to be my personal photographer. Until now I've either used my phone, which does horrible at close ups or a really old digital camera which isn't too bad, but it also fails on a lot of close up stuff. She's got a couple cameras but I don't want to have to "borrow" one, so I'm thinking I will get one to have for my own needs.

    Has anyone got a suggestion of one that is still reasonably available and but does a good job for work in the shop? Price is really key here too. For me, less is certainly more for this purchase.

  • #2
    Without giving us your target price range, you'll probably get a lot of recommendations for cameras too expensive for your pocket book. This may be one of them...

    I own a Canon 330HS...

    http://www.amazon.com/Canon-ELPH-330...s=canon+330+hs

    which I bought because I wanted a shirt pocket camera with a decent zoom that also had the capability to take slow motion videos of model engines in operation.

    I have three other cameras (two Canons and a Panasonic) but the 330 has become my favorite. Its macro capabilities are satisfactory for me; one can focus down almost to the point where the subject is touching the lens.

    Remember, the best camera is the one you have with you when you encounter a photo op.
    Regards, Marv

    Home Shop Freeware - Tools for People Who Build Things
    http://www.myvirtualnetwork.com/mklotz

    Location: LA, CA, USA

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    • #3
      Most of the point and shoot cameras on the low end are pretty much the same. I would stick with a Cannon, Nikon, Olympus or other brand name as my experience with most of them has been good.

      The one thing to watch for is a macro feature if you plan to take close-ups. It appears to be a feature which was fairly standard a few years back and has disappeared on several newer cameras.

      I have a Cannon at home, bought my Mom a Nikon, and the boss just gave me an Olympus to use here at work. I had a Sony and a Panasonic also at work and they all work well. The Sony did not have a macro feature and it was a mid-pieced camera as like some of the cameras my friends have.

      Robert

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      • #4
        Marv,

        I see that Canon now offers a 340 model at a lower price. Focus still goes down to 1cm so sounds like it should work. Do you know of any feature changes that would make this less appropriate than the 330?
        .
        "People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time they will pick themselves up and carry on" : Winston Churchill

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        • #5
          In addition to the macro feature, another factor for me is lense
          quality in so far as light.

          A lense rated f1.2 is much preferred over one rated f4.5-6.0.
          In practice, one is doing well to get down to something in the
          f2.x range.

          A camera/lense combo with a low f-stop offers more opportunities
          for sharp naturally lit photographs in the dodgy light prevalent in many
          workshops. There is always the flash, but reflections and dark regions
          make this less attractive and to be avoided where possible for me.

          .
          Last edited by EddyCurr; 01-21-2015, 04:57 PM.

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          • #6
            Some things I'd look for are a preview screen you can see from the front or back so you know your subject is in frame (very useful for movies), a solid mount point so you have use a tripod or other clamping device, remote control so you don't need to worry about crudding it up with coolant on your hands. a mic jack for recording audio without picking up auto-focus motor noise inside the camera or including room noise and reverberation from yelling into the camera from 6' away.

            After that look for manual as well as auto control for focus, shutter speed, and exposure. Many times the auto stuff makes a mess of things and this seems to affect things up close more than those at a distance. A flash is nice, a remote triggered flash is better. It should be able to download images and videos directly to your PC/Mac without screwing around with clouds and mandated software. Open is better. Camera RAW or uncompressed jpg format should be available to preserve quality of the image master as this allows you to manage the image with all the original bits available. On-board compression or processing removes or modifies the master image before you even see it and that many not be what you want.

            Some of these are features that tend to grow on you as opposed to what you might want or use immediately and wish for later.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TGTool View Post
              Marv,

              I see that Canon now offers a 340 model at a lower price. Focus still goes down to 1cm so sounds like it should work. Do you know of any feature changes that would make this less appropriate than the 330?
              You can't go too far wrong with any Canon camera.

              The Canon page...

              http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consum...igital_cameras

              has, I believe, a compare capability that allows one to match up any of their cameras and show the salient differences. Might be worth trying.

              Forget flash, especially so on these small cameras with built-in flash. Flash creates garish pictures and the unwanted reflections on metallic subjects are nasty. Flash is good when using the camera to capture an image of a machine nameplate in a dark corner for examination on one's computer but it's not for taking good snapshots with accurate color rendition.

              Instead of flash, build yourself a rolling light stand to illuminate your pictures. I took the base from a dead office chair, added a closet rod and a crossbar, and put two floodlights in repositionable clamp-type reflectors on said crossbar. Added a junction box and a heavy-duty extension cord. Roll it wherever needed and readjust the lamps and you can blind the shop gremlins.



              It's not just for photography either. Great for working under the hood or using the dirty tool cart out in the driveway.
              Regards, Marv

              Home Shop Freeware - Tools for People Who Build Things
              http://www.myvirtualnetwork.com/mklotz

              Location: LA, CA, USA

              Comment


              • #8
                I've always used Panasonic for years - worked very well but was not too robust.

                Latest ones - after my quite good Panasonic chucked it in are two recent Nikkon "Coolpix"' ones which do all that I need - a P600 and an L810.

                If the image is good enough to show the details I want it is good enough for me.

                I am no guru as regards cameras - so I leave them on "pre-set". I don't used them often enough to remember what the options and various settings are for - so I "cop out" - but it all comes together well enough more thanks to the camera than to me - no surprises there.

                The first camera soon showed I need a movable screen as well as the "eye-piece" (standard) viewer and it was an expensive lesson as I then bought a newer better Nikkon "Coolpix: with the larger moveable screen.

                I have a fair range of various tripods and one leg stands for stability.

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                • #9
                  Plenty of good used cameras for next to nothing, even a 2MP will take decent pictures for your use. Most of the Canons provide for manual control.
                  Another trick to eliminating camera shake, when disabling the flash, is to set the camera on a solid surface and use the self timer.

                  Here's a Canon A710IS for $40, more than adequate: https://maine.craigslist.org/ele/4826544489.html
                  Last edited by martik; 01-21-2015, 08:20 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mklotz View Post
                    ..................

                    Forget flash, especially so on these small cameras with built-in flash. Flash creates garish pictures and the unwanted reflections on metallic subjects are nasty. Flash is good when using the camera to capture an image of a machine nameplate in a dark corner for examination on one's computer but it's not for taking good snapshots with accurate color rendition.

                    ...........................
                    True. But when one does not have proper equipment for lighting one trick I use is to take a small piece of tissue and hold it or tape it loosely (really loose, almost a loop) over the flash on the camera. This spreads out the light and reduces the glare and can result in much better lighting on the subject.

                    To the OP's question my pocket camera is a Sony CyberShot. Works very well for me.

                    Steve
                    Last edited by SteveF; 01-21-2015, 09:27 PM.

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                    • #11
                      My "Coolpix" cameras have "video" but I can't see me using it - hence YouTube either - it just came with the cameras.

                      I've used SD storage for ages (it seems) and then I download the pics I want to the hard drive and/or "memory sticks".

                      I only use a resolution that meets my needs - another pretty well "set and forget" thing with me.

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                      • #12
                        Fujifilm X-A2

                        Originally posted by lost_cause View Post
                        ... I haven't taken a lot of pictures in the post 35mm film era - I've mostly left the bulk of that to my other half.
                        Lost Cause,

                        You need a camera which will give you pleasure, and prompt you to get out of the shop from time to time. Here is one: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/079...ilm-s-new-x-a2. It differs from my X-A1 mainly in having a selfie screen. The kit lens is a 24-75mm equivalent, and a great performer.


                        Last edited by aostling; 01-21-2015, 10:24 PM. Reason: added photo
                        Allan Ostling

                        Phoenix, Arizona

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                        • #13
                          I also have a Nikon Coolpix, and for a long time I used only the video (movie) function. After a while I learned to use the macro function for closeups, and I also used the "easy" mode for still pictures, which are stored as 4000x3000 JPG. I use the USB to transfer to my computer and then delete them from the SD card. There are lots of menu functions that I have never used, and I could probably take better shots if I learned how to use them. The autofocus gives me the most problem, but I've learned how to (mostly) compensate for that.

                          When I want high magnification I use a USB microscope that can adjust from 1x to 300x, and 1600x1200 resolution. Here is an example of what it can do:




                          I also have a "spy camera" that takes only 640x480 but is really tiny and cheap. I have thought about clipping it to a piece of work on the lathe and see the world from a rotating perspective. I did clip it on my dog Muttley's collar and took a video from his perspective. Not very good, but interesting:

                          http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                          Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                          USA Maryland 21030

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by aostling View Post
                            Lost Cause,

                            You need a camera which will give you pleasure, and prompt you to get out of the shop from time to time.
                            This is very true. Since I've moved to the north central desert of Washington state I've been very busy with photography and videography in the region. Never leave home without one, now. At the rate I'm going I'll have more web bloat than most of my hosted customers

                            http://northokanogan.com/

                            Most photos are taken with a Canon 7D or Ti4, but plenty are taken with just an iphone.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by martik View Post
                              Plenty of good used cameras for next to nothing, even a 2MP will take decent pictures for your use. Most of the Canons provide for manual control.
                              That is great advice, and also my suggestion. The only thing better would be a free camera from someone who has upgraded or switched to a phone. Lithium batteries degrade with age, so you may need a new one.

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