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Old Mar 30, 2004, 11:01 AM   #1
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Default Recommendation please: camera for engineers at power plants

I work with turbine, piping, and electrical engineers who travel to power plants etc. They need a good camera that will do good macro shots as well as regular shots from 2-10 feet away, focus easily and well, give options for a range of quality of picture, and use a storage method that lets you transfer the photos easily to a Windows workstation when they return to work (we have USB capability.) This doesn't have to be a pro level camera, just something that will enable them to take photos that show good detail of what they want others to see when they make their reports.

We'd also like to stay $300 or less if possible; that way I can make a good case for having two cameras.

Lighting situations are usually pretty good, but the camera should not have a weak built in flash.

So, thanks for any recommendations.
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Old Mar 30, 2004, 12:37 PM   #2
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I'm and engineer who's taken a few digital pictures for my work. I normally deal with parts that are relatively shiney. If that's the case, you probably don't want to rely entirely on a built in flash. You'll get a bright spot from reflections that will drown out the rest of the image. One way to help that effect is to bounce the flash off a white board which isn't usually practical with a built in flash or atleast use a remote flash directly. A nice camera that can support a remote flash will probably put you over $300.
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Old Mar 30, 2004, 1:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: Recommendation please: camera for engineers at power pla

Quote:
Originally Posted by kettir

We'd also like to stay $300 or less if possible; that way I can make a good case for having two cameras.

Lighting situations are usually pretty good, but the camera should not have a weak built in flash.

So, thanks for any recommendations.
Like the other guy said, you may have problems with the on-board flash wit highly reflective objects. If feasible, I think you should consider something with a hotshoe on it so you can use an external falsh that can be bounced, etc. If size is an issue, and you must stay at the $300 level, the Fuji F700 may be a good option. This camera has good macro ability and has a usable ISO800 setting that has lowr noise than any other consume digicam at high ISO; useful for non flash handheld shots in normal lighting conditions, if that's important.

-Chris
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Old Mar 31, 2004, 4:18 PM   #4
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You might look at the Pentax S4. It comes delivered at about $260 after rebate. That would probably leave enough left over for a 128Mb SD card, although I would recommend 256.

It has a 3X optical zoom, is 4Mp and can literally fit in an Altoids tin. Which might be a good way to carry it around for engineers in power plants. It has a super-macro mode that lets you get a 1.66 X 1.24 inch image full frame. Imaging Resource said in their review: “Overall, a surprisingly strong macro performance for a subcompact digicam. - A good choice for photographing very small objects.” It also has manual focus.

It has a true SHQ JPG mode that gives about a 2.7Mb image – larger than most 5Mp cameras. The flash modulates down pretty well so it doesn’t burn out close objects, but flash isn’t great for super-macro. I don’t know of many cameras that do a really good job with the flash at super macro distances. You have to jerry rig some lighting for super close shots.

Dave at Imaging Resource said in his review conclusion: “As you may have gathered from some of my comments, I was quite impressed with the Optio S4. I've become accustomed to seeing significant compromises in image quality and feature sets, in order to cram cameras into ever-smaller packages. To my great surprise although, first the Optio S and now the S4 seem to have avoided almost all such compromise, delivering very good color and image quality, along with a really surprising level of features and special functions.” And “Overall, the Optio S4 is amazingly full-featured for a subcompact model, delivering good color and tone in an incredibly tiny package. If you're looking for the ultimate in a "take anywhere" camera, the Optio S4 could be just what you've been waiting for. Definitely a "Dave's Pick," kudos to the engineers at Pentax!” And Steve said: “The image quality from this very small camera will pleasantly surprise most users. Its 4-megapixel imager can be compared to any full-sized 4-megapixel digicams. You will be pleased with the quality of most poster-size prints up to 11 x 17 inches in size. The images are well-saturated and sharp.”


I tend to agree although there are some features I would have preferred to ones they included. The pictures are better than I had hoped for though.
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Old Mar 31, 2004, 5:38 PM   #5
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my dad is cheif electrical engianer at specail metals, http://www.smcwv.com/, they have just about the conditions you are talking about
they have a kodak, but i dont know what kind
i have some sample pics if you want
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Old Mar 31, 2004, 7:48 PM   #6
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My first thought about flashing on shiny objects is to take the picture at an angle so the flash doesn't bounce back straight at you.
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Old Mar 31, 2004, 9:14 PM   #7
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While I'm not an engineer I did graduate as one...

The highly machined pieces are probably going to be hard to photograph at the best of times, going with a small subcompact with a low guide number flash is going to be hard.

Getting an external flash might be the way to go.

Ideally I'd suggest a Nikon 4500, it has a good macro and the ability to use an external flash. Looks like they're discontinued but if you could find two at a store that would be the way to go. That or a Canon G3 or another camera with a hotshoe option.

At least that way you don't have to buy the whole kit at once which is easier on the budget.
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Old Mar 31, 2004, 11:06 PM   #8
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For the macro shots a flashlight with a halogen bulb or white LEDs would be a lot easier than messing with a flash in your budget range.

For shooting people a flash attachment almost always gives better shots than the built-in flash. But for equipment is isn’t so clear. If you shoot something 6 feet away with a tall flash attachment there are shadows that can sometimes make things hard to see. Sometimes the shadows show depth you wouldn’t see with the flat light of a built-in, but often it obscures things you want to see.

If they need a flash shot of a wall of equipment 30 feet away you won’t get the shot with anything but an external flash. But you aren’t going to find a camera with a hot shoe plus a flash attachment plus memory card for $300.

Determine the maximum distance they will need for flash and look at the reviews for the flash range. Some little cameras have decent flash ranges. If they have to take flash pictures at a long distance they are probably going to have to share a single camera.
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