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Old Oct 16, 2002, 11:12 AM   #1
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Default Need Help!!!

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I need some helptrying to find a durable digital camera. I am a Commander for a small police department in SE Kansas. We use a digital camera for taking mug shots of arrestees and use it in a limited fashion for taking photos at crime scenes. We have been using Kodak DC215. We have had to replace the camera three times in two years. The only thing I can figure out is that the officers leave the camera on after they are finished taking a photo (it is connected to a DC power supply to eliminate the need for batteries) and this is somehow causing problems. It is also mounted on a tripod. I am trying to find a durable, easy to use camera that will last longer than a few months. The camera(s) just lock up and won't do anything. I've talked to Kodak and they told me to "reset" the camera (remove all forms of power supply, card etc. and hold the shutter button down for 5 seconds). This seems to work a few times but after a while it will not work anymore. The camera is connected directly to the PC we use to download the photo to our database but we could also use removeable storage like a floppy. Any ideas about a different camera or what the problem could be would be greatly appreciated as I am a novice at digital photography.

Thanks in advance.

David Brown
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Old Oct 16, 2002, 11:46 AM   #2
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Some tips: Some cams are designed to also operate as 'web cams'. These may be designed to operate reliably for long periods connected to a remote power unit. My cam a s602z is supposed to do this, but I suspect in this mode the lcd is off and very little electronics is running.

Some cams (like mine) are permanently powered as soon as the power lead is plugged in and the lcd cannot be turned off - and auto power shut off is disabled. This is because he cam is usually remotely powered for downloading and replaying. In this mode the cam might not be designed for being left on continuously.

Some cams might still allow the auto shut off when remotely powered. These should be OK if users don't play with the settings.

My guess is, generally most cams with lcd's, and taking a lot of power are designed for compactness and intertmittent use, and less for heat removal efficiency

Choose a cam that will work with the least power. This usually means turning off the lcd, although in your case, a cam without lcd might be better. I'm in UK but if Kansas is hot, then less continuous power in the cam means it should run cooler and be more reliable.

Do other Forum members have any ideas of cams fitting the 'Bill'? - That could be a UK Pun!
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Old Oct 16, 2002, 1:00 PM   #3
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Sir:

It maybe that your use of a digital camera for mug shots is overkill. A more appropriate AND fairly inexpensive solution may be a PC camera. PC cameras are the type that require a PC which does all of the processing and storing. They're pretty affordable and range in price from $15-25 to $100. The URL below is just one example.

http://www.intel.com/pccamera/provideo/sysreq.htm

Seems to me the PC camera could serve for mug shots and allow use your Kodak DC215 for crime scenes.

Hope this viewpoint helps.
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Old Oct 16, 2002, 1:28 PM   #4
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Voxmagna and WeekendWarrior,

Thanks for the input.

Vox, our camera has an LCD but it can be turned off and supposedly the camera has an auto-shut off feature. We seldom use the LCD and I have never found it (LCD) turned on when spot checking the camera. The idea of looking for one that runs on the least amount of power and lacking the LCD is a good one. My gut tells me the problem lies with the camera being used more frequently than normal and just wearing out. Thanks. By the way, it is both hot and cold here! A week ago it was 90 degrees and today it is hovering around the mid 30's. "If you don't like the weather in Kansas, wait a few hours and it will change"

WeekendWarrior, we discussed using a webcam as you described in your reply, however we need a camera with better resolution that the webcams I've had experience, albeit very limited experience, with. We use the mugshots to compose line-ups to show to victims and witnesses on a regular basis and need good, crisp photos to show them. Do you know if there are webcams available that are capable of fairly high resolution?

Thank you both for your input. We will revisit the issue with your suggestions and ideas in mind.
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Old Oct 16, 2002, 5:56 PM   #5
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I can appreciate the resolution requirement. In UK courts blurry photos wouldn't be admissable evidence. A similar problem arose when considering MPEG TV images from helicopters.

Web cams by their nature of producing small files for web uploading (lo res.) probably won't have the sharpness you need, the lenses will be minimal cost.

I know my Fuji s602 has a web cam mode, but honestly, I have never tried it. If you start by saying you could need 10X8 print, this narrows the choices to 3-5Mpix cams, and you're back to your first question.

Digicams seem reliable when used normally, so it seems the problem is finding one which only allows your humans to use it in a way which it's designed!

Check remote shut off works on remote power - mine doesn't! You could try a remote power unit which runs for say 15-20 mins until manually reset. Techies in comms. would know how. It could be simple to try this feature out on your existing power units.
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