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Old Aug 8, 2010, 1:59 AM   #11
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This is the USNS Yukon during an underway replenishment. We are 160 feet apart (standard unrep distance), and she is 667 feet long. So you are able to get quite large objects in the image, while you are pretty close in.

This is also shooting into the sun, and the deck details on the Yukon are quite good - well at least on the full size image. I had to cut these down to 1000x600 pixels for posting. That is about 1/3 of the full size image.

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Old Aug 8, 2010, 2:02 AM   #12
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Here is another of the Yukon, but down below from the hanger deck. Shooting right directly into the sun.

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Old Aug 8, 2010, 12:17 PM   #13
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There are a few additional items that come to mind. Interiors are going to be a problem no matter what. Each of the bodies has a pop up flash (the Pentax KX does, and the other do too, I believe) that will help in a pinch. There may be a need for an external flash unit that would attach to the top of the camera body. Flash units in general direct the light from the flash in a fairly tight area (designed for general photography - and not necessary for wide angle or fish eye use).

Another way around the interior lighting problem, is what is called bracketing. You easily set the camera up to take 3 to 5 images automatically in a predetermined sequence, - a regular picture, a over exposed picture and a underexposed picture. Software combines them together, and the result is a well exposed well lit interior. To do this effectively - you probably need some type of tripod (hand holding is possible but difficult, since all the images need to align) (and I am thinking you may only need one or two for the entire project). - no flash necessary. Realtors do this for house interiors that they are selling all the time. It really is easy to do (with what is called HDR or High Dynamic Range software utilities - can be free to about $100 or $200)....
The other area is training. If you are going to be acquiring 10 sets, that is 10 folks that need to know what to do and how to do it. Also, there would be a fairly wide range of experience, from someone saying - what is it, to someone able to unbox everything, figure out how to put it together and shoot some reasonable images. I would figure on about a half of day in some type of training session that would cover:
  • What all the parts are (body, lens(s), etc.), what is in the setup everyone will be using
  • How to turn it on and off
  • How to change lenses, and protect the sensor from acquiring dust on it.
  • How to set the body up (probably a one time occurrence - getting everything into automatic [setting the date and time in the camera] - point and shoot mode) where the person aims and pushes the button, with the camera doing the rest. Also, setting the copyright EXIF tag with a camera id (or persons name or camera name, etc.), so that you can easily tell what camera (thus person) took what image. I would also suggest high resolution JPG images as opposed to RAW format. In a workflow such as this, JPG would just be easier to use, and would not need conversion from RAW to JPG.
  • You also need to setup some kind of picture ID scheme. If you just leave everything out of the box you will have 10 images labeled the same img0001, img0002. Most bodies, have a way to modify this so that you can have CxxIyyyyy.jpg Where xx is the camera number 1 - 10 and yyyyy is the individual image number. The xx should correspond in some way to the copyright tag in the EXIF for each image.
  • How to clean the lenses (just in case).
  • How to clean the sensor (just in case).
  • How to change the batteries
  • A quick how to take pictures with the fish eye and possibly the wide angle lens, or what ever the setup consists of
  • Everyone doing all of this and taking some pictures
  • Then most important - What type of pictures the Program Manager wants. What does he want to capture in the way of information in the pictures. How often? Basically, the PM will want to be capturing a story to tell - probably to the customer.
  • I am going to guess that your daily take would be about 5 to 100 images per day per camera. That is 50 to 1000 images a day to process, store and make available for use.
Now once everyone knows how to use the camera and what to take pictures of.... You are going to need some type of infrastructure and work flow process to capture the pictures from the camera, store them, and make them accessible to the folks who need the pictures.

For this you need a PC with a SD card reader, and some software. I would suggest something like Adobe Elements (about $100). Its simple and straight forward, but what is nice is that it has a little utility that when the SD card is plugged in to the card reader, the utility automatically comes up, then by clicking ok, it will unload all the images from the card on to the computer, automatically putting them into a date labeled directory. You need only 1 of these PC systems and probably a backup. It also deletes the images from the SD cards, so that:
  • you do not run out of room on the SD card on the next day
  • if the sd card from camera 1 get used on camera 2 that the image numbering scheme does not get reset, and camera 1 now starts tagging its images as camera 2 in terms of the image labels.
It also builds a catalog of the pictures for easy scanning. If you have the images automatically stored to a network drive, then just about everyone can use them. Picassa from Google (free) is another utility that will automatically go out and discover all of these images and automatically maintains a image directory, so that the images are readily usable.

In that you are going to all of this trouble to get the images, have your IT or computer folks setup an automatic backup DAILY. You want to do this daily, so as to preserve a unaltered set of images for legal dispute resolution. Status is great, and this will give you a chronological history of the project, and all large project have some type of dispute with either the customer, sub contractors, vendors and/or suppliers. Also, sorry to say but probably at one time or another - probably all of them, so you might as well design a system that will stand up to questions, of who, what, why, when and where. You will want the project's lawyer to review this for at least the bare minimum needs.

You probably have some graphics designer available to the project who knows what to do with the images and to build presentations for current status, etc. This person should also be able to help or actually setup and run the collection infrastructure for the images.

For someone to do a training class, I would suggest someone - an instructor full or part time from a nearby Community College. They might not be familiar with the specific camera body, but a day with it, they will have everything down and ready to go.

..... so are you sure you still want to do this. There are going to be additional ongoing expenses in maintaining a system such as this.

Its not quite as simple as going out and shooting a bunch of pictures....


Last edited by interested_observer; Aug 9, 2010 at 9:51 AM.
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Old Aug 9, 2010, 3:47 PM   #14
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WOW!!! I was not definately not expecting this much information. This is incredible and very much appreciated!

I got word back from the PM that distortion in the photos expected. I will be sending your samples to him so he has a very clear understanding of what we will be capturing.

I'm going to review your additional posts tonight and respond in the morning.

THANK YOU!
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Old Aug 10, 2010, 12:17 AM   #15
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Its not my intend to overload you with too much information here. However, in that you are looking for 10 camera kits, even with 1 or 2 spares, that is a lot of equipment. Even though some folks will take very few images and others may take a lot, its my opinion, that you need to look at the entire system life cycle of getting the camera, training, acquiring the images, storing the images, and then using the images in reports or presentations, etc. In this regard, you have some idea to start out with something of a structured approach to this endeavor. In this way, you can control your costs and the quality of the results.

I believe initially, you were looking for a point and shoot, but with the few P&S available with screw on fish eye lenses, the users would be putting the lenses on and taking them off (so as to fit everything in a pocket) - within a month the threads would be stripped and you would just have just the regular camera. So the fisheye needs, this somewhat push you to a dSLR form factor. Even an entry level dSLR will be more durable that a P&S with an add on fisheye (which tend to be circular rather than rectangular image format).

If you are planning on 10 cameras, the construction project must be sufficiently large to support this many, thus the construction time line should probably span a couple of years, I would guess. With this potential size, duration and magnitude of a project, I figure that you might as well have sufficient options and view of the total life-cycle so as to try to do it reasonably right, rather than get part of the way in and have to re-work everything - or just give up - incurring a loss (time and equipment).

Also, this is relatively easy and straight forward for me. I have been a systems engineer for 40 years now - 20 for an specialized consulting firm. I have had to go in and salvage all to many projects. Ripping things apart and putting things back together again - is not my idea of fun. You might as well try to go in with your eyes wide open.

Also, I would suggest starting a bit small. The 10 camera bodies, with the fisheye lens, and maybe 1 wide angle lens and maybe a flash unit to use as needed. Then base on use and need - go from there, as required. You might even consider a hybrid mix and match of 5 point and shoot with no fish eye (great for carrying around in pockets) and 5 dSLRs for the folks who have the "need". You have a wide array of options available to you.

Then again, for a wide angle point and shoot (those that have the a fast lens [f2 for low light] and widest angle lens - around 24mm), there are the Canon S90, Canon G11 and Panasonic LX3. At least 2 of the 3 have fisheye add on lenses, however - in terms of durability, I can see these getting knocked around and the camera would just be a loss. Also, it would destroy pocketability, and have the same physical size problem as the dSLR.
for the sake of comparison here is a dslr body.
Also, I forgot to indicate that the Pentax KX was named the best entry level camera of the year for 2010.
... sorry for the thesis...


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Old Aug 10, 2010, 9:31 PM   #16
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You've put a great deal of thought into this, thank you. Let me try to put some of your well placed concerns to rest.

We currently have a number of construction sites with staff taking an average of 200 photos per day, per site. We have well over 2 million photos and videos documenting the life of our projects. Photos are stored on a network server with terabytes of free space. The network servers are backed up to tape on a nightly basis. Our photos are EXIF tagged and organized within an Extensis Portfolio database. We have a very thorough workflow in place for processing all this data.

Part of my job consists of post processing photos for presentations, creating time lapse videos and working with a team of video editors. I'm also a graphic deisgner. All these factors led to this project landing at my desk. I knew that I did not have the experiance to make a knowledgable recomendation so I turned to these forums for help.

That said, I agree that training is going to be the key to getting the best results. The cameras we are currently using are consumer grade point and shoots (Sony Cybershots and WX's and Panasonic DMC-FZ's).

Up to this point our needs have been to capture photos to document the life of the project on a daily basis. There has been very little training in how to compose and capture a good photograph. This is definately something we will need to address to get the most out of this new equipment.

My plan is to purchase one camera + lens, train one of our staff on it and send them out into the field for a week to test. We'll review the results and the value of the photos and videos before going any further.

I am planning on proposing the Pentax KX and DA 10-17 lens. The alternative option I will be proposing is the Panasonic LX3 with lens and viewfinder. These two options should cover the spectrum; meaning if the Pentax KX package is too expensive, large, heavy, etc. the LX3 is the low end alternative.

I'll let you know what they decide.

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Old Aug 10, 2010, 10:55 PM   #17
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Wonderful!!! You just never know when you respond to one of these requests...

Here is what I have found. I looked before and found nothing, but took a different approach to the search, and found...

  • The first link is with a 10-17 mounted on a camera body and you just have to scale with the person's hands
  • The second link is with the 10-17 off to the left hand side
  • The third link is with the 10-17 on an older body the *ist which is essentially the same size as the KX. There is a bit of distortion in this image.
I do not have a KX, but I have a K100 which is 3 generations prior to the KX. It is essentially the same size.
KX ........ 123 x 92 x 68 mm (4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
K100D ...129 x 93 x 70 mm (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
So you can see that the K200D is slightly larger by .3" width, .1" in both height and depth.

There are not really any images of the KX body with the DA 10-17 lens. However, just about any image of a KX has the kit DA 18-55 lens mounted, which is essentially the same size. The only difference is the front lens element (there is no writing around the fisheye, as there is on the kit lens).
  • DA 10-17 lens - 2.7"x2.8" (68x71.5mm)
  • DA 18-55 lens - 2.7 x 2.7" (68.0 x 67.5mm)
So effectively with respect to size, form and fit the standard KX image with the kit lens mounted is a representative image.
... then here is my poor attempt at a product photograph of the K100D with the DA 10-17 fisheye. I photograph landscapes and architecture.

You might also be interested in the user's manual.
... also, here is a very good book on the KX that supplements the users manual very well. Puts in the "why" you would want to do various things. Also. for $11 its pretty inexpensive.
Here are a few tips on using the 10-17 (in no particular order of importance)...
  • It is amazing at how close you are able to get to large objects and still get all of the object in the frame. You can also get too close and blow all perspective away, where by the parts of an object become just oversize in relation to the rest of the object. The distance between the camera and the object being photographed is important (too close - or too far away becomes possibly not a useful image - but it can be very funny!!)
  • When in portrait mode, check to make sure that the toes of your shoes are not in the bottom of the frame
  • Experiment with tipping the camera slightly up, and then straight forward and then down, and watching where the bend occurs and in what direction the bend points (up, flat horizon and down) within the frame.
  • Some objects just look terrible when shot with a fisheye.
  • Some objects just look great when shot with a fisheye.
  • There are some perspectives of various objects that just look bad. So, the photographer may need to experiment around with the angle of the shot.
  • You can get "large nose" shots with a fisheye. The fenders of a car, or things that protrude out.
  • Landscape photos tend to have the center of the image pushed away, thus appear to be further away then what they actually are.
  • It helps to have something in the foreground of the shot with a fisheye at times.
  • The fisheye effect is extreme at 10mm (180 degrees), however zooming in to 17mm (100 degrees wide), the fisheye effect becomes very much reduced - to some extent you start to wonder if its still a fish eye.
  • A fisheye in particular and a wide angle lens in general, since they pull in the scene or view from the edges, also pulls in light. Thus, the lens seems to be "brighter" in dim light situations than you may expect.
  • Straight lines can be problems at times with a fisheye. Curved items on the other hand tend to work well with a fish eye. Square grids can also look terrible at times - different perspective view really can change a terrible image to a good image.
  • Straight lines, again - gently tip the camera up or down or level, to see how the lens treats the lines, and then pick the view that works the best.
  • Standing up on a chair and shooting down, or kneeling down and shooting slightly upwards can help with the fisheye prespective.
Shooting new lenses in general.
  • I have found that with a new lens if you go out for an hour or so, shooting "whatever things", and then come back down load the images and look at them - what you actually got, vs what you were expecting to get, its a real learning experience. Then go out again for another hour and try again, and it is amazing the difference. The immediate near real time feed back loop works wonders - real learning takes place. The camera's rear screen helps to a degree, but the images really look different on a 20" monitor, zooming in and panning around. I would suggest doing this - in training.
Some items on the KX.
Here are some websites on shooting with fisheye lenses (not necessary with a Pentax fisheye zoom - but they apply none the less).
Another consideration in terms of acquiring the Pentax KX is the configuration it is acquired in. 1) body only or 2) body with kit lens. Doing a quick price check on line showed (at least today) the B&H had the body only available for $509 and for the body with the 18-55 kit lens for $499. So essentially you get a $10 discount for including the kit lens package. The kit lens may be very good for comparison purposes - in terms of photography with a regular lens. Comparison of images at 18mm rectilinear lens (76 degree field of view) vs 17mm fisheye (100 degrees field of view). Also, if you buy the kit - with the kit lens - getting an initial discount, you can if you wish - given that you might not want the kit lens - sell it for upwards of $50 each, further reducing your overall capital costs. Also, the kit lens is really very good, its not a throw away lens in terms of image quality and performance. Here is a link that does a quick comparison between the kit lens and the fisheye in terms of field of view and just overall distortion. You will see, that at 17mm for the fisheye and 18mm for the regular lens, there appears to be little fisheye distortion. I think you will notice that the fisheye at 17mm is about 20% wider in the field of view of the pictures than the kit lens at 18mm (look at the extreme right hand side of the images, along with the amount of foreground). You will find that the fisheye at the 17mm end of the range will usually not appear to have a fisheye perspective much of the time.
Also, inquire about the Pentax extended warranty - covering damage and repairs. This is a 2 year extension for $40. There's no link. You have to call them., 1-800-877-0155 And, the extended warranty is not available in VA.
The last item is, assistance. Here on Steves, there is a Pentax/Samsung dSLR forum that is very active (there is also one for Pentax lenses too on Steves). The folks are VERY friendly and helpful. Just scroll down on the main page (not there is also a Pentax Point and Shoot forum, if you see this, keep scrolling down some more to the dSLR section). Also, there is another website devoted to Pentax, and that is the PentaxForums.com That site is extremely active too with very friendly and helpful folks. You will find a lot of us frequent both sites.

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/

... so hope that helps some...

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Old Aug 12, 2010, 7:05 AM   #18
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I.O. has provided reams of valuable information! Now here's my two cents:

I've been shooting a long long time, but bought my first dSLR just over two years ago. I'd favored Sony or Olympus, but my analysis led me to Pentax. Specifically, it was the DA10-17 that drove my decision. Comparable lenses for Nikon and Canon were prohibitively expensive, and didn't exist for Sony. My first kit was the K20D, DA10-17, DA18-250, and FA50/1.4 for low light. Many dozens of lenses later, those are still my most-used glass.

The DA10-17 is sharp and fast-responding. In dim situations, I'm more likely to use a Zenitar 16/2.8 fisheye on my K20D, but the DA10-17 renders more accurately, and would be superb on a body with better high-ISO characteristics like the K7 or Kx. The Kx is top-rated, with the best sensor around, BUT... the K7 (which is only slightly larger) is more rugged, with better weather sealing. Both are better constructed than competitor's cameras in the same price ranges.
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Old Aug 12, 2010, 8:41 AM   #19
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Thanks so much for the info. I've received approval for the KX and DA10-17 lens.

I did look into the K7 and the larger body was straying too far from the size requirements. Good info about the durability though, thanks!
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Old Aug 12, 2010, 9:22 AM   #20
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Morning,

I hope everything works out for the project(s)!!!

I appreciated Rio's comments very much!

On the following points:
  • Zenitar 16/2.8 fisheye - I thought a lot about this, its a very good lens - with a great price (very good value for the money). The 10-17's range won out over the faster aperture, for my suggestion. The 10-17 coupled with the KX, as Rio suggested - created a system that provides both versatility and additional flexibility - especially in the case for only having 1 lens.
  • K7 vs KX - I thought about this repeatably in what would be better. In terms of durability, the K7 wins hand down over any camera body under $2500 - and equal to everything at that price point and higher. However, for low light situations, the sensor in the KX (its a newer camera by about 6 months vs the K7), is superior. Over on the Pentax Forums, there are Professional Photographers, picking up the KX in addition to their K7 just for the low light capability. Additionally, as Rio indicated - the KX although not a full metal body like the K7, is a very rugged plastic over an internal steel frame, should stand up. Also, the size of the KX is probably about as large as someone is going to use and carry around on a construction site.
It would be interesting to know how all of this turns out after a period of time? What the initial reactions are of the users, the PM and the customers seeing the status/progress images (is additional information actually conveyed and value realized). If the additional resolution and image quality is worth the additional size and cost. Plus, the reactions to the fisheye - the range of the lens, the 10mm end vs the 17mm end, and how the images stack up in usefulness to the prior point and shoot images. The user's reaction to the lens out in the field - how do they like it (or not). Does the additional field of view provide real actual value to the projects and customers.


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