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Old May 21, 2011, 4:00 PM   #1
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Default Camera to meet gov't specs

I have a project where I will be submitting electronic images in B+W to the federal government. In their wisdom, images have to do this: be first generation. be .tiff or RAW converted to .tiff, pixel array at leasst 3000 to 2000, resolution at least 300 ppi, be RGB color mode. Then it gets worse...and actual film, forget it.

My need is for a point and shoot with capability from wide-angle to long lens, thinking 12-14 mp, user friendly. The gov't says I need all of that other stuff. I am in a $200-$275 +/- range, looking at Nikon L120 which is jpeg only, Kodak Z981 which is jpeg and RAW, Panasonic Fz235 (too pricey?) which is RAW and ssuper jpeg and I don't know what.

So, any ideas? My photo needs are straight forward. But don't I have to buy a camera other than jpeg, and how do I determine the pixels and resolutions, RGB. I thought there was a setting for b+w--that's all I know. I'm tired trying to find everything in one place--altho maybe it is the Kodak. Reviews say noisy as are all 14mp tested--is noise something that is evident to the amateur? And last--does first generation mean from camera to CD, no enhancing images?

Sorry gor the long post and I guess I should take the tech questions elsewhere, but this is just backward camera searching. Thanks many times over---Mike
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Old May 21, 2011, 6:15 PM   #2
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Let's see what we can do here....

Do you have a link to the government standard that indicates the requirements. It would be useful to read exactly the wording used.

Also, it would help to know what you are going to take pictures of. Inside or outside, buildings, or shots of screws and washers? When you say "wide to long lens", that is a lot - how wide and how much telephoto? Your description of what you will be shooting will help with this. Also, there is a matter of lighting. Will you need a flash? Will the built in flash suffice, or will you need the camera to have a hot shoe so that you can use an external flash?

So based on what you have written so far, here are some thoughts....

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeca View Post
I have a project where I will be submitting electronic images in B+W to the federal government. In their wisdom, images have to do this: be first generation. be .tiff or RAW converted to .tiff, pixel array at leasst 3000 to 2000, resolution at least 300 ppi, be RGB color mode. Then it gets worse...and actual film, forget it.
So what I am reading here is that you need a camera that either stores in RAW or TIFF format. I would suggest looking for a camera that records in RAW, and then using the post processing software that either comes with the camera or a third party (or open source) to convert it to .TIFF. The use of first generation, would indicate to me that you may possibly have a camera record in JPG and then the first generation conversion to .TIFF. This would enlarge the camera selection by effectively removing the RAW requirement. However, recording in RAW and then converting to TIFF would provide a better image (and that is where reading the gov standard would be helpful).

The sensor size needs to be 3000 x 2000 which equals 6,000,000 or 6MP (6 mega pixels). Its pretty difficult to find a camera that does not support this resolution. RGB color mode, just means that the sensor or camera needs to be able to do color images (even though you submit in black and white). The 300ppi resolution is actually an output resolution. This means 300 pixels per inch for output. This can be set or reset when the image is converted from RAW to TIFF, and from color to black and white. So your 3000 x 2000 pixel sensor divided by 300 ppi tells the output program to produce a image 10 inches by 6.7 inches (3000/300ppi = 10 inches and 2000/300ppi = 6.7 inches).

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeca View Post
My need is for a point and shoot with capability from wide-angle to long lens, thinking 12-14 mp, user friendly. The gov't says I need all of that other stuff. I am in a $200-$275 +/- range, looking at Nikon L120 which is jpeg only, Kodak Z981 which is jpeg and RAW, Panasonic Fz235 (too pricey?) which is RAW and ssuper jpeg and I don't know what.
A point and shoot with 12-14MP should do fine. RAW format would probably do you better and that will reduce the selection of cameras. The Panasonics support the RAW format, and with that you should have everything. I would look for one of the older models that have just been replaced in order to hold down the price.

Here is a list of P&S cameras with RAW format. It might be a bit dated, but its a start.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeca View Post
So, any ideas? My photo needs are straight forward. But don't I have to buy a camera other than jpeg, and how do I determine the pixels and resolutions, RGB. I thought there was a setting for b+w--that's all I know. I'm tired trying to find everything in one place--altho maybe it is the Kodak. Reviews say noisy as are all 14mp tested--is noise something that is evident to the amateur? And last--does first generation mean from camera to CD, no enhancing images?

Sorry gor the long post and I guess I should take the tech questions elsewhere, but this is just backward camera searching. Thanks many times over---Mike
Usually, generations of images are:
generation 0 - base image out of the camera
generation 1 - conversion of generation 0, i.e., color to black and white, adjustment of resolution (to 300dpi), conversion of format (to TIFF)

The problem is we do not know if the gov counts the internal camera conversion of RAW to JPG as a generation. Thus the safest route is a camera with RAW, so that you always have the generation 0 image that you can produce a generation 1 image with what ever needs to be done to it (TIFF, B&W, resolution, etc.).

Hope that helps....
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Old May 22, 2011, 3:21 PM   #3
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Default catching on

Thank you for a clear response. Things are coming together for me slowly. If you want a link: www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/initiatives/digital-photo-records.html

I think I will settle on a Panasonic Fz35, gives 12mp, 18x optical zoom, equivalent 27mm-486mm. Sounds good to me. This is a preservation project involving the National Register of Historic Places. Wide angle will be good for buildings in tighter locations, internal shots as needed-light probably not a problem, lots of landscale shots as it is a huge English garden, some tight telephoto. Based on my long 35mm experience, I have the vesatility and I think quality in the Leica lens. The camera shoots .jpeg and RAW. Price is OK, can't believe the range of of prices out there.

With your clarity, would you walk me through the process, please. I am experienced with digital, not tech savvy but trainable. I go in the field, take a photo with camera set on RAW? Then what? How do I download to computer (I can do that), when where does the RAW-.tiff take place? Can .jpeg convert to .tiff? Will I need to buy software? Can I take my image once in .tiff and edit or is that no longer first generation? I need to give the image a name on the image. Then to CD-R, and I can't burn a CD. Can I make a copy of the CD?

No prints are required but if I really want prints it means a new photo printer --or maybe not if they are just for my use. Project is a money sponge it seems, yet it is the purpose and identity that sustain late in my career..

I'm betting you can help me in fewer words that I used to pose the problem. Guidance helps my extra research so I am most grateful for your time and help. Looking forward... Thanks, Mike
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Old May 22, 2011, 5:27 PM   #4
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G'day mg

I have followed your posts with interest - to compare the US gov't requirements with those downunder in Australia. On first glance the US regs seem very onerous and quite different from ours

However in your latest post you give a link to the US regs ... I have had a glance and I am confused ... your post refers to the need for RAW, but reading the regs [below] it says that JPG is allowed ... [but the regs themselves do create some confusion too]

quote
5.2.1 NARA will accept digital photographic records in the following file formats and versions. Additional formats may be added in subsequent iterations of this guidance.
5.2.1.1 Tagged Image File Format (TIFF), in 'II' format, 3 versions 4.0 (April 1987), 5.0 (October 1988), and 6.0 4 (June 1992). Default file extensions include .TIFF and .TIF.

5.2.1.2 JPEG 5 File Interchange Format (JFIF, JPEG), all versions compliant with International Standards Organization (ISO/IEC) standard 10918-1: Information Technology -- Digital Compression and Coding of Continuous-tone Still Images (1994). Default file extensions include .JPEG, .JFIF, and .JPG.endquote

If my reading of the above is correct, then it seems to me that your camera-search & image processing becomes very easy

Any current camera will give better than 6mpx images in JPG format
Most photo-editing software can convert the camera image to TIFF format via the "Save-As" option

If my presumption is correct, then something like the Panny FZ35 and an editor like Photoshop Elements [which can multi-process many images at the same time] will give you very much more than the regs require

Hope this helps a bit
Regards, Phil
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Old May 22, 2011, 7:18 PM   #5
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Good Afternoon MG,

Phil hit the nail right on the head. Any camera, 6MP or greater that produces a JPG image.

I will second that PhotoShop Elements is reasonably inexpensive (under $100), really any recent version 7, 8, 9 or 10. If you are associated with an education institution there are academic versions for $60.

One nice thing about Elements, is you can insert the SD card into the reader attached to the PC and it can auto load in the images, and catalog them for you in a single step. You can have them automatically stored into a directory with the date the image was taken.

In that the government will accept JPG, I would bypass RAW and just take JPG as that would be simpler. Or the camera has a RAW + JPG option where it will produce 2 files for each image (one RAW and one JPG). In this way, you can just send in the JPG converted to B&W and also have the option of having the RAW for better post processing - adjusting colors, white balance, etc.

You can use Elements to crop the images or convert to black and white. All you need to do is to make sure that the EXIF data is preserved on the resulting image file - and the resolution is still set to 300 dpi.

I have a Panasonic LX3 with the f2 Leica lens. It takes great images, I like it a lot. Your selection of the FZ35 should do the job in great style.

Here is a link to the FZ35 manual for reference.....
Also, there are a number of FZ35 review videos on line....
_______________


If your PC does not have a SD card reader, here is one that plugs into the USB port

Her is a link to 2GB SD cards - SanDisk, Transend and Patroit are very good. I would get at least 2 to have a spare if the first gets filled up or if a card goes bad.
________________________

So a day in the life of MG with a new FZ. I would put the camera in IA mode (where everything is fully auto), and JPG + RAW, using a 2GB SD card (they are very inexpensive).

  1. I would shoot to my hearts content - say 50 images over say 2 days (just an example here). The camera automatically gives each image a name with a picture number, and a file type based on the type of file (JPG or xxx - actually I forget what Panasonic calls their RAW files - I think that its .RW2)
  2. I would have purchased and loaded Elements before hand.
  3. I would pull the card and plug it into my PC's SD card slot.
  4. A few seconds after inserting the card, Elements will automatically detect the inserted card and pup up a box on the screen indicating its ready to down load. The first time, I would ensure that it is set up to store the images into dated directories say located in my project folder or maybe on my desk top. Then I would say OK.
  5. It automatically downloads the files creating 2 directories - one for each day of shooting and stores the images in each folder.
  6. Then it asks if I want to erase the images from the SD card - yes
  7. Then it asks if I want to go into Elements - yes
  8. Then it open up elements and populates the catalog screen.

From this point on I would suggest taking a look at one or more of the video clips


I would not bother with TIFF format, since JPG is just as acceptable, and everyone uses JPG - very few use TIFF and it would just add another conversion step - more work.

To send your work in, I would just copy the dated directories with the JPG files in side to a CD rom or DVD.

Also, I would look into an extension class at the local community college on digital photography. Its inexpensive, and they would go over all of this.

______________________

So once you get your camera - what do you do? Charge the battery - it takes 2 hours for this. While charging, read the manual, and take the CD rom and load it on your PC. After charging, slide in the SD card and go shoot everything and anything, in doors, out side, play around with it. You cant hurt it, and the "film" is free. Then follow the directions on the software that came with the camera, to load the pictures on to the PC from the SD card. Remember you can't hurt anything or loose anything of value - these are just practice pictures. Play with the software looking at your images.

Decide if you need to buy Elements or will the Panasonic software be sufficient.


Last edited by interested_observer; May 22, 2011 at 8:00 PM.
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Old May 23, 2011, 2:00 PM   #6
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Well now, I'm not sure if I have egg on my face or not. I have never looked at the link I gave you. What I was looking at was "recommended update to photo policy or some such." I downloaded directly from the National Register of Historic Places package sent to me by the PA Historical Commission (my first master and hurdle), went into confused mode, as you see. Now as I see this through a different lens (so to speak) confusion has returned.

Thanks for the alert - I need to do some comparisons, checking of dates of regs, get in touch with the appropriate gov't office and straighten it all out. I'm not sure if I am living happily ever after or not yet.

BTW, I had used 35mm, collection of lenses, for nearly 50 years, b+w, color, slides, etc. The gamut from recording sites to attempts at creativity. I have had simple digitals for quite some time. Sending off rolls of film (always b+w for preservation jobs), getting prints back, easy enough. Simple digital was that, simple, but good images are possible. This whole thing put me in an unknown place.

I'll triple check the regs and see what's up, get back to you.

Thriving on simplicity--

Thanks - Mike
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Old May 23, 2011, 4:43 PM   #7
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G'day mike

Nice for the qwikkie update - and we all sometimes get caught with the techno stuff, esp when it's new & strange

fwiw - the entire digital world works with .jpg [as it is a universal format] and raw rarely as it is a format locked into the camera brand in use. Nikon raw is not the same as Canon raw which is different from kodak raw etc etc ... it's a pain in the ****

Adobe have created a "universal raw" format called DNG [digital negative] which some camera companies have swapped over to for their raw format, but whether your client will accept this is unknown

I would concentrate on creating/delivering the highest quality JPG images you can achieve and let them do the rest ... ie: if it's good enough for Getty Images for international image libraries, it's should be good enough for your potential client - the US NARA mob

Regards, Phil
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Old May 23, 2011, 9:00 PM   #8
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Hi Megca,

Government regulations and requirements are confusing, so that why I always ask for the baseline.

Not to add any confusion, but may I ask what brand of 35mm you used. In that you have lenses, you might be able to pick up an older DSLR body - but it would cost just as much, in the end as the super zoom you are considering.

You can also consider a slightly older superzoom also. I just bought my mom her first digital camera. She wanted one that was a tad larger - something she could hold (she is 85), and she liked the Nikon L110, which was just replaced by the newer Nikon L120. I was able to pick one up at Costco for $175 about a month ago.

So from what I am seeing, you appear to have a lot of latitude in a camera selection. Everything has well over 6MP and does JPG.

I might make another suggestion here. I would look into an external USB disk drive for backup purposes. They are cheap and easy to use. After you down load the images into your PC, I would immediately move a copy over to the USB drive, and then disconnect it and put it somewhere safe. This way if something happens to your PC, you have all of your photographs for the government still safe.

Here are some suggestions - the 500GB Seagate is great for under $50. That is sufficient storage for about 50,000 images at 12MP.

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Old May 24, 2011, 4:40 PM   #9
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Lots of help-I'm grateful and learning. I went through all the regulations carefully, requested full updates and lo and behold! the specs are as onerous as I thought. Good-by .jpeg. But the camera will have it--once the project is complete I will have a nice enough camera for my needs. The Feds! I'm sure government is much more user-friendly Down Under.

I like the Nikon L120 and it was my first choice until the whole .tiff/RAW thing started. I'm putting together a study package for myself to learn more. I've stopped rushing, realizing I have time to do this and maybe connive a little financial help along the way.

I can't just do anything and submit it. This is a historic preservation project that ultimately one hopes is accepted by the federal government and a special designation is given to the property. So the agency holds the cards--if they smell .jpeg or any deviation, it is rejection until it is done right. Not like dropping a report on a desk and invoicing.

Printing of b+w prints is another issue. It is preferred that prints be submitted. One might get around that but at the peril of disturbing a desk jockey. The federal regs also list certain inks and papers that are acceptable for the 75-year rule. A couple of Epson and a few more HP inks. Now I am trying to match the inks to printers, and so far I don't like what I see--$$$$ again. Still work to do on that.

I'm thinking I'm wanting a flatbed scanner for the old negs of the property--should be cheaper than a commercial service. And for a handful of real old family negs--a bonus. I think I am hearing that I can put medium to large format negatives on a decent flatbed and scan away. The specs always talk about 35mm carriers, 120, but leave my question unanswered. Any thoughts on that?

I guess all of this now takes me from camera out of box, outdoors, shooting away to the best of my ability, makijng cds, prints and scanning in some stuff. In a nutshell, with a few uncertainties and missteps likely.

If anybody has thoughts, suggestions re the printing and scanning--that's camera related isn't it? I suppose it sounds like a fool's errand, a picking of my pocket, but I am excited, it is a chance to do something unique and interesting at the end of a long career. You can't ever deal with the government at most levels without frustration, without dealing with people who have never been "out there." No offense to anyone intended. The top of my head is flat from running into brick walls for a few decades--good photo opportunity for someone. My mood is lightened thanks to all. Mike
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Old May 25, 2011, 4:26 AM   #10
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G'day mike

OKay - back to square one

Regarding printing - my 100% would be to liaise with a local print shop for "99-year archival quality" prints and not to bugger-around with doing it yourself. I think that you have enough issues to contend with without getting involved with do-it-yourself printing where "they" may make life difficult via colour inaccuracies etc etc causing your costs & blood-pressure going thru the roof

Regards, Phil
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