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catscradle
06-06-2005, 07:44 AM
I'm thinking of buying a digital camera to record my cues for insurance purposes and to take high quality snapshots. Does anybody out here in the CCB community have expertise in this field?
If so, ...
How important are the number of mega pixels, what is enough?
Any recommendations about what to look for or avoid?
Any recommendations for particular cameras?
TIA,
Steve Ellis.

SPetty
06-06-2005, 07:53 AM
This month's Consumer Reports magazine is doing digital cameras...

Deeman2
06-06-2005, 07:58 AM
Steve,

If you are going to just take insurance photos and a few pictures that will not be blown up over 8x10, a 3.2 megapixel is fine. If you want really sharp quality photos that you can blow up to poster size 6+ megapixels is the way to go.

Deeman

Fran Crimi
06-06-2005, 08:29 AM
Hi Steve,

The best camera investment I made was a Cannon Power Shot SD200 Digital Elph. It's got 3.2 megapixels and the detail I get with the camera is amazing. It's all you need for up to 8x10 photos. I read a lot of consumer reviews before I picked the camera and there were no negative reviews at all. It comes with a rechargable battery and a charger. The lithium battery life is amazingly long compared to the standard AA batteries, and fully recharges in 1 1/2 hours. The camera has both a viewfinder and an LCD screen, which is 2 inches, plus the camera is so small, it fits into your pocket. Last year I paid $300 for the camera including an additional 512k sd card. I'm sure it's much less this year and IMO, well worth the investment.

If you'd like, you can PM me your e-mail address and I'll send you some photos from the camera.

Fran

Deeman2
06-06-2005, 08:38 AM
Fran,

This is the same little camera I bought and I agree with everything you say. I can't believe how good the battery is! I bought the little scandisk attachment that plugs directly into your computer via UBS and it even downloads the photos using no camera battery life! Great little camera...

Did you ever sell that Balabushka I tried to buy from you back in 1999? Mine is still lonesome and needs a partner...

Deeman

SpiderMan
06-06-2005, 08:38 AM
I agree with DeeMan, a 3-megapixel camera will do just about anything you'll need. Most of the $200-$300 point-and-shoots are 4 or better now anyway.

I'd recommend choosing a camera that uses either Compactflash or SD cards for storage technology. These are the media that are always going on sale for next to nothing. I'd avoid Sony cameras for that reason, I don't like paying high prices for spare "memory stick" cards. Also, many of the newer Olympus and Fuji cameras use the so-called "XD" cards, which are seldom on sale cheap. It's a "cost of ownership" thing.

Check the reviews - get a camera whose macro capability goes down to at least about the size of a playing card. In other words, independent of zoom, it should be able to close-focus on something the size of a playing card when you hold the camera close enough for that object to completely fill the frame. You'll need that capability when shooting detail of inlays (I use it for cue tips).

Some cameras come with infrared remote control, and that is EXTREMELY handy when shooting from a tripod. It replaces the cable release you might have had with your film camera. The application is when you're using a tight aperture, slow shutter, and no flash, trying to get reduced glare and good depth-of-field for sharp detail on the cue. You use the remote to trip the shutter so that your finger doesn't wiggle the camera when you push the button. The remote is also handy for things like taking group photos when you want to be in the picture. Sure, you could use the ten-second timer that all cameras have, but the remote is better because you can take as many consecutive shots as you want, without running back to the camera. There is usually a two-second delay associated with the remote, to let you lower your hand before the picture snaps.

In addition to the stupid "memory stick" and "XD card" technology, the other thing I'd warn you about is the Canon digital Elph cameras. For most applications they are fine, but that line of cameras (S100 through S500) has known historical problems with low-light focus, even though they use an assist lamp. All too often, you will get an out-of-focus nighttime shot, even though you did everything "right". And you usually won't know until you view the pictures on your computer, so it's too late to get another picture. I briefly owned an S230, but returned it for this reason after doing some direct side-by-side comparisions with my Olympus 3000Z. If you'll be taking photos in good light, you won't care about this gripe. But if you take a lot of low-light photos, pick another camera.

On the other hand, the Canon "A" series (A70 through A95) take great pictures under almost any conditions. I bought one of these for my Mom, and tested it thoroughly.

If you choose a camera that uses a proprietary battery, make certain that spares are available cheaply via aftermarket sources and buy at least one extra. The Canon "A" series cameras use 4 AA batteries, so you can get high-capacity rechargeable NiMH batteries on sale at Fry's for about $5 a set. And buy AA flashlight batteries at any convenience store in an emergency.

SpiderMan

Rich R.
06-06-2005, 09:03 AM
I have to agree with others, in that, for your purposes, 3 mega pixels is enough. You will not need large prints for insurance purposes.
Also, look for the camera with the best "optical zoom" lens you can afford. Don't pay attention to "digital zoom" numbers. I'm assuming you will not be looking at a digital camera with interchangeable lenses, as they are much more expensive.

I highly recommend you look at the line of Canon cameras and find one that meets your needs and budget. When it comes to digital photography, Canon is currently the leader in the industry.
This is coming from someone who used Nikon film cameras for over 30 years. Right now, I would only buy Canon digital cameras.

Fran Crimi
06-06-2005, 09:07 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SpiderMan:</font><hr>
In addition to the stupid "memory stick" and "XD card" technology, the other thing I'd warn you about is the Canon digital Elph cameras. For most applications they are fine, but that line of cameras (S100 through S500) has known historical problems with low-light focus, even though they use an assist lamp. All too often, you will get an out-of-focus nighttime shot, even though you did everything "right". And you usually won't know until you view the pictures on your computer, so it's too late to get another picture. I briefly owned an S230, but returned it for this reason after doing some direct side-by-side comparisions with my Olympus 3000Z. If you'll be taking photos in good light, you won't care about this gripe. But if you take a lot of low-light photos, pick another camera.


SpiderMan <hr /></blockquote>

You're right about the low light problem, Spiderman. I just experienced that the other day for the first time. But I figure what happened was the camera was set on automatic. But I intentionally canceled the flash function even though the camera was telling me I needed a flash. I just wanted to see what would happen and the photo came out blurry. I think when the camera is set to automatic, it won't let you take a darker picture. It automatically lowers the f-stop setting and then you'd need a tripod. However, if I switched it to manual setting, I would be able to set the f-stop and accept a slightly darker photo. It seems to me like the camera did exactly what it was supposed to do on the automatic setting.

Fran

SpiderMan
06-06-2005, 09:47 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fran Crimi:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote SpiderMan:</font><hr>
In addition to the stupid "memory stick" and "XD card" technology, the other thing I'd warn you about is the Canon digital Elph cameras. For most applications they are fine, but that line of cameras (S100 through S500) has known historical problems with low-light focus, even though they use an assist lamp. All too often, you will get an out-of-focus nighttime shot, even though you did everything "right". And you usually won't know until you view the pictures on your computer, so it's too late to get another picture. I briefly owned an S230, but returned it for this reason after doing some direct side-by-side comparisions with my Olympus 3000Z. If you'll be taking photos in good light, you won't care about this gripe. But if you take a lot of low-light photos, pick another camera.


SpiderMan <hr /></blockquote>

You're right about the low light problem, Spiderman. I just experienced that the other day for the first time. But I figure what happened was the camera was set on automatic. But I intentionally canceled the flash function even though the camera was telling me I needed a flash. I just wanted to see what would happen and the photo came out blurry. I think when the camera is set to automatic, it won't let you take a darker picture. It automatically lowers the f-stop setting and then you'd need a tripod. However, if I switched it to manual setting, I would be able to set the f-stop and accept a slightly darker photo. It seems to me like the camera did exactly what it was supposed to do on the automatic setting.

Fran

<hr /></blockquote>

Since you forced the no-flash conditon, your problem was probably just that the camera had to slow the shutter speed down to get enough light, and you got a slight motion blur from camera movement.

The focus problem is a little different. It occurs when the light is very low, needing a flash, but the camera must of course focus before the flash fires. The Canons use a contrast-detection scheme for focus, and combinations of low light and low contrast seem to fool the Elphs' processors more than others. So, you might see the problem if you take a flash picture of people in a dark situation such as a bar. If you are paying close attention to your focus light, it will fail to come on steady when the shutter button is half-depressed. This tells you that you are possibly about to get one of the out-of-focus shots. If you have sound turned on, you will also hear a difference in the "focus beep" when the algorithm is unable to detect successfully.

SpiderMan

SPetty
06-06-2005, 09:56 AM
Wow, sounds like you know your stuff.

So, is there a camera that's known for it's quick focus? I hate how I have to half-click to focus then click for the pic. One big click seems to take a "long" time to focus. Also, do all point &amp; shoot cameras have that stupid red light that my (Sony) camera seems to need for focusing? I was reminded again in Vegas why I have no pictures of professional pool players... /ccboard/images/graemlins/frown.gif

Also, FYI, there is a card reading device available for about $20 that takes about any type of memory card and reads it in via the USB on your computer.

Rich R.
06-06-2005, 10:50 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SPetty:</font><hr> Also, do all point &amp; shoot cameras have that stupid red light that my (Sony) camera seems to need for focusing? I was reminded again in Vegas why I have no pictures of professional pool players... /ccboard/images/graemlins/frown.gif <hr /></blockquote>

Good point SPetty.
If Catscradle thinks he may like to take pictures at a pool tournament, he should make sure there is a way to cancel the flash setting and that there are no flashing lights on the front of the camera.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SPetty:</font><hr>Also, FYI, there is a card reading device available for about $20 that takes about any type of memory card and reads it in via the USB on your computer. <hr /></blockquote>
I believe they are called "Card Readers". /ccboard/images/graemlins/blush.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
Some work better than others. I'm getting ready to throw one out because it is a pain in my butt, and that is not my cue. /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

Fran Crimi
06-06-2005, 12:53 PM
Ok, got it now. Yes, that happened to me too. It happened three times in about 36 shots I took at my workshop with Karen and Julie. I positioned Karen and Julie in one position, and I inserted the workshop participants one at a time, and took a few photos each. I did notice on a few photos that the light continued to flash and the photo did show up as blurry on the LCD after taking it so I pointed and shot again, and there was no problem. I wondered what that was all about. I thought it was because I tried to shoot too quickly after shooting the previous shot. Strangely enough, the photos before and after were perfect, and the lighting was exactly the same.

Well, it's still the best digital camera I ever had and with a 512k sd card, I generally take 2 or more photos of the same subjects anyway. I guess it could be a problem with action shots, though.

Fran

SpiderMan
06-06-2005, 02:43 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fran Crimi:</font><hr> Ok, got it now. Yes, that happened to me too. It happened three times in about 36 shots I took at my workshop with Karen and Julie. I positioned Karen and Julie in one position, and I inserted the workshop participants one at a time, and took a few photos each. I did notice on a few photos that the light continued to flash and the photo did show up as blurry on the LCD after taking it so I pointed and shot again, and there was no problem. I wondered what that was all about. I thought it was because I tried to shoot too quickly after shooting the previous shot. Strangely enough, the photos before and after were perfect, and the lighting was exactly the same.

Well, it's still the best digital camera I ever had and with a 512k sd card, I generally take 2 or more photos of the same subjects anyway. I guess it could be a problem with action shots, though.

Fran <hr /></blockquote>

It wasn't your fault. Just always make sure that you get a "steady" focus indicator or the affirmative beep, and you'll be OK. If you do not, try aiming at a slightly different spot (with more contrast) on your subject, then half-press the shutter button to see if it can now focus. If the focus locks in, then you can re-center your aim before pressing the button the rest of the way in.

SpiderMan

catscradle
06-07-2005, 04:02 AM
Thanks for all the advice so far.

Any opinions of this 3.2 meg camera? Canon 1S review (http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_reviews/s1is.html)

SpiderMan
06-07-2005, 09:08 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote catscradle:</font><hr> Thanks for all the advice so far.

Any opinions of this 3.2 meg camera? Canon 1S review (http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_reviews/s1is.html) <hr /></blockquote>

It has some nice features, particularly if you are planning to make it a general-purpose camera for vacations and family outings, and aren't looking for a super-compact camera.

Compactflash memory is a good thing (currently the best bargain out there), AA batteries are a good thing. It has good macro capability, for close-up shots of fine inlay detail in cues (note - use a tripod and external lighting from both sides). For "candid" outdoor shots and nature stuff, you'll appreciate the 10X optical zoom with image stabilization. And, if you find yourself wanting to use the function, this camera will record continuous VGA-quality video (with sound), at a full 30 frames per second, time limited only by the size of your memory card. Very few inexpensive point-and-shoots have that extensive a video capability. Also, this camera is wireless-remote capable, though the remote must be bought separately.

On the "down" side: At 1.5 inches, the LCD display is on the small side. A two-inch display is pretty much the standard nowadays. Even my four-year-old Olympus has a 1.8" LCD. If you have good eyes, it won't matter too much. But definitely go to a store where you can check out and play with the camera. While you're there, also spend some time looking through the viewfinder. All long-zoom cameras use an electronic (as opposed to optical) viewfinder. This is basically a second, small, LCD screen for you to eyeball, inside the camera. As such, it consumes power and will have an impact on battery life. More importantly, it will have a "refresh rate" that might not keep up with the fastest motion. If this time lag is bothersome to you, you may want to consider a 4X-zoom camera with standard optical viewfinder. And of course be certain that the physical size and form factor of this unit is agreeable to your usage. Image-stabilized cameras with 10X zoom don't go in purses or pockets.

Here's a link to a user's forum for the camera. I'd suggest that you read through what other owners have to say. They may also be able to answer specific questions you may have. For example, one review I checked mentioned that the flash was a little on the weak side. You might see whether anyone else has complained, or perhaps the reviewer was just picky.

S1 IS Discussion Forum (http://photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee996bb/0)

In summary, just reading the specs, this sounds like a great general-purpose camera. It has an incredible feature set for it's $300 street price, if your usage will take advantage of the 10X stabilized zoom and the ergonomics (size and displays) suit you.

Finally, buy the camera from someplace that has a good return policy. If you want to save money and buy online, consider getting it from Dell computers. They have an incredible return policy - they even prepay the shipping. Dell runs specials every month on Canon cameras.

Shop SEPARATELY for a high-capacity CompactFlash card. 3.2-megapixel images using moderate JPEG compression will occupy about 700 KB each. You can get a 512-MB card (for over 600 pictures) almost any week for $40. If you intend to take advantage of the high-resolution 30 FPS continuous movie mode, you'll need to have a premium high-speed card. That will up the price of the card by about $20. Ask on the user's forum for what cards work well in movie mode.

I think I'd get more use out of this camera than the Olympus 3000Z I bought four years ago, provided I also had the wireless remote. Be sure to price that item. Ask the user's forum about sources. Also, it may be available on Ebay.

SpiderMan

SpiderMan
06-09-2005, 09:19 AM
Just curious ... did you narrow the field, or pick one?

SpiderMan

catscradle
06-09-2005, 10:29 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SpiderMan:</font><hr> Just curious ... did you narrow the field, or pick one?

SpiderMan <hr /></blockquote>

No, &lt;sigh&gt; the more I look the worse it gets and the longer the list gets. This one is more durable, this one is smaller, this one is faster, this one has better customer service, etc, etc. Right now, though I really like the Canon S1 IS I don't think my wife would be happy with something that size; so I'm kind of leaning towards the Canon A95.
I wanted to have something in my hand in time for my nephew's wedding the 25th, but it looks like I'll be dragging the old Canon AE-1 SLR along. /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

SpiderMan
06-09-2005, 10:48 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote catscradle:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote SpiderMan:</font><hr> Just curious ... did you narrow the field, or pick one?

SpiderMan <hr /></blockquote>

No, &lt;sigh&gt; the more I look the worse it gets and the longer the list gets. This one is more durable, this one is smaller, this one is faster, this one has better customer service, etc, etc. Right now, though I really like the Canon S1 IS I don't think my wife would be happy with something that size; so I'm kind of leaning towards the Canon A95.
I wanted to have something in my hand in time for my nephew's wedding the 25th, but it looks like I'll be dragging the old Canon AE-1 SLR along. /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif <hr /></blockquote>
I still have my AE-1, though I haven't used it in four years. Something about being able to take as many shots as I want, at negligible cost, and pick the best ones later.

The A95 is another good camera. I bought my Mom it's predecessor (A70) several years ago, and it's been a good choice.

SpiderMan

TomBrooklyn
06-09-2005, 01:19 PM
I got a Canon A70 and like it a lot. It does macro but it doesn't have that infared remote feature.

The two best places for camera reviews are www.dpreview.com (http://www.dpreview.com) and http://www.steves-digicams.com/hardware_reviews.html Good luck in your decision.

SPetty
06-10-2005, 03:45 PM
Consumer Reports, for the 3 megapixel category, has the Canon PowerShot A510 as #1 followed by Canon PowerShot S1IS. They liked the former one over the latter probably due to the price difference: $180 vs $350. It has a 4X zoom vs the 10X.

Best Buy is Fujifilm FinePix A330 for $140.

In the 4-5 megapixel category, #1 is Panasonic Lumix ($495) and #2 is Kodak EasyShare DX6490 ($380).

Best Buy is Kodak EasyShare CX7530 ($237), Kodak EasyShare CX7430 ($186), Canon PowerShot A95 ($291) and Olympus D-580 Zoom ($189).

In the 6-8 megapixel category, #1 is Nikon Coolpix 8700 and #2 is Nikon Coolpix 8400.

Best Buy is Fujifilm FinePix E550 ($308) and Olympus C-60 Zoom ($282).

HTH

Don't forget to let us know what you decide!

ceebee
06-11-2005, 11:57 AM
just about any photographer will take pictures of your cues, for a small fee. Far less cost.

However, for insurance purposes you should take pictures of everything you can take out of the house &amp; then take pictures of the entire house.

When "Mr. Adjuster is Us" comes around after a fire, wind damage or theft, the first thing they want is a receipt &amp; a picture of the damged or stolen goods. BE READY

They will not insure your Pool Cues if you take them out in the public to play with.