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Digital Cameras

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Digital Cameras
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, December 29, 2001 7:25 PM
Any suggestions on makes and models or important features to look for in a digital camera to document locos and rolling stock for proto modeling? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, December 30, 2001 2:47 PM
I think the first thing to consider is exactly what do you want to do with the camera and how you are going to use it. Are you wanting to shoot prototypes only, or are you going to use it for model photos also? Further, are you going to make your own inkjet prints (as opposed to looking at the images on the computer screen only) and if so, what size prints will you be making?
Your answers to those fundamental questions should help you determine what your photo equipment needs really are. For example, if you're wanting to shoot model photos (possibly for reproduction in a magazine), or you want to make inkjet prints larger than 3X5, you'll need to get a camera with the highest megapixel count (at least 3.2 mp) that you can afford. On the other hand, if you want only to view prototype pictures on screen (or post them to a website for viewing), then you can get by with a less expensive camera in the 1 to 2 megapixel range.
Another thing to consider is whether to go with a fixed lens or a zoom lens model. Most of the zoom lens models have a built-in macro capability that is really handy for closeups of models as well as small details on prototype equipment.
A suggestion before you buy from a retail dealer: check the mailorder outfits. Many of them have digital models for 50% (or less) of retail prices. Of course you have to be wary of anything else they try to sell you when you call them because they can really screw you pricewise on accessories such as batteries, camera cases, and so forth.
So what do I use and why? I'm using a Minolta DiMage 7 (5.24 megapixels). The detail it is able to capture and the color accuracy is incredible. For railroad photography, I use it primarily to shoot photos of my layout and dioramas for magazine publication. It's vastly superior to my old digital which produced images that were suitable only for viewing on-screen at 72 dpi.
Hope this helps.
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, December 30, 2001 6:24 PM
Thanks, your imput helps. My primary purpose was to document the prototype to build models on. I would not neccessarily need a print of them. I figured storing and filing the prototype digitaly made sense. I suppose taking images of the models would be interesting but was not the original concern. Getting good detail shots of the prototype was my first idea. I figured a good zoom would be important so in the post 9-11 era I could keep my distance. My wife has already purchased a camera that I may return for the proper model. I believe it was $599 so it was not cheap. I could upgrade a little if neccessary. What about removable lenses for versatility? I'm not a computer whiz but not totally ignorant either. However, macros is a question mark. Could you briefly eplain?
Thanks
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, December 30, 2001 9:39 PM
Frank, Look at the Nikon Cool Pix 995. It is in the $600 range. As you grow in photography, the camera is ready for you. I have a Cool Pix 990, the predisor to the 995. I enjoy it vety much. It has enough quailty to be able to publish pictures in Magzines and newsletters. One of ny other hobbies is Theatre Pipe Organs. This national convention for the American Theatre Organ Society was held in Indianapolis this summer. I took many pictures which was printed in the Theatre Organ Magzine. I hope this helps you in your quest for a camera for railroading.---John
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, December 31, 2001 8:16 AM
Glad my original answer was of some help. You didin't state which camera model your wife bought, but for the purposes you've stated, most in the $599 range should do the job. Interchangeable ("removable") lenses are available only on the digital SLR models, and they start in price around $2,000-$3,000.
Some manufacturers of fixed lens and zoom lens digitals make auxilliary wide angle and telephoto lenses for their various models. These are lenses that screw on to the front of the mounted lens. They generally run about $150 each.
A macro lens allows you to take extreme closeups of your subject. It's a useful capability to have in model photography, although it can be overdone. It might be useful in prototype photography if you're trying to capture very small details for study (such as a manufacturer's initial on a bolt head or something of that sort.) Again, I hope this helps.
By the way, the easiest and safest way to store digital images (which can be very large files of 20 or 30 megabytes each) is to store them on a CD-ROM disk. You can do this yourself if you have a CD-RW drive, or you can have a photo service download your images and store them on a disk for you.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, December 31, 2001 10:01 AM
John, thanks for your input. Mike, she purchased an Olympus D-40. Her only coment was that it was small and looked cool. Of course I have not used it yet but my biggest reaction would be how small it is. I do have CD-RW drive and that was my intent. I definitely don't need to see manufacturer's initials on a bolt head as far as detail goes. Just close ups of say brake rigging. Photographing the models, now that you talk about it, is beginning to appeal to me.
Thanks again everyone

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