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    Help. I just got new marching orders to purchase a new digital camera from the "commandant". I thought there was a thread on this, but couldn't find it. To date, all I have for features is that it should have 2.0 megapixels or better "resolution" and not to get one with "digital zoom" (supposed to be a gimmick). I know there's some folks here that have probably used various ones and have a decent idea of what is OK. I don't need a professional grade one, but would like one that takes a decent picture and won't break my Christmas fund.
    "All the people like us are we,
    And everyone else is They"

  • #2
    Cut loose with the cash cheapskate!!! Sony 707 or the new 717 with 5 megapixels.

    I had a Sony digital camera once... somebody in Hawaii liked it better though. [Frown]
    " Life's disappointments are harder to take when you don't know any swear words." - Calvin


    • #3
      Hey 209,

      I researched this extensively a while ago and bought an Olympus C-3040. I've been very happy with it. I think RachelR is also using digital now.

      Here are some thoughts on features:

      Go with at least 3 megapixels unles you will only be printing 3x5's or wallets. You need that much "information" for bigger prints like 5x7's or 8x10's.

      Read reviews on CNET and dpreview.com. The manufacturer's specs don't tell the whole story.

      Be sure to check the speed of the lens on the camera. It'll be something like f1.8 or f2.2. The lower the number, the wider the lens will open. The wider it'll open, the better indoor performance you'll get. My camera is an f 1.8 and is great indoors.

      Batteries are a big deal. You want the camera to accept AA NiMH (nickel metal hydride) which are rechargeable and reasonably priced. They are also available everywhere (Costco, Target etc.)

      Once again, I would definitely read a lot of reviews.

      In another thread I mentioned getting my digital photos printed from an online company. I uploaded some to Costco a while back and was happy with the results.

      Saturday, I u/l some photos and made a 4x8 photo Christmas card at Shutterfly.com. They were a tad more expensive than Costco, but had a wider selection of borders for the cards. Well, I got all the cards and photos in the mail yesterday and they turned out great! We may even get the Christmas newsletter out on time this year [Eek!]


      • #4
        I'm getting this one: MVC-CD400 CD Mavica


        [i]Never run out of storage space again! Sony's MVC-CD400 Digital Still Camera features massive 4.0 megapixel resolution (4.1 MegaPixel gross) with a Carl Zeiss


        • #5

          I think you forgot to mention your budget. Personally I bought a Kodak 3700 series 3.1 Mpixel with 3X zoom(and yes the zoom does work). What you will find is most quality cameras allow you the option of at least 3 picture qualities. This permits you the flexibility to choose what you are going to do with the pic. For example, if you are going to post a picture on a web site or are going to send the picture vie e-mail you would want to limit the resolution to keep the file size reasonable.

          I thought the camera I purchased offered the greatest combination of storage (8Meg internal and 64 Meg extra memory - basically I could store about 500 pictures at low resolution and about 100 at the higest before dumping into my PC)and features. Trust me - ease of use is important to me.

          Let me make one web site to look for you camera. Some of the items are factory reconditioned but everything I have purchased here was packaged,looked and operated just as new. And everything has the manufacturers warranty - just like new - just at a lower cost.


          Take a look and let me know what you think. If you want me to e-mail you a picture taken with the Kodak so you have something to look at - just let me know.
          "There is true glory and true honor, the glory of duty done and the honor of integrity and principles." - Robert E. Lee


          • #6
            I work at the local Ritz Camera in town. Despite that, I'm actually fairly honest. [Wink]

            Most of what has been said above is right on the money. Resolution is the number of dots that make up the image; think newspaper photos. The more dots, the closer together, the better the image will look.

            Ideally, you ought to be hovering around 400-600 dots per inch (pixels per inch). The more pixels, the bigger an image can go.

            I'm incredibly picky; I usually say that a 3 megapixel camera can do an 8x10 at the most. If you need that routinely, or want to have larger prints, than get a higher resolution camera.

            Be aware that you're buying a camera when the industry is in a state of flux. Both Nikon and Canon have produced incredibly high resolution cameras in the consumer range ($2000.00) and these will rapidly become cheaper.

            In addition, there are several new media types coming on-line (XD format, most notably). These new media types will draw less power, store more, and are smaller, allowing smaller cameras. Those cameras that use compact flash are developing an adaptor, which will allow a camera that takes compact flash today take the new chips of the future. Smart media cards don't have that option...

            A couple of things I always throw out for law enforcement folks:

            1. There is no negative, only a digital file. If used for evidence (and here, you honor, you can clearly see a blood-stained footprint) it leaves you open to charges of photo-manipulation. A savvy defense lawyer might ask.

            2. They're battery hungry, and NMHD batteries lose power in the cold real quick. For cold weather, of is extended use is the plan, film still rules.

            3. Storage can be a problem; they need to be burned to a CD (hard drive crash loses everything). Most CD's only last 20 or so years, negatives last for centuries...

            4. Prints don't last long without fading, even with the "special paper." They're still ink on paper, they will fade.

            I usually suggest Nikon: The coolpix 4500 and 5000 are excellent, and the 4300 is cheaper. Canon is good; I hear many good things about the G1 and G2. Sony makes a good product, but they're very propietary (sp).

            Finally, if your department or chief already has invested in SLR style lenses, you may want to wait until the appropriate camera appears...the D100 takes all Nikon lenses...(HINT! HINT!)

            Hope it helps!
            I haven't felt this good since we stole the 2000 elections!--Ned Flanders


            • #7
              I work at the District Attorney's Office, have several years experience working crime scenes including photography, and I teach LE/CS photography. (not often these days, but still...)


              "1. There is no negative, only a digital file. If used for evidence (and here, you honor, you can clearly see a blood-stained footprint) it leaves you open to charges of photo-manipulation. A savvy defense lawyer might ask.

              2. They're battery hungry, and NMHD batteries lose power in the cold real quick. For cold weather, of is extended use is the plan, film still rules.

              3. Storage can be a problem; they need to be burned to a CD (hard drive crash loses everything). Most CD's only last 20 or so years, negatives last for centuries...

              4. Prints don't last long without fading, even with the "special paper." They're still ink on paper, they will fade."

              This is incorrect.

              Photographs, whether 35mm, medium format, or digital are introduced into evidence through the testimony of the witness.

              Yes, it is possible to manipulate a digital photo with the right knowledge and equipment, but it is not as easy as "point and click".

              With testimony of a witness that it is an accurate representation of the crime scene, then the medium doens't matter.

              If defense thinks the photo is "doctored" then they will have to prove it.

              I will also add that if you are thinking about staying with 35mm or medium format to avoid this anyway.... it doesn't matter. The technology needed to create an entirely new negative has been around for years.

              I can take 35mm, medium, or large format photos... scan them into an image editor and manipulate them however I want.

              Then I can send them to a service bureau for a good quality dye sublimation print.

              I take that print to the developer and have them do a high resolution drum scan creating an entirely new negative.

              So... long story not so short... the "easy manipulation" stuff is a bunch of bunk!

              For general LE use, 2mill megapixel is okay. For crime scene, I'd recommend no less than 3 mill megapixel.

              More importantly, you want a camera that will take pictures in an uncompressed format such as TIFF.

              There is nothing wrong with zoom. I recommend it. Optical zoom is better than digital zoom, and if you will be using the camera then you need to know the difference.

              Consumer level digital cameras are great for most LE photography. They will do just fine for just about everything except macro photography that may need to be "blown up" for forensic comparison. Things such as foot wear and tire impressions... or blood spatter analysis, etc. are often better in high resolution digital, 35mm, or medium format. These are pretty specialized areas, though.

              For general crime scene, 2mill is ~okay~, but I'd recomend 3mill megapixel which is better (IMHO). There are many models out there that have impressive resolution and macro capabilities. They are cheap to use and work VERY well incorporated into case files and presentations.

              I recommend digital for all around LE use.

              Before you choose your gear, you need to figure out exactly how you are going to be using the camera.. what you are going to be asking it to do.

              But still... my minimum recommends are 3 mill megapixel and the ability to save in uncompressed TIFF format.

              As to the other points.

              Buy extra batteries. Very few film cameras work without batteries, so you are gonna have batteries and extra batteries anyway.

              Besides.. the biggest power eater in the equation for either camera is the flash.

              CD's will last indefinatly under a wide range of storage conditions and are much more tolerant to heat and humidity, etc, than film negatives. yes, negatives will last a long time, but only if stored properly. Sorry, but most places where case files are stored aren't temperature and humidity controled. (CDs stand up better to mice than film.. and yes I have seen it come up on a case.)

              Prints (as opposed to C41 proofs ) will last for centuries, and are pretty tolerant of heat and humidity with the biggest danger being UV. Quality prints will be on archival paper and should last much longer than the life of the defendant.

              Inkjet prints from digital don't hold up as well. However, the CD medium is around to stay and an uncompressed digital image will be retrievable for the forseeable future.

              On capital cases, perhaps, you may consider sending the digital photos off to a good print bureau for good archival dye sublimation prints. Or, you can creat negatives if you want

              [ 12-05-2002, 10:29 PM: Message edited by: Sparky ]


              • #8

                I recently purchased a Fuji FinePix S206Z digital camera. This is after doing a little research on what I wanted (manual controls, auto exposure, decent zoom, and variable resolution).

                I have been very happy with my choice. It is a consumer line camera with a few advanced amatuer features, and does what I want.

                I've been doing photography for quite a while, and teach CS and LE photography. I wouldn't hesitate to use this camera on a crime scene, or any orhter function.

                It uses AA batteries, has dual storage capability (smartmedia and compact flash). I currently have a 128Meg card and a 16Meg card. The 128Meg card will hold about 400 1MP resolution photos.

                Here are some examples. There are three galleries, and the photos cover a few different situations. All were taken with the camera set at 1MP resolution.

                There are a lot of choices out there. Good Luck.
                Optimistic pessimist: Hope for the best, but expect the worst.


                [email protected]


                • #9
                  To add about resolution..

                  When you shop for a camera, remember that print quality has more to do with your printer than the camera.

                  You can have a high res photo that prints horribly because your printer can't handle it.

                  Good quality printers are getting very affordable though. I have a HP deskjet 5550 which does some pretty good stuff. Good enough for 5x7 prints of snapshots anyway.

                  You also want to use quality paper and configure your printer correctly to print photos.

                  Most digital photos will ook pretty good on a computer. This is because the resolution of your computer screen is pretty low.. usually aroun72 to 96 dpi, but this actually depends entirely on your settings.

                  I won't bore you to death with pages and pages about printer resolution, inket, bubble jet, dye sublimation, printer paper, screen resolution, compression, gamma settings, and on and on..

                  I'm just raising a few issues that readers and lurkers should be aware of.

                  there are TONS of good websites on digital photography. Try a few google searches.

                  BTW, I usualy end up buying camera gear and digital stuff from BH Photo. They usually have very good prices. I've onle found a better deal once.



                  • #10

                    Thanks for that info! A ton of neat information about a facet that I was only hovering around the edges of.

                    I wasn't thinking about the credibility of the witness; Obviously an incredible print introduced by a witness no-one believes isn't any good. I guess that goes for all evidence...bloody gloves anyone? [Wink]

                    On the other hand, the process you described for creating a negative leaves a huge trail. You can't do it alone, and you can't do it in your lap-top equipped squad car on the way to the station...with digital you can.

                    With a credible witness, it doesn't matter, but I would suggest that it makes it easier for a defense attorney to suggest that it may have been done. In ten minutes of photoshop I can get rid of a bloody knife, say...

                    I do stand by my comments about batteries and CDs, but there's far more gray area in there than I'd want to get into. You're right; very little LE use requires that that evidence/whatever last for all time...but I wouldn't want to be guessing that the CD will be the format in 20 years...DVD is already coming out, and who knows what will replace that...and if it will be backwards compatible?
                    I haven't felt this good since we stole the 2000 elections!--Ned Flanders


                    • #11
                      Last week I just got a Sony CD-400 4 megapixel digital for the department. Writes directly to a CD-R or CD-RW and takes great images. The CD-R is what we chose to use as it can't be altered once the photo is on the CD (at least that is what they claim).

                      The macro setting on this is phenominal. I took a close up of a fingerprint I had as an elimination and was able to get within 2 inches of the print with the lens. The picture was clear, large and I could zoom in tight enough to see the pores in the ridges.

                      It cost about $600 and the CD-R's cost about $1-$2 each. It seems it is just what we were looking for to cut down or potentially eliminate 35-mm developing costs at $10 per 24 exp. roll. I'm still messing with all of the features, but I haven't found anything I don't like about it yet. Oh, the mini CD-Rs are viewable on almost any computer with a CD-ROM. I don't know a lot about cameras, but this thing seems to do everything I would need for crime scene work.
                      If there is a tourist season, why can't I shoot them???


                      • #12
                        Wow- Too much information, brain overload, must get sleep. [Eek!]

                        Actually, thanks for all of the posts. From them I have gleaned make/model numbers that I will try to read up. The biggest problem is I don't really understand a lot of it. But, I found some of the models you guys listed and some of them seem to fit my budget which is actually pretty high since the "commandant" (read wife for non-Marines) wants it and I better get a real good one or else I'll be hearing about it for the rest of my natural life.
                        One big feature I just gonna get is the manual switch. I hate automatic functions (like the stupid copier at work that is so smart) that think they know what to do and won't let you decide. Even if you're wrong, it's nice to be able to be wrong.

                        But I need it by January so when we go to Florida... mouse ears and all that. Come to think of it maybe I should borrow one from 207 for vacation.

                        [ 12-07-2002, 06:26 PM: Message edited by: 209 ]
                        "All the people like us are we,
                        And everyone else is They"


                        • #13

                          What is your experience with the criminal prosecution process?

                          [ 12-07-2002, 10:23 PM: Message edited by: Sparky ]


                          • #14

                            Just what I've seen on Law and Order. [Wink]

                            But I think I yielded to you on all the LE related areas...comments about leaving a trail and the rest weren't meant to argue, more to toss out other ideas.

                            My biggest issue is with the lack of archivaless(?)...but like I said, it's unlikley that that is an issue for LE.

                            Don't take anything as sarcasm...I was serious when I said thanks.
                            I haven't felt this good since we stole the 2000 elections!--Ned Flanders


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