Digital camera for launches

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BAR0051

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My wife is not into rocketry but likes to go with me to launches and take photo's. She wants a new camera as her old one suffers from bad shutter lag making it hard to get launch photo's. She does not want a DSLR do to the size, weight and expense. Anyone have any suggestions for a digital camera with at least 8 megapixels and 10x optical zoom for less than $500 that does not suffer from bad shutter lag?
 

luke strawwalker

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My wife is not into rocketry but likes to go with me to launches and take photo's. She wants a new camera as her old one suffers from bad shutter lag making it hard to get launch photo's. She does not want a DSLR do to the size, weight and expense. Anyone have any suggestions for a digital camera with at least 8 megapixels and 10x optical zoom for less than $500 that does not suffer from bad shutter lag?
I just got a Fuji Finepix S2000HD for just over $200. It's 10MP, 15X optical zoom lens, and can shoot at 13.5 frames/sec at 3.3 MP, which should be fine for rocket launches (hoping to test it out this Saturday). It's a SLR-like prosumer model-- bigger than the point-n-shoots but I like a little bigger anyway, but you can't/don't have to switch lenses like a DSLR.

I posted some links on here, Ye Olde Rocketry Forum, or Rocketry Planet about the camera. I like it because it's VERY intuitive to use; MUCH easier than all the other cameras I tested at the stores. Do a web search and check it out! OL JR :)
 

georgegassaway

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Check out his thread from a few weeks ago:
“ What digital camera do you like?”

https://rocketryforum.com/showthread.php?t=241

There is a category just below digital SLR’s, but above simple point and shoots, that are great for rocketry. Nice powerful (but compact) optical zooms, (digital zoom is hype), and the ability to set to shutter proirity mode, with little lag.

Some other tips in that thread will mention on-line review sites, where you can look up not only opinions by professionals, but actual tested performance, including shutter lag.

That link mentions what I use now, with some samples.

I used to use a 35mm camera, with a long powerful zoom. It was so big, that I did not keep it on me unless I was into “shooting only mode”, not flying or prepping anything, just going out to the pad area to do nothing but take photos. In 1998, I went to three events and did not get one photo as I was busying prepping or flying, and the times at those events that it occurred to me to take a photo, the camera was at the tent, or in the car. With the digital camera, I have a belt case so I have it on me at all times at a launch, so when it occurs to me to take a photo, I have it right there. Even if I could afford to get a DSLR, that issue would still dissuade me since most of the DSLR’s use the same big long zooms that contributed to my original 35mm camera problem.

- George Gassaway
 
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Pem Tech

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I just got a Fuji Finepix S2000HD for just over $200. It's 10MP, 15X optical zoom lens, and can shoot at 13.5 frames/sec at 3.3 MP, which should be fine for rocket launches (hoping to test it out this Saturday). It's a SLR-like prosumer model-- bigger than the point-n-shoots but I like a little bigger anyway, but you can't/don't have to switch lenses like a DSLR.

I posted some links on here, Ye Olde Rocketry Forum, or Rocketry Planet about the camera. I like it because it's VERY intuitive to use; MUCH easier than all the other cameras I tested at the stores. Do a web search and check it out! OL JR :)
After doing some research on the S2000HD it sounds like a great deal, but how is the shutter lag? I am used to my Nikon D70S that responds just like a film camera (no lag) but want something that shoots more than 3-5 fps and is smaller.
 

luke strawwalker

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After doing some research on the S2000HD it sounds like a great deal, but how is the shutter lag? I am used to my Nikon D70S that responds just like a film camera (no lag) but want something that shoots more than 3-5 fps and is smaller.
Well, I guess the best answer is "it depends"...

This is my first digital camera. I've looked at a bunch of point/shoots but didn't like them for PRECISELY that reason-- shutter lag. Some of them just have REDICULOUS shutter lag. The S2000HD seems to me to have very minimal shutter lag, about on par with an autofocus 35mm. If you depress the button halfway down to get the autofocus ready, then snap the pic at the EXACT moment you want, the shutter lag is almost nil that I can tell, anyway. I'm used to shooting with my old manual-everything Pentax K-1000, and having to have everything ready in advance. I like just pointing where I want to take a pic, framing the shot like I want it, press the button halfway, it autofocuses, and once I get the action like I want it or shift a tiny bit to reframe the pic or whatever, press the button and 'click' it's got it. Even 'shooting from the hip' is pretty quick near as I can tell. Certainly quicker than manually focusing like I had to do on my 35mm! The pics are pretty nice from it. I just used it to shoot (on macro mode) the pics for my "zooch Mark II" thread I posted this afternoon. The thumbnails and downsized pics for the post doesn't really do it justice. I practiced with it and got some TERRIFIC shots of the beach last week.

Hope this helps! OL JR :)
 

luke strawwalker

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I posted some pretty good links on the cameras I mentioned over in the thread mentioned above... on the second page.

Good luck! OL JR :)
 

georgegassaway

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Definitely check out the other thread, at:
https://rocketryforum.com/showthread.php?t=241

Below, a partial repost of what I wrote. It is where I mentioned a great review site, which does actual testing, including tests for shutter lag:

Whatever cameras you are considering, check out the reviews on this website:

https://www.imaging-resource.com/

I found it to be extremely useful when I was considering many cameras to buy in 2004, and again last summer to confirm upgrading to the S5-1S.

For the S5-1S, they have 8 pages worth of review info, exhaustive use and testing. Here is the page that addressed the lag time:

https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S5IS/S5ISA6.HTM

A key to solving lag time for liftoff shots is to pre-focus, holding the shutter button down half-way. For the S5, the lag time is .074 sec, so less than 1/10 second. That is VERY GOOD for a digital camera. Anything above .2 sec starts to be a problem. Use the above website to check out the test specs for whatever camera you are considering buying.

- George Gassaway
 

RandyM

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I'll through in my vote for the Fuji. I also have a S200HD and burst mode is fantastic. I haven't had an opportunity to shoot a rocket yet, but took some pics of birds at the feeder the other day than were awesome. There is a slight lag, but not as bad as many digitals out there.

birdfight small.jpg
 

luke strawwalker

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Here's the link to our club's yahoo group picture albums... I just uploaded the photos I took of the club launch yesterday that I took with the S2000HD..

https://groups.yahoo.com/group/Challenger498/photos/album/299508142/pic/list

I thought they turned out VERY well! The conditions were pretty sorry for shooting photos-- total overcast, limited light, etc. I think it'll do even better on a sunny day.

I'll add a few pics to this post from it... OL JR :)

S0210628.jpg


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luke strawwalker

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Here are a few more... I'm still learning with this camera-- but then again it's my first digital, first autofocus, etc. I'm used to my old Pentax manual everything K-1000 35mm.

Enjoy! OL JR :)

S0180571.jpg


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luke strawwalker

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Here are a few 'fun' shots... and some from our trip to the zoo and beach...

Realize these are seriously downsized for the posting limits... :) OL JR :)

S0170564.jpg


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DSCF0203.jpg
 

luke strawwalker

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A few more of my faves from the beach... :) OL JR :)

The middle and second from the last were taken with the 'vibrant color' setting on... you press the "F" button on the back and then select from the three choices on the color menu-- standard color, chromatic color, or black and white. The last picture was taken in regular color setting with vibrant color off.

Be sure and left click on these and hit "open in a new window" to REALLY get an idea of how these shots look-- the new little 'window on top of window" thingy on the new TRF page doesn't do these justice by a longshot! OL JR :)

DSCF0175.jpg


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MarkII

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Where can you find information on various cameras that will indicate their shutter lags?

MarkII
 

luke strawwalker

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Hmmmm... I think that was listed on one of the sites I listed in the links on the other post someone linked to above... good luck! OL JR :)
 

MarkII

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OK, to answer my own question, here is a chart showing the shutter lags of a long list of point and shoot digital camera:

https://www.cameras.co.uk/html/shutter-lag-comparisons.cfm

The Wikipedia entry on shutter lag also has a succinct description of the phenomenon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shutter_lag

One statement in the article repeats a point that has been made a few times in this thread and in the previous one of a couple of weeks ago:
"It is important to note, however, that what many people consider shutter lag, is in fact the time the camera takes to meter and auto-focus and, therefore, having already done this (often by pressing the shutter halfway down) decreases the time for the camera to take the picture once the button is fully pressed."
MarkII
 

luke strawwalker

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Good point... gotta do that 'press halfway' stuff if you want good quick shots... :) OL JR :)
 

georgegassaway

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OK, to answer my own question, here is a chart showing the shutter lags of a long list of point and shoot digital camera:
https://www.cameras.co.uk/html/shutter-lag-comparisons.cfm
In looking at that list, it seems they are showing total shutter lag and not shutter lag when the button is half-pressed to pre-focus. Anyone who is serious about taking liftoff pics is pre-focusing, so the above chart is not useful for that purpose.

From my earlier message, and in the original thread, go to this site and look up the camera (or cameras) you are interested in:
https://www.imaging-resource.com
They do real-world tests with the cameras and measure things like shutter lag, including when half-pressed to pre-focus.

For example the following link from that site, reviewing the Canon Powershot S5-IS that I use, shows a prefocused shutter lag time of .074 sec:
https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S5IS/S5ISA6.HTM

- George Gassaway
 

jadebox

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Non-SLR digital cameras don't have a mechanical shutter so "shutter lag" is almost zero for most of them (assuming you're holding the shutter release half-way down). So, with rockets, your reaction time may be more important. :)

A few cameras, such as Casio's EX-F1 and FH20 have a "pre-record" function. They actually take snapshots and buffer them while you hold the shutter release button halfway. When you press the button all the way in, they save some of the buffered shots as well as images taken while you hold down the button. That way, you actually capture some frames from before you pressed the button. This is terrific for rocket launches because you can wait until you actually see the rocket move then press the button.

-- Roger
 

luke strawwalker

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Yes, those are great features, and you can't ask for a better super-high speed photography consumer-market camera than the Casio's, but remember, you ARE talking about a $1000 and $600 camera, respectively...

Like with sports cars, performance comes at a price... :) OL JR :)
 

BAR0051

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Thanks for all the info, but I think I have got my wife convinced to go to a DSLR, I am thinking a Nikon D90, 4.5 frames per second up to 100 frames. Now I just have to save up the money for it :(
 

Pem Tech

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Thanks for all the info, but I think I have got my wife convinced to go to a DSLR, I am thinking a Nikon D90, 4.5 frames per second up to 100 frames. Now I just have to save up the money for it :(

Something to remember about a full sized DSLR is the size and weight. Even with a a shock absorbing neck-strap I find sometimes find myself burdened by my Nikon D70S and its 18-35 zoom lens. At NSL 2007 the camera beat me nearly half to death over the three days we were there. By that last day I found myself leaving the camera at our booth, only retrieving it for the more interesting rockets and launches. That is a great way to miss lots of really good pictures.
:(
As much as I love my Nikon, I have started looking for a good quality point and shoot with a high continuous frame rate that is less obtrusive and easier to carry. It is hard to beat a Nikon DLSR for picture quality, durability and flexibility but that only counts if you are actually carrying the camera.
 

adrian

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My wife is not into rocketry but likes to go with me to launches and take photo's. She wants a new camera as her old one suffers from bad shutter lag making it hard to get launch photo's. She does not want a DSLR do to the size, weight and expense.
I used to use a 35mm camera, with a long powerful zoom. It was so big, that I did not keep it on me unless I was into “shooting only mode”, not flying or prepping anything, just going out to the pad area to do nothing but take photos.
Thanks for all the info, but I think I have got my wife convinced to go to a DSLR, I am thinking a Nikon D90, 4.5 frames per second up to 100 frames. Now I just have to save up the money for it :(
Something to remember about a full sized DSLR is the size and weight. Even with a a shock absorbing neck-strap I find sometimes find myself burdened by my Nikon D70S and its 18-35 zoom lens. At NSL 2007 the camera beat me nearly half to death over the three days we were there. By that last day I found myself leaving the camera at our booth, only retrieving it for the more interesting rockets and launches. That is a great way to miss lots of really good pictures.
Round and round we go... :D

My own camera is the Canon S3 IS, although they've brought out newer, similar models since I bought it, the newest being the SX10 IS. It doesn't have the frame rate of some others, but it also doesn't limit how many shots you can take in continuous mode. So you can press the button when the countdown reaches "1", get a lot of shots of the rocket on the pad, then continue shooting to track the whole flight if you like. It's also a lot smaller and lighter than a D-SLR or some of the other fixed lens types, while still being a better performer than a simple point and shoot.
 

WiK

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Thanks for all the info, but I think I have got my wife convinced to go to a DSLR, I am thinking a Nikon D90, 4.5 frames per second up to 100 frames. Now I just have to save up the money for it :(
If size and weight are a concern but you still want a DSLR, then it might be worth checking out the Canon EOS Rebel XS. While it's not in the same class as the D90, I believe its the smallest/lightest DSLR at the moment, and still does 3fps which is definitely good enough for rocket shots. Though obviously any sort of telephoto lens is gonna add weight and bulk to whatever camera you buy.
 
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jadebox

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Yes, those are great features, and you can't ask for a better super-high speed photography consumer-market camera than the Casio's, but remember, you ARE talking about a $1000 and $600 camera, respectively...
There are some other P&S cameras with that "pre-record" feature. But, I don't know which ones they are. I don't know what the feature is called on the other cameras, so it's hard to figure out what to search for to find them.

-- Roger
 

bguffer

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There are some other P&S cameras with that "pre-record" feature. But, I don't know which ones they are. I don't know what the feature is called on the other cameras, so it's hard to figure out what to search for to find them.

-- Roger
There are a couple Casios at $400 and $340 coming out this spring. They do 30 photos per second. They also do the 210, 420, 1000 frames per second slow motion video (though noone seems to know at what resolution). They are not superzoom.

I've seen a couple other brands introduce cameras with 30 photos per second within the last couple of week while browsing engadget
https://www.engadget.com/
They buffer the photos while the shutter button is pressed, as well.

The Latest News section of https://www.dpreview.com/ may be something to watch also.


If you can wait, just keep checking engadget until you see someone introduce what you want at the price you want. The feature of capturing a burst of photos seems to be catching on. I've also noticed that recording video in 720p is catching on as well.
 

caheaton2

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Sorry to revive an old thread (I was browsing this while contemplating the purchase of a camera to replace my old, faithful 35mm which recently quit working). One thought occurs to me...with the talk of cameras that offer burst modes of 13fps, etc., why not just put your camera into video mode? This will give you 30fps video (on most of them at least) at DVD or better resolution? I considered the Casio's for their super slow motion abilities, but they lack the photo quaility to use for other purposes. I've decided to go with the Kodak Z1012. It lacks in the burst area, but offers excellent optics, accurate color, good low light pictures (relatively low noise), wide shutter range, decent zoom ability (up to 10x optical), optical stabilization and good IQ (the ability of the auto mode to select the most optimal settings). In addition, it shoots decent HD video with decent audio. Not bad for a $240 camera. ;)

(My leading 2nd choice candidate is the Panasonic DMC FZ28. It costs a bit more then the Kodak, but is comparable in performance, offers 18x zoom and a 13fps burst rate.)
Craig
(It's good to be back! This is my first post to TRF version 2.0)
 
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jadebox

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One thought occurs to me...with the talk of cameras that offer burst modes of 13fps, etc., why not just put your camera into video mode? This will give you 30fps video (on most of them at least) at DVD or better resolution?
An HD video frame is equivalent to a 1MP or 2MP image. My Casio EX-F1 takes full 6MP photos at up to 60 frames per second.

In addition to the much higher resolution, in video mode the shutter speed is much slower so the image of a moving rocket will be blurry. This is a good thing for video, but a bad thing for a still image.

BTW: 13 fps should be fast enough for most rocket photography. Even though the EX-F1 can do 60 fps, I usually set it to 10 or 15 fps so I don't have as many images to sort through after the launch. If you hear the LCO announce a minumum diameter rocket being launched on an H999, however, you might want more frames-per-second. :)

-- Roger
 
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