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MaxQ

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What digital camera do you like?

With Circuit City selling off inventory...I was thinking of getting a new one that takes good launch photos, maybe close ups as well...
 

Gillard

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i'm a complete idiot when it comes to digital camera, i can't do anything that involves setting etc. but for a good idiot proof point and shoot, then any of the Fuji Finpix cameras are okay, and they are cheapish.
 

propbeany

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I'm looking as well -- I've used both olympus and fuji point-and-shoot models, but the first shot delay were so atrocious, I have more pics of smoke trails than launches
 

rstaff3

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I like the uber expensive digital SLR's, but can not afford one. (Well, I technically could, but it would eat into my rocket bidget BIG TIME :))

I have a Panasonic Lumix. What sold me was it has 10x optical zoom and a nice big 3" display. There was only one other reasonably priced and small camera with these features. Plus, the Panasonic was on sale. It works fine and has a good lens. There are some puts and takes on the other features.
 

Gillard

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I'm looking as well -- I've used both olympus and fuji point-and-shoot models, but the first shot delay were so atrocious, I have more pics of smoke trails than launches
i hear you on that one. i've now got pretty good at pressing the button a second before i want the photo, but i've had my share of smoke columns
 

Kaycee

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I've had a few Canon Power Shot cameras and they do a nice job for rocket action with rapid fire of ~5fps. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. The only downer is there wasn't a battery indicator on mine so when the batteries are used up the camera turns off with no warning. A minor annoyance.

My current camera is a Fuji S8000 and is capable of up to 30fps. It has a much nicer lens than do the Canons and writes to the SD card much quicker than the Canons. Cost was ~$300.
 

blackjack2564

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Kodak EasyShare C513 [any C-- depending on who has it] around 100.00 does everything automatic. I won't feel bad if I lose it at a launch. I've had mine for a year now, it's the one I take all my rocket shots, that I post. Idiot proof for guys like Me! Auto anti shake, zoom, document close ups,etc. etc.
 

mjennings

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I have 2 a Nixon cool pix "disposable" digital camera, around $100 the continuous shooting mode is pretty good for garbing launch shots, the flash stopped working after about 9 months though and sending it to Nikon for repair would have cost more than the camera was worth. But it's great for launches cause it fits in my pocket easily.

The better camera is a 8 Megapixel Canon SX100 IS I got a gift card from dell when I bought a computer it was on sale to so I snagged a $250-$300 MSRP camera for $50. It is in between the point and click disposable digital and the SLR's. It's got 10x optical zoom and another x4 digital so I can zero in on things from a pretty good distance. And the picture quality is great! Plenty of settings to play with, plus it takes AA and not a special proprietary battery that will cost an arm and a leg once you can't recharge it anymore.
 

Hogan3276

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I am not sure if there is a Point and Shoot that doesn't have a delay...they are really all to slow to capture crisp pictures of action photos - whether it is rocketry or sports...having said that, if you can get the timing down, you can still get some great shots with some of the Point & Shoots...

The better option is to step up to a DSLR Camera...for $500 you can get a decent Nikon (D40) or one of the competitors - Canon, Sony, etc...this price typically includes 2 lenses - one for close up (18 - 55MM) and one telephoto (55 - 200MM). I bought the D40 last year and it has made all the difference.

Now if you truly have the photo bug and like to take liftoff shots, the D40 takes 3 frames per second (FPS). This is plenty to get get a good lift off shot...

More serious/expensive cameras take 4, 5, 6, or 8 FPS...but they do come at a greater cost.

I now have a D300 - which will take up to 8 FPS - and can gobble data rapidly and can store it so that it doesn't bog down the processor. The D40 tended to bog down after 3 - 5 pics (when shooting continuous). The D300 can go 20 pics or more in continuous before it slows to process the data.

Canon makes great cameras as well. Several of my buddies have them.
As for the Point & Shoots as well as some good overall info - check out this website... http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/recommended-cameras.htm

I hope this helps...

Here is a liftoff shot taken with my D300 as well as one with the D40...

Todd

s L3 Takes to the air on an M2200 Skid.jpg


s FWN Rocket on M Power.jpg
 

georgegassaway

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For years, I had a 35mm camera with a nice zoom lens. I could take good liftoff shots thanks to the zoom lens and the lack of lag. But with the zoom lens, the camera was pretty big to have around and it got to the point where often the camera was nearby, but not close enough to take spur-of-the-moment photos (It was in the car, in the prep area, or so forth). It was just too annoying to use the neckstrap and wear it when I might go hours without taking a photo. In 1998 I took it to three major events and did not get one photo, as I did not get around to just doing nothing but take photos. And once I started having a website, I had poor results scanning pics (though it was more a scanner issue at the time than anything else).

So in 1999 I got a nice little point and shoot camera, an Olympus D-450, my first digital camera. It was small enough to put into a case attached to my belt, so I could just wear it. So, I got a lot of spur-of-the moment shots. Of course, I knew when I got that one it would not be good for liftoff shots, due to the lag. I did luck out a few times though.

In 2004 I got a Canon Powershot S3-1S. It was bigger, but not too big to still be able to use a case on my belt. It was a more advanced camera. With a 10:1 zoom lens (optical, ignore digital zoom), shutter priority option to 1/2000, and so forth. And very little shutter lag, I specifically shopped around (hands-on) and compared reviews to see which cameras had very little shutter lag, and settled on the S3.

So THEN I could take good liftoff photos again, and with the 10X zoom, get closer-in views than I had with the D-450’s 3X zoom. I loved it.

Last summer, shortly before NARAM, I got an upgrade, the Canon Powershot S5-1S. Larger photo image, better quality, 12X zoom, a 2.5" LCD instead of the 1.8" LCD screen of the S3, and so forth. I was going to sell the S3-1S to help defray the cost of the new one but before I got around to selling it I lost it to an apartment break-in a couple of months later (would have lost the S5 also but I had it with me at a launch when it happened).

Last August, Canon came out with a replacement for the S5-1S. Apaprently, rather than S6, they jumped to calling it the SX10-1S.

I would suggest looking at the Best Buy website to see the kind of cameras I am talking about, though this is a list of some that ARE similar to the S3, S5, and now SX-10, but some definitely are not:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=abcat0401002&type=category

The SX10-1S (regularly $399) definitely is an upgrade to the S3-1S and S5-1s series:
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=9051045&type=product&id=1218012527719

The SX110IS ($250) is sort of similar, though not the same class as the S3-S5-SX10. But the shutter lag time does seem to be as good. At under 1/100 sec (prefocused)
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8965738&type=product&id=1217029991611


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

http://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:

http://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.

FWIW - Examples of photos I shot with the S5-1S are here:
Chan Stevens' Soyuz at NARAM-50 (Chan on left)
http://homepage.mac.com/georgegassaway/GRP/CONTEST/NARAM/N-50/IMG_1012.JPG

Alyssa Stenberg's D Boost Glide R/C model at NARAM-50 (Alyssa and her father in background at right)
http://homepage.mac.com/georgegassaway/GRP/CONTEST/NARAM/N-50/IMG_0434.JPG

James Duffy's Little Joe-I at the 2008 WSMC (Bill Stine in background)
http://homepage.mac.com/georgegassaway/GRP/FAI/2008WSMC-team/IMG_2192.JPG

First 2.5 pages of August BRB launch, ending at IMG_1198:
http://www.birminghamrocketboys.com/BRBGallery/main.php?g2_itemId=33622

First page plus first 5 pics of page 2 of July BRB launch:
http://www.birminghamrocketboys.com/BRBGallery/main.php?g2_itemId=33373

Take note that in many pics, the Zoom lens is used a lot. Especially for the first three individual photo links listed above (and attached below), the zoom allowed the people in the background to look a lot larger than they would have been without a zoom, or with a wimpy 3:1 zoom. It takes a bit of learning to get the most out of cameras like these, I am still learning. The beauty is that unlike my old 35mm film camera, it costs very little to take hundreds of shot (cost of batteries), and you can see the results very quickly to learn a lot. The night shots defintely were a whole new leanring game, fortunately I learned a lot from the NARAM-48 night launch (lots of bad pics till near the end of the night), so I had a lot of good pics at the BRB night launch last August.

Edit - added night pic below - Steward Jones' "chandelier" model. For more, see the BRB August Launch page, linked above.

- George Gassaway

IMG_1012.jpg


IMG_0434.jpg


IMG_2192.jpg


IMG_1187.JPG
 
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RocketT.Coyote

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I was using a $20 Vivitar for a while, but it wouldn't photograph indoors unless the area was well-lit. It was good enough for ebay pics or a "Throwaway" when on trips but it ate up AAA batteries quickly. Upgraded to a discontinued Argus QuikClix 5150 and was getting a lot of use with it, even film clips. The battery cover wouldn't hold with SD card inserted, but that was remedied with a silicone rubber band. Then it wouldn't take outdoor shots without overexposure. The help desk couldn't be of assistance there, yet reconditioned models are being sold on their site. I used NiMh AAs with it and they seem to recharge when connected to my PC. The viewscreen was rather tiny but the controls were easy to master. Now using an Argus DC-5185 which has easier SD card access, but uses AAA cells and is more difficult to set up for timed shots. Trying to review photos already shot is also a bother.
 

bsexton

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Some good advice so far. I for one am partial to Canon and Nikon cameras in general. For pocket-type cameras I prefer the Canon and for SLR the Nikon (D40 model and up). I think Ken Rockwell's site is one of the best in terms of practical advice and easy to understand.
 

Fred22

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Excellent advice folks :) - don't know what best buy sells but I use a Canon 40D with a 70 to 200 L series lenses. The results can be nice with rapid advance and dial in 400 ISO. I am using my blackberry right now so I can't supply samples. One thing to keep in mind is lots and lots of lovely practice with whatever you buy:)
Cheers
Fred
 

Mr Peabody

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I've had a few Canon Power Shot cameras and they do a nice job for rocket action with rapid fire of ~5fps. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. The only downer is there wasn't a battery indicator on mine so when the batteries are used up the camera turns off with no warning. A minor annoyance.
The ones I've seen do have a low battery indicator. The problem is that the indicator doesn't come on until you hit "one shot left" :(
 

o1d_dude

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I have a Canon Powershot A630 that has done everything I've asked of it. I no longer carry a camcorder when I travel as a result.

Bought it at Office Depot at a ridiculously low closeout price. SD memory cards are now dirt cheap, too.
 

rocketace

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Im in love with my Olympus Stylus 840.
1. Very slim design
2. 5x Optical Zoom
3. 8 MP
4. 7 frames per second...I can take 200 photos sequentially
5. Optical and Digital Image Stabilization
6. Takes XD or Micro SD up to 8GB...ya thats a lot of photos/video
7. I got mine for $199.99

If I were to get a new camera it would be the Olympus Stylus 1010, its the Same except
1. 7x Optical zoom
2. 10MP
3. 11 frames per second
 

billspad

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What digital camera do you like?

With Circuit City selling off inventory...I was thinking of getting a new one that takes good launch photos, maybe close ups as well...
Research the prices before you go to Circuit City. The liquidators reprice all the merchandise to the highest price it's been sold for and then start marking it down. By the time the discounts get good the people who didn't do the research have will have cleaned off the shelves.
 

jadebox

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As others had said, an SLR camera is certainly the best choice for capturing lift-off photos. But, the newer P&S cameras take very good photogaphs and some have modes where they can capture multiple frames per second. You won't get those super-sharp, close-up lift-off shots that you see in the magazines, but you should be able to get decent wider-angle photos.

My recommendation is to pick just one or two features that are important to you then compare the cameras with those features when you get in to store. For example, for rocketry you might want a camera with both an LCD and an optical viewfinder (the LCDs are usually hard to see in the sun) and you want one that can take at least two or three frames per second.

Go into the store and compare just the cameras that meet your criteria in your price range. That should narrow it down to five or six models at the most. They all take very good photos, so pick the one you like best based mainly on how comfortable you are holding and using it.

Especially don't worry about which camera has the most "megapixels." Each new model of camera seems to have more pixels, bet a small sensor. A smaller sensor with more pixels results in a much noiser image. So, generally more megapixels doesn't mean a better picture. It's just something they advertise to try to make the newer models look better than the older ones. You might save money buying an older model and actually get a better picture.

-- Roger
 

Reed Goodwin

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I currently use a Canon 20D. It's not the best nor the newest, but it gets the job done. When it dies, I'll get something newer, but until then, I'm happy with that I have.
Reed
 

Hogan3276

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I am with Roger - Megapixels is a gimmick to separate you from the money in your wallet...unless you regularly make your shots into posters, you'll never notice the difference in MP.

Reed, the 20D is a great camera...
 

foose4string

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If at all possible look at the SLR's. Nikon And Canon make great cameras and the prices on the lower end DSLR's have come down big time in the past year or two. I just bought a Canon 40D for my wife last winter and we love it. This year's gift was a P&S she could fit nicely in her purse. Bought her a Canon SD1100 IS for about $160, on sale at Best Buy. Awesome little camera. It's 8MPix and takes a great picture.

Two important things I look for is frame burst, and battery. Some cameras may advertise 30 FPS, but at what resolution? It's probably in a mpeg movie mode at that point, in which case, the image quality goes down drastically. If you can get 3-5 frames per sec in the highest quality setting, then your doing pretty good. Nothing is worse than a P&S that snaps the pic a second or two after you've pushed the button. Most of them have gotten better in that regard, but I had a Kodak that was horrible for that.

I like a rechargeable lithium battery. The amount of P&S cameras that come with them is limited, but there are some out there. A single charge will last a very long time. Most SLR's come with them. If you've had a low cost digital camera in the past, then you know they can be battery hogs. You'll soon get tired of replacing batteries. Standard NiMh rechargeables will save you a few dollars in the long wrong, but those tend to not to hold a charge as long as an Alkaline and will eventually need replacing too. The Canon Powershot SD series that we bought has a lithium.
 
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RocketT.Coyote

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I'll use a disposable 35mm camera rather than an SLR on trips. It's a pain turning one in for processing without using up all the film, but they work well when used within their limitations. Never hand one off to someone who thinks he can shoot a good photo of something over 20 meters away.
 

Trident

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What digital camera do you like?

With Circuit City selling off inventory...I was thinking of getting a new one that takes good launch photos, maybe close ups as well...
First, make sure the Circuit City deals really are deals. The stores they started to close here were marking up prices before putting on sales -- but that is usually the company that comes in to run the closing. Linen 'n' Things did the same thing.

That said, forget point and shoot digitals -- the lag just plain sucks. My wife's newest Olympus &MP is as bad or worse than her previous 5MP Sony.

We got a Nikon D70S at Christmas-time. I had a D40 at a job a few years ago, and loved it. The D70S is similar. I still own an old Nikon 35mm film SLR, but who uses film? :) I'm partial to Nikons, and will always own Nikons, but you'll hear the Canon guys say the same thing. The biggest factor is blazingly fast shutter speeds and no hesitation on modern high-end DSLRs.

Also, don't overlook eBay, either for a used camera, or add-on lens. I have an 18-70 zoom, and a 70-210 zoom, and I suspect the collection will grow. I've seen a lot of camera shops selling on eBay, and my brother-in-law has bought a lot of used lenses off eBay with no issues.

Good luck!
 
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cjl

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The Canon DSLRs are nice - the EOS 50D looks excellent. For a bit less money, the Rebel series are nice - the Rebel XSI and XTI are excellent cameras and are fairly cheap as DSLRs go.
 

RandyM

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I have a Nikon D50 that I purchased for rocketry(told the wife for soccer pics!) and it is a really great camera. With the addition of a 70-300mm lens I've been able to get some great shots of the last few years.

The one problem that kept causing me problems was when I would change lens and dust would be in the camera. The solution to my problem was to recently buy a Fuji S2000HD to use for pics that need a shorter lens.

It has a few features that make it rocketry friendly like shooting up to 13.5 FPS at 3MP! It is a 10MP camera and has a 15X optical zoom that can shoot video in "HD". It was just a little bit over $200 and since I just got it Xmas eve. I haven't had a chance to test it for rocketry yet, but will post a review once I do. (BTW, told the wife this one was bought for a upcomming Disney trip!:D)
 

troj

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I currently use a Canon 20D. It's not the best nor the newest, but it gets the job done. When it dies, I'll get something newer, but until then, I'm happy with that I have.
Yep.

Once you have a decent sensor and processor, the glass you put in front of it makes a much bigger difference!

If I had $3000 to invest in camera gear, my 20D would just get some really nice new lenses, instead of me replacing the body.

-Kevin
 

troj

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The Canon DSLRs are nice - the EOS 50D looks excellent. For a bit less money, the Rebel series are nice - the Rebel XSI and XTI are excellent cameras and are fairly cheap as DSLRs go.
Agreed. The entire Rebel line is awesome; I know a number of people who have them, and they've had nothing but great results.

For folks who aren't Canon fines, the Nikon line is very good, as well.

The difference between a point & shoot and a DSLR is significant.

That said, everyone has to buy within their budget.

-Kevin
 

als57

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really be it for any kind of pics with rapid motion. Hope to find out myself this year.

Just snagged a Sony A300. Probably biased by having a few KM AF lenses. The $150 instant rebate thay had earlier this month didn't hurt. Made it way less painful.

I've gotten decent pics using my Cannon 570IS and Panasonic TZ5. Just have to understand how much shutter lag there is and compensate.


Al


BTW its nice to be back.
 

BHP

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DO NOT buy any camera unless it is supported by CHDK scripts! http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK

These software only camera mods are just too cool not to have available.

(This is for many of the CANON line of cameras only.)
 
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