Help buying a camera - different type of needs

SMM

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 22, 2006
1,334
0
Tiger Mountain - WA State
Howdy,

To begin with, I have been through one set of eyeballs reading the fine 'linking reference thread', many of you have already contributed too. I guess I am looking for confirmation of what I have absorbed AND concluded. I appreciate your patience.

The Challenge:

I am the IT Manager for one of the top 10 demolition companies (US). Over the past two years, I have been automating our field operations (jobsites). The larger ones are getting video, the smaller ones are having digital cameras assigned to the field supervisor. Visual (and some audio) media is being transmitted back to the Divisional HQ (Seattle, Portland, Honolulu, LA, Pentagon).

Cameras assigned to the field are misused, abused, stolen, destroyed, etc. So, we need to find a camera which will take some abuse, produce above average results and can be landed cheap. Below are the prime criterion I am using for making a selection:

  1. Cost between $100-$175
  2. Very easy to operate - truly 'point and shoot'
  3. No proprietary connectors or storage
  4. Easy driver installation
  5. Good manufacturer support for updated drivers, technical manual, FAQ, etc
  6. Above average ruggedness
  7. Easy download of pictures
  8. Prefer support for Windows and Mac
  9. Above average picture storage and battery life
  10. Excellent picture quality for its class

I am going to start off with 20 of these initially. All told, I will probably be buying ~100 more by October. However, I am pushing more for video. That project is running concurrent with this one. It is possible (based on results) we may make a much larger emphasis on that media, rather than photography.

Some cameras I like are the Fujifilm Finepix F20, the Fuji FinePix F40fd, the Canon PowerShot A550/A630. These are near the upper limits of my price range. Anyone have suggestions for cameras ~$100?

Appreciate your opinions.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,610
408
Redondo Beach, California
Howdy,


  1. Cost between $100-$175
  2. Very easy to operate - truly 'point and shoot'
  3. No proprietary connectors or storage
  4. Easy driver installation
  5. Good manufacturer support for updated drivers, technical manual, FAQ, etc
  6. Above average ruggedness
  7. Easy download of pictures
  8. Prefer support for Windows and Mac
  9. Above average picture storage and battery life
  10. Excellent picture quality for its class
Not really a meaningful list. "good quality"-- All of them are as good as the operator.
The price range means means you'll be buying from the bottom of the lne but, that's god enough for a documatary snapshot and an un-skilled operator.

"drivers?" Just plug it in and iPhotos pops up. If you have to install any software at all send it back "support" We are talking "point and shoot" just press one button.
"updated drivers"??? what drivers? shouldn't need any. "Easy to download.." They are all the same. Just plug the camera in and iPhoto pops up.

"Above average..." No. Look at your budget. But you don't need it.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,414
124
Location Location Location
Meh, all these digital cameras are as good as each other, with the exception of the Fuji F-series.

If you can get 100 x Fuji F30s or F20s, then get them.


If you want a bit of ruggedness, maybe consider a Pentax. They have shockproof and dustproof models, some of which are old and still sold in stores.

I wonder if people are still selling the Olympus MJU 720 or 725? America may be a bit behind, so the 725 may still be the model that's out in stores at a premium price, meaning no sales.

Try looking for a Pentax. If you can't find one, then look for those Fujis. :)
 

compuwar

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2006
4,717
2
Northern/Central VA
  1. Cost between $100-$175
  2. Above average ruggedness
  3. Excellent picture quality for its class

These criteria don't work together, the first criterion is mutually exclusive with the other two at the low end of its range, though with a 75% difference there's a lot of middle ground. At that price point, you're not going to get significant ruggedness because you're near the bottom of the value chain. You're not going to get "excellent" picture quality because you're near the bottom of the value chain. You may get acceptable picture quality (my criteria for "excellent" may be well above yours,) but since you don't seem to have set criteria for angle of view, magnification, illumination or resolution it's difficult to say if your needs will be met- but I'd encourage you to try to figure out how much illuminations you'll need, the angle of view and magnification necessary for that angle of view. After all, if you need 100 degrees in pitch black from 5', it's very different than 35 degrees from 100m in daylight. Without knowing the minimum focusing distance you may not be able to evaluate the choices you've made.

Demo sites tend to be quite dusty, which isn't ideal for optical equipment, you may do better with one-time-use disposable cameras and a central scanner or film-.CD service if you don't need significant magnification and the capital expenditure would be significantly less allowing multiple cameras per site.
 

Nayrb

macrumors member
Apr 17, 2007
51
0
Virginia
Some simple advice:

Do not get Kodak, their lower cost cameras take horrible pictures most of the time when lighting isn't perfect and is just a hassle from the past two Kodak digital cameras my mom has had.

I personally trust Canon, but I've heard Olympus and Panasonic have good reputations as well. So those three are probably worth looking into.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,414
124
Location Location Location
Yeah, or get the Olympus or Pentax dustproof cameras I mentioned, which means you spend more.

Also remember that flash is essentially useless on a construction site. There's no way a flash is going to light up an entire building or half-finished atrium to allow it to be photographed. That's the reason I suggested the Fuji......because of its performance in low light situations at high ISO.

@compuwar: Shooting/wide angle is going to be around the same for these cameras anyway. I wouldn't expect any more or less than 35 or 36 mm equivalent, although I think wider would be better for construction.
 

compuwar

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2006
4,717
2
Northern/Central VA
@compuwar: Shooting/wide angle is going to be around the same for these cameras anyway. I wouldn't expect any more or less than 35 or 36 mm equivalent, although I think wider would be better for construction.
That changes the equation though. They could want in-building pre-demo shots of structures, charge placement, etc. Demolition or wrecking balls are going to put a huge amount of dust in the air, and some of that is going to get on the lens. If wide is it, I stand by the disposable film camera recommendation, you can send 10 to a job site and still not touch the low end of the price for a digital. If they're going to be lost/stolen/muddied/dust covered, then if they just want a few shots of a building going down that's as good a way as any.

Wide angle on all the low-end digitals I've seen doesn't produce reasonably detailed shots if you're looking for detailed. We didn't even talk about shutter lag- but without strict requirements we're just all guessing at what would be the ideal spec for a camera for the OP, let alone if that camera exists in their price range.