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Solid studio camera for $500-800?

by mcp1 / May 3, 2007 1:55 AM PDT

I'm working on an alternative dissection CD ROM, where we will be dissecting and photographing a frog and an earthworm. I would like to get something that meters well, can save in an uncompressed format, has a high resolution, and does well in macro mode. Superb image quallity is a must.

Anything in that price range worth considering? If not, what else is there that's close?

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OK, let's look at this again.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 3, 2007 2:29 AM PDT

It's some CDROM which means it could be used on a PC or Mac. The screen on said machine is generally some 1280x1024 (most are less) so that's all of 1.3 megapixels. This helps us determine that almost any megapixel camera today might be practical. At 24 bit color that gets your uncompressed image up to 3 x 1.3 or let's just call it 7 MegaBytes(MB) per image. That means you might see 100 pictures tops on your CDROM.

Does that fit your current estimates?

At less than 100 pictures a cheap exit would be to go back to film. Now you can snap 100 pictures for not much bucks and then use a sub 100 buck scanner to scan them to .BMP files (these would be uncompressed.)

Total outlay should fall to under 99 bucks for the endeavor. Any digital camera with uncompressed mode would easily cost more.

Bob

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???
by mcp1 / May 3, 2007 3:14 AM PDT

A mistake, I assume?

Can anyone comment on the original question? Thanks.

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No mistake. An analysis of your project.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 3, 2007 3:40 AM PDT
In reply to: ???

I took it from one assumption (CDROM on PC/Mac) and worked out how many pictures, megapixels and then figured how to do the work in your budget dollars.

Bob

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Clarification
by mcp1 / May 3, 2007 4:37 AM PDT

Let me restate what it is I need:

I'm looking for a high-quality studio camera (most likely SLR) to be used for a very specific purpose.

Background info:

The photos will be of frogs and earthworms. Thus, I need a camera that does well with macro shots. I also need the highest picture quality available, with accurate, vibrant color (again, the ideal budget is $500-800). I need the pictures to be saved in an uncompressed or lossless format (again, high quality is the main concern.)

The photos will be subsequently cropped, resized, and possibly used for print pieces. The end product will contain hundreds of pictures, which will at that time be compressed, but this is besides the point.

The bottom line is I need the best camera for studio work of this type that I can afford. A $99 camera is not at all what I'm talking about.

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Which is why at your budget I went back to film
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 3, 2007 6:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Clarification

Film's resolution is hard to beat. Once you print the picture then scanners can hit high DPI without compression.

More on target is your comment about high resolution. By just a little sleuthing I determined that your screen image is all of 1.3 megapixels. You didn't seem to counter me on this so please tell why you need more pixels.

Bob

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Re-clarificaton...
by mcp1 / May 3, 2007 7:28 AM PDT

From above: (why I'd need more pixels)

The photos will be subsequently cropped, resized, and possibly used for print pieces.

Bob, I want (actually, need) a digital camera. You're going down a path that is not at all practical for what I do. I've been doing this for years, but with a cheaper digital camera. I'm not an expert on which digital camera is best for my use, but trust me, I need a digital camera.

We will be taking hundreds of photos. We're not photographers. Sometimes the anatomist on the team is the one taking the picture. We need the instant feedback of whether or not we have a useable image. We don't have the time and money to develop and scan hundreds of pictures. etc, etc.

I need a high-res digital camera that does well in macro mode, with the color and clarity of the image being of utmost importance, somewhere in the range of $500-800. I appreciate the help thus far, but this is what I'm asking for. Can you recommend something that fits the above description? Thanks.

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See the other reply. Is the CDROM going to work here?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 3, 2007 8:48 AM PDT
In reply to: Re-clarificaton...

At 8 megapixels RAW with 3 colors I think you'll see each file be 24 megabytes.

See http://www.dpreview.com/learn/?/key=compression to see how I get to that number.

This means at most you'll put 30 pictures per CD. Have you thought about how many CDs you'll need to produce for this project?

-> Let me share the usual solution I've seen in a VA Hospital project I helped on. The CD would have 100% quality JPEGS and the uncompressed images were put up on a file server for members to access if they wanted.

Bob

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I think I understand your specs and intention.
by Kiddpeat / May 3, 2007 12:07 PM PDT
In reply to: Re-clarificaton...

However, you won't find such a camera in the $500-$800 range. The lenses alone will cost more than that. You probably need to think in terms of $2,000 for starters. Even better, would be $5,000 to $10,000 to get into the right ballpark.

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The VA system I allude to was...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 3, 2007 9:55 PM PDT

One of the early digital backs for 35mm cameras. The price was out of this world at 20+K but that was years ago. While that point is not helpful to this, the area of how many pictures we could fit on a CD was. Some rethink was needed and we managed to get (beat?) the author to adjust their requirement on the CD and offer the full blown pics on the web.

Bob

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So far, I don't think you have grasped what the poster is
by Kiddpeat / May 3, 2007 10:28 PM PDT

trying to do. Forget the CD and monitor resolution business. The goal is a very detailed and accurate image.

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If so, they should have left out such a reference.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 3, 2007 10:53 PM PDT

I think you know why I dissected the message for any and all clues. Partly because the budget was too light. So I took a second look to see if there was any way to get there from here with that much gas.

If I hadn't been involved in such a project I may have not written a word.

Bob

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DSLR camera
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / May 3, 2007 8:22 AM PDT

This will crowd your budget just a bit.

You will need a special macro lens for the camera.
The lowest price macro lens for a Canon is the 50mm f2.5 macro at $240
It also functions as a normal 50mm lens.

Now you need a Camera.
The lowest priced Canon is the Rebel XT, also know as the 350D at $510

That will do a good job for what you want.

You will also need a tripod for macro shooting.

And plan on setting up lights, as the flash is not favorable for macro.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/compare_post.asp?method=sidebyside&cameras=canon_eos350d&show=all

...
..
.

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Thank you...
by mcp1 / May 3, 2007 11:36 PM PDT
In reply to: DSLR camera

This is what I've been asking for. Also, the budget is somewhat flexible, so if there is a better choice for a few hundred bucks more that's worth it, let me know.

We've got the lighting and tripod taken care of already.

Bob - you're making many assumptions about our workflow based off yours that do not apply. We will NOT be putting the uncompressed files on the CD. They are heavily retouched, cropped and resized by a medical illustrator first. Then they are compressed. Thus, we are NOT limited by CD ROM space. It is not an issue. He prefers to work with the high-res images to have the freedom to zoom and crop, and also the option to use the images for print pieces.

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Macro
by hjfok / May 5, 2007 7:01 PM PDT
In reply to: DSLR camera

Agree with the above. The D-SLR does a much better job than compacts. Since you are doing dissection, you can place your camera close to the subject, so the 50 mm will work well. In the field, the 100 mm f/2.8 macro lens may give you some more distance to take the shot.
Sigma has a macro Ringlight flash for $360 and Phoenix has one for $90 (the Canon one costs $650). This Ringlight flash helps to optimize the lighting for your macro shots, makes it look more professional. But if the light you use for dissection is bright enough, then you may not need these macro flash units.
A remote shutter release cable/control will also help to minimize camera movement (from your finger pressing down the button), and give you the sharpest picture possible.

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Solid studio camera for $500-800?
by bigleytl / May 5, 2007 5:09 AM PDT

Piece of cake... Look at the Panasonic Lumix DMC series. The top of the line, the FZ40, fits your budget and requirements like a glove - 10mp resolution, an OPTICALLY stabilized Leica lens that goes from 12X zoom to macro, fully articulated view screen (perfect for shooting your frogs and earthworms). It's good enough that Leica markets it under their own Leica label, but stick with the Panasonic - that'll save you a couple hundred bucks. Check the Panasonic website for specs (or Leica for their version). You can even downlad the user's manual from Panasonic if you're interested in the details.

I'm using it's predecessor (the FZ30) and wouldn't swap if for anything I've seen going for twice the price.

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for what you want
by woodygg / May 5, 2007 7:57 AM PDT

stick with the previous opinion, the canon xt... for your needs, you're much better off with a Nikon D40 or Canon XTi for this price range. I personally prefer the Canon for image quality, but either would do an excellent job.

after owning a panny, and checking the reviews of the fz's (30 and 50), i wouldn't touch one. In fact, here's one comment from DPreview.com on the FZ50:

"Inevitably this involves a certain amount of compromise; the smearing of fine, low contrast detail that is the hallmark of the Venus III engine limits the FZ50 to low ISO settings for any serious photography unless you're happy to accept that you'll never be able to produce big enlargements."

not what you would want....

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That suggests that they are getting high ISOs from very
by Kiddpeat / May 5, 2007 9:59 AM PDT
In reply to: for what you want

aggressive noise reduction. That, of course, is not what Canon does in its cameras, and is not a preferred approach to good performance.

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