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Forums > Technical Discussion > Advice from Digital Camera owners and operators...

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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:Ok...now i know this isn't the best of forum's for this sort of question, but I've talked to several different "experts" in both the photography and retail sectors and none of them have had much experience in photographing fire.

I'm getting so I can keep records of new balloon sculptures (i've forgotten too many already when they expire) but also want it for my website and my other performing as well.

I'm not as up-with-the-technology as I used to be, and know that I want a machine with compact-flash (so I can swap cards with my MP3player I use for performing music), at least 2 megapixels (so I can blow up decent sized photos and make some reaosnable prints) and a USB interface coz that makes life just so much easier...

As for Lux ratings, performance with shadows and light (eg FIRE!), ease of use and annoying features not in the brochures, I was hoping some of you end0users out there could help me with some start-out advice.

So who on the board is currently using a digital camera/handycam and how does it work for fire?

ANd any other knowledge you may have learned...?

Model numbers and brands would be great too...

[ 18 July 2002, 11:50: Message edited by: Charles (INFERNO) ]


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bender
GOLD Member since Nov 2001

still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 6979
Posted:something to note is low light pickup without reverting to IR/zero lux monochrome. alot of the awesome sony models pickup very poorly in dark with colour, but are excellent if ya want a wierd green haze. if ya use small wicks, sometimes night-vision is the only way to pick up the twirler.
asparagus.


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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:quote: something to note is low light pickup without reverting to IR/zero lux monochrome So do I want the low light pick-up with or without reverting to IR/zero lux monochrome...

I don't really undertsand that yet, but I guess you are saying a low level light pickup which still operates in the standard mode/spectrum.

Is this good or bad? Partcicularly as my wicks are not small (usually).


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bender
GOLD Member since Nov 2001

still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 6979
Posted:yes! it will affect your choice of exposure - a better camera (in terms of exposure range) will be flexible enough to allow you to shoot darker twirls/locations before it gets grainy or need to activate the monochrome nightvision. this nightshot setting captures wrinkles in the dark (literally - if ya shot in a closet, you'd still see!) but robs firetwirling of the luverly colours. tell exactly what ur using ur camera for and the camera shop people will help ya properly - they sooo know their sheet. It's not just lux range for fire twirling too - ask about the lens quality - will it read well a flame against darkness or will it be overexposed, giving you just a white screen?
don't get suckered by an astronomical 'digital zoom' range - cus digital zoom is as useful as a one legged guy in an ass kicking contest - it zooms in at the cost of image quality. ask for the optical zoom unassisted by digital. the cutting edge miniDV have a mega pixel CCD for video AND still shot. some stream directly to USB without the video conversion in the middle. the newest sony microDV - the DCRIP55 even folds out like an old pistolgrip 8mm.
did i mention it's tax return time ?

[ 18 July 2002, 17:28: Message edited by: Bender_the_Offender ]


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dulce flames


member
Location: Oceanside, California USA

Total posts: 234
Posted:I am using a digital cam, but I wouldn't recommend it at this point.... it's kodak DX3900 3.1 megapixels..... The shutter doesn't stay open long enough, though I am going to see if anything can be done about that.... The shots in my pictures section where you can just see the fire but not the trails are with this camera... Doesn't really have a great effect, but I am going to see what can be done... I havn't photographed fire yet, just been photographed... I'll let you know if I figure out any new info....

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Tom
BRONZE Member since Sep 2001

Tom

member
Location: England

Total posts: 135
Posted:Here's the first and only ('cos my batteries promptly died) Poi photo that I've taken on my new Digital Camera.

[image]http://us.f1.yahoofs.com/users/12f4162a/bc/My+Photos/Double+Headed+Glo-Poi.jpg?bc7XgX9Ac4jtj2F_[/image]

The camera is an Olympus C40zoom. The camera has a 'full' manual mode allowing a good range of shutter speeds with either automatic or manual settings for aperture control. The longest exposure is 16 seconds which is what the photo above was taken using. The camera has a huge amount of other controls and features that can be adjusted to choice but I haven't got around to trying them all yet, cos I need someone else to spin while I play with the camera. Other details.. 4.1 megapixels CCD allowing upto 7 megapixels extrapolation (or something) means you can print your photos BIG. Oh and in the UK the list price is around 425 (though the shops obviously ask for more, but can sell this low..) and I think it might be cheaper in the US (where it might be called the D40) just search the net. Only problem for you might be that it uses Smart Media cards not compact-flash...

Anyhow, I'll stop now.. hope that is of some help,
Tom

You can see the full quality photo here if you want.


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Tom
BRONZE Member since Sep 2001

Tom

member
Location: England

Total posts: 135
Posted:Can anyone tell me why I left my fire poi in Kent when I came back to Coventry? duh...

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adamrice


adamrice

poo-bah
Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:The camera I've got is a Nikon CP880 (no longer in production). By way of reference, you can see the pix I've shot with it (including scads of firedancing pix) at
http://www.imagestation.com/members/adamrice
br>
I consider this a so-so performer for firedancing photography.

If I were buying a camera today, I'd look hard at the Olympus C-3040 or 4040, which come with very fast (f1.8) lenses. But these use smartmedia cards. Oh well.

The Sony F707 is a very snazzy camera with special low-light features and a reasonably fast (f2.0) lens. It's also about US$1000--ouch. And it uses memory sticks.

An excellent place to research and read up on digicams is
http://www.dpreview.com


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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:Thanks Adam, if I had an unlimited budget, I'd be looiing at more of the good Sony's, they seem like a good choice.

I'll look into that other model a bit closer.

Appreciate everyone's comments, many thanks...

So who else owns some digital cameras aye? And what do you think of them...


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FiveOhRaver


member
Location: South Florida

Total posts: 28
Posted:You may want to check out the Cannon PowerShot S110 Digital Elph. It's VERY small and has a screen on the back so that you don't have to look through a viewfinder (that little window that's on cameras). You can use that window to view pix after you take them and delete them if they're not how you wanted them to turn out. Also, I can take mini movies with it (up to 40 seconds).

FiveOhRaver


If you have one for the road, I'll provide the chaser.

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bender
GOLD Member since Nov 2001

still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 6979
Posted:Tom raises an important point - long exposure shots on digital cameras - many have limited shutter speed ranges due to the nature of the component itself - the CCD. Several of this year's new Sony Handycams (like the dcr-pc101 ) have a new feature called 'Colour Slow Shutter' that allow for the spectacular looooooong exposure shots that non-digital cameras allow for.
'Super NightShot' is like normal night shot, only it supports colour at the expense of framerate (each frame is exposed for slightly longer to obtain a more vibrant shot when in the dark - night firetwirling, for example. The dcr-pc120 supports this feature)
As an incorrible raver, i prefer compactness cus i don't want to return to my car alla time when I'm somewhere video-able. With that thought in mind, the smallest miniDV with the most features is the sony dcr-ip55e and the smallest being the DCR-IP5 (but that's not availble 'ere yet)
damn, i need a life


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Tom
BRONZE Member since Sep 2001

Tom

member
Location: England

Total posts: 135
Posted:My camera is just bigger than a credit card front on, though obviously thicker! Plus it can take movie upto 30 seconds long at a time, though I'm not sure of the quality.. more playing about with it is needed. The good thing with this camera is that it has 'noise reduction' built into its long exposure settings meaning that the picture is clearer. For more details, the official Olympus C40zoom/D40zoom is here. Have fun choosing a camera..
Tom


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Kinudin (Soul Fyre)


veteran
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Total posts: 1325
Posted:Tom, how'd you get it to expose that long and not get any grainyness? When I leave mine open for even 8 seconds, I get little specs of light here and there.

Is it your camera or do you do some editing?


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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:hmm..now that's something i hadn't considered.

SO the majority of them (particularly the under US$600) I'm looking at are likely to have poor quality for long exposures, or even no long exposure settings???


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Tom
BRONZE Member since Sep 2001

Tom

member
Location: England

Total posts: 135
Posted:Yeah, that's what made me choose the C40, cos I was buying it to replace a 20 year old SLR (OM1) which gave complete clarity on long exposures and didn't want to lose any quality. It is one of the first digital cameras to incorporate a special 'noise reduction' function built into its long exposure photos, meaning that the camera does the work on the photo instantly and saves me from having to do anything (which was something else I didn't really want to have to spend hours on editing).

Anyhow if the camera's for taking photos of spinning you really want to have adjustable exposure settings to get the trails. Most of the digital cameras that do have variable exposure settings have a range of certain times (opposed to 'real' cameras where you can just hold the trigger down for as long as you want). The C40 ranges from 1/1000 sec to 16 sec in full manual with 43 different shutter speeds (exposure) plus it has an onscreen light meter to help prevent under and over exposure (though this will not necessarily work with fire spinning).

Anyhow, enough waffle..
Tom

edit: spelling was crap..

[ 23 July 2002, 22:52: Message edited by: Tom ]


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Tom
BRONZE Member since Sep 2001

Tom

member
Location: England

Total posts: 135
Posted:Oh, just found that you can get the D40 (american name for the C40) for only $399
see here: price compare at NexTag

Oh and get a NICE BIG memory card, my 128mb card can hold 127 photos at 2272x1704 pixels (though the camera can do up to 3200x2400 using the extrapolation function).

Another nice function that the C40 has is that it can make panoramic photos out of upto 10 regular photos stitched together side-to-side or top-to-bottom (though you have to use the 16mb memory card supplied with the camera to do this).

Enough..
Tom


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adamrice


adamrice

poo-bah
Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:Charles--
A problem with almost any digital camera is noise in long exposures. Individual pixels in the CCD are more likely to get "switched on" by random electrical noise with long exposures, which is why you get random noise in the picture.

Some digicams these days can compensate for this by (optionally) shooting a "black frame" after the regular exposure and subtracting the resultant noise pattern from the previous shot, or by algorithmically looking for unlikely hotspots and smoothing them out. The Sony F707 uses the former technique, for example.

Of course, with all but the most expensive (>$2000) digicams, you also get a fair amount of noise when shooting at a higher ASA rating, for essentially the same reason (turning up the sensitivity of the CCD makes it more sensitive to random electrical noise). Just can't win. But you can still get acceptable--even good--image quality for everyday purposes.

Apparently, the noise problem mostly becomes an issue with exposures over 2 seconds, and I try to keep my firedancing shots at 1 second or faster--any longer and it's just a blob of fire. For that matter, I've taken 4-second shots of still subjects and not noticed much noise to speak of.


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adamrice


adamrice

poo-bah
Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:I'm bumping an existing thread rather than starting a new one with this vaguely-related tip.

I've discovered how to solve two problems at once with my digital camera: poor shutter responsiveness and weird color balance. This tip may not pertain to all cameras, but if your digital camera offers control of the white point, this may come in handy.

The tip? Set your camera to use the incandescent light preset.

By default, my camera attempts to guess the white point every time I take a shot. This is usually fine, but it's not very accurate for shooting firedancing pix (they wind up being too red) and it slows down responsiveness. My camera also includes a few presets (fluorescent, incandescent, sunlight, cloudy outdoors), and lets me set the white point manually. I tried setting the white point manually--you basically shoot a white card and tell the camera "use that as the white point." This wound up being too blue. By trial and error, I found that the "incandescent" preset looks pretty good.

HTH.


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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:Thanks Adam. That's really helpful, particularly the noise problem for longer exposure settings in your post above.

At the moment, that's making me lean towards a chepaer digicam for my other performing and balloon sculpture photo's rather than for fire.

It might be easier and more effective touse my existing analogue (is that the right term?) camera and scan the negatives afterwards...

Anyone else got any comments on their digicams???


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adamrice


adamrice

poo-bah
Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:I'll say one thing in favor of using digicams for shooting fire pix: the marginal cost of each shot is zero. You need to take a lot of shots to get a few good ones. That would get expensive fast using film.

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:I usually get some pretty good results using my SLR but you're right, it would be nice to be able to erase a few because someone's elbow was in front of their face...

Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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[Nx?]
BRONZE Member since Mar 2017

[Nx?]

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Europe,Scotland,Both

Total posts: 3749
Posted:On the other hand, a good slide scanner can produce VERY high quality results, and you dont have to use slide film.

not even a full 2c im afraid.

N


This is a post by tom, all spelling is deleberate
-><- Kallisti

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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:Adam, that was my reason for starting this post in the first place. I've seen about the same percentage of 'good' photo's from amatuers and professional photographers alike.

I was hoping a digicam would be able to drop that cost considerably.

The thing that was ommitted, though, was the whole reason for getting a digicam was to take cheap easy photo's of my balloon sculptures. I've come up with some truly awesome designs, only to forget how i did them, or even that I did them at all because I had no simple way of recording what they looked like. This would be the highest use by far of photo's in the near future.

My wonderful wife is also keen on getting an SLR at some stage, so we'll see how it works.

Still another month before I make an actual decision though. Time periods before big purchases have helped me to get the best deal, rather than letting my enthusiasm run away with my wallet...


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