OT: Recommended Digital Camera

Hi
I would like to document my robot projects in the robotics section on my website and provide a resource for beginners like myself and others if
interested. There is also the possibility of publishing these photos in a magazine or book (you never know!) if the opportunity arises.
Please can someone recommend the specs for a basic (economic) digital camera, with some basic video function too? I live in Australia so if you have any particular brand and model in mind, a well-known "brand-name" (easily obtainable here) would be good. I would like to have close-up resolution good enough to take snaps of PCB, components so they are clear.
Also, can anyone recommend the sort of lighting etc. I need to take into considertion?
Cheers
| -]
Dale
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...by the way, I am going overseas in a couple of weeks, so would duty free be worth it, or even buying in Thailand?
Dale

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I can't recommend an exact model, but here's a few good sites for camera reviews:
http://dcresource.com / They take several standard pictures from each model; these help highlight the visual differences between cameras.
http://www.steves-digicams.com /
http://dpreview.com /
http://www.pbase.com / Not a review site; instead, look at actual pictures taken by the cameras you are interested in.

The key word for close-up shots is "macro" and "super-macro" mode; these will let you get pictures of objects only inches away.

Lighting is not too hard to get acceptable. You want the lighting to be (a) bright and (b) diffuse. For circuits and such, color balance isn't so important. However, camera flash and other point lights tend to cause glare when reflecting off a nice shiny PCB (just like they cause red-eye in people). Having multiple lights, reflecting the light off a white surface, and experimenting with different angles can usually get good shots. Using a few common shop or desk lamps should suffice. Then a little post-processing can get things printable (MSPaint and IrfanView are mostly sufficient).
One other consideration: you need a tripod. Especially when taking close-ups. To get enough lighting, the camera will need a longer exposure. To avoid blurry photos, set up the camera in the tripod and use the auto-timer to take the picture; this minimizes vibration.
Later, Daniel
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Hi Daniel
Thanks heaps for your effort and helpful suggestions.
Cheers
| -]
Dale

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Dale Stewart wrote:

I doubt it. The customs duty on most consumer electronics is negligible. Prices don't vary much around the world. The only exception is Japan. You can buy cheaper and more advanced stuff there, but all the buttons, menus, and documentation are only in Japanese. If your trip to Thailand includes a long layover at Narita, you might want to hop on a train to Akihabara. Even if you don't buy anything, it could be worth it just to see what will be available to the rest of the world in a year or two.
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Try asking on forums.overclockers.com.au. Free membership and well worth it for the discounts you get at some computer shops.
Alex
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Dale Stewart wrote:

As somebody else mentioned macro functionality is the must have feature. However you need a really close-up macro. I have canon A520(AU$289) Its' macro is not good enough to get really close in. The spec say it can get as close as 5cm but with a 4x zoom this is not enough and the 1.8 inch LCD is too small to make macro focusing easy. Although I should try the computer capture software, as the picture can be viewed on your pc mouch larger. I use my old DV video cam when I want to get close in to a chip. Especially freeform surfacemount stuff.
I might repost after I try the computer capture. I am compressing time lapse sequences on that comp at the moment.
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Hi
Thanks for all the help to everyone. I settled on a Canon PowerShot A520 for $275. The samples of close-ups are excellent, so should be great for close-ups of PCBs, circuits, etc. The movie I saw was also excellent quality, so I can also post movies of robots and other applications on my website | -].
Cheers
| -]
Dale
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