Digital camera for rocket photography???

A while back I posted a question about buying a digital camera not for lofting, but for rocket photography from the ground. Then I got downsized
and was out of work for about 3 months. I've been back at work for a couple months now, and am looking for ways to spend what's left of the severance package :-)
What I was looking at then, and still am is the class of cameras refered to a "super zoom" i.e on the order of 10:1 OPTICAL zoom. Last time around the cream of the crop seems to have been the Olympus C-740 over the deal I saw on the C-720.
But since then some new stuff has come out. I'm particularly interested in the two optically stabilized cameras, for shooting closeups of the away pads. One is the Panasonic DMC-FZ10 with a 4MP resolution and a whopping 12:1 optical zoom and a matching price. The other contender is the Canon S1-IS which is "only" 3.2MP and 10:1.
Any one have any experience or comments on either of these cameras? Or any of the other "super zoom" digicams in the 3-4MP range? It seems that the most critical undocumented spec is shutter lag for pre-focused shots. Too many of the digicams (other than the SLRs) have so much shutter lag that all you'll get in a liftoff shot is smoke trail. Is 0.2 seconds fast enough? That's what steves-digicams says these two models will do. I think I'd have to go to an SLR to do any better.
If I'm gonna get one of these in time for NARAM, I have to make a decision in the next few days...
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
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Bob,
The pictures on my website have been taken with several different cameras but most of the pictures on any of the launch pages are taken with my new camera. You can get an idea on camera quality there with our new Kodak, allthough most of them have been altered some do decrease their size. .
I've got a Kodak Easyshare 6490. 4MP 10x optical zoom.
How long the delay is I don't know, I purchased solely for getting liftoff pics because of it's 6 shot burst feature, hold the button down and it takes six shots as quickly as it can over about 1.5 seconds..
Not as fast as a SLR maybe but not bad for a digital.
I don't know about the others you're looking at an i'm no camera expert but I'm real happy with this setup..
Jason www.firemanrocketry.com
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but
camera.
most
pics
six
but I'm

Again I don't know about the new 'super zoom' cameras, but (at low-ish resolutions) I've had good success with (my mum's) trusty Canon Powershot A20, since it has a continuous shooting mode, which at VGA and XGA resolution (not great, but fine for web images) seems to be capable of shooting several frames per second. I've got some good liftoff shots this way. I don't know if maybe one of the 'descendants' of the A20 offers a high-speed high resolution shooting mode now.
My 2p's worth.
-- Niall Oswald ========UKRA 1345 L0 EARS 1151 MARS
"Gravity assisted pieces of the rocket raining from the sky should be avoided. It is also financially undesirable." -Portland State Aerospace Society
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If you've not seen the photos on the trailer trash page, check out: http://www.trailertrashaerospace.com/rocket_gallery.htm
I suggest you contact them about the camera details, but they're snapping off several frames as it's coming off the pad. I believe he said the body alone was over a grand and in the 5megP range. I would at least first check with magazines to see what minimum they can use, then you'd be able to submit the images. My 3 meg Canon is too slow and it is really aggravating anticipating the 'shot' only to see it disappear. I wish I had waited and moved way up.
Joel. phx

all
have
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Joel Corwith wrote:

The centerfold in the latest issue of Extreme Rocketry was taken with a Canon EOS digital; I don't remember the exact model, but it's not the Rebel. At least one (possibly more) other photos in that same issue were taken with the same camera; I'll have to flip through what was submitted, to be sure.
If money is no object, the Canon EOS SLRs do a FANTASTIC job!
-Kevin
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Money is ALWAYS an object. Otherwise I'd be buying an SLR.
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
Save Model Rocketry from the HSA! http://www.space-rockets.com/congress.html
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body only implies SLR and those are a grand or more as you mention just for hte body. You then get to spend several hundred more on a lense. What I'm looking at is less than half the price.

What Canon do you have? If nothing else, I can look up the shutter delay specs on it and than I'll at least have a point where I know it is "too slow"...
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
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Howdy Bob,
As you may remember from the last time you asked the question, I've got the C-740 (had it for a year and a few months now) I've been quite happy with it and far as liftoff shots go, when the countdown starts, I press the shutter halfway to focus lock, I hold that till I see an ignitor puff then press it the rest of the way and hold it while tracking the rocket up. (the C-740 will take 3 shots at 1.5 fps) It's a good camera and I expect to keep it for another year or so before replacing it with the latest and greatest. btw, I've seen C-740's sell on ebay for in the low $200's. The XD media is still the most expensive per megabyte.
Last time you asked, I said to check out the Fuji S5000 because it was about the same price as the C-740 and had better specs, When my mother asked me which camera she should get for her classroom I had her get one. Well, I borrowed it for a friends wedding and really hated it The buttons were in the wrong place and the pics weren't that great. I can't endorse that one anymore :)
As for the Panasonic FZ10, my GF just bought one and I hope to have my hands on it real soon!!! It's not cheap, and as far as IS goes... Will your launches be on sunny days?? if it's sunny out, your shutter speed tends to be so fast, you're not really taking advantage of IS.
and for the Canon S1-IS, I can't remember why my GF ruled that one out, but she really did her homework. So I'll ask her why that one didn't make the cut.
I took a few hundred pics at LDRS last week, I need to find some time to make an index page then I'll post them all for everyone to see.
meanwhile, here are a few links to some pics:
Lift off series:
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-morn/p1010127.jpg
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-morn/p1010128.jpg
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-morn/p1010129.jpg
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-morn/p1010133.jpg
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-morn/p1010134.jpg
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-morn/p1010135.jpg
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-afternoon/p1010188.jpg
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-afternoon/p1010189.jpg
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-afternoon/p1010190.jpg
using max zoom:
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-morn/p1010021.jpg
misc. cool pics
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-morn/p1010160.jpg
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-afternoon/p1010095.jpg
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/fri-afternoon/p1010146.jpg
my only rocket of LDRS:
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/sat/p1010001.jpg
ah damn, I'd better get going on resizing for the web and putting up a page... Expect to see something posted tonight or tomorrow.
-Dan
On 11 Jul 2004 10:41:26 -0500, kaplow snipped-for-privacy@encompasserve.org.TRABoD (Bob Kaplow) wrote:

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I doubt we'll fly much interesting in the rain :-) The Image Stabilizer shoud help regardless of the light. Especially with a 12:1 telephoto. Any chance you can get your hands on it in the next week?

OK, now I'm confused. I took GF to be GrandFather. But now you say she. OK, maybe it's GirlFriend. If so, can I borrow her for NARAM :-)
Buying these electronic gadgets is so agrivating. You KNOW that if you wait 6 months, the price of this item will drop 30%, and there will be something else that is better, faster, and cheaper. The stuff is obsolete before you ever get it out of the box.
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
Save Model Rocketry from the HSA! http://www.space-rockets.com/congress.html
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On 11 Jul 2004 22:09:40 -0500, kaplow snipped-for-privacy@encompasserve.org.TRABoD (Bob Kaplow) wrote:

It'll be in her hands on Thursday, I probably won't be able to touch it for a couple days.

HAHAHA She said it'd have to be an auction :)
as for selling points of the FZ10 over S1-IS Slightly larger zoom, slightly higher resoloution, manual focus ring (a big plus in my book)

The price of my camera has dropped about $200 in the 14 or so months that I've owned it. I'm pretty confident that I've taken $200 worth of pictures from it. (roughly 4000 shots)
Look at it like a consumable, it's easier to deal with that way.
BTW, If you haven't noticed the post already, my LDRS pics are at: http://www.snear.org/LDRS23 /
-Dan

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Well, I think I'm going to delay buying the camera for a while. Too many things going on right now and I'd really like to have a chance to play with a new camera BEFORE the trip so I can get the bes tuse out of it. DO let me know what you think of the Lumix, it's still at the top of my list.

Remind me again what camera you took these with. Was it the Olympus C-740? Lots of shots with blue sky that could have used more zoom. I suppose that's true of just about any in flight shot. But there is one htat really needs the story behind the picture:
http://www.snear.org/LDRS23/4/pages/P1010019.htm
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
Save Model Rocketry from the HSA! http://www.space-rockets.com/congress.html
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Yep, I use the 740, and I'd have to recommend that if looking at the Oly C-7xx series, go ahead and look at the newer models but don't touch anything below the 740. As that's where they brought in a new lens design which was a major improvement.
As for lots of blue sky in my shots, it's pretty hard to track a rocket on its way up. (especially with a camera that's less than 4" square) I back off the zoom a bit so i've got a better chance of catching it all the way up. The pros with lenses that extend out 12" have a much easier time in "aiming" at the rocket on the way up. Imagine shooting a gun, with the gun right by your side. Now shoot with the gun at arms length in front of you. Which shot has a better chance of hitting the target? That's why I don't get too close. However, if you're *only* looking for a single liftoff shot, than you put your camera on a tripod, zoom in real close and pray for a fast trigger finger. (even then, there are so many variables, LCO finger delay, type of igniter, type of motor, etc.. It's much like using "the force" to sense when to snap the shot)
That "Bat Rocket", I don't know who owns it, but i think it was 3 or 4 D-12's in a marginal cluster arrangement. The shot previous to the one you mentioned looks pretty cool though, no?
Just pick a camera you like, buy it, and master it.
-Dan
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I knew someone recommended it, but all those emails were lost in the job shuffle.
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
Save Model Rocketry from the HSA! http://www.space-rockets.com/congress.html
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Here's an experience that may help with your descision.
My daughter got a Sony DSC-P51. While having her bags checked somewhere, a checker dropped it. It seemed ok at the time. Next time she went to use it, it just made noise & wouldn't open the lens shutter. She brought it to me & I found a broken tooth on a plastic gear that should cost a few dollars. Sony wanted almost $200 to fix it. That's about what the camera originally cost. We asked about purchasing the parts. They sent us to their service center. The service center won't just sell the part.
I'm not buying any more Sony cameras & suggest others do the same.
On 11 Jul 2004 10:41:26 -0500, kaplow snipped-for-privacy@encompasserve.org.TRABoD (Bob Kaplow) wrote:

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Phil,
I have a lot of Sony consumer and industrial products. Nice stuff when it works but the warranty and technical support stinks. If it breaks, it's always your fault according to them. My wife is Japanese Canadian and her cousin is the Panasonic distributor for Canada. I get great support plus cousins price. :-)
Anthony J. Cesaroni President/CEO Cesaroni Technology/Cesaroni Aerospace http://www.cesaronitech.com / (905) 887-2370 x222 Toronto (410) 571-8292 Annapolis
(Bob

couple
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the
saw
in
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all
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http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf
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IF Sony ever gets it together on customer service, they'll be hard to beat. I have an HP Photosmart 735 that I like a lot. I hope I never have to find out how good their customer service is. I do know that they know what it is (unnlike Sony.)
Also, Sony is equally bad with the computer storage products like DAT & AIT.
On Sun, 11 Jul 2004 17:46:48 -0400, "Anthony Cesaroni"

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There is a Panasonic depot just a few miles from my house. They used to have an outlet store and service center, but closed them last year. Shame...
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
Save Model Rocketry from the HSA! http://www.space-rockets.com/congress.html
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I've had similar issues with SONY. Just as well you didn't spend the money. If there is any one that CAN repair a Sony product, they certainly aren't in the USA. They, along with Chrysler, Tempstar, Seiko, and a handful of other companies are on my CRAPPY SERVICE DO NOT BUY list. Probably Palm too...
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
Save Model Rocketry from the HSA! http://www.space-rockets.com/congress.html
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you best bang for the buck for rocketry is the Canon Eos Digital Rebel.
Digital SLR (true slr) so lag will be a non issue.
6.3 mp so you have the resolution.
the only truly useful resolution is over 10mp (only 2 exist right now and they are both over $6,000.00
so you have to compensate with zoom.
the digital rebel will mate with any of the current line of canon AF lens.
save up and get a nice 400mm or higher lens or get lucky and get a nice one used.
now you have both. High res High Zoom and High performance for a starting price of about a grand.
the 3-4mp camera with a 10-12 zoom is only about 30-40% superior to the 6.3 with NO zoom.
and you introduce other problems. not being able to control shutter speed (utterly critical for if you can not manually set the shutter speed to 1/1000 or better your pooched most of the time)
you add a 3 times zoom to that canon (150mm lens or so) and you are already equal to the 3-4mp with 10x zoom and you have lots of play room IE far superior as soon as you zoom out.
with rockets pixels is everything since none of the cameras have totally adequate amounts.
the dream setup would be an eos 1ds with a 400mm or higher lens. 11mp plus the killer zoom. problem is that setup would cost about $8,000.00 :-) hence why I do not and will not have it anytime soon no matter how much I drool all over it :-)
if you want slight less zoom (6x) but FAR higher resolution and feature set for very low cost go with oddly enough what I have now. Coolpix 5000 - you can get then for $300-$400 nowadays plus $60 for a 2x telephoto adapter making the built in 3x zoom a 6x optical zoom. (they have a 3x adaptor but it does not work properly stay away from it waste of $80+)
you can nab that rig with 2x adaptor and a 256meg CF card for well under $500 easily.
the nikon 5000 has lousy lag for initial set (ie half press) sometimes over 5 seconds. but once your set and ready to go there is absolutely zero lag. if you have the finger eye coordination it will capture ANYTHING you point it at.
this means your preset (focus set to infinity etc..) and ready to full press while they are counting down. when it lifts off you press all the way etc..
Chris Taylor http://www.ekissmyass.com /

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have
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Canon Digital Rebel, without lens, runs about $900.
The new Canon PowerShotPro 1, with 28-200mm lens, runs right about $1k. The lens that they include, IIRC, used to cost almost as much as the camera. Uses the L-series lenses, has an 8 megapixel ccd, and is a very nice SLR. If I were in the market today for another high resolution digital camera this would definitely be in the running for a $1k-range camera.
I can recommend steering clear on the Konica/Minolta dImage 7i/7Hi. I use one in a semi-professional setting, and it just isn't sturdy enough for daily rough usage. Mine has been in the shop twice in the 2 years we have had it; once for a bad selector switch ($400 repair, local shop) and once for the main switch and cracked side panel ($250, direct from Minolta). While the camera itself is excellent (and wonderful in a studio setting), and I have no complaints about the color balance, resolution or anything else (the shutter lag time is one of the best around), the poor selection of non-rugged components makes us leave it at home more than we would like. Probably not a great choice for out on a rocket field.
--
Mike KD7PVT
NAR #70953 - Sr/HPR Level-1 ~ BEMRC - NAR Section #627
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