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Camera for investigation Work

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  • Camera for investigation Work

    My department is currently looking at writing a grant to update our Digital Still & Video Cameras for Arson / Investigation Work. Our current camera is OK except it uses the littel CD's that are hard to find and limited on storage space. I am looking at a mid-range digital SLR still camera but would like input on what others use. Wanting to make sure I can get the good detail shots in low light as well as all other shots. Also looking at a digital camcorder tat records to card or hard drive to make easier to put on computer for storage and later retreival.

    Also note I am new to digital SLR cameras and looking for a basic digital photography class in my area soon.

    Chris E. Gaines
    [email protected]
    "When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of duty."
    ~Edward F. Croker
    "It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, that gives that protestor the freedom to burn the flag." --Father O'Brien, USMC

  • #2
    If you want detailed shots in low light, then you'll need a high end lens.

    You'll most likely find this in the Nikon/Canon line of digital SLR's. Canon's professional line of lens have a distinct red ring around the end. Basically the lens are larger, require far less light for a good shot.

    If you do this, you'd be able to use the lens for years to come, while the camera can be upgraded if needed.

    If you look into digital SLR's, double check the size of the sensor before you commit to a purchase. Canon offers two sizes. The amateur line of camera's have a sensor that is smaller than regular 35mm film. This translates into your lens acting like it's magnifying the image by about 1.7 if I recall correctly. A larger sensor will give you the exact zoom factor that is expected.

    www.dpreview.com has some awesome information.
    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. --Norman Mattoon Thomas, 6 time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America


    • #3
      If you want a camera that can take great digital photos and video Nikon has the D90. It takes very good pictures in all conditions and there is a huge choice of lenses so you will be able to accomplish just about whatever you want. I haven't personally used the D90 but i recently was given a D60 and i wouldn't trade it for any other camera. But Nikon's are very expensive but at the same time you get what you pay for. I'm by no means a expert photographer but I have used my D60 to take pictures of fires for my department multiple times and they have always turned out better than the ones we take with our crappy little kodak we keep in the truck. The pictures come out very sharp. I would take a look at some of the canons and nikons in person if i was you. Also talk to some of the investigators in you're area and ask what there using.
      Just my opinion.


      • #4
        I use the Nikon D300 and D200. If you buy over the internet you can get them at less than half the price of retail. I prefer the 200 and 300 because they are steel body cameras. If you bang them or worse yet drop them they don't break. The D300 camera body retail is running around 2000. I got mine through overstock.com for 900. There is nothing wrong with the D60 or D90 except they are plastic body cameras.
        The D200 was the first steel body camera that Nikon maded.
        Last edited by cubbie; 02-02-2009, 05:57 PM.
        When fire is cried and danger is neigh,
        "God and the firemen" is the people's cry;
        But when 'tis out and all things righted,
        God is forgotten and the firemen slighted.
        ~Author unknown, from The Fireman's Journal, 18 Oct 1879


        • #5
          One big thing you have to remember is that alot (almost all) of these high end cameras take absolutely wonderful images, but they are not built for the rough environment of a fire scene. Unless you take loads of precaution, you stand a great chance of wrecking a good piece of equipment. I have an Olympus EVolt 500 that I have to treat very lovingly to prevent it from dying due to water, dirt, dust and crud.

          I also think that you would find very little meaningful difference in an image shot with a D90 and an image shot with a much lower end camera. If I was buying a camera, I would not buy the EVolt 500, D90 or any other SLR. I would buy a unit like the Canon Rebel. That is a very good camera, more durable and less expensive.

          BTW, If Sony had developed and refined their Mini-CD technology, they would be blowing alot of cameras away for fire scene work. I had the CD-500 for years on my public job and loved it. I was a big advocate of it. However, when they essentially abandoned the technology, it was time to move on.


          • #6
            I agree with George. D90 and other SLR cameras are not made for the environment we work in. One of the other guys in my office was looking at cameras and liked the D90 and a few others. When he started talking to the salesperson they nearly fell over when he told them were it would be used.

            I shoot a Cannon Rebel and I am more then happy with it. I've dropped it a few times and it still works like a charm.

            Another major consideration is the memory card. Remember the more Mega Pixels your camera has the fewer pictures you will get. My camera is 8-Mega Pixels and I have a 1 GB card and get about 250 pictures. Buy an additional card or two this way if you get into a major investigation you won't have to hunt down another camera or memory card.


            • #7
              I agree with what Cubbie says about the Nikon D200 and D300. They have magnesium alloy bodies and they are weather sealed. That will help keep dirt and moisture out. They are more expensive than a D90 per se, but in our line of work it will be worth it.

              I am sure Canon offers a similar body to the D200/300 but I am not well verse in Canon models. The D300 will probably have a new model replace it this year (per nikonrumors.com) but it is a great camera along with the D200. The D300 price should start to drop.

              I use the D200 and it is great. I would recommend the 18-200 lens if you go nikon. It is not a "Pro" lens in that the aperture will only go as high as f3.5-5.6. A pro lens will go to f2.8 or higher, but cost much more. An f2.8 lens will let more light in but you will loose depth of field. You should be able to get enough light by increasing your exposure compensation by 1 stop and shooting an iso of 400.

              Long story short I am most familiar with Nikon as that is what I learned on and have always used. I do photography on the side so if you have any other questions don't hesitate to send me a private message. Oh, and don't get caught up in the brand war either, there are a lot of quality cameras on the market, just be sure you know how to use the one you get.


              • #8
                Thanks for all the help, everyone input is greatly appreciated. I have done a little research and hope to get a steel/hard bodied camera. As for environment I have to baby our current camera a little and just be careful not to drop in the mud/water. As or price I know it is gonna be expensive that is why we are trying for a grant, without the grant we will probably be stuck with current camera for at least another year. Also, Taylor 61 I hope to understand what you are talking about with the lenses after a photography class at our local tech college soon.

                Chris E. Gaines
                [email protected]
                "When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of duty."
                ~Edward F. Croker
                "It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, that gives that protestor the freedom to burn the flag." --Father O'Brien, USMC


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