1. #1
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    Default For those of you who photograph apparatus and/or fires, a question 4 u

    Hey guys, I'm getting back into taking apparatus pics (just for fun) and was wondering about what all of you are using these days, particularly with regard to digital cameras. I started out with standard SLR's & that's what I'll be using now until I decide if I'll take the plunge into the world of digital SLR's.

    I'm curious to know what everyone's thoughts are on digital cameras for fire service photography. While I imagine they are good for providing quality pics of apparatus parked on the apron, how well do they fare when shooting the frantic pace of a fire scene??? Also, any downsides to digital SLR's? I gotta admit that while I know digital produces a great quality print, I'm kind of that old school mentality that is used to negatives (although having a few memory disks instead of 1,000's of negatives would be nice). I also feel like I want a camera that will let ME take the picture instead of using some auto focus feature (my pictures were always good because of MY skill not the camera). I think my biggest apprehension to digital is that I know I'll have to find the time to download the pics and resize them to get the prints. Have to admit the thought of not having to worry about having enough film (128MB san disk, here I come) or rewinding it in a dark closet when it gets jammed in the camera is a plus.

    Let me know your thoughts on digital SLR's...well worth the expense or just another PITA that relies on a PC? Any experience with certain brands would be appreciated as well...I've always used Yashica brand cameras (introduced to me by the guy who taught me photography many moons ago, quality camera that took a beating and produced some top quality pics) but I honestly don't know if they are around anymore or in the digital market. I'm looking for a quality camera that will get the job done at a price that won't require a second mortgage to finance it

    Thanks in advance for the help...Stay Safe...

  2. #2
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    I'm no camera buff, but I recently purchased a Canon Powershot Pro1 8MP digital. It is one step below a digital SLR.
    I also have a 1Gig memory card, two extra batteries and various filters. I can take virtually any type of picture I choose with a variety of lens and shutter setting options. I can shoot and store 400-500 full resolution photos without ever having to connect to a PC, or charge a battery.

    There are a few accessories I may opt for in the future once I become more proficient, but it is a wonderful camera and takes fantastic pictures...Even for an amateur like me.




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    I've been thinking about a digital SLR too, my big concern is the size, kind of hard to stick in a pocket.

    I currently have an off brand 4 mp with 3x optical zoom, it takes great pics, has several preset options and can be set manually although there is no option for manual focus. It fits in my pocket so its handy when I can stop for a pic, has enough zoom to get decent pics of airtankers and helos and only cost $200 so if I break it oh, well.

    You will find a 128 mb card is nothing these days, memory cards have plumeted in price, I have a 1 gb in mine I think it was $50 or so. I can take 300-400 pics at the highest res setting. Some of the SLRs have 4gb cards available.

    Where I have seen the advantage to the SLRs and high end cameras is speed, the cheaper digitals (like mine) take several seconds to cycle before they are ready for the next shot, the SLRs can take several pics a second, very useful for fast action where you want to show a series of quick events.

    I've been looking at the Cannon SLRs and have heard good things, but there are many good brands out there, I've only been looking at Cannon because I have a 35mm Rebel so I can reuse someof my lenses and such.

    My first real camera was a Yashica too, it was just a pocket auto type but it took great pictures. I don't know if they have moved into digital era or are even still in buisness, but I haven't seen anything from them.

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    I know I'll have to find the time to download the pics and resize them to get the prints.
    Yeah, you'll have to find the time to download, but unless you are cropping or doing special effects, I find it easier to use a photo center or online service rather than my personal printer for prints. I also send in the full sized image, figuring the more they have to work with, the better the quality I get. I'm mostly taking pictures of my kids, but some day I hope to take more scene/apparatus pics.
    IACOJ
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    Went to an Olympus E500 Digital SLR. It's like crack-once you try it, you won't want to do anythnig else. I can't find a downside to it yet...except the price.

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    I have a canon 300D (digital Rebel) I love it for taking pictures. My brother takes a lot more and better pictures then me. He has a canon 20D. It takes awesome pictures. Either one you cant go wrong.
    "Train as if your life depends on it"
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    Film is very passe. The more you shoot the bettere you get. Get an SLR. a Canon 10D can be picked up for a few hundred, but will last a lifetime, and do everything you need it to do. And photochop will help you refine and finalize your pictures...
    FF/NREMT-B

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    Default Digital SLRs

    I would go with a Canon Digital rebel due to the availibility of lenses and the quality of canon. I was looking at the Nikon D50 and found that (by talking to photographer friends) that their quality and availibility of lenses have gone down in the past years. It is cheaper, but in the long run you are losing money. So if I were you I would go with a Canon Digital rebel or above depending on the amount of money you want to spend. Then I would by a pelican case and put everything in it. No but seriously here is a site that gives great reviews of the cameras they test and has been a cornerstone in my purchasing decision.

    http://www.dpreview.com/

    and here is the link with in that site to the Canon Digital Rebel:

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos350d/

    Oh and with these higher end digitals you won't have too much of a downtime between shots, but the only time that you need to worry about is the start up time.
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    Here's a link to the Canon I have...

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canonpro1/




    Kevin
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    "Fir na tine"

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    Ok, finally a thread that's right up my alley.
    Stick to a major brand, specifically Canon or Nikon. Both brands have wide availabilty and excellent repair facilities. The Canon 10, 20 and 30D's are all excellent as are the Nikon D50, D70, D200, etc. Regarding Megapixels anything over 6 is going to give you the ability to make enlargements up to the size of a poster with no noticlable "grain" when shooting at a low ASA (speed).

    Lenses and protecting them. Many of the lenses that come in the camera kits are good places to start. Make sure you get a clear UV (or skylight) Filter to go over the lens. This will protect the original glass from an debris and scratches. If you're lens gets scratched up you're SOL, but a filter is cheap and can be replaced. Also you might want to consider upgrading to a better lens that has a fixed aperature. Many lenses are variable aperature meaning that as you zoom in the aperature will also change which will affect your exposure. Having a 'faster' fixed aperature lens that is f/2.8 or f/4 will allow you to shoot better in low light situations and avoid exposure changes as you zoom in and out to compose your shots.

    If you're a buff and want to take photos at night you're going to want to make an investment in a flash unit that sits on top of the camera. Most of the on camera flashes are pretty crappy for all these cameras. Having a seperate flash unit will allow you to adjust the amount of light to avoid a common nighttime fire photography result -- the reflective striping is bright and everything else is underexposed. By adjusting the flash to output anywhere from an additional 1/2 to full stop of light you'll avoid that look that frustrates so many people.

    With digital always shoot at a cameras best or highest quality setting. You can always shrink it down but you can't go the other way. With that in mind you will want to invest in a memory card that can accomodate your shooting. For the newer cameras look to start with a 1GB card at least. Also look for one that is at least a 40x write speed. You might have a fast camera but if the card can't keep up it will slow you down in the end. You may also need to invest in a photo editing program like Photoshop to crop, size and color adjust. A better idea is to find a professional lab near you and put your stuff on a CD and bring them your shots. They'll do all that for you, at a reasonable price, and you don't have to sit in front of your computer getting frustrated or paralyzed by technology. Lots of pro labs have amatuer clients so never feel weird about going in just because you only shoot here and there. You'll get a better result than CVS or walgreens.

    Here's a few places to looks for good new and used camera stuff:
    www.keh.com
    www.bhphoto.com
    www.adorama.com

    Hope that helps,
    Wells

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    WOW... ...got a lot more responses than I expected AND with some really helpful info...thanks guys... (Fargo2722 in particular)

    Ok, seems to be the general consensus is that Canon is 'da man when it comes to digital SLR's...glad I mentioned about the memory cards 'cause I am pleasantly surprised to hear that these larger cards hold 300-400 pics (no more black film tubes for me!!! )

    I'm going to print out all these responses & start researching what's out there..my gut instinct is that I will lean towards a Canon since it's seems to be a winner according to what's been said here. Now let me get that 2nd mortgage paperwork started so I can finance this thing...

    Thanks again for all the positive input...keep it comin'!!!...Stay Safe...

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    drop me a PM if you have any other little questions that come up while you're researching. I've been working as a photog for the past 10 years so I'm happy to help. If you're ever in the city and want to speak to a real person instead of going off online ratings, etc. I can give you the name of my rep at Adorama on 17th Street. He'll give you some good feedback and steer you in the right direction if you're needing it. For the record though, i'm a nikon guy
    best,
    wells

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firescueguy
    WOW... ...got a lot more responses than I expected AND with some really helpful info...thanks guys... (Fargo2722 in particular)

    Ok, seems to be the general consensus is that Canon is 'da man when it comes to digital SLR's...glad I mentioned about the memory cards 'cause I am pleasantly surprised to hear that these larger cards hold 300-400 pics (no more black film tubes for me!!! )

    I'm going to print out all these responses & start researching what's out there..my gut instinct is that I will lean towards a Canon since it's seems to be a winner according to what's been said here. Now let me get that 2nd mortgage paperwork started so I can finance this thing...

    Thanks again for all the positive input...keep it comin'!!!...Stay Safe...
    Oh....and BTW...you don't need an EOS 1D, unless you want to mortgage that.
    FF/NREMT-B

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    I use (3) cameras depending on what I am doing.

    (1) Canon Digital Rebel XT with a canon 200mm and also the standard lens. - when I am doing parties/drills/fires.
    (1) Canon S50 - when I don't want to carry a suitcase
    (1) Sony Powershot - keep this will me all the time just in case.

    Taking night shots of fires/drills is so damn hard. I need to get a better flash for night stuff.

    -Steve

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    Just to add my two cents:

    I shoot with a Canon 10D (6+MP), and have for a couple of years now. I am quite happy with it, and it has all the features that a serious amatuer or most pro's will need, but you will want to buy an external flash to get the most out of it.

    That camera, or any other D-SLR have a few points to consider though before sinking your hard-earned cash.

    1. The entry level D-SLR's crop the frame compared to a 35mm, so if you are planning to use existing lenses, be prepared for that. Most of the Canon's crop to 1.6x, so a 100mm lense is actually shooting the equivalent of a 35mm EOS SLR at 160mm. Great for cheap telephoto, bad for wide angle.

    If buying new and planning to stick with one body for a while, there are plenty of options for general purpose wide angle, but extreme wide angle are still hard to come by (i.e. better than 20mm). There are IF-S lenses made specificaly for these cropping models, but those lenses may not work on a Pro SLR (i.e. full frame) if you upgrade later on.

    2. The first generation 10D's have a reasonable memory buffer, but even the newest Digital Rebel smokes it in burst mode. The Digitial Rebels out-meters the 10D too. If performance is more important than price, the newer 20D at 8.2MP is a better way to go, and there is a smokin 30D at 8.2MP that should be out any time as well.

    And get a 1GB or bigger CF card. I use a couple of 512's, and I have to download regularly when shooting in RAW or Fine mode (i.e. only 100 or so pics).

    3. Lastly, don't skimp on the flash if you are planning to shoot at night. I originally was shopping for the flagship Canon 550ex flash (now the 580ex), but after I couldn't get the deal I wanted on Ebay, I impulse bought a 480ex instead (2nd best Canon model). It is good, but not great. My advice is don't skimp out, your pics will definitely benefit.

    Oh, and they all eat batteries like a kid at an ice cream buffet. Buy lots of spares, a double charger, and I would reccomend the vertical battery grip on Canon models to extend your shooting times (it's actually the downloading that kills your battery, so if you pull your CF card and stick in directly into your PC, you will save battery life).
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcaldwell
    Oh, and they all eat batteries like a kid at an ice cream buffet. Buy lots of spares, a double charger, and I would reccomend the vertical battery grip on Canon models to extend your shooting times (it's actually the downloading that kills your battery, so if you pull your CF card and stick in directly into your PC, you will save battery life).
    I thought this, too. Untill I started to use the Olympus. I have gotten up to three full fire scenes-probably over 500 photos-out of the battery on the Olympus.

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    Default Nikon

    I work part time as a photographer for a newspaper and I have used both the Canon Digital Rebel (300D) and the Nikon D70. In my mind there is no comparision - the Nikon is a much better camera.

    Those cameras belonged to the paper, but when I purchased my own I had no second thoughts about grabbing the Nikon D70.

    I haven't had a chance to use the Nikon D50, but from what I have read it is a good camera, but maybe not quite as durable as the D70.

    If your going to be making money off of your photos, then by all means get a DSLR, when it comes right down to it I think either the nikon or the canon would serve you well, but I know where my preference lies.

    However if your doing this simply as a hobby then any decent point and shoot would probably be fine.

    Just my two cents...

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    Now this is what a thread should look like. Thank you guys for the great information. I have learned alot. But One question. Should I use a sock hood or a reed hood to protect my camera...lol sorry couldn't help it. Thanks again guys.
    "DON'T GO IN THERE!!! DON'T YOU KNOW THERE IS A FIRE IN THERE!!!!"

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