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Need camera to photograph white boards and electronic circuits

 
 
Fred McKenzie
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      07-09-2008
In article
<(E-Mail Removed)>,
raymond <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> I need to procure a digital camera to use for our work, the main
> subjects will be white boards photographed after technical meetings
> and a suite of electronics that we are developing.


Raymond-

I assumed you meant circuit diagrams that were drawn on the white
boards. If you mean circuit boards or electronic devices, then a
different approach may be needed.

I've tried several cameras, with and without flash, for photographing
circuit boards and other equipment. The best results were obtained with
an Olympus C-3040Z (3 Megapixel) camera with its companion FL-40 flash
unit.

The flash was used off-camera on the separate grip, connected to the
camera by a coiled cord. By holding the flash off to the side, results
were far superior to using the camera's built-in flash alone.

Whatever system you use, having a light source off to one side results
in a better 3-dimensional image.

Fred
 
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raymond
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      07-10-2008
On Jul 8, 10:19*am, raymond <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> I need to procure a digital camera to use for our work, the main
> subjects will be white boards photographed after technical meetings
> and a suite of electronics that we are developing. *We essentially
> want to keep a photo journal (web-based). *The downside of our
> attempts with low-end digital cameras has been the reflection from the
> flash; I need to use the flash to keep the shutterspeed minimal for a
> steady image and my only solution thus far has been to angle the
> camera shots.
>
> It seems like this issue is solved in some high end (Leica) cameras
> which have a "bounce flash", it's also solved by unweildy external
> flash units, neither seems to me the right purchase. *Can you
> recommend a better solution, in a price range that will not aggravate
> company financial folks?


Thanks for 15 replies!

While the tripod answer is entirely reasonable for photographing
conference room white boards, it is not practical for photographing
the electronics, most of which are positioned horizontally and in
places where a tripod won't fit. I took one close-up photo where I
aimed the flash right at a matte black chip on the circuit board and
it turned out pretty good.

Adjusting white balance or postprocessing to either mitigate an off-
axis keystoning or to adjust for a flash-less darker photo seem like
doable options, buying a low end camera plus Photoshop might be
cheaper than a more expensive equipment suite.

I'm disappointed that no one attests that their camera's built in
flash already solves this problem, is there really not a digital
camera that has been clever enough to solve the flash problem?
 
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Jeff R.
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      07-10-2008

"raymond" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...

> I'm disappointed that no one attests that their camera's built in
> flash already solves this problem, is there really not a digital
> camera that has been clever enough to solve the flash problem?


You ask this seriously?

Think for a second.
The problem is that the flash is reflected back by the glossy surface of the
whiteboard, yes?
In order to remove the glare of the flash from the direct line of view,
you'd need a camera with the flash mounted on an extension boom at least a
metre long.

Think of the whiteboard as a mirror.
How far would you have to displace the flash until it was no longer visible
in the direct reflection?

Bounce flash would improve the situation, but IMNSHO the flash unit would
still generate enough glare to produce objectionable reflections.

Do you want a compact camera that is a metre or so wide? That's the
"clever" solution.

Actually, the real "clever" solution is that which has been mentioned
already. Take the photo at an oblique angle to the board, so that the flash
illuminates it but does not reflect back to you. The correct angle can be
determined very quickly and easily with test shots. (BTDT)

Then, either live with the perspective distortion, or spend 20 seconds in
almost any graphics program to remove it.

You've been given the *correct* answer.
There's little point wishing for a magical solution.

Not a catholic, are you?

--
Jeff R.

 
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Scott W
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      07-10-2008
On Jul 9, 2:57*pm, "Jeff R." <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> "raymond" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>
> news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>
> > I'm disappointed that no one attests that their camera's built in
> > flash already solves this problem, is there really not a digital
> > camera that has been clever enough to solve the flash problem?

>
> You ask this seriously?
>
> Think for a second.
> The problem is that the flash is reflected back by the glossy surface of the
> whiteboard, yes?
> In order to remove the glare of the flash from the direct line of view,
> you'd need a camera with the flash mounted on an extension boom at least a
> metre long.
>
> Think of the whiteboard as a mirror.
> How far would you have to displace the flash until it was no longer visible
> in the direct reflection?
>
> Bounce flash would improve the situation, but IMNSHO the flash unit would
> still generate enough glare to produce objectionable reflections.
>
> Do you want a compact camera that is a metre or so wide? *That's the
> "clever" solution.
>
> Actually, the real "clever" solution is that which has been mentioned
> already. *Take the photo at an oblique angle to the board, so that the flash
> illuminates it but does not reflect back to you. *The correct angle can be
> determined very quickly and easily with test shots. (BTDT)
>
> Then, either live with the perspective distortion, or spend 20 seconds in
> almost any graphics program to remove it.
>
> You've been given the *correct* answer.
> There's little point wishing for a magical solution.
>
> Not a catholic, are you?


There is in fact a magical solution, just put a linear polarizer in
front of the flash and one crossed to it in front of the lens. Almost
all of the reflected glare is gone but you still get the board lit up.

Scott

 
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Jeff R.
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Posts: n/a
 
      07-10-2008

"Scott W" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...

> There is in fact a magical solution, just put a linear polarizer in
> front of the flash and one crossed to it in front of the lens. Almost
> all of the reflected glare is gone but you still get the board lit up.


> Scott



Interesting idea. Have you done this? My experience with polarisers would
suggest a certain amount of trial-and-error being required to get the
correct inclination (though that's on an inclined target, not a flat one.)

Wouldn't your crossed polarisers just reduce the flash intensity - kind'a
like an ND filter?

--
Jeff R.

 
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tony cooper
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      07-10-2008
On Wed, 9 Jul 2008 17:24:58 -0700 (PDT), raymond
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>On Jul 8, 10:19*am, raymond <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> I need to procure a digital camera to use for our work, the main
>> subjects will be white boards photographed after technical meetings
>> and a suite of electronics that we are developing. *We essentially
>> want to keep a photo journal (web-based). *The downside of our
>> attempts with low-end digital cameras has been the reflection from the
>> flash; I need to use the flash to keep the shutterspeed minimal for a
>> steady image and my only solution thus far has been to angle the
>> camera shots.
>>
>> It seems like this issue is solved in some high end (Leica) cameras
>> which have a "bounce flash", it's also solved by unweildy external
>> flash units, neither seems to me the right purchase. *Can you
>> recommend a better solution, in a price range that will not aggravate
>> company financial folks?

>
>Thanks for 15 replies!
>
>While the tripod answer is entirely reasonable for photographing
>conference room white boards, it is not practical for photographing
>the electronics, most of which are positioned horizontally and in
>places where a tripod won't fit. I took one close-up photo where I
>aimed the flash right at a matte black chip on the circuit board and
>it turned out pretty good.


There's more than one way to skin the tripod cat. A clamp-on tabletop
monopod like this can be clamped to a table or chair and used as a
tripod that positions the camera to shoot horizontally or vertically.
http://www.sharpics.com/tripodmonopod-c-2.html The arm extends
enough to shoot down on a electronic board. I do a lot of
straight-down shooting, but I use a copy stand. I would have
purchased something like this instead if I knew about it because it's
more versatile.

>Adjusting white balance or postprocessing to either mitigate an off-
>axis keystoning or to adjust for a flash-less darker photo seem like
>doable options, buying a low end camera plus Photoshop might be
>cheaper than a more expensive equipment suite.


You have to do what works best for you, but I don't see how Photoshop
solves your problem. (I use the full version of Photoshop and
Elements 6.0) You want to be able to see the image instantly and see
if you have a decent image. That can be done in-camera. If you use
Photoshop, the whiteboard might be erased by the time you notice the
shot isn't adequate.

Also, you can do tethered shooting and view the image on a laptop
immediately after shooting. This seems to be over-complicating the
solution, though.



--
Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida
 
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GregS
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      07-10-2008
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>, Fred McKenzie <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>In article
><(E-Mail Removed)>,
> raymond <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>> I need to procure a digital camera to use for our work, the main
>> subjects will be white boards photographed after technical meetings
>> and a suite of electronics that we are developing.

>
>Raymond-
>
>I assumed you meant circuit diagrams that were drawn on the white
>boards. If you mean circuit boards or electronic devices, then a
>different approach may be needed.
>
>I've tried several cameras, with and without flash, for photographing
>circuit boards and other equipment. The best results were obtained with
>an Olympus C-3040Z (3 Megapixel) camera with its companion FL-40 flash
>unit.
>
>The flash was used off-camera on the separate grip, connected to the
>camera by a coiled cord. By holding the flash off to the side, results
>were far superior to using the camera's built-in flash alone.
>
>Whatever system you use, having a light source off to one side results
>in a better 3-dimensional image.
>
>Fred


I take many still shots just by practicing holding the camera steady.
I have been doing that for many years. Oh yes, back in the day my Honneywell potato masher
flash was the only way to go. I could never figure out why any camera could be
good with the flash near the lens. I also use remote strobes.

greg

 
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