Need camera to photograph white boards and electronic circuits

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by raymond, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. raymond

    raymond Guest

    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?
    raymond, Jul 8, 2008
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  2. raymond

    ray Guest

    Have you ever heard of a 'tripod'? They do wonderful things for stability.
    ray, Jul 8, 2008
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  3. raymond

    Ofnuts Guest

    Use a small tripod, and longer exposures so you don't need a flash.

    Ofnuts, Jul 8, 2008
  4. Raymond-

    Even a bounce flash can have reflections off of a shiny white board.

    Many cameras have sufficient sensitivity to take such pictures in normal
    lighting, with little or no camera shake evident. Digital film is
    cheap, so take multiple pictures.

    Consider purchase of a tripod to hold the camera perfectly still. Some
    models can be set up on a table top without fully extending the legs.

    An entry level DSLR may be more expensive than your financial folks
    would like, but will give the impression you know what you are doing.
    Start out by asking for good equipment. They may not hesitate to say

    I take it your small company does not have a photographic department.
    If you (and the company) are successful, you could end up heading that
    new department!

    Fred McKenzie, Jul 8, 2008
  5. raymond

    Paul Guest

    Move a foot or so to either side instead of shooting head on. No-cost
    solution. Or use a tripod and shoot head-on without flash.
    Paul, Jul 8, 2008
  6. With sufficient lighting for the people at your meeetings to see the
    white boards you shouldn't need to use flash. Nor should you need to
    use such a slow shutter speed that a tripod is an absolute necessity.
    As the white boards can be placed at any angle you need simply
    lean against a wall with the board ideally facing a window while
    taking the photographs. Although learning the correct posture (for you)
    to take shake free photographs at relatively slow speeds is a useful skill
    to develop. In addition most digital cameras incorporate shake reduction
    in any case.

    If you're only photographing for the web, then some relatively inexpensive
    bridge cameras (Lumix etc) when used with a tabletop tripod can produce quite
    impressive macro and close-up shots - however defined . Of electronic
    components or anything else. This is simply an unintended consequence of
    the relative focal length and sensor size, or something like that. The
    only real trick is getting the lighting right.

    michael adams

    michael adams, Jul 8, 2008
  7. raymond

    Alan Meyer Guest

    Exactly right I believe. If you don't care about some distortion
    and only want a readable image, shoot from off center.

    If you need something that looks better, use a tripod.

    You may also benefit from a camera with an adjustable white
    balance. The flourescent lights in business meeting rooms
    can give a green tint to the white board if you aren't using
    flash. Experiment to get the right setting.

    Alan Meyer, Jul 9, 2008
  8. raymond

    John G Guest

    Try "electronic whiteboards" in google and you will never want to use a

    John G.
    John G, Jul 9, 2008
  9. I'm really still at the playing level with digital cameras, but I have
    been quite surprised how little light can turn up a decent picture. The
    LCD shows pretty much darkness, yet when the photo is taken, an image
    is revealed.

    That's not even the case here, since there is light enough for people.
    I think too many people expect to need a flash, so they never look
    further. I've turned mine off because a lot of the things I might want
    to photograph, the flash will be distracting. And once I did that, then
    I start to learn what can be done without the flash.

    I'm not saying the flash is completely unnecessary, just that for a lot
    of things indoors with reasonable light the flash serves little purpose.

    And once again, the neat thing about digital cameras is that there's no
    film. So you see the results instantaneously, and if the image is bad,
    you can try again immediately. No waiting while the film develops. And
    since there is no film, it costs nothing to take a bunch of photos just
    in case, and then select the best later.

    Michael Black, Jul 9, 2008
  10. Wrong conclusion. There is another frequently used method to get a
    steady image even with long exposure: steady the camera.

    For your purpose it is probably enough to steady the camera against a
    door frame or a wall or even the back of a chair. Or depending on the
    setup of the room maybe a small table top tripod.

    Jürgen Exner, Jul 9, 2008
  11. 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

    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 McKenzie, Jul 9, 2008
  12. raymond

    raymond Guest

    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?
    raymond, Jul 10, 2008
  13. raymond

    Jeff R. Guest

    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., Jul 10, 2008
  14. raymond

    Scott W Guest

    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 W, Jul 10, 2008
  15. raymond

    Jeff R. Guest

    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., Jul 10, 2008
  16. raymond

    tony cooper Guest

    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. 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.
    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, Jul 10, 2008
  17. raymond

    GregS Guest

    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.

    GregS, Jul 10, 2008
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