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What makes a good camera for lasers?

JBTexas

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I've never owned a digital camera.

What parameters does one look for when shopping for a digital camera to do photo/video work -> lasers?

I guess I can say "is it IR sensitive", "what are the low-light characteristics"? Can it do video, as well as stills. Storage medium (I have a multi-card reader in my desktop).

If I go to the WalMart shopping site, and see "14 megapixel cameras under $100", what things should I look for?
 

Trevor

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Well... I've found the most important thing is how it picks up different wavelengths. Mine does this really well - I just need to make sure my white balance is set properly.

632.8nm vs. 594.1nm


I use a Nikon D7000... not sure what you'd want to use that's closer to what you want to spend.

-Trevor
 

JBTexas

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Yea... a little too rich for my blood. Nice camera, though, I checked it out.

Maybe I should go to a CAMERA store, instead of a DEPARTMENT store... the merchant might let me physically check out a few models then; would be more familiar w/ the merchandise. I could explain to him what I (mainly) want it for.

(Nice looking HeNe. Back when I was last into it, Edmund Scientific was really the only place to get them).
 
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qumefox

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JBTexas

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qumefox; yes, those beamshots look great.

On AmazonCom; USED: $50 for one that is "slightly damaged" (scratchs + battery cover that doesn't close), then from $70 to 200. NEW: $399.95.

(for my own reference;
*7.0 megapixel CCD
*Macro shooting as close as 1.6 inches
*In-Camera Red-Eye Fix
*Scene Modes: Sunset, Fireworks, Indoor, Portrait, Underwater, etc
*5 Color Options, enabling sepia tone, black-and-white, and even cyanotype
*three simplified Movie Modes--TV, Small, and Smaller; No sound
*PictBridge compatibility (my printer has PictBridge)
*Face Priority Autofocus
Generally good reviews)

Extracting those details helps... lets me know approximately what to look for.

It looks like the "scene modes" + other characteristics might be what helps bring out those beamshots so nicely.

I have an Amazon account, but would rather NOT buy any used camera.

Walmart has some with what appears to be approximately the same feature set, but < = ~ $100.

I'll keep my eyes open for more advice, and do some more searching (keyword "camera").
 

qumefox

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I actually bought one off ebay after I posted that :p $30 shipped heh. And I have no problems with used stuff. So long as it works. All i'd be using it for would be beamshots anyway.

Though the specs you listed don't really mean much.. Resolution doesn't really matter either since most stuff would be resized before it was posted anyway. I know I resize everything to 800x600.

What matters is how it sees colors.. which you'll only really find out by using them or knowing other people who do. Like I said before. My z1015 is a good camera.. and new they were a lot more than the coolpix, and it has a lot better 'specs'.. but it sucks for beamshots since it barely sees 405, and renders 660nm as pink regardless of settings.
 
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JBTexas

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Hmmm... then that leads back to a "try before I buy" at a camera store (with some laser pointers in hand).

Or, as you indicated, find one here in the forum that posts good pics, then try to find the same model.

I MIGHT be persuaded to buy a used one. Maybe. Off of Amazon. I gut burned REAL bad off of an e-bay transaction a few years ago. It was partially resolved, but that is why I'm a little nervous unless I buy something new that I can *easily return*.
 
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qumefox

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The camera store thing would work, but i'd be weary about using high powered pointers in a public place. Plus you'd really need a 405nm and 660nm laser, both of strong enough powers to have visible beams.. (or have a low light enviroment with fog if using low power lasers) to really test the cameras.. since at these extremities of the visible range are where possible problems would be. I'm not sure a camera place would really like you turning off the lights and fogging the place though heh.

Hopefully others will chime in with suitable camera models that work but aren't super expensive.. the coolpix 7600 is the only one I know currently that is known to have good color reproduction and not break the bank though.. at least for a used one.

I certainly DON'T suggest getting a kodak Z1015 IS though for laser related use though heh.
 

G Fourty

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Im in the same boat.. I use a sony dscp10 5.0 mp from like 7 years ago lol. But It works and takes some descent shots. Ive been reading up on DSLR's and Ive done a lot of research on Digital Cameras: Digital Photography Review, News, Reviews, Forums, FAQ and its been pretty helpful for me. (god that just looked and sounded like spam).

If you want good beam shots you need to have control of how long the shutter stays open or have a scene mode that essentially does the same thing. Other things that help are a tripod and fog machine. I did a review a while back on a walmart fogger that I bought for only 25 bucks and I love it..

-G
 

JBTexas

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Thanks all for input... the advice on what NOT to buy is very appreciated.

G Fourty... I'll check out that link soon.
 

LtKernelPanic

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I took the pic I used for my avatar (and all my other laser pics on flickr for that matter) with a Nikon D90 which is the model under the D7000. DSLRs will give you the most flexibility but not a requirement. I would avoid those cheap $100 walmart specials. Most suck. While I no longer work in the electronics department at work but I can tell you that cheap cameras are cheap for a reason.


I'd look for something with high ISO for low light to keep the shutter speeds down. However you do need to keep the shutter open long enough to capture the beam. You may also want to get one that can do long exposures. My my avatar pic was shot at 1/25 sec most beam shots I've takem are between half a second and 5 seconds. Something that does up to 30 seconds is probably all you'd ever need but a bulb setting is great to have. I think most P&S that aren't el cheapos can do 15-30 second exposures.

What I'd do is go look at cameras somewhere that has live demo units like Target or BestBuy and note which ones you like then go check DP Review like G Fourty suggested. It's a fantastic resource when researching cameras. One ting that *is* a must is a tripod. I don't have a fancy one but it's invaluable when you take anything with a long exposure to prevent blur.



FWIW I wouldn't take your lasers to the store without talking to a manager first because that's probably a good way to get tossed out. :banned:
 

qumefox

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My Z1015 IS meets every requirement you list (high ISO, long exposure, etc).. yet it still sucks for beamshots.

It's in no way a 'cheap' camera, No it's not a DSLR but it's not a $100 walmart camera either. I actually love it for normal use. It just refuses to see 405nm very well.. which in ordinary photography UV filtering isn't really a bad thing, And it renders 'long' wavelengths like 660nm as pink instead of red regardless of white balance or settings. I always kind of wondered if some additional IR filtering might correct this to some extent though.
 

G Fourty

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It just refuses to see 405nm very well.. which in ordinary photography UV filtering isn't really a bad thing, And it renders 'long' wavelengths like 660nm as pink instead of red regardless of white balance or settings. I always kind of wondered if some additional IR filtering might correct this to some extent though.
Red is always a tough color for cameras to replicate vs. what we see. I imagine your talking about taking longer exposure shots in more well lit environments with no smoke or fog? Even a candle or anything that puts something in the air should help with the 405 beamshots. My old and not so expensive sony p10 has similar issues with red but shows 405nm as being quite bright.

I have played around with auto, manual, and the scene mode settings. I think the longest I can keep the aperture open for a picture is around 3 seconds. I have had good luck with the fireworks scene mode as well as the manual settings mode with similar settings to firework scene. I use a tripod and the timer feature so that your hand doesn't move the camera around while taking the shot.

Im not an expert lol but I've tried to get this down because taking pictures of lasers is some of the most fun I have with them. It sounds like your red is being overexposed so I would try adjusting the +/- EV setting slightly down?

I suppose asking RA_Pierce would be a good idea because he takes some badass pictures. I meant to ask him and that just reminded me.

Heres one of mine I took last week. You can see the outputs for each wavelength in my sig. Not too much 405nm power but the color came out nicely.



I just got the 445 up and running and Im curious to see how it fits in between 405 ad 473. Ill write down the camera settings I use and if you want you can try to put those in on your's and maybe you'll get some better results with red. If it still comes out the way your saying it might just be the cameras ability to see red..

-Greg

EDIT: Just googled your camera.. I used to sell those a few years back. Great cameras for the price and they are actually quite capable.
 
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LaZeRz

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Nikon coolpix L120 :D

Its a sub 300 dollar cam which is a bit expensive but it takes wonderful shots and has awesome macro

its 14.1MP and has 21x optical zoom. You could take some nice moon shots with that :D

its a really good cam

$250 from amazon: Amazon.com: Nikon COOLPIX L120 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 21x NIKKOR Wide-Angle Optical Zoom Lens and 3-Inch LCD (Black): Electronics

look at some of the customer images :D
http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-m...8SVGQ/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_0?ie=UTF8&index=0
 
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JBTexas

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... again, thanks all ... input is very appreciated.

I haven't seen this *particular* topic in a thread of it's own (at least not recently), So I know people will find it useful.

Noted the Kodak C613(DJNY) & the Nikon Coolpix L120 (LaZeRz) ... thanks guys. Puts me in the ballpark of what to look for (Walmart is out of the L120s, but I DO have an Amazon account).

LtKernelPanic, G Fourty ( ... and Sony DSCP10); good, helpful info, thanks.
 
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