Summary of the Electronic Documentation SIG Meeting

Held December 10, 1997 on Digital Cameras

Presenter: Matt Thompson of Hunt's Photo in Melrose.

Digital cameras have become smaller, cheaper, and better. Thompson enthusiastically went through some of the best features:


What to look for:

The Demo Cameras

Thompson presented three cameras:

  1. Nikon Coolpix 300 - $699 less rebate, 640 x 480 resolution, internal storage. It provides its own software and holds 20 photos. The battery life is short, so Thompson recommends either an AC Adapter or the new nickel hydride batteries. The Nikon uses a SCSI or parallel port cable (it is supplied with parallel only) and 4 AA batteries. It has a slide show built in for displaying your photos on the camera itself. Its removable stylus writes directly on the screen in three colors. A special feature is a built-in microphone. It stores 17 minutes of audio. The Nikon's focus can be as close as two inches away from the subject. It also has auto focus, auto exposure, auto white balance for fluorescent light, and records very well in fluorescent light. An architect or engineer can take photos on site and add verbal notes while there. It's great for the Intranet.

  2. Digital Mavica FD7 by Sony - Thompson's obvious favorite. Also $699, 640 x 480 resolution, 10 x optical zoom, and a 5 inch focus. For storage, it uses a 3.5" diskette, which makes transfer to your PC easy ("instant gratification"). It includes ArcSoft Photo Studio and can store12 compressed photos in fine mode. It has a 1.5 hour battery, and the rechargeable battery system is available worldwide. Sony uses lithium ion batteries, which can be charged anywhere in their cycle, and supplies an in-wall charger. For $50 - $70, you get two hours of operating time, and do not need an AC adapter. The sturdy demo model had been dropped several times with no obvious deterioriation of the picture. Ease of use makes this camera fun: frame, compose, then just press a button. The manual focus is good for insurance adjusters, for example, who want to focus on a miniscule scratch. An insurance photographer can put the VIN and other photos of the car all in one file. It's a great camera for general use because of better batteries, more features, and ease of use.

  3. Olympus 15 series (D500L model) - $850-1000, 1024 x 768 resolution (the same as a 35mm with zoom lens reflex). In super high quality mode, it stores three images virtually uncompressed. There is also a 600 model with a 4 MEG card. B/W photos require about 1 MEG, multicolors require more. The lympus comes with Adobe Photo Deluxe, which is a cheaper version of PhotoShop. For external storage, it has a PCMCIA storage card, which requires a $70 adapter, a PC card reader, or a SCSI or serial port tether cable to transfer the images to your PC (the serial is slow). It includes manual focus for low light. What you see is what you get, only on this camera. It is "perfect for business printing and large photos."

Other advice:

If some of these observations are repeated, it is because they were so important to Thompson.

© 1998 by the STC Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA