Sorta OT: Good Roadgeeking Cameras

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Chris Wilson

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Sep 30, 2005, 7:38:14 AM9/30/05
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Hey all. I was wondering what good, fairly inexpensive (500$ or less)
cameras I could get for roadgeeking. I currently have 2 digital camera
I got at ~$100 each, but they are both rather subpar and are only good
for still photos. Here are a few things that might come in handy:

- 4.1 Megapixel
- Flash
- No Delay
- Minimum Noise

I know it might be asking a lot, but i'm not asking you to do a search;
maybe a reccomendation. Thanks much.

(BTW, Steve, those pictures I took for your website were still, if you
couldn't already tell, and were took with a disposable camera. Sorry!)

_Chris Wilson_

Steve

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Sep 30, 2005, 10:23:33 AM9/30/05
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Chris Wilson wrote:

I use a Fujifilm Finepix A345, and except for a slight delay, it fits
all of your requirements and cost me under $200.

--
Steve Alpert
MIT - B.S. '05, M.S. (Transportation) '06
http://web.mit.edu/smalpert/www/roads

Dan Vincent

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Sep 30, 2005, 11:46:50 AM9/30/05
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The pictures on my website (
http://homepage.mac.com/kefkafloyd/valleyroads ) are all taken with the
Konica Minolta Z2.

It's since been replaced by the Konica Minolta Z3, Z5, and Z6. The
great thing about the Z series cameras is 1. the long zoom and 2.
ridiculously fast full time continuous autofocus. This is the most
important part, as I hate losing shots on roads I infrequently travel.

The drawback is that the later models (z3, Z5, Z6) have very noisy
sensors on ISO over 100. However, they also have image stabilization,
which will help you take pictures in subpart lighting conditions by
eliminating camera shake.

Regardless of what camera you get, I suggest picking up a polarizing
filter. Nobody likes windshield glare in their shots.

Sherman L. Cahal

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Sep 30, 2005, 4:36:10 PM9/30/05
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Dan Vincent wrote:
> The pictures on my website (
> http://homepage.mac.com/kefkafloyd/valleyroads ) are all taken with the
> Konica Minolta Z2.
>
> It's since been replaced by the Konica Minolta Z3, Z5, and Z6. The
> great thing about the Z series cameras is 1. the long zoom and 2.
> ridiculously fast full time continuous autofocus. This is the most
> important part, as I hate losing shots on roads I infrequently travel.
>
> The drawback is that the later models (z3, Z5, Z6) have very noisy
> sensors on ISO over 100. However, they also have image stabilization,
> which will help you take pictures in subpart lighting conditions by
> eliminating camera shake.

Konica models are horrible above ISO 100. At about ISO 600, they become
very noisey, comparable to the noise I can get at ISO 1600 on my Nikon
D70. I would not personally recommend a Konica digital camera.

Stick with Nikon or Canon. Reliable brands.

> Regardless of what camera you get, I suggest picking up a polarizing
> filter. Nobody likes windshield glare in their shots.

A polarizer filter needs to be rotated in order to remove windshield
glare (if in car) or to darken the sky (outside of car). I hope you
don't use the polarizer filter WHILE driving because that would require
too much concentration since you have to look through the viewfinder.

Douglas Kerr

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Sep 30, 2005, 8:11:50 PM9/30/05
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"Dan Vincent" <insomn...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1128095210.5...@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...

Something else that works to get the windshield glare out of your shots is
using a black t-shirt to put on the top of your dashboard.


Dan Vincent

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Sep 30, 2005, 10:32:49 PM9/30/05
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>Konica models are horrible above ISO 100. At about ISO 600, they become
>very noisey, comparable to the noise I can get at ISO 1600 on my Nikon
>D70. I would not personally recommend a Konica digital camera.

The D70 is a digital SLR with a sensor much larger than that of a
regular consumer digicam. You need to compare apples to apples sir
(since the highest the Z cameras go is ISO 400). Obviously the Maxxum
5D and 7D digital SLRs will have much less noise than the Z series,
much like a D70 will have much less noise than Nikon's more traditional
consumer items.

The Z2's noise factor isnt' as bad, as it has a lesser pixel density
from the models that replaced it. Hence why I haven't replaced it.

>A polarizer filter needs to be rotated in order to remove windshield
>glare (if in car) or to darken the sky (outside of car). I hope you
>don't use the polarizer filter WHILE driving because that would require
>too much concentration since you have to look through the viewfinder.

Apparently you haven't heard of live LCD preview on non-SLR cameras. ;)
Most of the time, once you get the polarizer to the right angle, the
glare is eliminated.

Sherman L. Cahal

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Sep 30, 2005, 11:17:23 PM9/30/05
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Dan Vincent wrote:
> >Konica models are horrible above ISO 100. At about ISO 600, they become
> >very noisey, comparable to the noise I can get at ISO 1600 on my Nikon
> >D70. I would not personally recommend a Konica digital camera.
>
> The D70 is a digital SLR with a sensor much larger than that of a
> regular consumer digicam. You need to compare apples to apples sir
> (since the highest the Z cameras go is ISO 400). Obviously the Maxxum
> 5D and 7D digital SLRs will have much less noise than the Z series,
> much like a D70 will have much less noise than Nikon's more traditional
> consumer items.

Well, that is true. That was an unfair comparison, but comparing a
Nikon 4500 digital camera (no longer in production sadly but it is
HIGHLY recommended) to a Konica, the Nikon had low noise levels. Other
reviews put the Konica at having horrible noise levels that are
unacceptable above 100.

> The Z2's noise factor isnt' as bad, as it has a lesser pixel density
> from the models that replaced it. Hence why I haven't replaced it.
>
> >A polarizer filter needs to be rotated in order to remove windshield
> >glare (if in car) or to darken the sky (outside of car). I hope you
> >don't use the polarizer filter WHILE driving because that would require
> >too much concentration since you have to look through the viewfinder.
>
> Apparently you haven't heard of live LCD preview on non-SLR cameras. ;)
> Most of the time, once you get the polarizer to the right angle, the
> glare is eliminated.

Well, I sure hope you don't check to see if your image is properly
polarized while driving :-)

Dan Vincent

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Oct 1, 2005, 12:34:05 AM10/1/05
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>Well, that is true. That was an unfair comparison, but comparing a
>Nikon 4500 digital camera (no longer in production sadly but it is
>HIGHLY recommended) to a Konica, the Nikon had low noise levels. Other
>reviews put the Konica at having horrible noise levels that are
>unacceptable above 100.

Well, there's a few factors at work here. The Z3-6 are notorious noise
monsters (as are most current small sensor high MP long zoom cameras).
The small sensor that gives that beautiful long zoom is, above a
certain pixel density, its own worst enemy. The Z3 and 5 are very
notorious in this regard. However, the image quality aside from the
noise in high ISO is very good in my experince from my Z2 (which fixed
the major flaws in the Z1). Minolta doesn't use an aggressive noise
reduction algorithm either; Noise Ninja has worked wonders on images I
thought were unrescueable.

The Z6 is brand new, so I'm not sure if anything has changed, but it
appears to have the same sensor from the Z5 (6MP 1 over 2/3rds) so I
wouldn't expect much. That said, with only $500 to spend, anything is
going to be pretty noisy in the higher ISO range on any camera since in
that range they use smallish sensors with high MP counts to get people
to go "ooh, more MP, that must mean it's bettar!" Hence why I've stuck
with my trusty Z2 instead of the models with AS that have noise
issues...

>Well, I sure hope you don't check to see if your image is properly
>polarized while driving :-)

The glare on my windshield is pretty consistent. ;) The drag of having
a giant dash with a giant steeply raked windshield. Usually once I set
it right the first time it's good for the rest of the day. If I'm
driving in a direction where the sun won't even be a factor, the
polarizer comes right off.

Douglas Kerr

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Oct 1, 2005, 5:32:27 AM10/1/05
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"Chris Wilson" <chrisedd...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1128080294.2...@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...

> Hey all. I was wondering what good, fairly inexpensive (500$ or less)
> cameras I could get for roadgeeking. I currently have 2 digital camera
> I got at ~$100 each, but they are both rather subpar and are only good
> for still photos. Here are a few things that might come in handy:
>
> - 4.1 Megapixel
> - Flash
> - No Delay
> - Minimum Noise
>
> I know it might be asking a lot, but i'm not asking you to do a search;
> maybe a reccomendation. Thanks much.

I have a Samsung Digimax 501 that does the trick. It is 3.2 megapixels,
which is decent, and for my needs, I am satisfied. I bought the camera at
Wal*Mart a year ago for $120, and prices have gone down since then.

Monte Castleman

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Oct 1, 2005, 7:37:25 AM10/1/05
to
>Hey all. I was wondering what good, fairly inexpensive (500$ or less)
>cameras I could get for roadgeeking. I currently have 2 digital camera
>I got at ~$100 each, but they are both rather subpar and are only good
>for still photos. Here are a few things that might come in handy:
>
>- 4.1 Megapixel
>- Flash
>- No Delay
>- Minimum Noise
>
Can you use the same trick to eliminate delay on digital cameras that
you do on film cameras, that is setting focus to manual or locking at
infinity? Unless you want to take a picture of the bugs on the
windshield, you do not need auto-focus for taking pictures out a
windshield, and any delay would be acceptable for out-of-the car shots.

--
--^\____
| / Monte Castleman, <<Spamfilter in Use>>
| / Bloomington, MN <<to email, remove the "q" from address>>
| |
| *| Visit my Minnesota Highways Page:
|_____\ http://home.earthlink.net/~northstarhighways

Monte Castleman

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Oct 1, 2005, 7:42:46 AM10/1/05
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>Well, I sure hope you don't check to see if your image is properly
>polarized while driving :-)

Normally what I do is I find a place to pull off and adjust the filter
beforehand.

Another good reason for a polarizer: digicams don't handle high contrast
scenes as gracefully as film cameras. A polarizing filter helps keep the
sky from getting "blown out" into nothing but white.

Sherman L. Cahal

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Oct 1, 2005, 9:58:03 AM10/1/05
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Monte Castleman wrote:
> >Well, I sure hope you don't check to see if your image is properly
> >polarized while driving :-)
>
> Normally what I do is I find a place to pull off and adjust the filter
> beforehand.
>
> Another good reason for a polarizer: digicams don't handle high contrast
> scenes as gracefully as film cameras. A polarizing filter helps keep the
> sky from getting "blown out" into nothing but white.

A polarizer will not help you with "blown out" segments of your
photograph. Here is how it works --

Shooting with 35mm is fine. 35mm is more tolerant of lighting levels
and as a result, you rarely have "blown out" segments.

Shooting with slide film is much more difficult but the results can be
far better. They are much more sensitive to light. For example, if you
metered off of the ground for a photo for correct exposure, your sky
will be blown out. If you metered off of the sky, then your ground is
too dark. A neutral density filter (ND 4 pref.) corrects this by
balancing the sky with the ground and properly exposing on both
spectrums.

A digital camera is much like slide film, especially digital SLR's. You
need to purchase a Neutral Density Filter 4, and then stick your
polarizer on top.

Adam Prince

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Oct 1, 2005, 10:35:16 AM10/1/05
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My camera would out of your price range, but for those reading along.

It is a Canon Power Shot Pro 1.

It's 8.0 Megapixel
7.0 optical Zoom with a 3.2 Digital on top of that.
It is SLR
ISO equivalent of 50-400.

It's also more shaped like a camera and allows you to do more than the
traditional roadgeek straight on through the windshield photo style.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=6312144&type=product&productCategoryId=pcmcat44100050016&id=1074788128799

Here's a photo example: http://www.state-ends.com/adam/i890extib-bw.jpg

Adam Prince

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Oct 1, 2005, 10:37:31 AM10/1/05
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Monte Castleman wrote:
> >Hey all. I was wondering what good, fairly inexpensive (500$ or less)
> >cameras I could get for roadgeeking. I currently have 2 digital camera
> >I got at ~$100 each, but they are both rather subpar and are only good
> >for still photos. Here are a few things that might come in handy:
> >
> >- 4.1 Megapixel
> >- Flash
> >- No Delay
> >- Minimum Noise
> >
> Can you use the same trick to eliminate delay on digital cameras that
> you do on film cameras, that is setting focus to manual or locking at
> infinity? Unless you want to take a picture of the bugs on the
> windshield, you do not need auto-focus for taking pictures out a
> windshield, and any delay would be acceptable for out-of-the car shots.

I now only take photos through the windshield if I am a passenger. If
you have a decent zoom, you can zoom through the glare.

I.E.: http://www.gribblenation.com/vapics/gallery/i295n-exit22.JPG

Scott M. Kozel

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Oct 1, 2005, 10:42:22 AM10/1/05
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"Adam Prince" <apri...@nycap.rr.com> wrote:

>
> Monte Castleman wrote:
>
> > Can you use the same trick to eliminate delay on digital cameras that
> > you do on film cameras, that is setting focus to manual or locking at
> > infinity? Unless you want to take a picture of the bugs on the
> > windshield, you do not need auto-focus for taking pictures out a
> > windshield, and any delay would be acceptable for out-of-the car shots.
>
> I now only take photos through the windshield if I am a passenger. If
> you have a decent zoom, you can zoom through the glare.
>
> I.E.: http://www.gribblenation.com/vapics/gallery/i295n-exit22.JPG

I-295 northbound at VA-5 in Henrico County, Virginia.

--
Scott M. Kozel Highway and Transportation History Websites
Virginia/Maryland/Washington, D.C. http://www.roadstothefuture.com
Philadelphia and Delaware Valley http://www.pennways.com

Adam Prince

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Oct 1, 2005, 10:48:39 AM10/1/05
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Dan Vincent wrote:

> The glare on my windshield is pretty consistent. ;) The drag of having
> a giant dash with a giant steeply raked windshield. Usually once I set
> it right the first time it's good for the rest of the day. If I'm
> driving in a direction where the sun won't even be a factor, the
> polarizer comes right off.

Like Monte said...try getting out of the car more often to take shots.
It will eliminate glare...and will help to also eliminate the standard
roadgeek 'straight-on' sign photo. Espescially on a virtual drive
pages like you have.

Here's an example (I haven't pared it down yet so i apologize for the
size)
http://www.state-ends.com/adam/IMG_1458.JPG from Grafton, Vermont

Instead of driving by and taking a photo with the older VT 121 in the
center or at an angle with probable glare. I got out walked the town
and set up the photo.

With the 121 shield to the right...it gives the appearance of looking
down Route 121 an through the village.

A lot can be done for feature pages when you do more than the
traditional 'straight-on' roadgeek photography.

Dan Vincent

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Oct 1, 2005, 11:14:19 AM10/1/05
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>Like Monte said...try getting out of the car more often to take shots.
>It will eliminate glare...and will help to also eliminate the standard
>roadgeek 'straight-on' sign photo. Espescially on a virtual drive
>pages like you have.

I do this when possible, but most of the time I am taking pictures
while on my way somewhere, not driving about specifically for the
purpose of taking pictures. Hence, time is usually of the essence.

>Can you use the same trick to eliminate delay on digital cameras that
>you do on film cameras, that is setting focus to manual or locking at
>infinity? Unless you want to take a picture of the bugs on the
>windshield, you do not need auto-focus for taking pictures out a
>windshield, and any delay would be acceptable for out-of-the car shots.

Infinity is not always infinity. A camera with continuous autofocus
solves this problem (and most decent cameras have it).

Cameron Kaiser

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Oct 1, 2005, 12:39:02 PM10/1/05
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"Douglas Kerr" <doug...@HORMELgribblenation.netHORMEL> writes:

>Something else that works to get the windshield glare out of your shots is
>using a black t-shirt to put on the top of your dashboard.

Clever idea! I'll have to try that.

Now I just have to scrub all the bug gunk off my windshield from my last
foray of insectogenocide, er, roadgeeking.

--
Cameron Kaiser * cka...@floodgap.com * posting with a Commodore 128
personal page: http://www.armory.com/%7Espectre/
** Computer Workshops: games, productivity software and more for C64/128! **
** http://www.armory.com/%7Espectre/cwi/ **

Douglas Kerr

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Oct 3, 2005, 7:03:49 AM10/3/05
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"Cameron Kaiser" <cka...@floodgap.com> wrote in message
news:433ebb32$0$6806$bb4e...@newscene.com...

> "Douglas Kerr" <doug...@HORMELgribblenation.netHORMEL> writes:
>
>>Something else that works to get the windshield glare out of your shots is
>>using a black t-shirt to put on the top of your dashboard.
>
> Clever idea! I'll have to try that.

It's also an inexpensive way about going about things as well.

>
> Now I just have to scrub all the bug gunk off my windshield from my last
> foray of insectogenocide, er, roadgeeking.

Some Windex will do fine for that.

Dan Vincent

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Oct 3, 2005, 11:40:34 AM10/3/05
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I have a black towel that I used to use for this same purpose, but I
got tired of it sliding off the dashboard.

Chris Wilson

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Oct 15, 2005, 3:57:09 PM10/15/05
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I have no problem with getting out of the car. Simply I am looking for
a good camera to use. Here's an example of a picture taken with my
camera:

http://tinypic.com/el16cn.jpg

It was taken at close range. Notice the blurriness and lack of flash
(it was taken at around 10~ AM). It only looks partially good--notice
the word _PARTIALLY_-- at a small size. I've tried fixing it in
Photoshop, but it doesn't look good either.

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