Digital cameras used
Ramblings by your host Harold A. Driscoll
The photographs in the Web site have been taken using digital still cameras. I've used two camera, the Sony Mavica MVC-FD7 and the Sony Mavica MVC-FD88.
I acquired a Sony Mavica MVC-FD7 digital still camera in the spring of 1998. I used it extensively until it was damaged beyond repair in the summer of 1999. The camera uses a rechargable lithium-ion battery that takes a few hundred photographs per battery charge. Its size is typical of one of the larger 35mm cameras. The camera has a built-in flash and tripod mount.
The Sony Mavica MVC-FD7 digital still camera takes digital photographs with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. The camera writes its images onto 3 1/2" diskettes. Photographs are written using the JPEG file compression format. The camera has two degrees of file compression available; I've only used the less lossy flavor, what Sony calls fine. In this format the camera can write about twenty images per diskette, ranging from about fifteen (typically in bright light) to more than twenty-five in some situations.
I acquired a Sony Mavica MVC-FD88 digital still camera in the fall of 1999 as a replacement for the damaged Sony Mavica MVC-FD7. I've used it extensively since then. This camera uses the same battery, and also gets several hundred photographs per charge. It is similar in size, and has an adjustable intensity built-in flash and tripod mount.
The Sony Mavica MVC-FD88 digital still camera takes digital photographs with several resolutions, the highest of which is 1280 x 960 pixels. I've used this highest resolution almost exclusively. Photographs are also written using the JPEG format, and I've only used the better-quality (larger file size) fine compression setting. This camera also writes its images onto 3 1/2" diskettes. It can write them about four times faster than the Sony Mavica MVC-FD7, which results in similar performance with much more detailed images. Typically for out-of-doors settings I can get four photographs per diskette, occasionally only three or as many as five or six.
The Sony Mavica MVC-FD88 camera not only takes higher-resolution photographs but also takes much better quality images. Among the technological improvements is a single pass scan of the image, rather than being interpolated. This is particularly noticable for photographs of moving trains. It also takes standard photographic filters. On the down side, the minimal capacity (typically four photographs) per diskette is quite impractical. Consequently I've used well over a hundred diskettes in a day. The flash on the Sony Mavica MVC-FD88 is adjustable in intensity and I've actually found to be useful.
Once you've taken more than a few photographs you'll find that the managing and cataloging of photographs becomes a real priority, and a serious task. I opted to roll-my-own, with a Perl script that renames camera files into a naming sequence, and builds editable description text files. A companion Perl CGI script on my Web server allows viewing of the graphics and accompanying descriptions. The photographs are then stored in directories by subject, year, and month. Each is uniquely named with two digits for the year, one for the month (1-9,a-c), two for the day of the month, and three to uniquely identify the photo. For MVC-FD7 photos, I used a letter for the diskette and the camera-assigned two digit sequence number. For MVC-FD88 photos I use the camera option for it to maintain a sequence number, and that becomes the three-digit suffix number.
My experience is that digital camera photographs do need some pre-publication electronic darkroom processing prior to posting to a Web site. I use Adobe Photoshop, a program I find quite easy to use and extremely powerful. Typically I barely scratch the surface of its capabilities, but find it nice to be able to dig deeper when the need (and my skill) dictates. For this Web site I've opted (and find it convenient) to retain the file names assigned when I catalog photographs.
Digital still cameras are still (October 1999) quite early on the price learning curve. You pay a steep preamium today for something that'll soon be supplanted by cameras more featured and less expensive than this month's models. For my requirements, being able to take several hundred photos before uploading them to a computer is important.
I find the Sony Mavica MVC-FD88 camera meets my needs adequately. I've serious reservations on the limited capacity per diskette. I'd also like even higher resolution. I've no reservation in recommending it for what it can do, and how well it does it. However, unless it acquires a high-density (100+ MB) diskette drive, the camera is hardly convenient to use.
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Chicago Rail Photographs collection updated 26 March 2022 at 10:35. Photographs and text copyright © 1998-2000 Harold A. Driscoll, All Rights Reserved. Email address is provided exclusively for personal contact, but emphatically not for use for SPAM net.abuse.