Purchasing a Camera
May 28, 2014 at 11:00 am #5998
So with the fiscal year coming to an end, our small archives is looking to purchase a camera for the dual purpose of documenting collections and documenting events. In terms of collections documentation, it would primarily be used to document a relatively small collection of artifacts and a larger collection of over-sized maps and blueprints. The committee is leaning towards a point-and-shoot style camera rather than an SLR. My question is, when looking at these cameras, what should our minimum requirements be? I know often an SLR is preferred, but because our collection of artifacts is so small (along with our budget) I’d really like advice for point and shoots.May 28, 2014 at 11:59 am #6001
Abigail, the one greatest concern I think you should have is resolution of image. Usually this is reflected in number of pixels in the image. The higher number of pixels, often the better the image. That said, one must also look at the lens.
Right now, there are many cameras on the market that have great resolution as well as easy-to-use settings. So I don’t think you have to decide between a “point and shoot” and an SLR. You can get SLRs that work as simply as a P&S, but can also give you the control to get a more sophisticated image. I would also encourage you to look at Digital SLRs (DSLR) that have a video function. That way in the future you could videotape events.May 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm #6008
Abigail, the best camera is one that will get used. We have this debate over and over at our place. 4 years ago, I bought a Canon PowerShot A1100IS after reading a lot of reviews. It does movies as well as stills, takes good pictures just as a point and click, but also offers a whole lot of control over light types, etc, if i want to use it (and sometimes I do). But I can carry it in my pocket and pull it out any time for the unexpected great moment at events (https://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalgamemuseum/7270894180/in/set-72157629898293074 – my favorite). I love the big view I get on the view screen, which you don’t get on the SLRs. Our photographers with the fancy cameras carry them for an hour of so at events, take pictures, and that’s it. So – if this camera will be used by tech shy staff and volunteers, get a point and shoot, but if all the people using the camera will love fussing with something fancy, get the SLR, which can do point and shoot also, once you figure out where the settings are. If you are doing serious documentation and need the best possible quality, that’s what you need.
If you are just looking for events and general photo IDs for your collection, I don’t think you can beat a simple pocketable point and shoot. There are copious reviews of every camera made online. Scanning NewEgg.com, I find that there are many point-and-clicks under $100, and the Canon Rebel is only $400 these days – maybe you could get both? But again, it all depends on who will use it and for what. And – we had a Canon SLR, and all the photographer did was complain about how poor the lens was – he rented a better one for every event. so there could be hidden costs.June 1, 2014 at 3:54 am #6011
A year or so ago this subject was discussed in Linkedin with a lot of good advices from several people and some interesting points where stated.
I recommend you to google something like camera+slr+museum site:linkedin.com in order to try to find it out.July 9, 2014 at 9:58 am #6350
Sorry it has taken so long to get back. I’ve been busy here finishing up projects and training my replacement.
Thanks for the advice. Judith hits the nail on the head with her point that “the best camera is one that will get used”. This idea, coupled with a technologically challenged committee and a budget of ideally no more than $200 has made the purchase of a digital SLR virtually impossible. We do have a number of professional photographers in town who have worked with us on other projects in the past, so we do have several sources for borrowing a better camera/ having photo services at little to no cost.
On that note, we have purchased a Canon Powershot SX280 HS. @gmacmurtrie had sent me an email after seeing my post, recommending the camera. One thing she pointed out, which I wasn’t even thinking of at the time, was the ability to take close up shots of small details. She sent me some of the photos she took, and they were wonderful.
While we haven’t started taking photos of our objects yet, we took many photos on the Fourth of July, one of many events we hope to actively document in the future. The camera is fabulously easy to use, and the sports function was especially helpful when taking photos of the dance contest and swimming pool activities.
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