New Product Idea for Camera
© Brooke Clarke,
In the past film cameras were
commonly designed to be hand
held and were optimized for taking pictures of people (Kodak's main
landscapes. When digital cameras came out they typically imitated
the prior art film cameras. Web cams are digital cameras that can
be used to take either still or moving pictures and are designed for
connection directly to a computer and typically are for head shots like
in a video conference.
I use anumber of different cameras. Here they are and
my comments about them:
HP 6200 Flat Bed scanner
This is connected to my computer by USB and is plugged
into the AC mains for electricity.
- Very convenient to use. This is a very big plus.
Place an object on the scanner and you can have a very high quality
image in about a minute. Because of this it's my most used
- Good exposure control. You can set the lower and upper
exposure limits based on a histogram of intensity values and also set
the gamma by looking at the image on the computer monitor.
- What amounts to unlimited resolution. A single image
may result in a file size of over 10 Mega Bytes that is in the computer
at the end of a scan. But once on the hard disk it's easy to work
- Software nightmare. The
software often does not work. Windows software should NEVER NEVER
use the base 640 k RAM space at boot time. When an application
does this it drastically reduces system resources. This is
especially bad when you may not even use the application yet it's
eating up your resources degrading the performance of the
computer. The 6200 software forces a number of programs to load
at boot time and not only do these waste your very limited resources
but they often fail crashing the computer. The HP 6200 software
and the Kodak DC 290 software can NOT be on the same computer or it
- Only images of the flat side on an object can easily be
made. You can not make a 3/4 view, only views where gravity
causes the object to be stable.
- Limited depth of focus. The flat bed scanner will focus
to maybe an inch but for an object that's a few inches tall the
focus will be very poor at the higher elevations.
- Poor lighting as the object gets taller. At a few
inches the object is in the dark. External back or side lighting
helps a lot but takes a lot of time to get right.
- The glass gets scratched and the scratches are in sharp focus.
- The plastic parts inside out gasses crud that makes a white
coating on the inside of the glass. More near the end where the
lamp spends most of it's time. This requires periodic disassembly
Kodak DC 290 Digital Camera
- Can take 3/4 or other views that the HP 6200 flat bed scanner
can not do.
- If the flash setting (auto, fill, off) is correct and the
lighting is good for the subject the quality of the image can be
fantastic. This typically requires using a 6+ Mega Byte file size.
- Optional close up lens atachment and the ability to see on
the LCD the image (the viewfinder is of no value when doing closeups)
what the lens sees allows tight framing.
- Even when using the normal lens the viewfinder is wrong for
close work. The LCD viewer allows better framing of the shot, but
it's hard to tell exactly where the edges are becasue of the gray bands
at the top and bottom of the LCD.
- Has "Over ride" control of exposure. This is very
important as it allows difficult subjects to be properly exposed.
- Has manual focus, again allows getting good focus on
A camera that is all automatic will produce poor images of some
subjects and that can not be improved.
- Exposure is automatically controlled and often is very
wrong. For example using outside North light to photograph a
black or dark colored subject where the background is lighter causes
the exposure ot be set for an "average" of all that's in the scene
making the subject turn black. A very large number of on line
photos and eBay subjects have this problem The image looks
just like a black rectangle and the subject can barley be seen at
all. Some of this can be corrected by working with the image
brightness after the fact, but the result is no where as good as proper
exposure to start with. This is a huge shortcoming of the DC 290
and most all other digital cameras. This
is incorrect, I just did not know how to use the exposure
- Focus is automatically set and often wrong when working with
small objects. The DC 290 uses a reflected light system that an
be fooled when the camera is angled. For example with a tripod
beside a table with the camera looking down at 45 degrees the focusing
system is seeing a point that's maybe a foot behind the subject.
This is easy to spot by just looking at what part of the image is in
sharp focus. This statement is
incorrect, I just did not know how to use the exposure override!
- The built in flash memory card can only hold 2 exposures when
the file size is 6 MB. I fixed
this be getting a new 256 MB memory card that holds many more images.
- Can not hand hold. The DC 290 appears to be designed
for taking pictures by holding it in your hands, just like any other
camera, BUT when taking photos of eBay sized objects this results in
blurry photos. Good mechanical support is needed for quality
images. A solid tripod, not a cheap flimsy one, solves this
problem, but a tripod takes up a lot of space.
- The built in jpeg settings are no where as good as what can
be done using computer applications. If you compare a jpeg image
direct from the camera to a jpeg image of about the same file size made
in the computer starting from a 6 MB tif file from the camera (they
both came from the same CCD chip in the camera) the jpeg from the
computer can look much better.
22 Aug 203- The DC-290 does support "override" control
of exposure by means of locking the exposure to the prior exposure and
also can be computer controlled for zoom. So far my laptop has
locked up when trying to use the remote software, but the exposure can
be locked using the manual menu items.
This is a 35 mm film camera.
It has 4 "brains":
- one dedicated to exposure in the camera body
- one handling all the I/O in the camera body
- one in the lens
- one in the external flash
This camera is fantastic at getting good exposure automatically in
almost all lighting conditions. I comes the closest to a point
and shoot camera as I have ever seen. A lens swap takes seconds
and when the computerized lenses are used they automatically tell the
camera and flash their settings.
This is the most flexible camera I have ever used. Kodak will
scan the negatives and supply digital images in different file sizes
for an extra charge. The problems are the expense of buying and
processing film and the time delay between taking a photo and getting
the digital file. The latter is the biggest problem. With a
digital camera I can set up the tripod, make an exposure, and leave the
subject and tripod alone, then have a look at the digital image on the
computer a few minutes later. If there's some problem I can
re-expose and check in another few minutes. It might take 3 or 4
tries to get a good image and an hour's time. But this
could not be done with film, you would just make the best of whatever
you got back.
Logitech Pro 4000 Web Cam
- Very light and small. If a lot of the features that
are on the DC 290 that are not needed for this application were
removed, such as:
- memory card
- focusing system
- top LCD display
- rear LCD display
- all buttons and controls
It would be considerably smaller and lighter.
This is important to allow the use of a desk lamp, 2 arm support.
This type of support can not carry a camera the weight of the DC 290
but can easily hold something the weight of the Pro 4000.
- Can take still or video with sound. Some ideas can
easily be conveyed with a video that are very difficult to convey with
- Difficult to focus.
- The stock support doesn't allow getting the camera where
it's needed. A small tripod or maybe tripod thread to door clip
would be a better support. Need to look into how to mount it on a
- Very limited exposure control. It has a strong
automatic exposure control that's hard to overcome. When a desk
lamp is used for illumination the automatic control still fights
you. It seems to work best with very even illumination, like a
studio with North light.
- limited resolution. TV type not camera type.
This camera more than meets the
idea but at a much higher price.
With the advent of eBay
there is a need for a camera optimized for taking pictures of objects
The vase majority of items sold on eBay can be shipped from someone's
home using the USPS, UPS or Fedex. This means a product, camera
subject, that can easily fit on a table top.
In order to get a good image even lighting is needed. This might
be provided by a number of lamps or by a reflector like an
umbrella. The camera should have good low light sensitivity to
minimize the need for lighting power. The camera should have
built-in strobe lighting with provision for external slave strobes
either connected by wire or triggered by the main camera flash.
Included with the camera would be at least 2 strobe lights with an
option for more. The first two would be mounted on the desk lamp
for auction - This Kodak web page is aimed at
using their low priced cameras for takng eBay photos. You can see
the poor quality that you get using this type of camera.
You can do much better than these examples if you
have a digital camera that supports "Override"
of focus and/or exposure.
The standard lens should be a C or CS mount zoom lens with the zoom and
focus controlled by the computer. A user could remove the stock
lens and attach any C or CS mount lens desired. Greatly adding to
the flexibility. Maybe the stock camera would come with a
manually controlled lens and the computer controlled lens would be an
The lens needs to be able to focus on a dime that's filling the field
Still or Video
It would be an added feature if the camera could be used like a web cam
with sound. In this mode the image size and data format needs to
be selectable. This camera would have a huge advantage over
conventional web cams due to the computer control of exposure, white
The final image will not need extreme resolution, but since some image
processing may need to be done, such as erasing backgrounds, image
rotation, etc. the starting image size should be adjustable up to
something in the 10 MB file size area. The output file should be
in the users choice of a number of common image formats such as tiff,
jpeg, bmp, etc.
In order to get sharp well focused images the camera needs to be
supported. Rather than use a conventional tripod, it would be
much more convenient if the camera was on a support very similar to a 2
arm desk lamp. This is a very convenient support and allows
positioning the camera easily. For larger objects the table lamp
mount could be attached to a ladder or other suitable object. For
outdoor use a laptop computer and optional battery power supply would
Note that the old Polaroid 4x5 copy camera with a light on either side
is close to this concept, but there was not enough flexibility in
positioning the camera.
When a flat bed scanner is permanently connected to a computer it's
much more convenient ot use than a digital camera that requires
connection for every upload of image files. This new camera
should be designed to be used when connected to a computer and has no
need for battery power.
Conventional cameras have built-in exposure control designed for taking
portraits or landscape shots. This type of exposure control does
not do a good job on objects of the size we're talking about here since
a black subject on a white background will fool the camera's exposure
controls. This camera should have computer control of all the
settings while providing an automatic starting point. This is
similar to the exposure control of a flat bed scanner where you can set
the threshold, highlight and gamma based on a histogram of intensity or
press the "AUTO" button.
The histogram and three exposure sliders (shadow level,
high light level and gamma) on the HP 6200 might be replaced with 9
sliders, one for Red, Green and Blue.
Zoom control from the computer as well as cropping should be easy to do.
Note that the HP 8200 flat bed scanner uses a newer type of software,
not the ScanJet software, and although the 8200 software has a
histogram display, it is NOT useable since it's physical screen
position is not aligned with the shadow and highlight controls and
there are NO cursors, very poor human interface. It's so bad that
I returned the 8200 scanner.
The strobe lamp output should be under computer control and would also
have standardized modes. Flat lighting would be one mode, and a
number of shadow modes for subjects where you want some shadow to make
the surface texture more visible than would be the case with flat
This is what's called a tethered camera. Tethered cameras are now
used in studios where the CCD chip in the camera is generating a hugh
file for a single image and by having the camera directly connected to
the computer the file download problem is greatly reduced. But in
this case the tethering is to allow removing all the manual controls
from the camera thus reducing it's price and to allow seeing the image
on a computer screen so the exposure and cropping can be adjusted to
get it right the first time. This will eliminate those black
rectangles often seen on eBay and on web pages.
It would be great to have a Blue (or whatever color)
background subtraction feature. By making the table top and
background a certain color (that can be selected on the computer screen
just by clicking on the desired background color) that color can be
subtracted leaving either a white background or the subject can be
overlaid over some other specified image.
Open Standardized Interface
The camera interface should follow an existing standard and be
available for users and/or third parties to support with their own
Under $ 500 for the camera, software, camera to computer USB cable,
instruction book and documentation on CD-ROM. Free software
updates and bug fixes from internet download.
Brooke's Products for Sale,
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