My Camera & Equipment 2003

Updated February 28, 2003

I bough my Casio QV-2800UX in the end of May 2001 at Calmare Computer Systems. Some of the main features of the camera are a 2 MegaPixels CCD, 8x Optical Zoom (the zoomrange equals 40 to 320 mm on conventional cameras with 35 mm film), 1 cm closeup macro, compact swivel lens (can be rotated), shutter speed from 1/2000 to 60 seconds, external synch flash connection and choice of automatic or manual control over all the camera settings (for example aperture, shutter speed, iso, focus, internal flash strength and so on). The camera is small, low weight (about 300 g) and can easily be fully operated with only one hand.

Casio QV-2800UX

Before I decided on buying this camera I did a lot of research to learn more about the consumer and prosumer digital cameras on the market. I also did research on the professional digital cameras for comparison, although they are unfortunately much too expensive for me. As a reference I also looked at some digital video cameras with still picture function. I suspect that full feature hybrids between video and still picture cameras might be a good alternative in the future, but until now they are too expensive, have too low true resolution and lack some features before they are up to par with good still picture cameras. On the other end of the line, many digital still picture cameras also have video modes or picture burst modes that allows for short video sequences, so the border between video and still picture digital cameras is fading away...

I tried to evaluate what features that would be most useful for me to have, especially for aquarium photography. I surfed the Internet, participated in Internet forums about photography and went to local photo dealers and talked to other photograpers and then added that info to my own experience of using digital cameras. I also searched for where I could buy the camera and accessories at the lowest price. Finally I decided to buy the Casio QV-2800UX. It was a low budget alternative. At the time of purchase it was the cheapest camera I could find that met my minimum demands and as a bonus it also had several other properties that I value highly.

I knew that the evolution in digital cameras goes so fast that whatever camera I would decide to buy, there would relatively soon be much better cameras available at about the same or lower price, it's just the way it goes. However, every day without a digital camera had been a nagging pain in the neck for me for several years, so I didn't want to wait any longer when the performance and price had finally met an equilibrium both with my minimum demands and the size of my wallet. Included in that calculation was also the price and performance of the accessories I wanted. An extra buttkicker was that I really wanted to have a camera when I knew the nature in Sweden was closing in on it's (in my opinion) beauty peak of the year in the late spring and beginning of the summer, with colorful flowers, insects, birds and animal babies all over the place. I will probably buy a new digital camera a few years from now, but until then I will having fun and shoot many thousands of pictures with my Casio QV-2800UX.

The number of photos I shoot per day varies a lot depending on how busy I am, but since I got my own digital camera I usually shoot between a few hundred up to a couple of thousand pictures per week.

I used to borrow several different digital cameras before I had saved enough money to buy my own digital camera. The cameras I have most experience of using out of the ones I borrowed are: Olympus C-3000Z, Olympus C-830L, Fujifilm 4700 and Fujifilm MX-700.

After buying my own camera I've also had the pleasure of borrowing and using a Nikon CoolPix 995. This incredible camera is the successor to the awardwinning 950 and 990 models and these cameras are also known for their easy mounting on different types of scopes. The Nikon CoolPix 995 was released on the Swedish market in the summer of 2001 and it's a very versatile prosumer digital camera loaded with great features and manual controls. In many ways it's similar to my camera, but also surprisingly different to operate. When comparing the two cameras I think that the largest differences are that the Nikon CoolPix 995 is more expensive but capable of producing much higher quality pictures and also has more precise manual control and advanced operation and a much better internal flash, but my casio is generally easier to use. I've also tested an Olympus C-4040Z and it's also a nice camera.

For post processing of my photos I usually use:
  • Paint Shop Pro
  • PhotoShop
  • Neat Image
  • GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program, Windows version)
  • IrfanView
I store backups of my pictures on CD-R discs and for the photos I consider extra valuable I store atleast one extra backup copy.

To clean your camera glass (lens, filters, converters etc) I suggest using a good manual airblower and lens cleaning tissues. This is how you can do it:
  1. Blow away all loose particles from the glass with the airblower.
  2. Use your breath to make the glass foggy.
  3. Take a fresh lens cleaning tissue and gently wipe away the fog from the glass.
  4. Throw the used lens cleaning tissue away.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 one more time and the camera glass should be clean.
In normal use, when the glass is only slightly dusty and not dirty with grease etc, it's usually enough to only use the airblower and not the lens cleaning tissues.

Some of the accessories included with my camera:

  • Wired full feature wired remote control (The original cable was a bit short, so I've had it replaced with a longer cable)
  • 8 MB CompactFlash card
  • Camera soft case
  • USB and serial cable (for data transfer to a computer)
  • Video output cable (for viewing on TV)
  • CD-ROM with software
  • One set (4 units) of rechargeable AA batteries, with a charger
  • Hand strap
  • 43 mm lens cap

My additional accessories:

  • Cleaning equipment (air blower, soft brushes, cleaning tissues)
  • 43 mm to 49 mm threaded stepup ring
  • 49 mm threaded lens cap
  • 49 mm threaded UV-filter (for protection of the camera lens)
  • 49 mm threaded Circular Polarizer
  • 49 mm threaded Teleconverter (1.5x)
  • Tripod - mini size
  • Tripod - normal size, with head and carrying bag
  • Eight sets (4 units/set) of rechargeable AA batteries and five chargers
  • AC-adapter (+ electric extension cable)
  • CompactFlash card 512 MB
  • CompactFlash card 128 MB
  • CompactFlash to PCMCIA adapter (fast data transfer to my laptop)
  • 2 external adjustable synch flashes (+ 2 extra flashes that is unreliable)
  • 3 flash to synch cable adapters (+ 1 extra adapter that is unreliable/broken)
  • Synch extension cable 0,5m
  • Synch extension cable 2m
  • Synch extension cable 5m (+ 1 extra cable that is unreliable/broken)
  • Synch coupling, 3-way
  • Synch macro ring flash (with stepup rings)
  • Several black polo sweaters (non reflective material)
  • Thin black gloves (non reflective material)
  • Insulated waterproof transportation bag
  • Two 500W halogen lamps (+ electric cable with couplings and onoff button)
  • White styrofoam sheets
  • White styrofoam boxes

My computers:

  • Main Station (21" screen, 480 MB RAM, 1,53 GHz, 80 + 250 gig HD, CD-burner, Win XP)
  • Laptop (32 MB RAM, 150 MHz, 2 gig HD, Win 95)

Accessories that I plan to buy in the future:

  • Several AA batteries with compatible 15 min charger
  • More external flashes
  • Monopod
  • Some type of magnifying glass or similar device (diafilm viewer etc) that can be used to photograph better closeups.
  • Bird spotting scope with camera adapter
  • Teleconverter with extreme magnification
  • A new camera ;-)

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