Need help with Digital Cameras


Somewhat eXPerienced
Hey guys,

Right now I have a Kodak CX4200 EasyShare 2mp... it's a piece of crap. I'm a firefighter and I am taking pictures of fires and accidents, often at night. My first problem with it is the fact that any picture I take is ultimately dark, all I see is a black picture with an orange glow, such as here:

I've seen people with other camera's taking the same pictures I am, and they are 10x brighter. What kind of features am I looking for with a Digital Camera? I have been interested in the Canon Powershot A85 at work [Circuit City], but I can't really use it because we don't have any extra CF Cards on the register.

My other beef is the fact that my current camera will take 5 pictures and then warn me about batteries, regardless of what batteries I use. I have used the Kodak Batteries, and I also purchased Monster AA Batteries that were fully charged before using, and everything is draining them. Will I have better luck with another camera?

With the Powershot, will the scene modes [15 of them] take care of the pictures I'm trying to take?
ok to get brighter pictures you use night mode (or high shutter speeds) and this requires a tripod because if u don't keep it still then it will get blurry because all the light won't go in right. as far as camera recommendations i would go with the canon a95 or the sony p100


Look for a camera that gives you the ability to alter the ISO settings, (the sensitivity of the CCD). For taking shots in darkened places your going to want something that can go over 800 ISO, up to 1600 or better is best. Also a camera that let's you take more manual control over such things as shutter speed and apeture will be a big help.

The best way to go would be with a digital SLR. If you alerady have a film camera, a Cannon, Nikon or Pentax, all these companies have really great digital SLR's available that will use most if not all of your existing lenses.

As for your batteries, you should use lithium-ion batteries. If your preview screen can be turned off then that would extend your battery life as well.
i've noticed that sometimes using the flash on a digital camera makes the picture worse, try taking the picture w/o the flash coming on, coz when the flash comes on the shutter speed is set to 60, but if you dont use the flash the sensor will auto-detect and the picture will turn out better... so try doing it w/o flash and tell me how it goes.
btw is it easy being a firefighter, i always wanted to be one, my college has a firefighter program and there is a fire station right outside my college

here are 2 pics that i took one with flash and one w/o flash in the same angle



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Staff member
Political User
If you want to get good night pictures you have to do something called bracketing, you take a picture of really bright light then a picture of a really dark area then the camera will average the two out and get a well lighted picture, also you F setting should be low around 2.0 is fine and a slow shutter is also required for night time photography, i would say 1/25 at the fastest, anything slower is better...hope this helps

Nick M

OSNN Veteran Addict
First, this depends on your budget. Your current camera won't do - as it's probably completely auto. You need some manual exposure modes, and a tripod; say a 5 second exposure would probably give you a great image, although that would be impossible handheld. To answer your question about the Powershot, yes, it would allow you to get the results that you desire but only with a tripod, as it is required for night shots of this caliber.

Other options is a camera with a fast ( f/2.0 ) lense and manually selected ISO sensitivity, say from 100 to 800.

prodj88, the higher the shutter speed, the less light goes in. You'll need lower speeds 1/10, 1/20, 1/50 to allow more light to come in.


OSNN Senior Addict
Upping the ISO also greatly increases the noise found in images; this tends to be more prevalent in compact digital cameras, but you can expect finer (amazingly better; check results with a digital SLR. They are pretty expensive though, and not too compact.


Somewhat eXPerienced
Yeah guys I don't have that big of a budget, I mean I'm not a professional photographer here, usually when I am taking pictures of fires it's when we're jumping, I.E. listening to the scanner while at a staging area, and then running to the call, not actually fighting the fire. Not a full firefighter yet, come next Sunday I will be getting my gear and my pager and then I'm set. :)

I'm not looking for the best solution to fix my problem, just something that will relatively take care of it... that's why I was thinking about going with the A85, I know that has a whole bunch of different modes and I think one of them will take care of what I need it to.
then i guess you can try turning the flash off, look at the pictures i attached on my first thread at the bottom, it's a digital camer, kodak 2.2mp, one w/flash and one w/o
if you want a picture like pseudokiller has except less fuzzier than you must do what i told you which is put it to night mode (slow shutter speed) and use a tripod. and you DO NOT use flash because night mode is already allowing all the light in - trust me i know how to use cameras. and btw if ur camera can't take good night shots on night modes then thats ur cameras fault and u should start looking for some other alternatives.


Somewhat eXPerienced
Thanks guys... Yeah I'll start turning off the flash. Does anyone know if the Canon A85 has this night mode? I'm not going to be able to use a tripod, due to the fact that these are basically in the middle of everything and I'm not going to have time to setup a tripod, so with me that's pretty much out of the question... but all of your other suggestions seem great. Yeah, that's the type of picture I want that Pseudo made. :p

Hey Pseudo, what all did you edit in that picture, brightness? Brightness and contrast? Something else?


Somewhat eXPerienced
Yeah this one went up pretty well. I'll just describe it this way:

I was in Philadelphia with my friends eating Geno's cheese steaks. In my town, I live about 10 minutes away from Philadelphia, in New Jersey acrossed the Delaware River. We got the call while we were eating. We finished our food, then decided to leave... hopped on Rt. 42 to head towards Atlantic City, then got off and headed north. The entire trip took about 1 hour to get from Philadelphia to Bass River Twp... and the thing was still roaring. So it was a big fire. :)

I won't be playing with them though, i'll be one of the ones putting them out, hehe.
Punkrulz said:
Does anyone know if the Canon A85 has this night mode?
Yes it has, it's called "Night Scene" and looks like this:
You may have to manually turn off the flash though, try both with and without it on. But I think off would be better.

The point of the tripod is that it's extremely hard to hold the camera steady enough for the long exposure time (maybe up to 0.5 seconds) due to the low light. So I think a small tripod could work. Just carry it around with the camera on it, put it down, snap a few and move to the next shooting point.


Somewhat eXPerienced
Yeah I understand the use of the tripod, but in order to get it ready, get it deployed, take the picture, and move on, especially at a fire scene with all of the confusion and chaos is a really difficult thing to do. So that's why I'm very reluctant about the tripod.

Good picture of the night scene mode. I figured it out earlier today that the camera had night mode. I was fooling around with my sister's camera that had pretty much the same symbol on it [her's is a kodak] and it said night scene. Checked out the A85 dial and saw the same thing so I knew it had it, but thank you for your effort. Now Night mode, is that going to give me brighter pictures? Or is that going to be giving me like a greenish look, almost like night vision?
No greenish night-vision stuff. Night mode uses the flash to "freeze" the object you're capturing (but since you want to capture a big fire, it should be off) and the uses a longer exposure time to brighten up the background (in your case the whole picture). This is why you need to keep the camera very still.

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