After having the camera in a working state for several days, I've had enough time to form some thoughts on it. For one thing, I am pretty pleasantly surprised by the image quality and its overall usability. Images tend to come out fairly crisp (if low-resolution) and I would be happy to print them on a 4x6 (but no bigger). If you deliberately underexpose, a lot of detail can be pushed out of the shadows in post. Composition, and to a lesser extent, focusing, is still a challenge. I've added some functions to do quick previews by undersampling the image, and other routines for focusing. I hope to post a few short videos on those bits too.
Of all the SPUD's quirks, these are my main qualms:
- The screen is beyond useless in outdoor light. I made the mistake of tying the backlight to the 3v3 pin instead of directly to the battery.
- It makes a pretty awful noise. The buzzing of the stepper motor is I think somehow amplified by the hollow wooden body, especially at high step rates.
- It's a lot bigger and uglier than it needs to be. Just needs a redesign.
- No vertical tripod mount, and its size prevents it from being turned vertical on smaller tripods.
- Battery life seems... meh. Haven't actually tested it, but I expect 20 or so photos before the battery will poop out. LiPo's range from 4.2 to 3ish volts from charged to fully discharged, but the Teensy requires at least 3.7v for things to work correctly.
- Resolution is not very good. This limits the usefulness of the photos it produces beyond web use. Could switch to a higher resolution sensor, but the TSL seems like the easiest to drive, with good image characteristics so far.
I'm definitely not ruling out a successor to this camera to fix some of these issues, though.
A few more sample photos, with annotation:
Part of my lab space at UW. Not a very interesting photo, but I think it shows that the tonality produced by the TSL is pretty good! The shadows have a lot of range, and the highlights actually withstand a little bit of abuse.
Contrast was pushed in this one in post, and this highlights a few of the challenges. I'm not using any dark frames or masking, so smudges and dust on the sensor shows up (streak on center right). Weird artifacts like the dark band on the left show up sometimes, too. I'm not sure exactly why those happen.
At faster integration times, the scan can take as little as 5 seconds or so to complete. That means that slow moving targets like people walking in the distance show up OK! I was personally pretty surprised by this fact.
This one is kind of cool - the movement of the waves results in a bumpy-looking Lake Union - and the bobbing of the kayaks turns them into worm-like objects. Less an issue with the camera and more of an artifact of scanner cameras in general.