It’s time to buy more cameras, so Mark and I went to our observation booth and wrestled with what to buy. We had four variables: dome (zoomable) vs. brick (non-zoomable) and low-res (640×480) vs. high-res (but wide screen). He had four issues: 1) some places have no power access, so those angles required high-resolution brick cameras (what a strange feature of high-res camera to not require plug-in power!), 2) we had some “interaction” (i.e. close-up exhibit observations) that looked fine at low-res but others that looked bad, 3) lighting varies from area to area and sometimes within the camera view (this dynamic lighting is handled better with high-res), and 4) current position and/or view of the cameras wasn’t always as great as we’d first thought. This, we thought, was a pretty sticky and annoying problem that we needed to solve to make our next purchase.
Mark was planning to buy 12 cameras, and wanted to know what mix of brick/dome and high/low-res we needed, keeping in mind the high-res cameras are about $200 more each. We kept looking at many of the 25 current views and each seemed to have a different issue or, really, combination of the four. So we went back and forth on a bunch of the current cameras, trying to decide which ones were fine, which ones needed high-res, and which we could get away with low-res. After about 10 minutes and no real concrete progress, I wanted a list of the cameras we weren’t satisfied with and then what we wanted to replace each, including ones that were high-res when they didn’t need to be (meaning that we could repurpose a high-res elsewhere). Suddenly, it dawned on me that this was a) not going to be our final purchase, b) still likely just a guess until things were re-installed and additionally installed and lived with. So I asked why we didn’t just get 12 high-res, and if we didn’t like them in the spots we replaced and were still unsatisfied with whatever we repurposed after the high-res, we could move them again, even to the remaining exhibit areas that we haven’t begun to cover yet. Then we can purchase the cheaper low-res cameras later and save the money at the end of the grant, but have plenty of high-res for where we need it. I just realized we were sitting around arguing over a couple thousand dollars that we would probably end up spending anyway to purchase high-res cameras later, so we didn’t have to worry about it right at this minute. It ended up being a pretty easy decision.