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I know pretty much nothing about photography so have come looking for some guidance on technique and equipment required.

I want to take a photo of the underside of a tray, which is 130 by 90 millimetres.

I expect I need some kind of clamp/tripod equivalent that allows the camera to be positioned directly under the tray aimed directly skywards.

The tray may be slightly damp and drip, therefore I thought a rugged waterproof camera might be a good choice.

Additionally, the tray will be held at a predefined distance from the camera each time, thus the setup will be static.

Ideally, I would like to trigger the camera To take the photo from software on a pc... Using it slightly like a web cam? Or perhaps a remote control, but have the image detectable I editable by the pc.

The underside of the tray will have up to 100 2d barcodes.... Decoding them from the image is the end goal, and thus a sharp clear image is essential

Although I know nothing about photography this project is for a very good cause and I would appreciate any input.

I have not selected a camera yet, so I am open to any advice, my total budget is around 1500 dollars however coming in below this would be better.

To hold the tray, I expected to fabricate some kind of stand that would sit above the camera. I suspect that the button would need to be cut out, rather than Perspex as the tray will be at a very low temperature and would cause condensation on any surface in direct contact.

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Is there any reason the tray can't be turned on its side? –  Steven Cunningham Jul 21 '12 at 11:51
2  
I was going to ask the same question. I would also question how sharp the photos need to be. My phone's camera decodes barcodes all the time, in less than ideal lighting, and just being hand held. –  Eric Jul 21 '12 at 12:17
    
Eric, Steven.. Yes I'm afraid the trays must be placed flat and not turned. –  Jonno Jul 22 '12 at 22:42
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2 Answers

If the purpose is to decode barcodes, I would suggest looking into webcams. The HD cams are pretty good these days and cost next to nothing. Some come with stands, and that should solve your "tripod" issue as well. You could even use Blue Tack as additional stabilizer.

The webcams come with capture software too. I don't know anything about the decoding software though.

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Positioning the camera

I would start by just hand-holding the camera, unless there's a reason why this is not possible. Another option is a tripod. Pretty much any tripod will allow you to point the camera straight up. You will need to find one which is small enough to fit under the tray. A joby gorillapod with a ball head might fit the bill nicely, and is inexpensive as tripods go.

You haven't asked about how to hold the tray, so I assume that it's already fixed somehow?

Drips

As for protecting the camera from drips, I would have thought that a clear piece of glass or perspex between the camera and the tray would give adequate protection, and still give a clear enough image for your purposes.

Triggering the Camera

Your camera may well come with software that will let you trigger it remotely. Can you tell us what make/model you are using?

More

If you can give some more details about the setup (either in your question, comments on your question or comments on this answer) then I will try to help.

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thanks for the help, additional details in update –  Jonno Jul 21 '12 at 10:12
    
I think @rajib's idea of trying a webcam is probably the way to go. –  AJ Finch Jul 22 '12 at 8:45
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