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Buying a digital camera for MOC photography

camera xs7

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#1 Brickadeer

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 08:10 PM

Hi,

I'm planning to buy a digital camera.

I want to make sharp pictures of objects from close range, e.g. sharp pictures of minifigs and their body printing.

My problem is that I have no idea what features/qualities of the camera are important to reach that goal.

If someone could give me a short introduction ("In order reach the desired goal, the camera needs to have the features a,b with a parameter value of x,y")that would be very nice.

Maybe experienced users can tell us what cameras they use and give examples of the qualities of the respective pictures.

#2 Darth Dino

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 08:35 PM

Hi

that is the very first time for me in this forum i can help instead of asking you. I am a macro photographer since 10 years.

First, a compact camera have smaller sensors so they have an increased depth of field, more sharper images in the depth. But those small sensors also having more noise than large sensor cameras, e.g. canons dslrs. You really need a large dept of field that a figure is in that close distance in full focus. dofmaster.com explains what it is exacly meaning.

For more advisory what camera to buy i need to know your budget.

In general the camera should take images in RAW instead of just jpegs. RAW images are very easy to whitebalance.

LIGHT, more important than you probably imagine. Pros are using a kind of white tent where they are putting their objects. All the light will be strailight through the semi transparent tent. That causes absolutely even and non reflective images. You will see te object instead of light refexes.

More to come if i know your budget.

Dino

Edited by Darth Dino, 08 September 2011 - 08:44 PM.

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#3 Brickadeer

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 08:41 PM

Thanks for reply.

As a general rule, I planned with 100 - 200 Euros, but I have no idea of what is possible with such cameras.

#4 Darth Dino

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 08:57 PM

Ok then, you will have to take a compact camera for that budget. I am not sure if you will get a camera for this with RAW shooting ability. I would start at dpreview.com looking for canons and or panasonics with LOW zoom factor, e.g. 3x. The camera should shoot in programme modes A and or M, T isi not needed for macros. As you are a german like me, you will understand if i would recommnd you a "Baustrahler" as light instead of any build in flash.

Again in this pricerange the cameras are very compareable. Many users will probably recommend you a specific one, but i do not. Go to the lectronic markets take a minifig with you and try to do marcos with zoomed out!! lens and see with camera is better for you. Both brands i mentioned are a good start.

Think of this:

Amateurs worry about equipment, professionals about money and masters worry about LIGHT, that is making the picture!

So you do not have to worry about which camera to buy... ;)

Dino
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#5 dr_spock

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 08:59 PM

In addition to a camera with a good macro mode, a tripod to hold the camera steady is very useful.

#6 Brickdoctor

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 09:03 PM

I use an entry level DSLR, which is more than adequate. (Nikon D-3100) Basically, you need a tripod and backdrop, and if you go with point-and-shoot, you need a macro mode and adjustable exposure at the least. A lot of the work can be accomplished in Photoshop. I did eight and a half Reviewers Academy reviews with a point-and-shoot, and many of the other teachers use them, too.

#7 Brickadeer

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 09:15 PM

Thanks for your replies so far. It seems that making photos is actually more complicated than pressing a button of a camera...

The Nikon D-3100 costs roughly 2x - 2.5x the price I want to pay; I'm not sure yet that I want to spend that much (?) money on a camera.

This one seemed to make good pictures:

http://www.amazon.de...5511763&sr=1-40

But going to local seller to test some cameras seems to be a good idea.

#8 Darth Dino

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 09:16 PM

Hi again,

i would not recommend to shoot with or in macro mode. Those cameras having the ability to go very close to the object and do this way the marco. But you have to shoot this with the lowest zoom factor 1x instead of a high one, 3x or 5x. Shooting in wide angle will cause distortions up to a fisheye look. Good macros are taken from the distance with a higher focal lengths. The best focal length, because the most comparable to our human eye is 50mm on full frame sensors. If your camera having a smaller sensor, e.g. a 1/5 of that, then 10mm displayed on the lens or on the display are ok. Dofmaster will also introduce to you the diference between sensor sizes. It is hard to explain by writing on my tablet..


As i told you i would not recommend superzoom cameras. They have lack of detail especially in macro mode because of the many single lenses such an objective has.


Dino

Edited by Darth Dino, 08 September 2011 - 09:31 PM.

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#9 Brickadeer

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 09:40 AM

The following picture was made with a samsung digimax s700. Of course, it is no professional picture, but I think that for a beginner it seems to have a sufficient resolution:

Posted Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

The camera is available for EUR 129,90.

What do you think?

#10 harakiri

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 10:26 AM

I got this one as a compact alternative to my DSLR:

http://www.amazon.de...16510340&sr=8-1

Pros are that it can take RAW, the lens is really good and its great to use in low light due to the fact that it starts with f1.8

Its slightly above your price range, but I suggest to also check the Amazon Warehouse frequently:

http://www.amazon.de...e=A8KICS1PHF7ZO

I bought mine there for roughly 220 Euros

You could also try to get an used entry level DSLR.  There is the Olympus E450 for example. For that you would be able to get the Olympus 35mm Macro. That lens is really nice, especially for its price.

#11 Brickadeer

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 10:43 AM

View Postharakiri, on 20 September 2011 - 10:26 AM, said:

I got this one as a compact alternative to my DSLR:

http://www.amazon.de...16510340&sr=8-1

Pros are that it can take RAW, the lens is really good and its great to use in low light due to the fact that it starts with f1.8

Its slightly above your price range, but I suggest to also check the Amazon Warehouse frequently:

http://www.amazon.de...e=A8KICS1PHF7ZO

I bought mine there for roughly 220 Euros

You could also try to get an used entry level DSLR.  There is the Olympus E450 for example. For that you would be able to get the Olympus 35mm Macro. That lens is really nice, especially for its price.
Thanks :) Is it possible for you to make and post a picture of a minifig so I can get an idea of what is possible?

#12 harakiri

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 01:23 PM

I do one later (at work right now   :wacko:  )

Then you will also know what can be down with bad lighting as I currently don't own a flash gun for it

Edited by harakiri, 20 September 2011 - 01:25 PM.


#13 Darth Dino

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 02:47 PM

View PostBrickadeer, on 20 September 2011 - 09:40 AM, said:



What do you think?

Hi

two things:

At first you should really close your aperature (higher value) to get more depth of field. See, the front of the helmet is sharp, but even to torso is unsharp. And it ia NOT unsharp bedause you have the wrong camera, it is because you did not have choosen the "correct" settings for that. I can not actually read EXIFs here on my Ipad but i would bet you have taken the photo with wide open aperature (small value).

Sexondly, try to whitebalnc first, if no raw mode is available. Take a photo with the same settings as for the fig but take it from a white piece of paper. Then choose manual WB and go back to the paperphoto. Then the camera calculates how yellowish or whatever you color tone is. Every photo taken from then is fine whitebalanced. Nearly every camera can do so.

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#14 harakiri

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 06:49 PM

Ok, here is your sample file.
Its bigger than the 800x600 required here so I put it into my Dropbox public folder for you to download.
Here the link:

<removed. send PM if you want to see>

Picture was taken with ambient light, no flash. Done in RAW and cropped and converted to JPEG using the free software RawTherapy

I did not use a tripod, but since Captain Jack is fairly short I just placed the camera in front of him on the table.

For a point and shoot I  think the Samsung is really nice.

Edited by harakiri, 24 September 2011 - 08:47 AM.


#15 Brickadeer

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 04:22 PM

Thanks guys.

@Dino: I've been aware of the sharpness-issue, but supposed that to be normal. I'll try to figure out how to follow your advice!

@harakiri: Compared to mine, this seems to be an excellent picture!

#16 Darth Dino

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 05:24 PM

Hi

"your sharpness issue" is no thing to worry about, it is a physical effect. But you can change that by closibg the aperature, using a higher f-value.

Dino
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#17 Brickadeer

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 05:50 PM

If I understand this correctly, the f-value of the camera varies between 2.8 and 4.9 (x1.0 - x5.0). I think I used the lowest f-value 2.8. When I use a higher f-value the details of the torso printing start to become unsharp.

Edited by Brickadeer, 21 September 2011 - 05:51 PM.


#18 SearchFunction

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 07:09 PM

I think its funny everytime I see a beginner asking for something simple, like audio or similar in this case, and the pros come in and tell the poor guy that nothing short of $$$ is any good.

The only thing you need is a camera with MANUAL FOCUS, because without it, cameraes CANNOT take close-up pictures, and they always need to have flash on, even in broad daylight, outside on a sunny day. I´m trapped now with one that can´t match the pictures of any old manual camera I ever owned.

#19 Zeon

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 08:10 PM

View PostBrickadeer, on 21 September 2011 - 05:50 PM, said:

If I understand this correctly, the f-value of the camera varies between 2.8 and 4.9 (x1.0 - x5.0). I think I used the lowest f-value 2.8. When I use a higher f-value the details of the torso printing start to become unsharp.

That is most probably because the camera compensates the narrow aperature with longer exposure time and you can't shoot hand-held any more (The un-sharp picture you are getting is blurry because you are shaking the camera). Are you using a tripod? (4.9 is the highest f-value on your lens?)

View PostSearchFunction, on 21 September 2011 - 07:09 PM, said:

I think its funny everytime I see a beginner asking for something simple, like audio or similar in this case, and the pros come in and tell the poor guy that nothing short of $$$ is any good.

The only thing you need is a camera with MANUAL FOCUS, because without it, cameraes CANNOT take close-up pictures, and they always need to have flash on, even in broad daylight, outside on a sunny day. I´m trapped now with one that can´t match the pictures of any old manual camera I ever owned.

1) That's not true, nobody said that he needs a DSLR or any expensive camera. The first question was his budget :)
2) I think that needs some explanation, what do you mean?

Edited by Zeon, 21 September 2011 - 08:13 PM.


#20 Darth Dino

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 08:43 PM

Hi

noone told he needs a DSLR.

F-value:

The fs written on your lens tellen you the widest position for the different zoom stages. 2.8 is for wide angle, the other one for telephoto.

In both cases that is "wide open". But you can close it manually. In my first post i mentioned the A (aperature) or M (manual) modes, because both modes will steer the aperature. Every camera can do so, i am sure yours too! If you close the aperature in that modes, it will also reduce light - that i why most automodes uses wide open aperatures. 2.8 - 4.0 - 5.6 - 8.0 those f values will reduce the light for each step by the HALF! But you will increase also you depth of field. On the other hand, as mentioned in the post before mine, you will need a tripod, because of long exposure times, e.g. 2-3 seconds.

Posted Image

See what the closing, higher values, of the aperature does! Parts in the back getting sharp, unline to searchfunctions post it has NOTHING to do with the focus, its all aperature!

Your lens probable do not have a f36 step but f8 is much better for that instead of wide open.

Sorry for big image, Ipad sucks for c&p.


Dino

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Edited by Darth Dino, 21 September 2011 - 08:51 PM.

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#21 Zeon

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 08:58 PM

View PostDarth Dino, on 21 September 2011 - 08:43 PM, said:

Your lens probable do not have a f36 step but f8 is much better for that instead of wide open.

Diffraction kicks in earlier with our poor lenses, anyway :)

There's an optimum F value of your lens where the DoF is wide enough and the picture doesn't get blurry due to light interference in your lens/sensor. With my humble camera it's about at f11.

EDIT: Maybe he meant manual MODE. That's a handy one for stepping down aperture.

Edited by Zeon, 21 September 2011 - 09:01 PM.


#22 Darth Dino

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 09:08 PM

Hi

yes, you are right. Only dedicated macro lenses will still benefit from higher then f11. I have two, 50 and 150 mm both are still ok ip to f13. But the f36 image will show easily what closing the aperature means for the image.

Keep in mind dof also changes massively with different focals lengths. Long focal length (telephoto) will have a very short dof even you close the aperature.

A very good example shows that from the other side: The single eye of a fly has a soooo short focal lengths, that no aperature ( eye iris)  and no focussing is needed but everything is everytime in FULL focus.

Dino

Edited by Darth Dino, 21 September 2011 - 09:10 PM.

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#23 dr_spock

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 03:11 AM

This is as close I can auto-focus with close-up mode on my auto everything Fujifilm compact camera.  There is no control over the aperture but I can turn off the flash.

Posted Image

I could crop the image to frame tighter.  The minifig print isn't too bad for the web.

Posted Image

A dedicated macro lens can get me this close.  

Posted Image


I guess it boils down to how sharp you are looking for and your budget.

#24 SearchFunction

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 03:50 PM

View PostZeon, on 21 September 2011 - 08:10 PM, said:


1) That's not true, nobody said that he needs a DSLR or any expensive camera. The first question was his budget :)
2) I think that needs some explanation, what do you mean?

Plenty of people here do SUGGEST DSLRs though, even if they don´t say it. The Samsung EX1 linked to by harakiri is 300 euros according to what I can see.

Manual mode. Whatever its called. You put your things on a table, you get your camera out, and get close...and its not in focus, and by that I mean unsharp/blurry. Old cameras had a ring around the lens where you could adjust the distance to the object you intended to take a picture of. Digital cameras in the lower end of the price spectrum, dosn´t have this feature. Instead they focus on whatever the software thinks you want to photograph. And to focus they need light. Obscene amounts of it. It drives me nuts.

Maybe I´m just frustrated. If you can tell me how to take macro pictures with my Canon PowerShot A560 I´ll be most gratefull. Right now, I´m convinced it can´t.
My old 1980 Zenit EM camera could do this no sweat, like every other non-digital camera. If you have anything in the 100-125 euro price range, please do tell. The camera man in my shop said nothing less than 350 euro..for the cheapest one was any good, so they are not exactly a good source of info.

#25 Darkdragon

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 04:04 PM

A small digital that will be good for macro images like minifigs and costs little is the Cannon Powershot ELPH SD or HS series. These are under $200 usd and I used one (SD200 $129) for years until I could afford a dslr. You can look it up on Amazon website and there are example photos sent by actual customers and read the reviews. These little cameras are also very tough and I never had problems even after I gave it to my 9 year old niece (who didn't treat it as carefully as I did).

If your camera is having hard time autofocus because of low light,, shine a flashlight on the subject just for the focus and then turn it off for the picture. Depending on if you are in manual or full auto mode this could change your exposure but it is easier to fix exposure in editing then to fix out of focus issues.

You don't need a tripod to get a good image, you can use a book or towel under your camera. The thing you need is to keep your camera steady and not touch it. Use the self timer mode for clean shots in macro mode. This will help a lot because your hand can be off the camera when you actually get the photo.

Edited by darkdragon, 23 September 2011 - 04:22 PM.




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