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What photography equipments do you have?

     
10:39 am on Nov 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I have been using a Nikon coolpix 4300 for the longest time (since 2002) in an office lighting settings. The picture quality is quite bad, I have to spend alot of time editing every single product shot, and it gets really tedious especially when the picture is white on white.

I am considering getting a full set of semi-pro studio equipment: Nikon D70, 4 tungstun lights w/ stands, textureless drop, and perhaps a light tent. It's around a $3000 investment and from what i have seen at other photography studio, the result looks quite promising.

Anyone care to share what you use for your pictures?

3:25 am on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I bought a Nikon D50 for my wife just this week, not for studio work though (she's more of an outdoor industrial/urban landscape photographer). We had also looked closely at the D70 as well as the Canon Digital Rebel XT. We found that the D70 offered nothing worthwhile over the D50 which would justify the extra cost, and the D50 came in much cheaper than the Canon. Nothing else came even vaguely close to those three in terms of price/quality.

If you are doing photography for the web, resolution isn't the biggest problem (as you're going to be reducing the quality and filesize down anyway). It is the lighting that is the most important aspect - it will be worth getting a decent backdrop and the tungsten lights. What size of product do you generally photograph? Truck-size, macro or in between?

Of course I am going to stick with my trusty mechanical Pentax K1000 as my favorite camera!

3:58 am on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I use a Nikon D70, which far exceeds my skills.
6:39 am on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I agree that lighting is the biggest problem I am having now. The pictures that I take with no extra lightings has this noice distortion which makes the picture a little fuzzy when viewing close up. It also takes a much longer time to edit the pictures because the edges are not well defined. Problem is I don't really know how to position the lights, that's why I might have to consider a light tent.

Size of the products ranges from 5 inches to 5 foot. Thanks for the D50 suggestion. I probably don't need the D70, because the camera will probably stay in my office for only product shots anyway.

8:47 am on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Spend your money on lights.
Its the most important part of photography.
Then have a look at gadgets like cameras ;)
9:29 pm on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Lighting is definitely the most important thing.

I once saw a TV programme in which the photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones took a very good self-protrait using a commercial photo booth, simply by adjusting how light was reflected on his face when the flash went off.

I can press all the right buttons on my camera, but damned if I can manipulate light the way he can. That's why his photographs are good and mine aren't.

8:59 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Problem is I don't really know how to position the lights, that's why I might have to consider a light tent.

Lights are important, that is correct, but you don't need much equipment to get a good job done.
You can bounce your flash against the ceiling and get a perfect, indirect light.
Or put some thin paper in front of the flash (maybe an inch ot two away) and the light gets softer.
Also it is a good idea, to detach the flash from the camera, so that you get the light from the side or even from the back of the object.
When you have to light a wider area, try a remote flash (either cable connected or wireless). Or make a longtime exposure and flash it a few times.

...how to position the lights

with the digital equipment you already have, it is easy, fast and cheap to try out all the possible alternatives

One last tip on lights:
If you have to take pictures of objects on a continuous basis ( like when selling on ebay) create a very small studio like area in you cellar or spare bedroom. Paint it either in a good white or in black, so that you have nothing that distracts from the images and you don't get any reflections and color artifacts from colored walls.

Hope this helps.

Btw. I am using a Pentax ist DS

10:07 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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A Canon IXUS 5mb for my website photography which is mostly flat artwork or landscapes. For lighting I use a pair of 20 year old Vivitar flash units with slave adaptors, bounce cards and heavy-duty tripods. A Cokin polarizer is useful for reducing reflection or overhead glare. For street photography I usually pack a small Leica tabletop tripod with a ball head (was my grandfather's) circa 1950s which weighs around 300 grams but can support a Hasselblad without trouble.
11:22 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I have gotten great use out of just a Canon Powershot A80 for all the photographs on my site, but I am planning on upgrading to a digital SLR in the future.

More recently I have been trying not to use the flash in most of my photos as I like the natural colours. This does mean I have to take many more photos though to find one I like.

2:15 pm on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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onlineleben, I need to take human size photographs quite often. Any suggestions on how many 500watts lights do I need to get "good" results? Also, should I turn off the office lights (flourescent tubes) while shooting?
5:45 pm on Nov 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I would switch off the office lighting as it may influence the colors.
Using traditional film, which is balanced for daylight use, you may encounter some blue or green when the flourescent ligths are on. The 'normal' lights would result in a warm yellow/orange tone of the pictures.
Similar things can happen when using a digital camera as they are mostly configured to mimick a traditional camera. In digital cameras you sometimes can adjust the color sensitivity or color temperature so that it matches the kind of lighting you use.
But using artificial light can also cause effects that enhance the photos. You have to experiment a little. Have fun ...

Regarding the number of 500 Watt bulbs I cannot make a good estimate.
It is all relating to the size of the studio, the size of the object, the distance of lightbulb to object, sometimes even to the age of the lightbulb, the sensitivity of the film (or settings in digital). You even have to consider the temperature caused by the lights as the nearer to your object you are, the more it affects the object itself.

I would work at least with two 500 Watt bulbs so I have a good light in the background and also some light in the foreground (left or right) which I can enhance with flash (direct or indirect).

Hope this helps.

Don't forget to switch on the office lights after shooting, as you may be 'blinded' by the photo lights.

3:49 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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With a nikon 4300 you can make very good pictures if you do not use flash, if you correctly set the white balance and set iso to 100. To take a lot of similar pictures, you should also use exposure memorization.
7:18 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I use an Olympus mju II and a Pentax MZ50

Great results, mind you both have F1.8 lenses and are analogue.

Matt

10:15 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Great results, mind you both have F1.8 lenses and are analogue

What's so bad about analog cameras.
IMHO, nothing!
I still work a lot of things with my analog cameras (also Pentax MZ-7 and a 25 year old MX) and I am just in the process to scan about 150 paper prints (taken last vacation in SW US) for one of my projects and for showing to the family.
Analog is no dead. Using film is in some cases the better solution.
 

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