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Author Topic: Any Suggestions on New Camera?  (Read 1087 times)
Tyler V
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« on: September 16, 2017, 06:04:27 PM »

Hello everybody,
        I have been lurking here for a while and staying up to date with what's going on but haven't posted much lately due to my busy nature at art school and personal projects.  While trying to photograph my works in progress and final photos with my iPhone I came to a conclusion that it is probably time to invest in a nice decent camera to document my work for my portfolio, my work consists of mostly fine scale models, dioramas, or props.  I have been researching through various model forums about what camera to use and what lens you should get and have become quite overwhelmed in the vast options out there on the market, plus most forums I've found related to photography are five or more years old, I guess my core question would be what cameras and setups do you guys use most often for model photography? SLR, DSLR point and shoot? Im very overwhelmed and could use a good starting point for my search.

Thank you,
Tyler Virga
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finescalerr
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2017, 02:11:23 PM »

You probably want an interchangeable lens DSLR because model photography often requires a macro lens. The one I used professionally and still tend to use most often is a 100mm macro. Sony, among others, makes a fixed zoom lens camera. It's small but I don't know whether it has decent macro capability.

Were I looking to buy something for a reasonable price (because my camera's price is unreasonable) I'd go to bhphotovideo.com (where many professionals get their stuff) and pick up one of the Canon bodies--one of the Rebels or the 80D--and whatever lens you think you'd use most often. The 100mm macro, by the way, is just as good for regular shooting as it is for macro shots.

It may make no difference to you but the lower cost camera sensors are inferior to those in the more expensive bodies. An inexpensive sensor will have less effect on sharpness than on noise in shadows or low light. Years ago I bought one of the Canon Rebels thinking it had the same sensor as the next best model (because the previous generation's cameras did) and learned the hard way that things had changed. I still used the camera for about six or seven years, cleaned up the noise and adjusted the unsharp mask in Photoshop, and the photos were fine for publication. I used that camera until I closed down the business, then bought a better one. (I know, totally illogical.)

You might save a little money by buying one of Canon's body/lens packages. They also are available at Costco. Depending on what you plan to do with the camera, that might be a good idea or a bad one. In my case, a body alone along with a separate 100mm macro makes more sense than paying extra for the body and a mediocre lens I might not use much.

Nikon cameras also are excellent and in the past five years Sony has come on strong. Most professionals think Canon still produces the most pleasing color and perhaps has an edge in lens selection and perhaps sharpness. But everything I have written is a professional's nitpick. If you know what you're doing, any decent camera, including an iPhone in some cases, can produce good photos. It's hard to make a bad choice. But as you shoot, you become more critical of what you and your camera can do so, if you get a better camera and lens to start with, you'll save money in the long run because they will serve you longer.

Russ
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Tyler V
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2017, 06:02:30 PM »

Okay great, this is a great start Thank you for your input and I was leaning toward a DSLR camera because of its large range of manual options and interchangeable options.  I didn't realize that macro lenses are not only used for close-ups but can be used in other applications too.  I am a newbie when it comes to photography so I appreciate your input and suggestions on what direction to look further in.

-Tyler
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Hauk
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« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2017, 04:24:53 AM »

I am also looking for a new camera, but I am not so keen on a macro with a relatively long focus length. Even on a full format DSLR, a 100mm lens is a telephoto lens.

What I want is a camera with the possibillity to shoot model scene closeups with a normal angle of view.

For this reason I have been rather fond of  the early generations of digital compacts with really good macro capabilities. For instance, the good old Nikon Coolpix 995 had the closest focus at just 2cm, or slightly under an inch. And that with the normal angle of view.

I am now shooting with an Canon G12 that have the closest focus at around 5 cm (2 inches). But the sensor is not exactly state of the art, and the lens has suffered some annoying scratches.

I know that the close focus capabilities on these old cameras are due to their very tiny sensors and the really short focal lengths that goes with them. For those reasons these cameraes also had an impressive depth of field, that at the time was a great bonus. Due to focus stacking, this is not so important any more.

So if anyone could point me to a camera or lens with a normal/slightly wide view angle that can focus down to at least 2 inches, I would be very grateful!
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Regards, Hauk
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finescalerr
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« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 11:54:50 AM »

The best way to get the shot you want with almost any camera is to put the camera on a tripod, focus the first photo as close as possible, refocus a few inches farther away and shoot again, and on down the scene until you have what you want. Take the images into Photoshop, one per layer and, with the "feathered edge" erase tool, remove the part of each overlapping photo where it begins to lose focus. Flatten all layers into one and you have your shot in perfect focus from front to back at the sensor's full resolution.

A couple of companies have software to do the same thing but I see no reason to buy them.

An easier way to achieve what you want (at the cost of resolution) is to use a normal lens, shoot from farther away, focus on a point that encompasses the whole scene, and then crop the image. You'll need a fairly hi-res camera for that, since the resulting image will be between 30-50% of the full frame, but any camera from 12 megapixels up should do the job your Nikon 995 did -- only better.

My first digital camera was a Nikon 990 and it was terrific for shooting close-up macro type shots but its resolution was only 3 megapixels. With that, however, I took all product shots, two or three covers, and even managed to put a 990 image onto a 35mm slide shot to create an 11x17 inch spread!

Finally, although I haven't used one, 35mm camera tilt-shift lenses are available and may produce what you want.

If you have more questions, either ask them here or send me an e-mail.

Russ
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Hauk
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2017, 07:31:20 AM »

The best way to get the shot you want with almost any camera is to put the camera on a tripod, focus the first photo as close as possible, refocus a few inches farther away and shoot again, and on down the scene until you have what you want. Take the images into Photoshop, one per layer and, with the "feathered edge" erase tool, remove the part of each overlapping photo where it begins to lose focus. Flatten all layers into one and you have your shot in perfect focus from front to back at the sensor's full resolution.

Focus Stacking in other words Wink


Quote
An easier way to achieve what you want (at the cost of resolution) is to use a normal lens, shoot from farther away, focus on a point that encompasses the whole scene, and then crop the image. You'll need a fairly hi-res camera for that, since the resulting image will be between 30-50% of the full frame, but any camera from 12 megapixels up should do the job your Nikon 995 did -- only better.

Yes, except that you will end up with an image taken with a telephoto lens. The challenge is to keep the view angle of a normal/standard lens. That was the charm with the 990, you got very close focusing combined with the view angle of a normal or slightly wide angled lens. And great depth of field. That we both agree is not so important anymore due to Focus Stacking.

Quote
Finally, although I haven't used one, 35mm camera tilt-shift lenses are available and may produce what you want.

Way back in the analogue ages Model Railroader shot a feature on George Sellios´  Franklin & South Manchester using a medium format camera with a tilt-shift lens. Great depth of field, but the lens made the perspective look quite strange in some of the images.


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Regards, Hauk
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Bill Gill
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2017, 10:09:33 AM »

Hauk, The November 2017 issue of Model Railroader (Yes, it's already available in some areas) has an article about taking photos acceptable for publication using an iPhone. While that is not the camera you are seeking, one advantage to camera phone is they are low enough and small enough to set onto a layout for good trackside views that bulkier camera with lens mounted higher are more difficult to set up in some tight/close situations.
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Hauk
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2017, 03:40:09 AM »

Hauk, The November 2017 issue of Model Railroader (Yes, it's already available in some areas) has an article about taking photos acceptable for publication using an iPhone. While that is not the camera you are seeking, one advantage to camera phone is they are low enough and small enough to set onto a layout for good trackside views that bulkier camera with lens mounted higher are more difficult to set up in some tight/close situations.

I certainly consider my iPhone 8 for usable for some jobs, especially for the situations you describe.
For webpublishing the a mobile gives more than adequate quality. Even for smaller images in print it can be acceptable.

By the way, I looked into some compacts, and even if it is one of the ugliest cameras I have ever seen the Canon PowerShot G5 X might be a camera for me. It focuses down to 5 cm from the front of the lens. I think this is about as good as it gets with modern compacts.
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Regards, Hauk
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2017, 07:29:48 AM »

Also with me, the model railroad photography was always a problem, until I bought this Sony QX 100, attached examples. Photography is done through an app.


shooting distance to lens approx. 70 mm.


Here the recording scenario the lighting is done with LED job spotlights.


Here is another example.


in the background my tray with the app for recording.

There is now even a Boddy for interchangeable lenses the Sony QX 1.
With the QX 100 I made the recordings for my Miba articles.
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Regards Helmut
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finescalerr
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« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2017, 04:42:19 PM »

I've been thinking about Havård's question for the past couple of months. This week I decided to test my own answer and tried image stacking to extend my Canon SLR's depth of field. Photoshop has a couple of options in both the File and Edit drop down menus so, with those in mind, I shot a few frames of a 1:32 scale log train with both a 50mm and a 100mm macro lens, then fumbled around with different Photoshop settings to see what kind of results they produce. Photoshop's macros produce something similar to Helicon Focus.

Bottom line: Don't waste your time unless you enjoy tricking out photos.

As Havård points out, the resulting image, even with a 50mm lens at f/32, probably won't produce the results he wants. Helmut's shorter focal length camera seems to do the job better. I don't have a macro lens shorter than 50mm but, if I did, it might be fun to see what it could do.

Photoshop also has another downside: By my standards the masking it uses is rather crude. The only way to get a decent image is to let Photoshop resize all the stacked images so the photographer then may erase the out-of-focus parts of each layer to blend into a final image and then flatten the layers into a single shot. It's necessary to erase the layers at high magnification, too, because of Photoshop's default feathering, and you need to be meticulous in cleaning them up. The procedure takes more time than it should.

It seems pointless to attach my photos because the huge loss of resolution necessary to post them here would obscure their minor imperfections and because I'm less than excited by the results. Yeah, I probably could have used the technique to crank out a few covers and spreads for my books and magazines but I'm not certain the difference would have been important for photos of large scale models. It would have been more noticeable in photos of the HO dioramas I created, especially since I wasn't trying to achieve the same perspective Havård wants. I often spent a few hours Photoshopping important images but I seriously doubt any of you would. That's because I'm insane, because I felt it necessary to help sell magazines and books, and because photo editing had become second nature. Rather a uniquely necessary combination, n'est-ce pas?
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darrylhuffman
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« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2017, 04:39:50 PM »

I faithfully used my Nikon Ftn which I purchased new in 1972 for about $700 until digital cameras came along.

Photography has always been a second hobby for me so having a good camera has been very important.

Today I just use my Apple iPhone for photography.  Very easy to use and always on hand.

At the narrow gauge convention, I talked with Mario Rapinett about how much I liked his photographs.

I figured he had some big heavy rig based on the quality of the photos he always provides after the conventions.

He pulled out his small Sony point and shoot camera and said that all his photos are taken with in.

He said the "trick" is to actually read the owner's manual and follow the instructions.
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Darryl Huffman
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finescalerr
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« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2017, 09:07:47 PM »

If you don't have your owner's manual, here are the "tricks" for good model shots:

The first is to use the smallest possible aperture (biggest f/ number), such as f/32 or as close to that as your camera gets. Cellphone cameras lack f/stop controls so ....

Regardless of what kind of camera you use, the second "trick" is to shoot under as much light as possible since manufacturers optimize digicams and smartphone cameras for shooting in sunlight. Less light equals shallow depth of field and more "noise".

The final "trick" is always use a tripod.

Decent shots require all three "tricks" ... always, no exceptions. But I assume you guys already know that since the shots I see on the forum usually tend to be quite good.

Russ
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darrylhuffman
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« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2017, 11:45:17 PM »

Another "trick" I like to use is to move the camera back and then use graphics editing software to crop the photo to the desired size.

This allows a better focus and eliminates the "fore-shortening" effect of having the camera too close.

Example, if your wife is sensitive about her big nose, take your photo from further away to avoid exaggerating a problem.

My wife's only problem in her photography is she thinks she needs to get the camera right up close to the subject.

another "trick" I learned years ago is to use the timer on the camera rather than manually pushing the button to take the photo.
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Darryl Huffman
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finescalerr
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« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2017, 02:02:13 AM »

Good tricks.

The one about the big nose might be an idea for guys wanting to flatter wives or girlfriends: Get the camera up close to her chest ....

Uh-oh. I think Nick and Lawton and probably a few others are threatening to send me to the corner. Gotta go.

Russ
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Lawton Maner
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« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2017, 07:57:18 AM »

While you are there put all of Nick's take away boxes in the bin.  You might do something useful around here.
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