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The Dark Room -- Photo Editing and Picture Taking. Advice, tutorials, questions on all things photoshop, photo editing, and taking pictures of beads or glass.

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  #1  
Old 2011-12-29, 5:14pm
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Default Do I really need an SLR camera?

I want to buy a new camera but I'm not sure if I need to buy an SLR or just upgrade to a good point and shoot. I don't want more camera than I need, as it will be strickly for beads and jewelry. I'm looking at a Canon Powershot SX40 HS
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  #2  
Old 2011-12-29, 5:17pm
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You don't absolutely need one. Some people take great photos of their beads without an SLR type camera. Some take really nice photos with a short depth of field that just focuses on the front beads or parts of the jewelry that are close and the rest is in the bokeh (out of focus).
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  #3  
Old 2011-12-29, 5:38pm
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You don't absolutely need one. Some people take great photos of their beads without an SLR type camera. Some take really nice photos with a short depth of field that just focuses on the front beads or parts of the jewelry that are close and the rest is in the bokeh (out of focus).
Sort of artsy fartsy, huh?
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  #4  
Old 2011-12-29, 6:38pm
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Depends. I use a point and shoot and my pictures turn out decent but I can't use them for magazine or book photos. My camera doesn't take TIFF photos, only JPG so there are limitations with just the JPG format. Some point and shoots might do other formats but the macro settings on the point and shoot cameras today are pretty good.
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Old 2011-12-29, 7:30pm
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You could use a flat bed scanner if you wanted to. Back before digital came around I use to play with my flat bed HP scanner that was connected to my computer and scanned a lot of 3D object (no body parts though). The quality wasn't bad either.

The main thing you want to look for in any camera is the ability to control the settings to change speed and fstop and be able to focus as close as you plan on getting to whatever you are taking a picture of. A lot of the cheaper point and shoots are auto everything and don't give you a lot of flexibility. They are great for what they are intended for, but not so great when you need to do long exposures because you have stopped down the fstop to increase your depth of field. There are a number of excellent cameras available that fall with in the P&S category but do have a lot of features. So what ever camera you get, make sure and go over it's features very carefully so you don't end up having just a, well, point and shoot.


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Old 2011-12-30, 9:17pm
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Mike, I didn't know they made a P&S with settings to change the speed and F-stop.
Ack!! I think I need to go to photography class!!
My pictures aren't bad, but I always want better!
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  #7  
Old 2011-12-30, 10:38pm
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They probably don't in the very low end P&S cameras or at least they don't have a lot of flexibility, but when you move up into the compact cameras, you get more features. What you might do is look at the Canon G12. If you look at the features it has and use it as a bases to compare other cameras in that class, you will get an idea of what is available in the fixed lens compact models. I know that price is dependent on one's perspective, but I was surprised at how low the G12 was compared to the G11 and G10. If you read the reviews they also mention the cameras they compare to the G12 and why they are better or the G12 is better. Even if the G12 or one of it's competitor cameras is higher than you want to spend on a camera, just knowing what it's features are will give you a better idea of what to look in the cheaper, but less featured packed cameras.

Photo classes can help, especially if it's focused (no pun intended ) on the specific areas that you are interested in. Some classes are geared towards the masses so you never really get into any depth on a particular area, which is ok for someone that does want a overview of the basics, but usually leaves you with more questions than answers. I've always found that practice, practice, practice, helps... as long as you are able to learn from your mistakes. It's hard to learn if you don't understand why something isn't working and there are times that one class or even a few hours with someone that does know the answers came make all the difference in the world to getting better. But you still need to practice.

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Old 2011-12-31, 11:44am
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Thanks Mike! I'm not too concerned with price, but more about getting the right camera. The reason I don't necessarily want an SLR is because I don't want more camera than I need and have to spend months learning to use it. Thanks for the advice on the Canon G12, it's one I was looking at, that and the SX40HS.
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Old 2011-12-31, 12:41pm
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I don't think you should get any. I like shooting your beads.

But I would go with a DSLR. They really are not that complicated for bead photography. Once you get your settings down (Low ISO, Set White Balance, and set a good aperture) they rest is just taking a few photos with different shutter speeds. And If you want I'll show you my set up and show you how to make some light diffusers and bounces.
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  #10  
Old 2011-12-31, 12:49pm
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I don't think you should get any. I like shooting your beads.

But I would go with a DSLR. They really are not that complicated for bead photography. Once you get your settings down (Low ISO, Set White Balance, and set a good aperture) they rest is just taking a few photos with different shutter speeds. And If you want I'll show you my set up and show you how to make some light diffusers and bounces.
Well...if I could come out there everyday, I would!

I've seen the studio you have set up out there. I have a small light tent and lights, but I'm not using it right now because I can't get close enough and the zoom doesn't like the setup. I know....DSLR
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  #11  
Old 2011-12-31, 2:29pm
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A DSLR camera will give you some additional features, but not necessarily those that will give you a lot of improvement but can drive the cost up (even if money is no object ). One difference that most people over look is with a DSLR (or even a film SLR) you have to consider your lenses. It isn't going to do you any good to buy a decent DSLR and then put cheap or sub-par glass on it. To get the most out of your camera you need a lens that is excellent over it's whole range, from smallest f stop to largest f stop and if a zoom from it's closest focus to it's farthest focus. Most decent lenses have a sweat spot (a particular f stop and focal point) that gives very good results. The problem is that that sweat spot might not be where you need it to be to shoot what you shoot the most. So you might get just enough distortion, color shift or other problems so that you get not quit tack sharp images. Although there are moderately priced prime lenses that are very good, really good glass is going to cost as much or more than the camera body does. This is why us photographers always say that bodies come and go but a lens is forever. I shoot Canon and all of my lenses are Canon's L glass. Some of my L lenses have been with me through a number of cameras I've had, Rebel G, EOS 3, D30, 10D, 1DMK2. This is why a lot of photographers that have a high investment in lenses rarely switch brands unless they really have a reason to. It's just to darn expensive other wise.

One thing about the compact fixed lens cameras, most of them have very good glass on them. Since they can't be changed and they aren't as bit as DSLR cameras, the manufacturers do a better job with the lenses.

But yes, if you can afford it, a DSLR does have certain advantages that a compact style camera won't have and as Keith said, they really aren't any harder to learn how to use. Just consider the lens you get with it and don't go with the usual "Kit" lens that some have. Buy the body and lens separate and get the best lens you can afford.

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Old 2011-12-31, 2:55pm
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Okay....the guy at Kits Cameras was trying to sell me on Sony DSLR with a seperate macro lense. The thing I liked about the Sony is, it is designed for people like me, it tells you what to do right on the LCD! Any opinions on a Sony?
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  #13  
Old 2012-01-01, 2:10pm
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I've found that Sony makes adequate cameras, although I feel that they tend to be very consumer-oriented (and usually pretty expensive for what they are). I'd make sure that the camera body you're looking at accepts a widely-used lens mount format (Canon or Nikon for example) rather than a proprietary or otherwise odd lens mount. (Unfortunately, I am the proud owner of an Olympus 4:3 system DSLR camera, hurrah!) You will have many more lenses to choose from that way and can often snag a deal on Craigslist or Ebay when someone is selling off old or unneeded camera equipment.

In my opinion, there is no reason to buy a fancy DSLR if the price point is nearly out of reach, because you're still looking at a couple hundred more for a decent macro lens. There are plenty of "prosumer" cameras which will most likely be able to do what you want to do. A good example is the Canon G11, which you can pick up used for around $2-300.00

That said, if you DO get a DSLR camera with a decent macro lens (add $200-$400.00 or more dollars to your base camera price), you can get photos like the below with no need for fancy lighting or flashes or anything. In fact, the background is a leather android tablet case I set down on my kitchen counter...the original is umm 4928 x 3264 *huge*. (vignetting & some minor touchups done in lightroom)


Sadly, I usually just whip out my cellphone and snap a picture, because it's handy, rather than taking pictures with my DSLR

Whatever you decide, our local Adult ed program offers very inexpensive 8-week classes in digital photography. If that is available in your area, I would highly recommend you look into that, unless you can comfortably discuss circumstances under which halving the shutter speed is functionally equivalent to doubling the aperture (and how many F-stop numbers would be required to do so). A little knowledge goes a very long way in improving your photography.
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  #14  
Old 2012-01-01, 2:46pm
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Chris, the G12 has 5X optical compared to the SX40 that has 35x, does that make a big difference?
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Old 2012-01-01, 7:35pm
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The higher optical zoom is great - BUT it really depends on what you're going to be using the camera for. For beads, that huge camera body is going to be pretty unwieldy, and the zoom typically is NOT helpful for up-close shots.

To be honest though I can get acceptable bead pictures out of a $150.00 Canon Digital Elph, with a little know-how and patience. A better camera helps, but once you reach a certain quality of camera (IE: not a drugstore kodak digital cam), knowledge is at least as important.

If I were to make a sugggestion, I'd say go with the G11 or G12 for your purposes, rather than the SX40.
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Old 2012-01-01, 11:17pm
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Regardless of how heavy a camera is, any close up work is best done with a tripod... and you want a good solid one not a cheap flimsy one. With a good tripod you aren't trying to hold and focus the camera at the same time and you eliminate fuzzies from the shakes. Also, with a tripod, unless you have a lot of light, you can go with longer shutter speeds so you can stop your fstop dwon to about f16 to increase the depth of field (how far from front to back an object appears to be in focus).

Yep, a little know how can go a long way in over coming limited equipment. Although having good equipment and knowledge is even better.

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Old 2012-01-02, 10:21am
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Okay....the guy at Kits Cameras was trying to sell me on Sony DSLR with a seperate macro lense. The thing I liked about the Sony is, it is designed for people like me, it tells you what to do right on the LCD! Any opinions on a Sony?
LCD screen does not always tell you what to do.... It is only what camera "thinks" is correct.... There is times it will lie to you.... And by the time you figure it out the "shot" is misses if shooting "live"...

I have a SONY A300 (10 megapixel - several years old) with 18/70 mm lens and am not overly impresses with it.... I bought it on recommendation from my sister and nephew who both have Sony's.... It's a snapshot DSLR, not really a bad camera, but I believe now (after purchase) Cannon of equal value would have been better choice... Also the "Sony" branded line of lenses are more limited than the Cannon or Nikon line... Yes I know older Minolta lenses will fit body, but....

One thing I found so totally frustration is sometimes camera will not "snap" picture, yes it on, yes its focuses, but maybe does not like shutter speed or lighting (F-stop) and you press shutter release and "nothing" ... It will not always take picture unconditionally... Several animal shots and some "events" I have missed because of this, and its possible I could have save the image with photo software tricks but not having image at all.. Well....

I'm not a pro, in fact I'm probably a "average" picture taker (notice I did not say photographer), and while I understand the camera pretty much and am trying to move up to another level of "photography" its frustrating to have camera fight with me....

Dale
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Old 2012-01-02, 10:32am
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A inexpensive accessory may be "remote shutter release", a simple wired one will work, this avoided any vibration from you pressing shutter release when camera is tripod mounted.... Even use delayed (internal-electronic) shutter release will prevent camera vibrations caused by you....

Dale
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Old 2012-01-02, 10:54am
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Here's what I have....a Canon PowerShot A530 with a table top tripod and a light cube I made out of a rubbermaid box with my beading lamp (Ott bulb)directly over it, diffused with parchment paper.
Whatcha think?
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Old 2012-01-02, 1:54pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale M. View Post
It is only what camera "thinks" is correct.... There is times it will lie to you...
Quoted for truth!

Smart camera + inexperienced user = DUMB camera, as often as not. In my personal opinion (humble or perhaps not so humble) plain and simple is better, you won't be fighting the camera's mistaken assumptions all the time.
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Old 2012-01-02, 2:51pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunyip View Post
Quoted for truth!

Smart camera + inexperienced user = DUMB camera, as often as not. In my personal opinion (humble or perhaps not so humble) plain and simple is better, you won't be fighting the camera's mistaken assumptions all the time.
I am in agreement with you.... But there are instances where there is just no time to tweak camera to proper setting when unexpectedly you have to pull it up and take the shot if camera cooperates you have it, if camera has a "dumb" moment shot is gone forever..... I'm not talking about studio setups or being prepared out at some event and you have the leisure of setting up camera for days or evenings events prior to taking pictures.... When camera is in "full auto mode" and it does not do its thing and shot is missed forever, what do you do....

One thing I really liked about film camera.... It took the picture no matter what....

Dale
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Old 2012-01-02, 6:49pm
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Sheila, not bad at all. you need a bit more light in front to open up the shadows (try using a reflector to reflect some light back into the light box) but still a pretty decent shot.

Mike
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Old 2012-01-02, 7:09pm
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Thanks Mike! Maybe I don't even need a new camera
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Old 2012-01-02, 8:16pm
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As Mike says.... A little to dark and gloomy.... More light will make colors pop...

Dale
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Old 2012-01-02, 9:29pm
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Well...there's nothing worse than gloomy flowers!
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Old 2012-01-03, 8:52am
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Read up a bit on photography, particularly depth of field and macro photography. You may even be able to get some nice effects if you work your camera right.
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Old 2012-01-05, 2:40pm
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Well...there's nothing worse than gloomy flowers!
I would suggest a small reflector or piece of aluminum foil be place on the surface in front of the bead to reflect more light up onto the front.
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Old 2012-01-05, 2:48pm
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Thanks Larry!
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Old 2012-01-05, 6:09pm
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IMO, most P&S cameras today are astoundingly good and if you don't want to mess with a DSLR you don't really have to. That said, there are things you get using a DSLR that can make life much easier, or the photos that much better.

With my old Panasonic P&S I did commercial advertising work on macro subjects. The image quality wasn't an issue. The problem was that close macro work usually means that the front surface of the lens is within a inch or less of the subject. With the DSLR you'll likely have more room between the subject and the camera, allowing you to shine light in there and not only reduce the gloom, but control what the lighting is doing.

No matter how good a general purpose lens is, a dedicated macro lens will be sharper for macro work. Expensive, but sharper.

The sensors used in DSLRs usually have better color accuracy than the ones in P&S cameras. This shows up most strongly with saturated colors. I could never get my wife's knitting yarns just right with the P&S, regardless of how much work I did in the computer, but I can get very close with the DSLR.

The full manual control of both exposure and focus gets you closer to perfection- autofocus and autoexposure are easily fooled by macro subjects.

It should be clear that none of these are showstoppers. I can take a good shot with a P&S or DSLR. Most of the results come from good lighting and technique. I'm not fazed by complexity, but it's not what everybody wants.

Hints- Good heavy tripod. Solid floor, never carpet. 5500 Kelvin compact florescents in aluminum reflectors. 2x4s with grooves to hold sheets of milk plexiglas and reflectors or blockers.
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Old 2012-01-05, 7:31pm
Sheila D.'s Avatar
Sheila D. Sheila D. is offline
Stone Designs
 
Join Date: May 23, 2009
Location: Outside Shelton
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Thanks Conrad for your input. I think part of my dilema is I shoot 10 to 50 shots a day of beads. I need it to efficient, but as good as possible without worrying about "magazine" quality photos.
I have a light tent with the lights that came with it from Tabletop Studio.
The trouble is...I don't have room for it in the house, so it's in my studio and this time of year, it's frickin' cold out there. (warms up in the afternoon so I can torch)
I'm leaning towards a better, more up-to-date P&S with more features. My photos aren't that bad if you take a look at my Etsy, but I think I can kick it up a notch!
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