Advice on buying camera

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Jack, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. Jack

    Jack Guest

    Hi,

    I need a camera to photograph artwork, so it doesn't need much in the way
    of gizmos; it really just needs reasonbly good picture quality and high
    resolution.

    I was thinking of getting a Nikon Coolpix L27 or (since I don't really
    want to go beneath 20 Mpx, unless I am persuaded otherwise) a S3500.
    However, these cameras are so much cheaper than the vast majority (or so it
    seems) of others of similarly high res that I am wondering about whether the
    picture quality will really keep up with the resolution. I don't know about
    these things but if there's a trade-off between res and picture quality for
    any given price band, I'll aim to maintain a balance as I don't want to end
    up with a lot of superfluous pixels; but want to keep the price as low as
    possible.

    In case it makes a difference price-wise, I have already got a
    perfectly good lens from my old pre-digital Canon EOS.

    Also would prefer a remote shutter release socket; and - less importantly,
    perhaps - remote flash socket.

    Can anyone offer any advice?

    With thanks in advance.
     
    Jack, Dec 29, 2013
    #1
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  2. Jack

    Tony Cooper Guest

    On Sun, 29 Dec 2013 19:48:47 -0000, "Jack" <>
    wrote:

    >Hi,
    >
    > I need a camera to photograph artwork, so it doesn't need much in the way
    >of gizmos; it really just needs reasonbly good picture quality and high
    >resolution.
    >
    > I was thinking of getting a Nikon Coolpix L27 or (since I don't really
    >want to go beneath 20 Mpx, unless I am persuaded otherwise) a S3500.
    >However, these cameras are so much cheaper than the vast majority (or so it
    >seems) of others of similarly high res that I am wondering about whether the
    >picture quality will really keep up with the resolution. I don't know about
    >these things but if there's a trade-off between res and picture quality for
    >any given price band, I'll aim to maintain a balance as I don't want to end
    >up with a lot of superfluous pixels; but want to keep the price as low as
    >possible.
    >
    > In case it makes a difference price-wise, I have already got a
    >perfectly good lens from my old pre-digital Canon EOS.
    >
    > Also would prefer a remote shutter release socket;


    Just about any camera, at any price level, will have a delayed shutter
    setting. Most will fire anywhere from 2 to 20 seconds after the
    shutter is depressed. While you can't take continuous exposures using
    a delayed shutter setting, you can make sure the camera is not moving
    when the shutter trips.

    >and - less importantly,
    >perhaps - remote flash socket.
    >
    >Can anyone offer any advice?


    Tripod and a bubble level that can be taped or otherwise fastened to
    the camera. You want to be able to photograph directly in front of
    the subject with the camera perfectly aligned with the subject.

    Fixed lighting with reflectors may work better than flash.

    --
    Tony Cooper - Orlando FL
     
    Tony Cooper, Dec 29, 2013
    #2
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  3. Jack

    Alan Browne Guest

    On 2013.12.29, 14:48 , Jack wrote:
    > Hi,
    >
    > I need a camera to photograph artwork, so it doesn't need much in the way
    > of gizmos; it really just needs reasonbly good picture quality and high
    > resolution.
    >
    > I was thinking of getting a Nikon Coolpix L27 or (since I don't really
    > want to go beneath 20 Mpx, unless I am persuaded otherwise) a S3500.
    > However, these cameras are so much cheaper than the vast majority (or so it
    > seems) of others of similarly high res that I am wondering about whether the
    > picture quality will really keep up with the resolution. I don't know about
    > these things but if there's a trade-off between res and picture qualityfor
    > any given price band, I'll aim to maintain a balance as I don't want toend
    > up with a lot of superfluous pixels; but want to keep the price as low as
    > possible.
    >
    > In case it makes a difference price-wise, I have already got a
    > perfectly good lens from my old pre-digital Canon EOS.
    >
    > Also would prefer a remote shutter release socket; and - less importantly,
    > perhaps - remote flash socket.
    >
    > Can anyone offer any advice?


    Yes - tell us more.

    The single most important question to answer is:

    What is the ________ OUTPUT ________ you are looking for? If you want
    to print large you will need high enough resolution as well as the
    optics to provide the resolution for that output. If it is just for
    internet/web/screen showing, then resolution will not be a very big
    factor at all.

    A typical working print resolution for ink/pigment printers is 300 or
    360 dpi. If you want to make prints that are 21" by 14" then you would
    want a resolution of (21 X 300 X 14 x 300) = 26.5 Mpix. (a 20 Mpix
    camera will surely suffice).

    Don't despair, however, for a print that size, you could likely print
    from 150 dpi and get more than acceptable results... in which case an 8
    Mpix camera will do the job as long as you don't get /too/ close to it.

    Again, what drives your INPUT choice is the ultimate OUTPUT choice.

    LENS: If your old Canon lens is a prime like a 50mm f/1.8, then you'll
    get very good results with an APS-C sized sensor. For a full-frame (if
    you go there) better if the lens is a bit longer (say 85mm - 135mm ...
    though you'll need more room of course to shoot the work.

    If the old lens is a zoom, then you'd be best using it at its "short" -
    middle end rather than long AS LONG AS THERE IS LITTLE PINCUSHION/BARREL
    distortion. ... but, still, copy work does best with a prime and that is
    what you should aim for.

    As to shutter release, some cameras have a timer delay mirror up mode of
    around 2 seconds. You trip the shutter, the mirror is lifted and then
    the shutter fires 2 seconds later. This is often more convenient than a
    cable (though a cable is always a good thing to have and use as well).

    Tell us more about what you'll be shooting, environment, etc. That
    would make it easier to hone in on something...

    Lighting is a whole subject in itself for copy work - generally
    - two lights set to equal power
    - each side of the camera-subject axis,
    - level to the work centre,
    - as far back as possible from the work (for most even lighting)
    - off of the lens axis far enough as to prevent specular reflections.

    (above assumes paintings as opposed to 3D subjects of course...).

    --
    “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
    - Mike Tyson
     
    Alan Browne, Dec 29, 2013
    #3
  4. Jack

    Jack Guest

    Thankyou for the replies so far but to some extent you are speaking a
    foreign language. I learnt my photography -- exclusively in the world of the
    35mm (except that my EOS had a zoom as supplied on purchase) -- in the
    pre-digital era and have only come back to it fairly recently (and am
    rusty!). I have Googled APS-C but don't think I am getting very far with
    understanding it or knowing whether or not the Nikon Coolpix range will give
    me sufficiently good quality photos.

    I am chiefly photographing oils with plenty of impasto (thickly applied)
    paint, and am finding that I prefer the character afforded them by sunlight
    catching them at a very shallow angle, or at least the character given them
    by daylight. Artificial light gets something of a multiple-spotlights-shadow
    effect and even if this can be somewhat rectified, so far I still prefer
    daylight (not least because I haven't got any lights!).

    My plan is to put the artwork on an easel, at a suitable angle to the
    vertcal, and precisely cut and position a thin cardboard frame so as to give
    me guidance, in the image, as to how to adjust for barrel distortion in
    Photoshop. This is what I have been doing with my current Optio Scorpio S4,
    which is 4 Mpx, but I had to devise a system of moving the painting around
    on a precisely marked-out grid (made more difficult by the fact that the
    canvass sides are never cut orthogonally, as they should be), placing it
    under the cardboard frame that is cut to just the right size to get a 300
    dpi print at life-sze (which is not far off A3), when they're all stitched
    together. The sheer degree of highly time-consuming stitching and adjustment
    required - what with the way the light catches each section differently,
    particularly with respect to glare from the slightly shiny regions of
    evenly, thinly applied paint - and the artistic corruption of the process of
    making the adjustments, have led me to aim for getting the entire piece in
    one snap.

    I was impressed with what the Optio did in its 'macro' mode, in this job.
    When not in this mode the picture quality for the close-up was poor and I
    felt as though its blurred capture of detail was a waste of pixels. If I buy
    a new camera that ends up doing the same thing but on a different scale,
    I'll be disappointed.

    Ideally I would like a 27-ish Mpx image for poster-sized prints but
    realistically I imagine I will have to settle for something smaller.

    Sometimes I had to move the foot of the tripod so that it rested on the
    canvass, implying that I had to shorten a tripod leg, then for the next
    shot, move the canvass and put a different foot on it. The process of
    getting the camera postioned above the cardboard border (I was pointing it
    vertically downwards) with a makeshift, rather rickety camera support (only
    half of which was a bona fide tripod) made me reckon that I needed to be
    able to get the shutter to release at the precise instant that the camera
    was ideally placed (I had to move, press, wiggle and bend to get it as
    such -- it was like aiming a hand-held rifle) and, further, I felt it would
    be a great deal easier if I didn't have to press the shutter release.
    Combining these pointed to a remote shutter release (a socket for which the
    Optio has, but I never bought one).

    (As I did this job, of course the light direction and quality changed
    throughout the hour or so that the photo session took :). )

    I hope that puts you in the picture (PI). Thanks for reading.
     
    Jack, Dec 30, 2013
    #4
  5. Jack

    Alan Browne Guest

    On 2013.12.29, 19:26 , Jack wrote:
    > Thankyou for the replies so far but to some extent you are speaking a
    > foreign language. I learnt my photography -- exclusively in the world of the
    > 35mm (except that my EOS had a zoom as supplied on purchase) -- in the
    > pre-digital era and have only come back to it fairly recently (and am
    > rusty!). I have Googled APS-C but don't think I am getting very far with
    > understanding it or knowing whether or not the Nikon Coolpix range willgive
    > me sufficiently good quality photos.
    >
    > I am chiefly photographing oils with plenty of impasto (thickly applied)
    > paint, and am finding that I prefer the character afforded them by sunlight
    > catching them at a very shallow angle, or at least the character given them
    > by daylight. Artificial light gets something of a multiple-spotlights-shadow
    > effect and even if this can be somewhat rectified, so far I still prefer
    > daylight (not least because I haven't got any lights!).


    This is why I said to keep the lights as far back as possible and wide
    apart to avoid highlights. If the paintings have a lot of relief,
    consider more lights.


    >
    > My plan is to put the artwork on an easel, at a suitable angle to the
    > vertcal, and precisely cut and position a thin cardboard frame so as togive
    > me guidance, in the image, as to how to adjust for barrel distortion in
    > Photoshop. This is what I have been doing with my current Optio ScorpioS4,


    Use a prime lens, long (135 would be nice) from further back (along with
    the lighting) and there will be too little distortion to bother with.

    Don't correct in PS. Get it right in camera.

    > which is 4 Mpx, but I had to devise a system of moving the painting around
    > on a precisely marked-out grid (made more difficult by the fact that the
    > canvass sides are never cut orthogonally, as they should be), placing it
    > under the cardboard frame that is cut to just the right size to get a 300
    > dpi print at life-sze (which is not far off A3), when they're all stitched
    > together. The sheer degree of highly time-consuming stitching and adjustment
    > required - what with the way the light catches each section differently,
    > particularly with respect to glare from the slightly shiny regions of
    > evenly, thinly applied paint - and the artistic corruption of the process of
    > making the adjustments, have led me to aim for getting the entire piecein
    > one snap.
    >
    > I was impressed with what the Optio did in its 'macro' mode, in this job.
    > When not in this mode the picture quality for the close-up was poor andI
    > felt as though its blurred capture of detail was a waste of pixels. If I buy
    > a new camera that ends up doing the same thing but on a different scale,
    > I'll be disappointed.
    >
    > Ideally I would like a 27-ish Mpx image for poster-sized prints but
    > realistically I imagine I will have to settle for something smaller.
    >
    > Sometimes I had to move the foot of the tripod so that it rested on the
    > canvass, implying that I had to shorten a tripod leg, then for the next
    > shot, move the canvass and put a different foot on it. The process of
    > getting the camera postioned above the cardboard border (I was pointingit
    > vertically downwards) with a makeshift, rather rickety camera support (only
    > half of which was a bona fide tripod) made me reckon that I needed to be
    > able to get the shutter to release at the precise instant that the camera
    > was ideally placed (I had to move, press, wiggle and bend to get it as
    > such -- it was like aiming a hand-held rifle) and, further, I felt it would
    > be a great deal easier if I didn't have to press the shutter release.
    > Combining these pointed to a remote shutter release (a socket for whichthe
    > Optio has, but I never bought one).


    Thanks for the laugh.



    --
    “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
    - Mike Tyson
     
    Alan Browne, Dec 30, 2013
    #5
  6. Jack

    philo  Guest

    On 12/29/2013 06:26 PM, Jack wrote:
    > Thankyou for the replies so far but to some extent you are speaking a
    > foreign language. I learnt my photography -- exclusively in the world of the
    > 35mm (except that my EOS had a zoom as supplied on purchase) -- in the
    > pre-digital era and have only come back to it fairly recently (and am
    > rusty!). I have Googled APS-C but don't think I am getting very far with
    > understanding it or knowing whether or not the Nikon Coolpix range will give
    > me sufficiently good quality photos.
    >
    > I am chiefly photographing oils with plenty of impasto (thickly applied)
    > paint, and am finding that I prefer the character afforded them by sunlight
    > catching them at a very shallow angle, or at least the character given them
    > by daylight. Artificial light gets something of a multiple-spotlights-shadow
    > effect and even if this can be somewhat rectified, so far I still prefer
    > daylight (not least because I haven't got any lights!).
    >
    > My plan is to put the artwork on an easel, at a suitable angle to the
    > vertcal, and precisely cut and position a thin cardboard frame so as to give
    > me guidance, in the image, as to how to adjust for barrel distortion in
    > Photoshop. This is what I have been doing with my current Optio Scorpio S4,
    > which is 4 Mpx, but I had to devise a system of moving the painting around
    > on a precisely marked-out grid (made more difficult by the fact that the
    > canvass sides are never cut orthogonally, as they should be), placing it
    > under the cardboard frame that is cut to just the right size to get a 300
    > dpi print at life-sze (which is not far off A3), when they're all stitched
    > together. The sheer degree of highly time-consuming stitching and adjustment
    > required - what with the way the light catches each section differently,
    > particularly with respect to glare from the slightly shiny regions of
    > evenly, thinly applied paint - and the artistic corruption of the process of
    > making the adjustments, have led me to aim for getting the entire piece in
    > one snap.
    >
    > I was impressed with what the Optio did in its 'macro' mode, in this job.
    > When not in this mode the picture quality for the close-up was poor and I
    > felt as though its blurred capture of detail was a waste of pixels. If I buy
    > a new camera that ends up doing the same thing but on a different scale,
    > I'll be disappointed.
    >
    > Ideally I would like a 27-ish Mpx image for poster-sized prints but
    > realistically I imagine I will have to settle for something smaller.
    >
    > Sometimes I had to move the foot of the tripod so that it rested on the
    > canvass, implying that I had to shorten a tripod leg, then for the next
    > shot, move the canvass and put a different foot on it. The process of
    > getting the camera postioned above the cardboard border (I was pointing it
    > vertically downwards) with a makeshift, rather rickety camera support (only
    > half of which was a bona fide tripod) made me reckon that I needed to be
    > able to get the shutter to release at the precise instant that the camera
    > was ideally placed (I had to move, press, wiggle and bend to get it as
    > such -- it was like aiming a hand-held rifle) and, further, I felt it would
    > be a great deal easier if I didn't have to press the shutter release.
    > Combining these pointed to a remote shutter release (a socket for which the
    > Optio has, but I never bought one).
    >
    > (As I did this job, of course the light direction and quality changed
    > throughout the hour or so that the photo session took :). )
    >
    > I hope that puts you in the picture (PI). Thanks for reading.
    >
    >



    I have a friend who does this professionally and he uses "umbrella"
    lighting. If he uses a flash at all...it's a soft flash.

    Though he does have a hi-res camera, he tells me a good lens is even
    more important that the camera itself.
     
    philo , Dec 30, 2013
    #6
  7. Jack

    Whiskers Guest

    On 2013-12-29, Jack <> wrote:
    > Hi,
    >
    > I need a camera to photograph artwork, so it doesn't need much in the way
    > of gizmos; it really just needs reasonbly good picture quality and high
    > resolution.


    [...]

    What is your budget?

    A snapshot camera (such as the Nikon Coolpix L27 you mention) will take
    snapshots. Good ones, possibly, if handled appropriately, but still
    snapshots.

    For "reasonably good picture quality" you want a large image sensor and
    a good 'prime' lens - not a 'zoom'. A good prime lens will have
    negligible distortion of any sort.

    You also want a solid tripod mount, and something solid to attach the
    camera to. To get a pleasing rendition of surface texture and modeling,
    you need the camera to be rather further away from the subject than you
    might expect; think of your subject as a full-length portrait, for which
    a 35mm camera fitted with an 80mm or 100mm lens would fill the image
    frame reasonably well. This probably means a camera with
    interchangeable lenses. An electronic through-the-lens viewfinder, or a
    full-blown SLR, or a coupled-rangefinder such as a Leica M9 with
    built-in parallax compensation, will make framing and focusing easier.
    The LCD panels on the back of typical 'compacts' aren't usually good
    enough to get either framing or focussing optimal.

    You may well decide that your trusty Canon EOS is still economically and
    technically your best option!

    Whatever camera you use (even a box Brownie or a smartphone), try to get
    the following things 'right':

    Make sure the camera and subject are 'squared up' with each other. A
    plumb-line can help with getting a painting vertical, and a bubble-level
    attached to the camera will help (as will grid lines in the view-finder,
    if you go for an SLR that has them, or can have alternative focussing
    screens fitted).

    It's better to be 'off centre' but 'parallel' (so that there's some
    'wastage' along one or two edges) than to fill the frame by making the
    camera un-parallel with the painting. In some situations, it can be an
    advantage to have the camera off centre but parallel, to avoid unwanted
    glare or reflections - or to catch particular paint-effects, which are
    very hard to reproduce in a single flat image.

    A frame or board on which to hang the paintings, and a sturdy adjustable
    camera support, both measured and marked up to make it easy to get the
    painting and camera at least approximately lined up, will help.

    If a 'light tent' is impractical (for diffusing sunlight), and you don't
    want to wait for heavily overcast days, try arranging some sort of
    diffusing shade and reflector set-up using white cotton sheets and white
    matte 'bounce' panels. News-papers were traditional, before they became
    colourful and too small to be effective.

    --
    -- ^^^^^^^^^^
    -- Whiskers
    -- ~~~~~~~~~~
     
    Whiskers, Dec 30, 2013
    #7
  8. Jack

    Jack Guest

    Thanks to all who have replied. There's a huge a mount of really useful
    advice provided on this thread.

    I am just wondering whether the extra bit of money that pays for extra res
    is money well spent. I had read some photographer, somewhere, say that it's
    modern fad that just isn't worth it, when you could spend the same money on
    better picture quality (he was speaking generally, not in regard to any
    genre or photographic objective). And while, with buying a computer,
    establishing the computing power of any particular model is a
    straightforward affair, I wouldn't know how to go about the business of
    comparing image sensor sizes because I don't think I have seen any reference
    to them in manufacturers' blurb (with the possible exception of the
    high-end-of-the market cameras), nor whether the relationship between image
    sensor size and picture quality, all other things being constant, is linear.

    I wasn't sure whether the low cost of the Nikon Coolpix had much to do with
    the fact that these cameras presumably perform poorly on a lot of things
    that aren't relevant to my ambitions, which picture quality *is*.

    Also, forgive my ignorance, but is it not the case that any modern digital
    camera will have 1) a through-the-lens LCD panel and 2) a screw fitting for
    a tripod?
     
    Jack, Dec 30, 2013
    #8
  9. Jack

    Jack Guest

    Thanks to all who have replied. There's a huge a mount of really useful
    advice provided on this thread.

    I am just wondering whether the extra bit of money that pays for extra res
    is money well spent. I had read some photographer, somewhere, say that it's
    modern fad that just isn't worth it, when you could spend the same money on
    better picture quality (he was speaking generally, not in regard to any
    genre or photographic objective). And while, with buying a computer,
    establishing the computing power of any particular model is a
    straightforward affair, I wouldn't know how to go about the business of
    comparing image sensor sizes because I don't think I have seen any reference
    to them in manufacturers' blurb (with the possible exception of the
    high-end-of-the market cameras), nor whether the relationship between image
    sensor size and picture quality, all other things being constant, is linear.

    I wasn't sure whether the low cost of the Nikon Coolpix had much to do with
    the fact that these cameras presumably perform poorly on a lot of things
    that aren't relevant to my ambitions, which picture quality *is*.

    Also, forgive my ignorance, but is it not the case that any modern digital
    camera will have 1) a through-the-lens LCD panel and 2) a screw fitting for
    a tripod?
     
    Jack, Dec 30, 2013
    #9
  10. Jack

    Robert Coe Guest

    On Sun, 29 Dec 2013 17:16:36 -0500, Alan Browne
    <> wrote:
    : On 2013.12.29, 14:48 , Jack wrote:
    : > Hi,
    : >
    : > I need a camera to photograph artwork, so it doesn't need much in the way
    : > of gizmos; it really just needs reasonbly good picture quality and high
    : > resolution.
    : >
    : > I was thinking of getting a Nikon Coolpix L27 or (since I don't really
    : > want to go beneath 20 Mpx, unless I am persuaded otherwise) a S3500.
    : > However, these cameras are so much cheaper than the vast majority (or so it
    : > seems) of others of similarly high res that I am wondering about whether the
    : > picture quality will really keep up with the resolution. I don't know about
    : > these things but if there's a trade-off between res and picture quality for
    : > any given price band, I'll aim to maintain a balance as I don't want to end
    : > up with a lot of superfluous pixels; but want to keep the price as low as
    : > possible.
    : >
    : > In case it makes a difference price-wise, I have already got a
    : > perfectly good lens from my old pre-digital Canon EOS.
    : >
    : > Also would prefer a remote shutter release socket; and - less importantly,
    : > perhaps - remote flash socket.
    : >
    : > Can anyone offer any advice?
    :
    : Yes - tell us more.
    :
    : The single most important question to answer is:
    :
    : What is the ________ OUTPUT ________ you are looking for? If you want
    : to print large you will need high enough resolution as well as the
    : optics to provide the resolution for that output. If it is just for
    : internet/web/screen showing, then resolution will not be a very big
    : factor at all.
    :
    : A typical working print resolution for ink/pigment printers is 300 or
    : 360 dpi. If you want to make prints that are 21" by 14" then you would
    : want a resolution of (21 X 300 X 14 x 300) = 26.5 Mpix. (a 20 Mpix
    : camera will surely suffice).
    :
    : Don't despair, however, for a print that size, you could likely print
    : from 150 dpi and get more than acceptable results... in which case an 8
    : Mpix camera will do the job as long as you don't get /too/ close to it.
    :
    : Again, what drives your INPUT choice is the ultimate OUTPUT choice.
    :
    : LENS: If your old Canon lens is a prime like a 50mm f/1.8, then you'll
    : get very good results with an APS-C sized sensor. For a full-frame (if
    : you go there) better if the lens is a bit longer (say 85mm - 135mm ...
    : though you'll need more room of course to shoot the work.
    :
    : If the old lens is a zoom, then you'd be best using it at its "short" -
    : middle end rather than long AS LONG AS THERE IS LITTLE PINCUSHION/BARREL
    : distortion. ... but, still, copy work does best with a prime and that is
    : what you should aim for.
    :
    : As to shutter release, some cameras have a timer delay mirror up mode of
    : around 2 seconds. You trip the shutter, the mirror is lifted and then
    : the shutter fires 2 seconds later. This is often more convenient than a
    : cable (though a cable is always a good thing to have and use as well).
    :
    : Tell us more about what you'll be shooting, environment, etc. That
    : would make it easier to hone in on something...
    :
    : Lighting is a whole subject in itself for copy work - generally
    : - two lights set to equal power
    : - each side of the camera-subject axis,
    : - level to the work centre,
    : - as far back as possible from the work (for most even lighting)
    : - off of the lens axis far enough as to prevent specular reflections.
    :
    : (above assumes paintings as opposed to 3D subjects of course...).

    And depending on the prevailing brush stroke pattern, it matters whether the
    painting is positioned vertically or horizontally. If you get it wrong, you
    can get very distracting reflections off the paint.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, Dec 30, 2013
    #10
  11. Jack

    Peabody Guest

    Jack says...

    > I need a camera to photograph artwork, so it doesn't
    > need much in the way of gizmos; it really just needs
    > reasonbly good picture quality and high resolution.


    I've done all the photography for a local painter who works
    in oils. I'm not a professional, but the pictures came out
    quite well. In the beginning I shot with an 8mp Canon P&S,
    the A590is, jpegs, and that was plenty of resolution for
    medium-size posters and giclees. An oil painting is a
    pretty "soft" subject in the first place, and the resolution
    isn't really that important.

    Moreover, as long as you have lots of light, a small camera
    will take very nice pictures of paintings. You don't have
    to be concerned with low light, or shallow depth of field,
    where large cameras would have a big advantage. As long as
    you get the alignment, focus and color right, a good P&S
    should work fine.

    As for lighting, if it's possible to do so I would strongly
    suggest you shoot the paintings outside in the shade. That
    gives you very diffuse, even lighting that works really
    well, particularly on the heavy impasto sections. If you
    have to use lighting indoors, it will just really complicate
    your life.

    For my camera, I found that backing away a bit, and zooming
    in, helped minimize barrel distortion. And I used the
    self-timer to take the pictures.

    I used a cheap tripod, and spent some time getting the
    camera lined up and square to the painting, which is really
    important when it comes time to crop. I also took some
    pains to do a custom white balance so the colors would be
    right. Then in post you'll probably need to boost
    brightness and contrast a bit.

    I really think you're focusing too much on resolution. A
    camera with 12 or 14 mp should be plenty.
     
    Peabody, Dec 30, 2013
    #11
  12. Jack

    Tony Cooper Guest

    On Mon, 30 Dec 2013 02:56:01 -0000, "Jack" <>
    wrote:

    >Thanks to all who have replied. There's a huge a mount of really useful
    >advice provided on this thread.
    >
    > I am just wondering whether the extra bit of money that pays for extra res
    >is money well spent. I had read some photographer, somewhere, say that it's
    >modern fad that just isn't worth it, when you could spend the same money on
    >better picture quality (he was speaking generally, not in regard to any
    >genre or photographic objective). And while, with buying a computer,
    >establishing the computing power of any particular model is a
    >straightforward affair, I wouldn't know how to go about the business of
    >comparing image sensor sizes because I don't think I have seen any reference
    >to them in manufacturers' blurb (with the possible exception of the
    >high-end-of-the market cameras), nor whether the relationship between image
    >sensor size and picture quality, all other things being constant, is linear.
    >
    >I wasn't sure whether the low cost of the Nikon Coolpix had much to do with
    >the fact that these cameras presumably perform poorly on a lot of things
    >that aren't relevant to my ambitions, which picture quality *is*.
    >
    >Also, forgive my ignorance, but is it not the case that any modern digital
    >camera will have 1) a through-the-lens LCD panel and 2) a screw fitting for
    >a tripod?


    You haven't identified your location. In the US, there are businesses
    that rent cameras by the day. If the project is worth it, a one day
    rental of a DSLR with lens would at least give you a comparison
    between the results of your P&S and a better camera.

    A fairly major city will have a local camera club. Camera club people
    love to get involved in projects. It wouldn't be difficult to get
    someone to bring their camera to your location if you had things set
    up.

    Just options.

    --
    Tony Cooper - Orlando FL
     
    Tony Cooper, Dec 30, 2013
    #12
  13. "Jack" <> wrote:
    >Thankyou for the replies so far but to some extent you are speaking a
    >foreign language. I learnt my photography -- exclusively in the world of the
    >35mm (except that my EOS had a zoom as supplied on purchase) -- in the
    >pre-digital era and have only come back to it fairly recently (and am
    >rusty!). I have Googled APS-C but don't think I am getting very far with
    >understanding it or knowing whether or not the Nikon Coolpix range will give
    >me sufficiently good quality photos.


    I didn't respond to your initial article specifically because
    you suggested that a Nikon P&S was what you might be looking
    for.

    Most of the rest of this is just as much a waste of time and
    energy as the idea of a P&S!

    >I am chiefly photographing oils with plenty of impasto (thickly applied)
    >paint, and am finding that I prefer the character afforded them by sunlight
    >catching them at a very shallow angle, or at least the character given them
    >by daylight.


    That statement caught my attention, because it shows some truly
    critical thought about the final product! Time for me to rethink
    whether you are serious!

    >Artificial light gets something of a multiple-spotlights-shadow
    >effect and even if this can be somewhat rectified, so far I still prefer
    >daylight (not least because I haven't got any lights!).
    >
    >My plan is to put the artwork on an easel, at a suitable angle to the
    >vertcal, and precisely cut and position a thin cardboard frame so as to give
    >me guidance,


    Forget all of this. You need a permanent setup that has
    appropriate adjustments. It has to be resetable to exactly the
    same parameters every single time it is used. The same easel
    and positioning mechanism, the same camera support system that
    is stable and precisely positioned in relation to the easel.

    A "good enough" set up is a wall mounted easel with marks on the
    floor where a relatively high quality tripod is placed.

    A remote shutter release is great, but a self timer is
    unnecessary.

    >in the image, as to how to adjust for barrel distortion in
    >Photoshop. This is what I have been doing with my current Optio Scorpio S4,
    >which is 4 Mpx, but I had to devise a system of moving the painting around
    >on a precisely marked-out grid (made more difficult by the fact that the
    >canvass sides are never cut orthogonally, as they should be), placing it
    >under the cardboard frame that is cut to just the right size to get a 300
    >dpi print at life-sze (which is not far off A3), when they're all stitched
    >together. The sheer degree of highly time-consuming stitching and adjustment
    >required - what with the way the light catches each section differently,
    >particularly with respect to glare from the slightly shiny regions of
    >evenly, thinly applied paint - and the artistic corruption of the process of
    >making the adjustments, have led me to aim for getting the entire piece in
    >one snap.


    Stitching is nonsense for this type of work. You can go as low
    as perhaps 200 pixels per inch and get top quality prints. To
    make A3 prints, here is a chart of MP sensor sizes, with crops
    to the same aspect ratio as an A3 print, and the Pixels Per Inch
    for an A3 print

    Sensor MP Cropped Pixels Size PPI for A3 Print
    12 4027x2848 244
    16 4615x3264 280
    24 5656x4000 342
    36 6046x4912 421

    There really is no need for a sensor larger than 24MP regardless
    of how critical one might be. It may be open to question
    whether 244 or 280 PPI is high enough resolution, but 342
    absolutely is!

    The above chart equates to Nikon cameras such as the D90 or
    D300S for cropped APS-C sized sensors, or a D700 for a full
    framed sensor, at 12MP; or at 16MP a D7000; or at 24MP a D7100
    or D610; and at 36MP a D800.

    There are other factors which make the more expensive cameras
    nicer to use, but strictly based on the size of the print, a
    D90 is not much different than a D800.

    Obviously I'm recommending a Nikon DSLR as the appropriate
    camera for you needs. The best buy for the money is probably
    a D7100, followed by the D610. If you have the budget, a
    D800E is the nicest one of the bunch, though it cost more and
    is certainly unnecessary.

    >I was impressed with what the Optio did in its 'macro' mode, in this job.
    >When not in this mode the picture quality for the close-up was poor and I
    >felt as though its blurred capture of detail was a waste of pixels. If I buy
    >a new camera that ends up doing the same thing but on a different scale,
    >I'll be disappointed.
    >
    >Ideally I would like a 27-ish Mpx image for poster-sized prints but
    >realistically I imagine I will have to settle for something smaller.


    If larger than A3 is important, then yes you want to at least go
    with on of the 24MP cameras, and perhaps to the 36MP D800E.

    >Sometimes I had to move the foot of the tripod so that it rested on the
    >canvass, implying that I had to shorten a tripod leg, then for the next
    >shot, move the canvass and put a different foot on it.


    Actually this implies that you have the wrong focal length lens.

    A few things to think about, in addition to suggestions that a zoom
    is inappropriate (not necessarily true, but don't even think about
    consumer grade zooms), consider other odd characteristics...

    1) You don't need VR (image stabilization).
    2) You don't need Auto Focus either!
    3) You do want a lens that has a relatively flat field.
    4) You'll never use the lens at anything close to infinity focus.

    That suggests that older lenses may be not just less expensive,
    but even better than modern lenses. Older macro lenses almost
    all actually have a flat field. For example, an older 90mm f/2.8 Tamron
    macro is an excellent choice. Likewise any of the 105mm f/2.8 lenses
    made by Kiron (such as the Lester A. Dine branded lenses) are superb.
    Coupled with virtually any 7-element 2x teleconverter these make a
    terrific kit for your needs.

    The big difference comes down to framing and the working distances
    needed for either APS-C sensors or full frame sensors. Below is
    a chart for 90mm, 105mm, 180mm and 210mm focal lengths used with
    both sensor sizes:

    APS-C sensor (1.5x Crop Factor) distance to fully cover an A3 canvas:

    90mm 105mm 180mm 210mm
    5.0' 5.85' 10' 11.7'

    Full Frame sensor distance to fully cover an A3 canvas:

    90mm 105mm 180mm 210mm
    3.3' 3.9' 6.6' 7.8'

    The FF sensor, a 90mm lens, and a 2X TC provides the most versatility.

    Note that one of the nicer 2X TC's to use for this purpose is an old
    Vivitar 2X Macro Focusing TC. The can be found on eBay at very reasonable
    prices. The same is true for Kiron made 105mm or Tamron 90mm manual focus
    macro lenses.

    >The process of
    >getting the camera postioned above the cardboard border (I was pointing it
    >vertically downwards) with a makeshift, rather rickety camera support (only
    >half of which was a bona fide tripod) made me reckon that I needed to be
    >able to get the shutter to release at the precise instant that the camera
    >was ideally placed (I had to move, press, wiggle and bend to get it as
    >such -- it was like aiming a hand-held rifle) and, further, I felt it would
    >be a great deal easier if I didn't have to press the shutter release.
    >Combining these pointed to a remote shutter release (a socket for which the
    >Optio has, but I never bought one).
    >
    >(As I did this job, of course the light direction and quality changed
    >throughout the hour or so that the photo session took :). )


    You can of course continue to use natural light, and most of the
    problems you have will vanish. But, it is still true that time
    of day, time of the year, and weather will all affect the light.
    A suitable setup for artificial light can eliminate the
    variables. Given the description of what you like about natural
    light, a made to order light setup that can be repeated at will
    is necessary. A large diffused light source on one side and a
    smaller diffused light source on the other side, plus the
    ability to reduce ambient light to an insignificant level. This
    doesn't need to be overly complex either. Consider hanging a
    sheet of almost any thin semi transparent material (a white bed
    sheet for example) about 5 to 10 feet to one side of the easel
    and firing multiple flash units from at least 5 feet behind it.

    That is something very close to your diffused but directional
    daylight. The difference is that you can repeat it at any time.

    >I hope that puts you in the picture (PI). Thanks for reading.


    A quick check on eBay shows the Tamron 90mm lenses going for
    less than $150, often less that $100. The Lester A. Dine
    branded Kiron 105mm goes for $400 or less, often below $300.
    The Vivitar 2x Macro Focusing TC sells for between $30 and $75.

    --
    Floyd L. Davidson http://www.apaflo.com/
    Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)




    D700

    Hence a
    12 mp camera, cropped to a 1.414 ratio for an A3 print, will
    have 4027x2848 pixels and provide 244 pixels per inch. That is
    a great plenty! If you want 300 PPI or even 360 PPI, you will
    need




    4:5 1.25
    5:7 1.4
    a3 1.414
    2:3 1.5

    a3 297x420mm 11.7"x16.5"

    2848 * 1.414 = 4027 4027x2848 crop on Nikon 12mp sensor for A3 print at 244 ppi
    3264 * 1.414 = 4615 4615x3264 crop on Nikon 16mp sensor for A3 print at 280 ppi
    4000 * 1.414 = 5656 5656x4000 crop on Nikon 24mp sensor for A3 print at 342 ppi
    4912 * 1.414 = 6946 6846x4912 crop on Nikon 36mp sensor for A3 print at 421 ppi

    d7000 4928x3264 16mp
    d7100 6000x4000 24mp
    d90 4288x2848 12mp
    d300s 4288x2848 12mp

    d600 6016x4016 24mp
    d700 4256x2832 12mp
    d800 7360x4912 36mp
     
    Floyd L. Davidson, Dec 30, 2013
    #13
  14. Sorry about this garbage after the signature. It's just notes
    I used to generate the tables, all of which should have been
    deleted before posting.

    (Floyd L. Davidson) wrote:
    ....

    >--
    >Floyd L. Davidson http://www.apaflo.com/
    >Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)
    >
    >D700
    >
    >Hence a
    >12 mp camera, cropped to a 1.414 ratio for an A3 print, will
    >have 4027x2848 pixels and provide 244 pixels per inch. That is
    >a great plenty! If you want 300 PPI or even 360 PPI, you will
    >need
    >
    >4:5 1.25
    >5:7 1.4
    >a3 1.414
    >2:3 1.5
    >
    >a3 297x420mm 11.7"x16.5"
    >
    >2848 * 1.414 = 4027 4027x2848 crop on Nikon 12mp sensor for A3 print at 244 ppi
    >3264 * 1.414 = 4615 4615x3264 crop on Nikon 16mp sensor for A3 print at 280 ppi
    >4000 * 1.414 = 5656 5656x4000 crop on Nikon 24mp sensor for A3 print at 342 ppi
    >4912 * 1.414 = 6946 6846x4912 crop on Nikon 36mp sensor for A3 print at 421 ppi
    >
    >d7000 4928x3264 16mp
    >d7100 6000x4000 24mp
    >d90 4288x2848 12mp
    >d300s 4288x2848 12mp
    >
    >d600 6016x4016 24mp
    >d700 4256x2832 12mp
    >d800 7360x4912 36mp


    --
    Floyd L. Davidson http://www.apaflo.com/
    Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)
     
    Floyd L. Davidson, Dec 30, 2013
    #14
  15. Jack

    Dick Alvarez Guest

    Whiskers pointed out that the camera and the
    subject must be "squared up" with each other. An
    easy way to do that, is to use auto-reflection.
    Here is how I do it:

    The camera view-finder axis must be parallel to
    the camera lens axis. In other words, the
    view-finder must not tilt to correct for parallax.
    A through-the-lens view-finder is ideal, as on a SLR
    camera or a view-camera. You do not need a
    bubble-level on the camera or the tripod.

    It is helpful to use a tripod in which the
    center-post can be moved up and down by a crank.

    Attach the subject to a flat, hard surface, like
    a wall. The wall does not need to be exactly
    vertical. Put the camera on the tripod. Have
    somebody hold a small mirror flat against the
    subject, near the center of the subject, with the
    mirror surface parallel to the subject surface. (Be
    careful not to damage the painting!) Aim the camera
    at the mirror. Move either the camera, or the
    subject with the mirror still held near the center
    of the subject, until you see the view-finder lens
    centered in the view-finder field of view. Then the
    view-finder axis is perpendicular to the subject
    surface. To move the camera, move the whole tripod
    horizontally on the floor, and elevate the
    center-post, as necessary; or move the subject
    horizontally and vertically on the wall as
    necessary.

    Remove the mirror from the subject.
     
    Dick Alvarez, Dec 30, 2013
    #15
  16. Jack

    Noons Guest

    On 30/12/2013 1:56 PM, Jack wrote:

    > high-end-of-the market cameras), nor whether the relationship between image
    > sensor size and picture quality, all other things being constant, is linear.


    It's not. But the relationship of sensor size to electrical noise
    performance is, in general. Ie: no p&s camera will ever have the same
    noise performance as a large sensor camera. For the same reasons medium
    format film was better than most 35mm film.

    Ideally, you'd get a camera that can be used for these reproductions and
    which you can also use to get re-acquainted with general photography.
    That spells: interchangeable-lens cameras (ILC). Or "system" cameras,
    as they are also known.


    > I wasn't sure whether the low cost of the Nikon Coolpix had much to do with
    > the fact that these cameras presumably perform poorly on a lot of things
    > that aren't relevant to my ambitions, which picture quality *is*.


    Coolpix and other p&s cameras are the equivalent of instant cameras in
    the days of film. They are great and convenient for web images, or
    small prints. Of course you can print A3 from a Coolpix. But don't even
    imagine you will print A3 size out of a Coolpix and end up with stuff as
    detailed as a 18 or 24Mpix ILC camera sensor can produce assuming a good
    enough lens and setup.


    > Also, forgive my ignorance, but is it not the case that any modern digital
    > camera will have 1) a through-the-lens LCD panel and 2) a screw fitting for
    > a tripod?


    Most p&s compacts don't have a fitting for a tripod.
    They are designed precisely for the sort of folks that don't want to
    carry tripods/don't know what they are for. And most haven't got lens
    quality that even remotely matches what a 18Mpix larger sensor can do.


    A3 size prints are perfectly possible even with 16Mpix, assuming all the
    elements of the image making chain match the quality.

    Of course anything over that is welcome if one is after very high detail.

    Above around 16Mpix you are coming up against lens limitations: you'll
    need a very good lens to get the best out of that resolution, and it
    goes up from there. So count on a total cost, rather than just a single
    camera.

    SLRs are not really a necessity, a mirrorless ILC will do fine.
    I'd look at something like a Sony A7, or if you really don't mind the
    uncertainty introduced by all the mechanical paraphernalia, a DSLR such
    as a Nikon D7100 or even a D610.

    Perfect world?
    Sony A7 or Nikon D7100 camera.
    Voigtlander 90mm/f3.5 ApoLanthar SLII (if you can find one on epay) for
    the flat field and extreme quality at an affordable price. Get one in
    Nikon or Canon mount and an adapter to make it fit the A7, or just stick
    it on the Nikon camera.

    Of course, YMMV. Canon and Sony make some very good equivalent dslr
    cameras. There are other lenses that match the ApoLanthar at a similar
    or lower price, they are just harder to find.

    Any of those two ILC cameras would give you quite good returns and a lot
    of fun using them for general photography.


    (This reply is to you on this thread, not to the audience.
    Anyone interested in debating this, start another thread)
     
    Noons, Dec 30, 2013
    #16
  17. In article <>, Peabody
    <> wrote:

    > I really think you're focusing too much on resolution. A
    > camera with 12 or 14 mp should be plenty.


    Agree on the megapixels. The industry and users place far too much
    emphasis on that. Back to basics, you need a good lens, SOME
    arrangement for holding the camera still and parallel to the subject,
    and even, predictable lighting.

    I've always used a copy stand with attached floods, a macro lens, and
    "a" camera body. For larger materials, a good tripod and a pair of
    studio floods, all at marked positions on the floor. Key to all this is
    repeatability, otherwise, you'll be figuring it all out again with each
    frame. Currently, I use a Nikon D80 and a 60mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor.

    A zoom lens will have different distortion at each focal length
    setting. Natural light will have a different color balance and
    character from minute to minute. Start with a fixed focal length flat
    field lend, like the various macros mentioned here, and work outward.
     
    Scott Schuckert, Dec 30, 2013
    #17
  18. Jack

    Jack Guest

    Well thankyou all yet more. I have saved some of these posts to study
    properly for when I make my final decision.
     
    Jack, Dec 30, 2013
    #18
  19. Jack

    Peabody Guest

    Just to follow up on a couple things.

    It's impossible to predict how a lens will behave in a specific situation, so
    you have to experiment. But at the most basic level, if your camera is
    positioned opposite the center of the painting, then the center of the
    painting is closest to the lens, and every point farther away from the center
    of the painting is farther from the lens. Specifically, the mid-points of
    each side are closer to the lens than the corners. This alone can lead to
    some barrel distortion.

    The farther away you are from the painting, the smaller these distance
    differences will be in percentage terms so that, at some point, the entire
    painting is effectively at the same distance from the lens, and the
    distortion is minimized. So that would argue for backing away, then zooming
    in, or just using a longer prime in the first place. But you have to watch
    out for changes at different zoom points that may have been designed into the
    lens.

    The bottom line is that time invested in figuring out the best setup, and
    thereby reducing barrel distortion, will be repaid many times over in post
    processing. Correcting perspective distortion just isn't that easy, and
    doesn't work that well on work this precise. And you don't want to be
    cropping out parts of the painting.

    On the subject of lighting, what I found was that all attempts at lighting
    indoors with flashes or continuous lights just didn't work well for me. No
    matter where I put the lights, I ended up getting strange artifacts. In most
    cases this turned out to result from the weave pattern of the canvas, so that
    the picture looked like it had a sparkly overlay on it. But it was just the
    same point in each loop of the canvas reflecting back from one light or
    another. And of course impasto can cause the same problem.

    But if you take the painting outside on a cloudy day, or in the shade on a
    sunny day, then you have essentially even light coming from all directions,
    and those reflective artifacts just go away. Of course you won't get the big
    bucks doing it that way, but it will work quite well. There's a guy in New
    York who gets $2000 a day photographing art for galleries and artists, and of
    course he shoots on location indoors. But he has three assistants, and a big
    van full of lighting gear, and he shoots tethered. If you don't have all of
    that, shooting outside in the shade may be a better option.

    And finally, if you will not have access to the paintings when you do your
    post processing, you have to make sure you can get the color right - custom
    white balance, or a grey card, or whatever. Remember that you aren't trying
    to get a pleasing color balance but rather an accurate copy of the original.
    It has to match whether it's pleasing or not.

    Overall, I found this to be much more difficult to get right than I
    had expected. After all, at first glance if should be easy. You don't have
    to worry about composition, depth of field, camera or subject movement, or
    low light, so it should be easy. But it isn't. You still have to worry
    about the exact placement of the painting and the camera, perspective
    distortion, lighting, color, and the additional requirement that you don't
    normally have to deal with in photography- getting an exact copy of the
    original.

    Good luck.
     
    Peabody, Dec 30, 2013
    #19
  20. Jack

    Whiskers Guest

    On 2013-12-30, Jack <> wrote:
    > Thanks to all who have replied. There's a huge a mount of really useful
    > advice provided on this thread.
    >
    > I am just wondering whether the extra bit of money that pays for extra res
    > is money well spent. I had read some photographer, somewhere, say that it's
    > modern fad that just isn't worth it, when you could spend the same money on
    > better picture quality (he was speaking generally, not in regard to any
    > genre or photographic objective). And while, with buying a computer,
    > establishing the computing power of any particular model is a
    > straightforward affair, I wouldn't know how to go about the business of
    > comparing image sensor sizes because I don't think I have seen any reference
    > to them in manufacturers' blurb (with the possible exception of the
    > high-end-of-the market cameras), nor whether the relationship between image
    > sensor size and picture quality, all other things being constant, is linear.


    The image sensor information is often deliberately obfuscated, but it
    can be extracted once you know how to decode the maker's blurb. Beware
    of some cameras which create images with 'more pixels' than the sensor
    has - by 'interpolating' the extra information using some formula to
    make and educated guess as to what the missing information was. Also
    look for a camera that records the images in 'RAW' or at least
    'lossless' format - most compacts only offer 'JPEG' format which uses
    lossy compression over which you have little or no control.

    > I wasn't sure whether the low cost of the Nikon Coolpix had much to do with
    > the fact that these cameras presumably perform poorly on a lot of things
    > that aren't relevant to my ambitions, which picture quality *is*.
    >
    > Also, forgive my ignorance, but is it not the case that any modern digital
    > camera will have 1) a through-the-lens LCD panel and 2) a screw fitting for
    > a tripod?


    Most do have an LED display that gives you some idea of what will appear
    in the final photo, but they aren't good enough to use for focussing or
    determining exposure and white balance (even if the camera offers a
    degree of manual setting of those things). They often don't match the
    full extent of the view that will be included in the photo. Some do
    have a tripod bush, and a few have one that is made of solid metal
    incorporated in a solid metal frame for the camera body whereas others
    are all-plastic and not rigid at all.

    Try looking at good review web sites, eg
    <http://www.steves-digicams.com/> and <http://www.dpreview.com/> among
    others.

    --
    -- ^^^^^^^^^^
    -- Whiskers
    -- ~~~~~~~~~~
     
    Whiskers, Dec 30, 2013
    #20
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