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Old Oct 14, 2011, 1:39 PM   #1
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Default Lens for Photographing Paintings

I have the task of photographing numerous oil paintings and need some input from anyone who has tried this before. Can you recommend the proper lens to obtain the best perspective / results. I currently have a CanonT3i with the EFS 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 IS II and the EFS 55-250mm 4-5.6. Lighting is particularly difficult as many paintings are varnished giving excessive reflections (should I use filters???). Larger pieces can show bowing edges so I would like to know what lens would the best to use.

I'm a novice so please excuse my inexperience.
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Old Oct 14, 2011, 2:59 PM   #2
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You need a very sharp lens that has little field curvature (so that edges and corners are about as sharp as the center) and little vignetting so that the image is uniformly bright.) This is generally in the relm of medium telephoto lenses. There are a number of good candidates, including the Canon 85mm f/1.8 stopped down to at least f/5.6, the Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro at any aperture, and the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro at any aperture.
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Old Oct 14, 2011, 6:35 PM   #3
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I've been taking pictures of pictures lately, so I understsand the challenge. The only technique that worked for me was to set the object against a wall with diffuse, high angle lighting. I set the camera on a tripod and took a long exposure under iso 100. I set my lens to around 50 mm to minimize any barrell distortion.

You may have a bigger challenge if the paintings have high enough paint ridges to cast little shadows. If this is the case, the lighting will have to come in more head-on, increasing the liklihood of glare.

Filters wont get rid of the glare - I tried a polarizing filter, but it only cuts some of the glare given the wide array of light angles coming back at the camera.

I'd recommend giving these ideas a try before springing for a new lens. The light has to be right long before the lens matters. Once the technique is obtained, a sharper lens may be in order.
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