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Old Jan 31, 2004, 4:30 PM   #1
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Default Best camera setup for product photography?

Hi, I'll be photographing numerous products to be included on an e-commerce website. Most of the items are small (watches, jewelry and handbags).

I'd appreciate suggestions on a good camera for this purpose. I have a Canon S100 (2mp) which has a macro setting, but I'm not sure if it has enough adjustments (depth of field, manual focus, etc.) to get professional looking results. If I need to buy a new camera, my budget would be $500 to $600.

I'd also be grateful for any advice on a 'do it yourself' lighting setup. Would two or three halogen desk lamps with diffusers shooting on white art paper work well? Can anyone suggest what type of material I'd use to make a homemade light tent?

Thanks in advance.
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Old Jan 31, 2004, 5:57 PM   #2
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The Swivel Bodied Nikons (Coolpix 950, 990, 995, 4500) have the best "out of the box" macro capability of any digital camera. They can "fill the frame" with an object as small as 3/4" across with no distortion (because the macro "sweet spot" is at around half zoom).

You also have very fine control of aperture with these models. Basically, with a Coolpix 4500 in "P" mode, you can spin a dial on the camera to change the desired aperture (for more or less depth of field), while still using the camera's autoexposure (it simply steps through different aperture/shutter speed combinations).

Or, you've also got aperture priority available if you know you'll want greater DOF (versus stepping through choices).

This model also has some features that are handy for getting sharper photos (for example: Best Shot Selector, which automatically saves the sharpest photo in a series).

You can get a factory reconditioned Nikon Coolpix 4500 for only $369.99 directly from Nikon now (which is a real bargain compared to the $699.95 list price).

Nikon also makes an SL-1 Cool-Light (attaches to the front of the lens, giving you a ring of white LED's to help illuminate small objects).

Steve (owner/editor of this site) is using a Nikon Coolpix 4500 for his product photos in the reviews here.

As far as lighting, I have seen several techniques used (including the one you mentioned). Heck, I've even seen users bragging about using a large tupperware container (designed for cakes) as a light tent, with a hole cut in the top for the camera's lens.

You'll probably need to experiment to see what works best with each type of product.

You may want to read through this thread (someone looking for a good macro camera). I posted links to the Coolpix 4500 at the NikonMall site:

http://www.stevesforums.com/phpBB2/v...ic.php?t=20477
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Old Jan 31, 2004, 6:31 PM   #3
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Here's an article on close-up product photography, which I think is rather informative, if a tad non-serious - but don't let that put you off reading it...

http://www.dansdata.com/phototute.htm
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Old Jan 31, 2004, 8:17 PM   #4
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Check out these lighting tents and stuff:

http://store.yahoo.com/greenbatterie...topstudac.html

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Old Feb 1, 2004, 5:17 PM   #5
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Thanks, everyone.

The Nikon 4500 sounds ideal, but I'm not crazy about the split body design. I've used my friend's Canon G3 and was very impressed, though it's macro capabilities are rated as just average, per some reviews. I'm wondering if it'll be good enough for jewelry. Has anyone here used their G3 for macro and/or product photos?
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Old Feb 1, 2004, 7:54 PM   #6
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Not sure about the G3 but for many cameras you can get a close up lense,
If not you can get a cokin +2 or +3 diaopter filter, it will let you get in failry close.
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Old Feb 1, 2004, 9:21 PM   #7
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You don't need a lot of resolution for Web pictures... in fact, high resolution is a hinderance. More megapixels equal bigger files which take more time to download. The only advantage in this context is better cropping capability. High resolution (more megapixels) alone means less than lens quality. If you are REALLY interested in Web postings and don't care about using the camera for more general use, save yourself some money and buy a cheaper, low resolution camera.
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Old Feb 8, 2004, 11:34 AM   #8
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Default Canon A80 good enough for product photos?

Thanks for the feedback, guys.

I've been researching things and have narrowed it down to the Canon G3 or G5, Nikon 4500 and Canon A80.

I really like the A80 for it's compactness (great for traveling). But I'm not sure if it would be good enough to use for product photos, The main shortcoming is the lack of a hotshoe. Could this be sufficiently remedied by using a slave w/ ext flashes?
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Old Feb 8, 2004, 3:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: Canon A80 good enough for product photos?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark754
..., The main shortcoming is the lack of a hotshoe. Could this be sufficiently remedied by using a slave w/ ext flashes?
Maybe. Watch out for Red-Eye Reduction that uses preflashes, and some cameras use preflashes to set exposure. There are slaves that deal with preflashes, but they cost more.

Optical slaves do work, but they are one more thing to go wrong. Since the camera has to produce a flash for the slave to work, you have to deal with that light when you might not want it. If someone else is using a flash, that will set of your slaves.
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Old Feb 8, 2004, 5:17 PM   #10
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Actually that site Steve posted has some intreaguing cold lights

5000K 25watt compact florucents

Using these in an appropriate reflector (also sold on this site) would let you use constant lighting so you could see the effect.
And no need for expensive strobes.

The digital cameras white balance should take care of any color casts.
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