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-   -   Artist needs camera purchase advice (https://forums.steves-digicams.com/what-camera-should-i-buy-80/artist-needs-camera-purchase-advice-167829/)

elizberd Mar 20, 2010 12:22 PM

Artist needs camera purchase advice
 
Hello, forum members.

I have been struggling with this issue for several years without any resolution, so I thought I'd ask for advice.

I need a camera that I can use primarily to shoot artwork, but also good portraits.

Here's the problem: my work takes the form of MINIATURE paintings, but in an INSTALLATION format. That is, I absolutely need a lens with an excellent macro feature, but also one that shoots a wall with no (!) distortion.

I do not need a good video feature, since I almost never use that.

I want the highest possible megapixels, and need a very good light-capturing lens, since I don't use a flash.

I have for years been using Canon's G-line. My current camera is the G6, which has been okay, but I spend more time trying to correct the camera distortion of my jpgs in Photoshop Elements. I am accustomed to Canon's menus and like the swiveling lcd of the G6. I don't know, however, if Canons slrs come with swiveling lcds.

My daughter has a Nikon D60. I recognize the superiority of the photos, but I am not sure I am ready to jump to a different brand without knowing anything about it (ease of use with the G6 is appreciated). What I don't love about the D60 is that you don't compose the image with the lcd viewfinder (but maybe I am wrong about this?) Also, I don't know anything about its macro capability, or about the barrel distortion.

So, to summarize, I know I need to go to a digital slr. What I don't know is which camera is best for my needs, and which lenses will take me from macro to full wall shots with the least amount of distortion, or which separate lenses I need.

Of course I want the best value for the money, but I am looking for something that I can use for years to come. I would not like to pay more than $1,200.

Thank you so much for your help!:o

Elizabeth

mtclimber Mar 20, 2010 12:55 PM

Elizabeth-

Before the search begins in earnest, there are several issues to lay out on the table.

(1) Sony DSLR's have been acknowledged to have the best "LiveView" (where you compose on the LCD) among the DSLR camera.

(2) Unlike P+S cameras like your Canon G-6, DSLR cameras use dedicated Marco lens to attain the very best image quality. One of the classic macro lens is the Tamron 90mm lens which is available for Sony DSLR cameras.

Yes, all the camera manufacturers have "LiveView," even Canon, but Sony has the best implementation of LiveView. So, you may want to begin looking at the Sony DSLR to get a beginning point.

Articulated LCD Screens: Models within the Sony, and Nikon DSLR camera lines have articulated screens. So you might want to attach a priority rating to having an articulated LCD screen.

Next, you might want to critically analyze what you like and don't like about the Nikon D-60 on which you have some experience. That might provide an added starting or pivotal point in your camera search. So, there are some basics.

Good luck in your search and we are always here to provide more info and references.

Sarah Joyce

shoturtle Mar 20, 2010 1:06 PM

Highest megapixel DSLR in that range would be a canon T2i with 18mp. But for your needs you will need specialized lenses. Like a true macro lens for the mini stuff, and a wide angle lens for the wall.

A good set up in your price range would be a canon t1i with 15mp, match with a tokina 11-16wide angle and a dedicated macro lens. But you have no articulating lcd. This set up will give excellent results. Better then any point and shoot, and with the higher mp count, you can crop in and still have very good resolution.

elizberd Mar 20, 2010 1:07 PM

Thanks, Sarah for helping me focus on the correct questions to ask. I will start to look into sony's dslrs. And the Tamron 90mm lens is a good place to start.

Any other thoughts are appreciated!

shoturtle Mar 20, 2010 1:10 PM

Sony does have the best live view on the market for dslr's.

If you find yourself wanting to compose with the view finder, I would look at the sony A500, with the tokina 11-16 and the tamron 90mm macro. Both would give you a great set up for your needs. If you do not see yourself needing the viewfinder much and use the lcd most of the time the A330 or a380 would not be bad choices.

mtclimber Mar 20, 2010 1:13 PM

elizabeth-

Please keep in mind that more megapixels do not necessarily mean better image quality.

It is the camera body and the lens combination that produces better image quality. That why it is wise to read the professional reviews on these cameras as you move forward in your search. I also find taking notes to be helpful for future decision making.


Sarah Joyce

shoturtle Mar 20, 2010 1:45 PM

Very true more megapixal does not mean a better picture. More megapixel is useful if you do crop a shot. It will give your finish product more resolution when cropping down 25 to 30 percent form the orginal.

elizberd Mar 20, 2010 4:13 PM

thank you, shoturtle, for your suggestions.
Can you tell me why Sony is said to have the best live view? I don't really know what to look at/ask for with regard to that.
And I really don't use the viewfinder. I like (and am used to) composing with the lcd. But how do the sony models differ with regard to the viewfinder and lcd? I think I prefer to use the lcd because I wear progressive lenses and it is uncomfortable to look through viewfinder with my glasses on. Am I missing something if I use the lcd instead?

With regard to mps, I realize that higher doesn't necessarily mean better. But because of the format of my work, higher is much better for me.

Does one or the other camera body gather more light, or is that a function only of the lenses?

Thank you again!

elizberd Mar 20, 2010 5:21 PM

I just compared several cameras, and am now thinking about the Nikon D5000, mostly because I like the fully articulated lcd. Any advice (pro/con) about this camera?

Also, what lenses should i look for?

shoturtle Mar 20, 2010 5:51 PM

sony has the best live view, because they give up on the hd video. The room that would be for hd video they use for a live view sensor. It is a completely different auto focus system for live view vs the traditional auto focus when not in live view.

On the A3xx series, to make room for the extra sensor, sony made the view finder smaller to keep the camera's size down. So if you use the sony view finder, it is small and do not give you an actuated view of what the lens see. On the A5xx line up, it is a bigger camera, so there is room for a full size view finder, and the the second sensor for live view.

If you are shooting live view, the nikon like the canon. Are not that good. If you like the articulating lcd, look at the A380 form sony. It has a much better live view system as mention. If you want a better view finder and higher end camera the A550 has the articulating lcd also.

The other issue that some people have with the nikon d5000 is that it can on use all of the nikon lenses. So of the macro and prime lenses that do not have built in motors in the lens, as nikon did not put a auto focus motor in the body like the d90, so some of the inexpensive prime lenses will not auto focus on the d5000 body.

Chato Mar 20, 2010 7:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by elizberd (Post 1067845)
Thanks, Sarah for helping me focus on the correct questions to ask. I will start to look into sony's dslrs. And the Tamron 90mm lens is a good place to start.

Any other thoughts are appreciated!

For one thing, free your mind of the idea that more pixels is automatically better. Art work, or at least paintings, do not in fact need that many pixels. What you want is "quality" in your pixels.

I've shot a lot of paintings for artist friends of mine, sometimes with a two meg camera. I prefer at least 5, but unless you're shooting from more than six feet, five is more than enough.

Dave

mtclimber Mar 20, 2010 7:09 PM

elizabeth-

What makes the LiveView so good in the Sony DSLR cameras is their unique and rapid focus system. It is the fastest focusing LiveView system in the market today and the LCD does articulate. If you went to the Sony A-550 you would have the best in megapixels combined with the best in LiveView.

I am a Nikon user and I own a Nikon D-5000 camera. But, I have to tell you that the Sony A-550 can focus almost twice as fast as the Nikon D-5000 and the LCD screen is also larger on the Sony A-550. The feature set on the A-550 is also clearly better than the Nikon D-5000.

The choice is entirely up to you. I am just attempting to give you all the information possible.

Sarah Joyce

mtclimber Mar 20, 2010 10:41 PM

Elizabeth-

I just learned (thanks to poster:Tullio) that www.amazon.com has the Sony Alpha DSLR cameras on sale, even the A-330 and the A-550 which are fitted for LiveView.

Sarah Joyce

shoturtle Mar 20, 2010 10:46 PM

The sale also includes the A380, it has the same resolution as the A550, if you are looking to save a little bit over the A550 at 14.2mp.

Eetu Mar 21, 2010 4:55 AM

Hi Elizabeth. I am also going to purchase a camera. Been studying which camera to buy since about November. I know you know this, but take your time, visit different camera stores, yes stores! You would be surprised what sort info you pick up on. Just yesterday, I was reading a detailed post by a guy who has a Canon 7D and Pentax K7, I was stunned to read what things of the Pentax K7 he thought was better. What I am getting at, is that sometimes we like a product too much that one "can" loose just a little objectivity (IMO). So, take your time, push yourself to be objective. So, whether you buy a Sony, Canon, Nikon, etc, find out what is right for your needs. Just do the research. No you don't need four months like me, I am saving up for mine, waiting on a tax return. I am sure that whatever you get, you will make a good choice. All the best. Ned

peripatetic Mar 21, 2010 6:48 AM

For Elizabeth any of the DSLR cameras have effectively equivalent Live View. The speed and responsiveness of the AF when in Live View mode is completely irrelevant unless you are planning on shooting very fast moving art work. Last time I checked it didn't move around a great deal. :-)

Lots of megapixels certainly will do no harm. And of course a good tripod!!! And possibly some lights. How are you planning on lighting this stuff?

In fact most kit lenses will be fine because if you have controlled lighting and a tripod you can shoot at ISO 100/200 and at f8, at which settings there is almost no difference between the current crop of cameras and kit lenses.

JimC Mar 21, 2010 7:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shoturtle (Post 1067930)
sony has the best live view, because they give up on the hd video. The room that would be for hd video they use for a live view sensor. It is a completely different auto focus system for live view vs the traditional auto focus when not in live view.

Just to clarify... the reason that the Sony models have fast Autofocus in Live View, is because the Autofocus works the same way in Live View mode as it does when using the Optical Viewfinder (it's the same, not totally different). Basically, the Live View sensor in the viewfinder housing sees the same image that would normally be projected to the optical viewfinder. That allows Sony to use it's dedicated AF sensor assembly in Live View mode. So, Autofocus is just as fast when using Live View as it is when using the Optical Viewfinder. Here's a cutout showing how it works. Basically, a small mirror moves to shift the image being projected to the Live View sensor when you change between Optical Viewfinder and Live View modes with a switch located by the Viewfinder. Both methods still use the dedicated AF sensor (at the bottom of the cutout).

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2008_...ew_cutaway.jpg

JimC Mar 21, 2010 7:20 AM

IOW, that allows the Sony models to continue using fast Phase Detect Autofocus when in Live View mode with a dedicated AF sensor, just like any other dSLR would work with an Optical Viewfinder. So, you don't have an Autofocus Performance penalty when in Live View mode, making it's Autofocus much faster than competing models when using Live View.

Other models either switch to slower Contrast Detect Autofocus when in Live View using the cameras main imaging sensor, or need to flip the camera's main mirror back and forth to Autofocus using their dedicated AF sensor (disrupting your Live View when focusing that way, making it difficult to follow a moving subject).

Walter_S Mar 21, 2010 8:34 AM

I am in no way an expert when it comes to be able to help people chosing their camere, as I have enough problems finding one that fits my own needs and wallet! :rolleyes:
But there are a few suggestions here I do want to write a comment to:

Quote:

Originally Posted by shoturtle (Post 1067847)
- Sony does have the best live view on the market for dslr's.

Speaking of Sony "...having the beste Live View in the marked.." - Panasonic's G1 / GH1 does rather well too, and both have the fully articulated LCD, while Sonys 350/380 and 500/550 are restricted in movements to the up- and down-axis only.


Quote:

Originally Posted by shoturtle (Post 1067847)
- I would look at the sony A500, with the tokina 11-16 and the tamron 90mm macro. ...


To my knowledge, the Tokina 11-16mm is so far only available with Canon-mount and Nikon-mount. Tokina has released a statement that it will make the 11-16 also for the Sony-mount ( http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...lens-sony.html ) so I would first check if that lens really is available at camera-stores yet, and at what price.

On the other hand, this lens (Tokina 11-16mm) would be far from the requiremets of the OP needing: "...one that shoots a wall with no (!) distortion..."

For that you need a wide angle lens without much rectilinear distortion. I don't think the Tokina is in that segment as it has rather a lot of distortion which needs to be corrected.


Quote:

Originally Posted by elizberd (Post 1067920)
...and am now thinking about the Nikon D5000, mostly because I like the fully articulated lcd. Any advice (pro/con) about this camera?

About the articulated LCD of the D5000 - be aware that it is rather handycapped in its movements when mounted on a tripod, as the screen is hinged on the base of camera, instead of side-hinged - which will be the best position for tripod-mounted shooting.
Also it's resolution is a mer 270.000 pixels compared to the Sony a550's fantastic 920.000 pixels.


Just my 2 cents...:rolleyes:

shoturtle Mar 21, 2010 8:43 AM

Thanks Jim for the correction. Do you have a link to their live view system. I would like to read more about it. I guess I miss understood the guys at the store when they were explaining to me why the live view in the sony was so much better then the rest of the dslr. :confused:

Quote:

Originally Posted by JimC (Post 1068137)
Just to clarify... the reason that the Sony models have fast Autofocus in Live View, is because the Autofocus works the same way in Live View mode as it does when using the Optical Viewfinder (it's the same, not totally different). Basically, the Live View sensor in the viewfinder housing sees the same image that would normally be projected to the optical viewfinder. That allows Sony to use it's dedicated AF sensor assembly in Live View mode. So, Autofocus is just as fast when using Live View as it is when using the Optical Viewfinder. Here's a cutout showing how it works. Basically, a small mirror moves to shift the image being projected to the Live View sensor when you change between Optical Viewfinder and Live View modes with a switch located by the Viewfinder. Both methods still use the dedicated AF sensor (at the bottom of the cutout).

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2008_...ew_cutaway.jpg


shoturtle Mar 21, 2010 8:47 AM

It depends on the size of the wall I guess if the tokina would be a good option. I know when I visit castles around Europe, The 18 is a bit tight sometimes on a crop body. So if it is a huge wall a wider angle lens would help. But if it is the general size wall the kit lens at 18mm stop to f9 would do nicely.

JimC Mar 21, 2010 8:52 AM

I'm not sure the difference in LCD positioning ability (tilt only versus fully articulating) is going to make much difference for doing something like shooting paintings on a wall, as long as you can see what you're framing in the LCD. Ditto for AF speed (as you wouldn't care about AF speed if shooting a stationary subject using a tripod).

Now, perspective distortion may be an issue shooting paintings, even if you are using a lens that has relatively little barrel or pincushion distortion, depending on how you can position a camera. IOW, you'd need to make sure the camera is centered with the painting and "square" to it (versus pointing left, right, up or down) in order to avoid any perspective distortion.

You could get around that using a Nikon or Canon model with a Tilt/Shift (i.e, perspective correction) type lens. But, they're relatively expensive and that would probably put the OP *way* over budget. For example, a Canon 45mm TS-E f/2.8 EF mount lens is selling for a bit over $1200 right now at popular online vendors; and a Nikkor 45mm PC-E f/2.8 lens is selling for a bit over $1800 right now. You'd want shorter focal lengths if you don't have room to back up. For example, Nikon makes a 24mm and Canon makes a 17mm. But, they're even more expensive than their 45mm tilt/shift lenses.. Note that these are manual focus lenses. But, if you used a magnified view with Live View, that could help out with focusing.

If you can't keep a camera centered and square to a painting on a wall, then you can expect perspective distortion unless you are carefully using a tilt/shift (a.k.a., Perspective Correction) type lens.

So, you may end up having to do some amount of optics correction in Post Processing anyway, depending on your vantage point to a painting, even if you're using a lens that has little or no barrel and pincushion distortion (just to correct for perspective problems).

shoturtle Mar 21, 2010 9:09 AM

peripatetic,

Beside the speed of the focus, I can tell you when testing the canon and the nikon. Both had allot of inaccurate focus in live view needing me to wait for the lens to go back to infinity and refocus, while the sony live view focus was dead on pretty much all the time. Having to wait for the camera to refocus can be annoying. And neither the canon or nikon does it fast.

JimC Mar 21, 2010 9:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shoturtle (Post 1068161)
Thanks Jim for the correction. Do you have a link to their live view system... :confused:

I don't know what you mean by a link to their live view system. My explanation should explain it (or if not, I can try to clarify).

Basically, Autofocus works exactly the same way as it does with any other dSLR model that's using an Optical Viewfinder when you're in Live View mode with a Sony model, with a dedicated Autofocus Sensor Assembly located at the bottom of the mirror box.

Autofocus SLR (and dSLR cameras) have a mirror that's slightly translucent in the center, allowing the image to been seen by a dedicated AF Sensor assembly in the bottom of the mirror box (9 points in the case of the current Sony models with Live View) using fast Phase Detect Autofocus.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital...tion_autofocus

The Sony models work exactly the same way as any other Autofocus dSLR or SLR cameras in that respect when using their Optical Viewfinder, only the Sony models can also work that way when in Live View mode, because they have a separate sensor in the Viewfinder Housing that sees the same image that's normally projected to the Optical Viewfinder when you switch to Live View (which just tilts a mirror in the Viewfinder Housing so that the image goes to the Live View Sensor versus the Pentamirror).

With non Sony dSLR models in Live View mode, one of two things has to happen -- either they need to use slower Contrast Detect Autofocus with their main imaging sensor (since the mirror is flipped up and the main AF Sensor in the bottom of the mirror box isn't seeing the image anymore), or they need to interrupt the Live View from their Main imaging sensor by flipping the mirror back down to use their primary AF sensor with faster Phase Detect Autofocus. That mirror flipping down to focus interrupts the Live View feed from the main sensor, making it difficult to use for a moving subject. So, neither method is very desirable from an AF speed perspective.

Sony's method allows Autofocus to work exactly the same way (fast Phase Detect Autofocus with a dedicated AF sensor assembly in the bottom of the mirror box), using either Live View or the Optical Viewfinder. So, you don't have an Autofocus Performance penalty when using Live View with a Sony dSLR.

Now, Sony did start adding some interesting features with the Sony A500 and A550 models. They can actually do things like face recognition using the separate Live View sensor, while still making use of the dedicated AF Sensor with Phase Detect Autofocus (basically, determining the AF point that's closest to where a face is being detected for focus purposes). IOW, the separate Live View sensor and the dedicated AF sensor can work in conjunction with each other to provide additional focus features when using Live View if you set it to use those features.

shoturtle Mar 21, 2010 9:33 AM

I see the photo you posted, and wanted to get more in-depth about it. That is all, the techy side of me like to get more info sometimes but not to often. :)

JimC Mar 21, 2010 9:39 AM

Olympus actually used a similar system with their [discontinued] E-330 model. But, that's the only other dSLR model I'm aware of that used a similar system (with no AF performance penalty using Live View, depending on how you set the focus mode with one).

JimC Mar 21, 2010 10:07 AM

But, again, for something like shooting paintings, you're not going to care about AF speed anyway. :-)

For non-stationary subjects, the Sony Live View system can be very desirable, allowing you to more easily shoot a non-stationary subject with no performance penalty.

But, for stationary subjects like a painting using a tripod, a bit slower AF speed with other Live View systems shouldn't be an issue, as long as they're able to focus in the light you're shooting in (and that can be an issue with some systems like the D5000 that only offer Contrast Detect AF with their main imaging sensor when in Live View mode, as sometimes the main imaging sensor won't work well for AF when light gets lower, even if you don't mind how slow it is).

Some models with Live View offer more than one focus mode, so you can switch them to use Phase Detect AF instead. For example, your T1i has a "Quick Mode" setting when using Live View so the camera can make use of it's main AF Sensor Assembly for Phase Detect focusing, versus trying to do Contrast Detect AF with it's main imaging sensor. But, because the mirror needs to be flipped down to focus in that mode, you're impacting performance by needing to flip the mirror down, temporarily interrupting your Live View feed while the camera is focusing, then flipping the mirror back up to restore the Live View feed. So, neither method is ideal when shooting moving subjects (but, for stationary subjects like a painting, AF speed shouldn't matter much).

Walter_S Mar 21, 2010 11:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JimC (Post 1068194)
...So, neither method is ideal when shooting moving subjects (but, for stationary subjects like a painting, AF speed shouldn't matter much).

Jim! :)

I am not questioning neither your authority as an expert nor your vast knowledge of digital cameras, of which you clearly have an aweful lot of.

In my hopeless ( because the ideal camera does not exist...) search for an ideal replacement for my G1, I have now studied the Sony a550 quite thoroughly and repetedly as a contender, and this camera provides - I think as the only one in existence - actually a continuose shooting speed of 4 fps in Live View AND with continuouse AF switched on (7 fps with AE and AF locked)! Something quite unusual, as I understand.

If you look at camerlabs.com's brief video tour of the a550 - http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/So...o_review.shtml - this is shown and demonstrated quite convincingly in the video @ 4minutes and 30 seconds and onwards. Interesting viewing!

But now I am straying from the OP's request and ask for forgiveness of diverging....:eek:

Best regards,
Walter_S

JimC Mar 21, 2010 11:46 AM

Yep... AFAIK, the Sony A500 and A550 models are the only current dSLR models without any AF performance penalty when using Live View, since they can still use fast Phase Detect Autofocus via their dedicated 9 point AF sensor assembly, without the clumsy mirror flip routines needed like the "Quick Focus" mode some models have available with Live View, or the slower Contrast Detect AF other dSLR models use when trying to use the main imaging sensor for Autofocus.

How useful Sony's faster AF with Live View would depend on how much you use Live View, and the types of subjects you're shooting. It's not a feature that I think I'd use a lot unless shooting at unusual angles or with a tripod. I'm very accustomed to using an optical viewfinder instead.

But, if I were using one for an extended period, perhaps I'd try to use that feature more. I've had both a Nikon Coolpix 950 and 990 with a tilting body (and I still have the 950), and I used to like having the ability to shoot from waist level for candids at parties, etc., since as soon as someone sees you holding up a camera and pointing at them, they'll often pose (ruining the candid part of the shots). Being able to keep a camera at waist level or in your lap while sitting is not as noticeable if you're trying to get more candids. It can also come in handy for lower shooting angles to keep from needing to stoop down. So, I can see where it could be a desirable feature. I'm just very used to an optical viewfinder anymore. lol

Yes, there is no perfect camera. There are pros and cons to any of them. ;-)

JimC Mar 21, 2010 11:54 AM

IOW, I wouldn't be in a hurry to replace my Sony A700 with a model that has Live View, since I'm so accustomed to using it's Optical Viewfinder (and the A700 has a larger optical viewfinder compared to the A500 or A550). But, if I ever did buy a dSLR model with Live View like an A550, perhaps I'd change my shooting style some after using it more.

elizberd Mar 21, 2010 11:58 AM

Wow -- a fantastic amount of information, everyone!

I'm still :confused:

Peripatetic -- I had to laugh reading your comments -- my paintings usually do not move around too much, as a rule. :P That did clarify my need for "the best live view on the market". I think you are right, any of those models will do. Of course, I would like as versatile a camera as possible. As far as lighting goes, I am completely untaught about lighting, and don't have the space or inclination to buy lots of equipment (I'm in NYC); so I usually end up using natural light. This works great for detail shots, but in my studio at least, not for installation shots. I have a show right now at The Contemporary Museum in Hawaii, where I took installation shots with my g6 -- they're not great, but acceptable (after lots of Photoshop Elements work) for my purposes, because the lighting tends to be pretty even in museums.

Just to illustrate what I'm talking about with regard to my needs, here is an installation shot of one of my paintings:

http://i44.tinypic.com/141sj0k.jpg

The overall length of the work is about 25 feet.

Here is a detail:

http://i42.tinypic.com/293a6ip.jpg

And a closeup:

http://i44.tinypic.com/inhoww.jpg

Each of the 9 images in the installation measures 1-1/2".

So you see my challenge.


Sarah -- the thing I like about the Nikon is the fully articulating lcd -- I do think that is a priority for me. I find myself in strange positions sometimes, or holding my camera off center and above my head, and have often taken advantage of my g6's swivel feature on the lcd. So I'm putting the sonys down a notch on my list.

Walter -- thanks for your input -- also very helpful, especially with regard to distortion in the lens suggested. I need to figure out what the most distortion-free lens would be, that wouldn't cost me another $500, and what bodies would work with the lens.

Also, I see that strange mounting of the d5000. I tend not to use a tripod, however, (hence the need for lots of light), but if I did, I would be okay with just using the viewfiinder.



Another question: are the Nikon lenses generally more expensive and is the selection limited for Nikon bodies?

elizberd Mar 21, 2010 12:04 PM

sorry, all -- I didn't mean for my 2nd photo to be so large!

mtclimber Mar 21, 2010 12:26 PM

elizabeth-

Thanks for the post. It adds to the clarity of what is involved for you.

Regarding lens that are available for the Nikon D-500: because there is no motor drive built into the D-5000, the lens selection is somewhat limited. Currently there are more than 40 different lenses that can be used on the D-5000.

The most important element of this discussion is to get you pointed toward a selection of cameras that effectively meet your everyday needs and shooting style.Each post from you allows us to take a better bead on the target and fine tune the list of "possible" cameras.

Cameta Cameras ( a very reputable firm) currently has a large series of E-Bay auctions that are ongoing and includes the D-5000 model. These are demo cameras from Nikon, and to make the deal "sweeter," Cameta is offering a full 1 year guarantee, thus giving you the same advantages of a brand new camera right off the dealer's shelf.

Sarah Joyce

elizberd Mar 21, 2010 12:42 PM

Thanks, Sarah -- the auto-focus motor is what I was worrying about.

So, I'm still thinking about the D5000 because of the lcd feature. What other cameras in this class have that? (putting aside the sonys for the time being -- i may end up going with one of these, but still want to examine all my options).

elizberd Mar 21, 2010 1:33 PM

Does anyone know about swoopo.com? is this a reliable site? I'm watching a nikon d90 auction which is in the $25 range at the moment. There doesn't seem to be any way to know when the auction will end, as the time countdown changes constantly. The site says the products are all new, factory sealed. Thanks

mtclimber Mar 21, 2010 1:40 PM

Elizabeth-

While I have a lot of experience with E-Bay, my experiences with swoopo have been to the contrary. The old rule applies: if the price is way too cheap, you should be concerned!

Sarah Joyce

elizberd Mar 21, 2010 1:46 PM

anything specific you could tell me about, Sarah?
I also have a lot of experience with ebay, but just came across Swoopo. )I don't like the fact that there are no buyer reviews, and am naturally suspicious about the prices, but wonder if this site is real)

JimC Mar 21, 2010 1:53 PM

Now that I have a little better understanding of your subject type (and their 1.5" size), I think you're underestimating the need for a tripod if your goal is to "fill the frame" with a subject that small in order get the best possible quality for reproducing the image at a larger size.

With a subject that small, you're going to need to be at close to the minimum focus distance using something like a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro lens. IOW, think having the camera around 12 inches away from your subject (or around 4 inches from the front of the lens).

With the aperture wide open (f/2.8) at a focus distance that close using a 90mm lens on a camera with an APS-C size sensor, your total Depth of Field would only be around 0.04 inches (around 2/100 of an inch in front of your focus point, and about 2/100 of an inch in back of your focus point). It would be extremely difficult to hold a camera still enough with a depth of field that shallow to get a sharp image, even if your shutter speeds were fast enough to reduce blur from camera shake. It would be tricky just to get focus very accurate at all at distances that close without stopping down the aperture from wide open.

You'd probably want to stop down the aperture some from wide open so that the entire frame is sharper for a subject that small, too. That will help with Depth of Field some. But, even if you stopped it down to around f/8, your total depth of field would still only be around 0.1" (around 0.05" in front of your focus point, and around 0.05" in back of your focus point) at a focus distance of around 12 inches with a lens like a Tamron 90mm Macro (which sells for around $459 now).

Also, when you stop down your aperture, your shutter speeds get slower for a given lighting condition and ISO speed, which means blur from camera shake (not to mention out of focus images because virtually any movement would focus errors).

In your first photo, I'm seeing a shutter speed of only 1/15 second. I don't see any ISO speed in it's EXIF. But, I'll assume it was probably close to it's lowest ISO speed of ISO 50, with the aperture close to wide open (I see f/2.5 in it's EXIF). The second image was using a much faster shutter speed of around 1/100 second with the aperture at around f/3. I'll assume it was using a much higher ISO speed of around ISO 400 for that exposure (and/or your brightened it in software later).

So, guessing light levels based on those two (without knowing the exact ISO speeds used) I'll assume lighting is such that you'll probably get shutter speeds of around 1/125 second with the aperture wide open at f/2.8 using around ISO 400 with a lens like a Tamron 90mm.

In that type of lighting, if you stopped down the aperture to around f/8 for a little more depth of field, that would mean you'd need shutter speeds of around around 1/15 second without increasing ISO speed. For a hand held camera, you'd normally want shutter speeds closer to 10 times that fast to reduce blur from camera shake with a 90mm lens on a camera with an APS-C size sensor. If you stopped it down more, even slower shutter speeds would be needed.

Sure, you could increase ISO speed. But, even if you shot at ISO 3200 and f/8 (which would degrade image quality some due to higher noise levels and/or noise reduction), your shutter speeds would still be "borderline" without using a tripod; and focus would still be "tricky" because of the very shallow Depth of Field you'd have, even if you stopped down the aperture to around f/8 or so. If you stopped it down even more, shutter speeds needed would be slower.

Now, I'm only guessing at light levels based on those two photos. But, keep in mind that you'll have a much shallower depth of field for a given subject framing and aperture using a dSLR model as compared to your little G6.

Is your goal to "fill the frame" as much as possible with paintings that small, so that they can be enlarged a bit later?

If so, I'd suggest a very steady tripod, as well as using a self timer or remote shutter release to help with any blur from caused by pressing the shutter button. A longer macro lens would also be desirable so that you've got enough working room, especially with a tripod. IOW, I'd go with something like a 150mm or 180mm if budget permits. But, the longer the focal lengths, the more expensive they'll be (and the steadier your camera will need to be to reduce blur from any camera shake, since blur is amplified as focal lengths get longer).

Have you got any photos using a different camera that include the ISO speed that was used in their EXIF? That would give us a better idea of lighting levels.

I'd give members a better idea of exactly what you intend to do with the images. If you're not going to enlarge them any past their original size for printing, that's different, and you may be able to shoot from further away and crop some later. Or, if they're for web use only, you may be able to take a different approach.

elizberd Mar 21, 2010 2:05 PM

I'm beginning to see the complications here, Jim. Thanks so much for all that thoughtful information. I need time to digest it all.

For now I have a big question: I'm not understanding why I'll have shallower depth of field with a dslr than with my g6. Depth of field and camera shake is already an issue.

I don't have any photos taken with another camera. But I can tell you that the detail shot (the close up of the 1-1/2") was taken in better natural light conditions -- flat on a white piece of paper in my studio, near a window. The g6 seems adequate for that at least. I don't intend to print those detail images at larger sizes. But I would like the option of cropping the installation images and retaining detail.

elizberd Mar 21, 2010 2:07 PM

p.s. I did lighten, color correct and fix (tried to, at least) the camera distortion in each of the first 2 photos


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