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Old Aug 22, 2010, 8:37 PM   #11
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Hi blounp, Please help us out helping you. Here is a homework assignment. Go out to the kitchen or dining room table with your wife, husband or friend. Use a box of some reasonable size as a camera stand in. Then with a tape measure just give us some very rough measurements as to how far the camera lens will be away from the food - usually. Also, a real rough idea of about how much depth of field you will need - I am guessing the diameter of the dinner dish or about 12" and maybe a bit more in order to include the a glass, maybe some silverware.

A Canon 5DmkII is 152 x 114 x 75 mm (6 x 4.5 x 3 in)

With that we can figure out reasonable set of lens focal lengths that would work for you. I am somewhat afraid that 100mm may be too much. The 100mm lens has a minimum focusing distance of 1 foot, and at that distance the depth of field is pretty thin (as in almost 0"). I am wondering if a zoom or a wider angle lens would be a better fit, that has the close in minimum focusing distance but comes with a larger depth of field.

Using a 20mm lens, at 1 foot, with f4 the dof is 0.11'
................................at 2 feet, with f4 the dof is 0.45'

This is not really a secret - there are some pretty straight forward photography calculator websites, available for use...
Before you go overspending on a body, put together an entire system, so you will have a good idea of what it will cost and what it will do for you.

Also, tell us how you see yourself using the camera. Sitting at the table taking pictures, or standing up and shooting pictures, or sitting on the chair, moving the chair back and taking pictures.

Also, do you want to use the viewfinder, or do you want to use live view from the back of the camera, given the close distances you may be working with here.

Now, the last thing I want to do is to send you where you might not want to go, but since dinner is not a fast moving event, (i.e., no sports photography - unless you are in the kitchen working on the line), there are some other alternatives, that you may wish to consider. Pentax has small camera bodies with built in image stabilization in the body. For normal to wide angle, they have good comparable glass to the best of both Canon and Nikon. Pentax excels at colors, and maintaining fine details within the image. Just a thought.

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Old Aug 22, 2010, 8:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by shoturtle View Post
But if you are shoot HD and set shots, the 7D really do not give you any real advantages over the T2i.
Hmmm... i ended up buying a 7D cause i didn't liked the plastic feel and the viewfinder of the T2i. There's a feeling with the 7D that you're holding long lasting, quality stuff.

My cent here blounp: think about ligthing. Lighting can make a big difference. Check this picks:

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Old Aug 22, 2010, 9:53 PM   #13
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I do not know how much research you have done on line, but Ordo's suggestion was very good. Here are a couple more that you might find interesting...
From the photography calculators and the above websites, it appears that the 20mm to 35mm focal length will be the right range for restaurant table photography.

I am going to make a couple of suggestions that may seem to be off base, but I believe that they will work.
  • Choose the lens(es), then select the camera body that they fit on.
  • Due to the close in nature of the setting - a restaurant, you need a good depth of field with a relative short minimum focusing distance, in low light. This is a fisheye lens. Now I know what you are thinking, but there are zoom fisheye lenses - that have great image quality, that do not exhibit the fisheye distortion. The Tokina 10-17 (about $550) (and Pentax DA 10-17) - same lens, designed by Pentax - has a minimum focusing distance of 5.5 inches. The depth of field is nearly infinite. Also, at 17mm the fisheye distortion is greatly diminished - depending on the setting, you might not be able to detect it. You can thank Ordo's link to fxcuisine for that, since the website's author also uses a fisheye - read the article..... The Tokina lens fits on Canon bodies.
  • A small table top tripod. These are small, about 6 inches in height, and you can set it on the table. With a wired shutter release and auto focus, you are set. With a tripod, you can increase your f stop to something like f5.6 or f8, therefor endure the slow shutter speed with out any blurring - and the added bonus is an increase in your depth of field. Also, you can keep your ISO speed down to 100 or 200, thereby increasing your image quality, with out accepting any additional noise.
  • A camera body, that is probably smaller than larger - for easier use in a restaurant setting. A body with very good noise control at high ISO setting, so that if you need to shoot hand held, you can increase the ISO so as to keep the shutter speed relatively fast, and not blur the image.
  • Image stabilization - Depending on the camera make, Canon and Nikon have lens based stabilization, while Pentax, Sony and Olympus have body based stabilization. So if you go with Canon and Nikon you need to find stabilized lenses. They have very few under 50mm. Canon has a 17-85 IS USM lens (about $600) that would cover the focal length. It has a minimum focusing distance of 1.15 feet which would give a dof of .64 feet.
Edit - Going with an image stabilized lens such as the 17-85 is cheaper because its a f4 lens (its a slower lens). The 24-70l 2.8 is more expensive due the "L" quality lens and the f2.8 speed. However the 17-18 with IS would bring the speed of the lens down to about the same areas (f2.8) as the 24-70. So for less than half the price, you equal the speed, while giving up a bit on quality. You will probably not be shooting at f2.8 in the restaurant because of the relative shallow depth of field - so why pay for something that you probably will not use (f2.8) (- but the lens quality will still be there. Photography is dealing with compromises...

So, those are some thoughts....

Last edited by interested_observer; Aug 22, 2010 at 10:12 PM.
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