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Old Jun 24, 2009, 12:40 PM   #1
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Default What would you do with $1000.00?

I know, I know...Not ANOTHER "What camera should I buy?" question...But here's my situation (and it's a pretty good one):

My employer has agreed to purchase a DSLR for my department - anything I want, with a budget of $1000. Our needs: We will mainly be using it to photograph our products in a little mini-studio we're building inside (with lighting) for use in advertising and collateral materials. These products are automobile racing components and range in size from a few inches to a few feet. Additionally and perhaps down the road a bit, I would like to be able to take photos "out in the field" of auto races and race cars putting our products to use (which might need a faster fps?). Given the somewhat limited $1000 budget, I've narrowed camera choices down to the usual suspects...

- Canon Rebel T1i
- Nikon D5000
- Pentax K20D
- Sony A380
- Sony A350

Am I missing any? From what I can tell, more advanced models like the Canon D40's and D50's will put me over my budget. From my research, any of the above will suit our needs just fine. While the T1i and D5000 both have "HD" video capability (which might be something we could use in the future), the powers that be have determined it isn't necessary at this time. In fact, they said they'd purchase a separate video camera if needed so let's concentrate on photos. I'm not a novice photographer, but not an expert either (though I'm willing to learn). The real question is, IF YOU WERE ME (given our budget and needs), which camera - and specifically, which lenses - would you recommend? Is there a single lens that can take studio photos AND have the zoom/speed for high-speed, outdoor car races? Do I get a camera with a kit lens or a body and buy lens(es) separately? By the way, they like to buy on Amazon. Pretend you're me...let's go shopping! What will give me the most bang for their buck?

Thank you all SO MUCH in advance.
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Old Jun 24, 2009, 12:58 PM   #2
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How about 50 lap dances

Sorry, couldn't help myself
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Old Jun 24, 2009, 1:22 PM   #3
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How about 50 lap dances

Sorry, couldn't help myself

Just a lap dance?
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Old Jun 24, 2009, 1:34 PM   #4
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Just a lap dance?


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Old Jun 24, 2009, 3:19 PM   #5
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For what you want to do, I'd get a dSLR with a good autofocus system (for the outdoor & racing shots you want to do later) and a macro lens and tripod for your studio shots. The macro lens should be about 100mm, so you won't block your own light, and if you need to you can get close for photos of details.

Tokina makes a very good 100mm f/2.8 macro lens that sells for $400. That limits your camera budget to $600 and your choices to Canon and Nikon. The Canon T1i puts you overbudget and the Tokina lens won't autofocus on the Nikon D5000. If you can squeeze a little more money out of your boss, the Canon XSi body is available for $640 after rebate. That totals $1040.

But you should still get a tripod.

Last edited by TCav; Jun 24, 2009 at 6:13 PM.
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Old Jun 24, 2009, 9:42 PM   #6
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You might as well start thinking about support items too, so that it will not be death by a thousand cuts. Here are some additional items that you might consider along with a tripod, lights and a backdrop (sheet?):
  • Remote cable release - so as to release the shutter with out touching the camera. About $10.
  • Lazy Susan - to put the item being photographed on, thus to easily reposition and spin around for various perspectives. About $5
  • Salvage a PC and Monitor - the camera will probably come with remote software via a USB cable. This way you can set up the shot via the PC and not the viewfinder. You can use any old PC. This will make you appear to be very cost conscious. Also have a network drop put into the studio, so that you can automatically down load the images and put them on the network easily.
hope that helps....
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Old Jun 25, 2009, 2:58 AM   #7
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A macro lens might be useful, but really you will probably do fine with any of the kit lenses.

Just stop them down to f8 or f11 to get the best sharpness and DOF and you should be fine.

Good tripod, cable release, and a decent 2-flash setup with softbox, etc.

I would make sure the camera that you do choose has a decent live view function too and high-rez LCD, which comes in very handy for this kind of work - it makes manually tweaking the focus very easy. The external PC/Monitor thing is a good idea too.

Which camera does all of that? Well the Canon does, and so does the Nikon. I don't think the Pentax is the best choice here for your requirements. The A350/380 has a nice tilting LCD, but it's pretty low rez. Still a good choice though.
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Old Jun 25, 2009, 7:27 AM   #8
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A macro lens might be useful, but really you will probably do fine with any of the kit lenses.
The OP stated "These products are automobile racing components and range in size from a few inches to a few feet." A kit lens might be ok for a product that is a few feet in size, but not a few inches. I think he or she would be frustrated with the results from anything less than a medium telephoto macro lens.

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... and a decent 2-flash setup with softbox, etc.
The OP stated "We will mainly be using it to photograph our products in a little mini-studio we're building inside (with lighting) ..." So let's presume that it will be at least adequate for what he or she wants to do, so lighting is covered. And if that turns out not to be the case, then it can be fixed later and outside the available budget for the camera.
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Old Jun 25, 2009, 3:24 PM   #9
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Most kit lenses can do macro down to 1:4 or so. That is plenty for subjects a few inches in size, and a 100mm Macro is way too much telephoto for objects a few feet in size.

Have you ever seen a photography studio that didn't need flashes? I haven't. Anyway, for product photography the best thing for smallish subjects is something like a Lastolite Cubelight Kit.

http://www.lastolite.com/studio-cubelite.php

With bigger flashes possibly required depending on the upper limit of the objects. It doesn't have to be lastolite of course, there are a range of possibilities, but lastolite is well regarded and not terribly expensive.

At any rate in this particular situation you want to stop down for good DOF, the lighting will be fully controlled, the camera should be mounted on a tripod and a zoom would be usefu. The kit lenses should be fine, far more important to make sure you have good lighting and support for the camera and easy transfer for tethered shooting.
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Old Jun 25, 2009, 3:52 PM   #10
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I'm with peripatetic. If your smallest subject is a few inches in size, a typical kit lens should be just fine, giving you a lot more flexibility for your larger subjects. You'd be better off spending the extra budget on better lighting.
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