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Old Sep 1, 2010, 12:33 PM   #1
jee
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Default Best setup for photographing intricate embroidery as a non-photographer

Hello everyone,

I'm impressed with the very specific answers in this forum to novices' questions, so I started an account to ask my question. Thanks in advance for any help.

I'm a non-photographer with no experience doing much other than pointing and shooting. I appreciate the art of photography, but have never wanted or needed photos of higher than snapshot quality for myself.

My first digital camera was about $120, five years ago, and it's on its last legs. I have one very important need for my next camera. My wife is a Japanese Embroidery (JE) student and has reached the skill level where I would like to be able to take high-quality close-up pictures of her work. I am assuming this means I need a camera which can take great macro pictures, but when I see examples of macro pictures, I usually see flowers or insects rather than things like embroidery, so I'm not totally sure that macro is what I'm looking for.

Whatever the right term is, I'd like to get a setup that can produce great pictures of patterns, stitches, and completed JE works. If you Google Japanese Embroidery images you'll see that most practitioners do not create images that show the details of the JE stitches, which, up close, are astonishingly intricate and precise. The perfect camera would be one that could take pictures at stitch-level and at piece-level (say, 2' x 3') with great results.

We also use our current camera for pictures of our domestic animals and of sculptures at outdoor sculpture parks, but those aren't high-quality and we don't really need them to be. I would prefer to use a totally separate camera for those purposes, if using our new camera for those snapshots meant compromising on the results of high-quality closeups.

Based on some other postings on this site, I am considering the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35. On the other hand, it also appears from this forum that a tripod and good lighting are as important for close-up photography as (if not more important than) the camera choice, and as a novice that's pretty scary for me. I have never really considered either of those factors. I have also never attached a lens to a camera body in my life.

So, I could use some handholding. My ideal budget would be $150, I'd spend $300 if I knew I wouldn't regret it, and I'd even splurge to about $600 except I believe it would be wasted in my novice hands. My goal is not to become a photographer, or for these images to be professional-quality; it's only to be able to do justice to my wife's work in this beautiful art form. I probably wouldn't spend over $600 under any circumstances -- I'd hire a pro to take the pictures if they needed to be that perfect.

Thank you again for any and all advice about camera choice, tripods, lighting, misconceptions, or anything else.

-Bill
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 12:51 PM   #2
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Bill-

Welcome to the Forum. We're pleased that you dropped by.

Yes, the Panasonic FZ-35 equipped with the LC-55 close-up lens is indeed up to the job, as you have described it, with a good light level. It would be very useful if we had some photos showing exactly what you desire to photograph.

This is a rather specialized requirement, and there is nothing in the under $(US)200.00 range that would seem capable of producing the photos desired.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 12:56 PM   #3
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The FZ35 would work pretty well for this. It gets pretty close-up on its own, but if you wanted to go further into the intricate details you could add like a Raynox 250 macro lens. I would try without first and see if that got close enough for you.

A must will be a tripod and light source. I have seen some table top light box kits for pretty cheap ~100$ on the internet that would give a small white cube and 2 lights that should do the trick for this type of imaging. And then you could probably get away with a small table top tripod since this would be the only thing you were using it for. Something like that should be more than adequate.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 1:41 PM   #4
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Default example photos

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtclimber View Post
It would be very useful if we had some photos showing exactly what you desire to photograph.
Thank you for the welcome and the feedback.
Because the JE masters are very careful about patterns and images being released on the internet, I'll link you to their website showing some completed pieces. These would be the piece-level photos I was talking about -- I think that they deliberately post low-quality images online, but I'm not certain.

As for the intricate detail, this piece at their website is a good example of one that, in person, looks amazing -- some of the stitches are extremely long stitches held in place with other stitches; in some places there is depth that is achieved by putting stitches on top of other stitches, etc. Our current camera blurs the stitches in much the same way that the image at that link does, with even more blurring when I focus on a very small part of the piece.

Finally, this Flickr page is not my wife's, but it does have some examples of close-up photos I would like to be able to take, with hopefully even sharper images.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 1:57 PM   #5
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With macro converson lens Hards mention. You can get them in different levels of mag. So you will want to see if a 2 diopter is good enough or you can move up 4 diopter.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 4:30 PM   #6
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Shoturtle-

Whoa! The Raynox 250 lens that, Dustin, mentioned only comes in one power. I think you are confused, and thinking of stacked close-up lenses.

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Old Sep 1, 2010, 4:35 PM   #7
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Bill-

For what it might be worth, the Panasonic LC-55 close up lens is easier to work with that the Raynox 150 and 250 lenses which require a lot of adjusting to get the focus correctly.

I have used both the Raynox 250 and the LC-55 with my FZ-35, and I have found the LC-55 to be much easier to work with when shooting fine detail. Thanks for the sample photos, as you can see, especially with the Flickr group, having lots of light helps very much in fine detail capture.

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Old Sep 1, 2010, 4:35 PM   #8
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I am talking about conversion lens in general. Not just Raynox. That is why I did not refer to it by name. Also there is a 150 besides the 250 form raynox.

http://www.adorama.com/IRXDCR250.html
http://www.adorama.com/IRXDCR150.html

or kit form

http://www.adorama.com/IRXCM2000.html
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 4:48 PM   #9
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With panasonic lc55 being made for the camera and being less powerful, it probably is easier to work with, and both are same price generally speaking, so that should be a good choice. the Raynox 250 i mentioned would probably be overkill for this, the 2 diopter panasonic would be enough, or if you went with raynox the 150 would be easier to work with too.

just be sure you have a tripod to work with, and adding a continous lightsource/lightbox would be a big help.
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Old Sep 1, 2010, 10:52 PM   #10
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Default Thank you

Thank you all so much for the feedback and advice. I'm ordering the camera tonight as well as a tripod and LC55 lens. I'll also see if I can figure out how to get the good light source you're all recommending.

Thanks again. It's much appreciated.

-Bill
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