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Old Aug 29, 2011, 11:03 AM   #1
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Default camera for artisan jewelry shop (and family)

I am trying to step up the quality of my photos in my handcrafted jewelry, online, store and was looking at options. My old camera Sony Cybershot came short on many occasions.

What would you recommend in the $200-$400 range that would fit the bill? I am still using outdoor photos a lot, but am trying to get the indoor quality better for convenience. (My shooting sessions don't always happen at the same time and nights seem to be easier in terms of time).

Two of the cameras I was looking at were: Panasonic Lumix DMC -ZS10, and Panasonic Lumix LX-5. I've seen some of the comments about the quality not being so good in low light, and color not being true in the white balance mode, respectively. Both of these comments seem to be important in my type of work, but maybe not to the degree that I need to worry?
What is the difference in quality betw. these two products?

I do end up cropping a lot and use Picnik for basic editing. (Though would love to minimize that).

If there are other options worth looking at, please help my right brain jump start into the right spot!

I would also like this camera to be a family camera for outings with my 3 and 6 yo boys.

thank you in advance!
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Old Aug 29, 2011, 1:12 PM   #2
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I don't have recommendation, but just a couple of comments. First is that the key to indoor photography is lighting, and the ability to use an external flash (and the relevant knowledge!) is key. Secondly, if you have a camera that can take in RAW you have much more control after the event over the finished image. And the third of my couple of points (!) is that for something as intricate as jewelery you may get better results from a higher resolution camera.

I bought a used Canon G10 and a new Nissin Di 866 flash for a total of well under your $400, and that combination is capable of superb results.
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Old Aug 29, 2011, 7:56 PM   #3
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Thank you peterbj7 for your points!

My "indoor set" consists of tripod- that I ditched as it was too cumbersome for lots and lots of shots, 3 daylights (Otto)- but suspect that there are not strong enough for me, and a home made tent. I have seen some professionals use strobe lights, flashlights (as in camping) and reflection screens, but I haven't gotten there yet. My night pictures are kind of dead, whereas the day ones have soul due to the sun and shadows playing in the photo.

I have never bought used photo equip. Has it the become more common with digital technology? What are the best ways of doing it? That opens up the older (but good models) to discussion-- more research

Raw- you got me here - would I need Photoshop program to convert it to jpgs? Right now, I spent too much time editing due to various inefficiencies. Computers are not my forte and I usually do things the long way. The promise of getting better quality pictures, sounds intriguing, though!

What resolution would you consider higher? 14MP?

thank you again!
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Old Aug 29, 2011, 8:46 PM   #4
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I think the reason your nighttime photos look "dead" may be that you have lighting that's flattening out the profile. Like an on-camera flash. An on-camera flash can work if its bounced or otherwise diffused, but it's usually unflattering when full on.

I bought a G10 when they were new, and loved it. Then when I had a mini-financial crisis I sold it, and immediately regretted it. A friend in the States (I'm in Central America) looked around for me and spotted a G10 on eBay for $200. It looks more used than the one I sold but works perfectly, and I'm very happy I bought it. That has 14.7mp and with decent light (daylight or flash) produces superb results - better than I've seen from either of the successor cameras, which have better low light performance (though IMO still inadequate) at the cost of greatly reduced resolution. I regard the G10 as a superb camera when used appropriately and I strongly recommend it to you. You should pick up a good one for under $200 now. It can take pictures in RAW, to read which you need either Canon's own software or something like Photoshop. If your PS is an older version and doesn't recognise the G10 RAW you can download a codec from Adobe. With RAW you have enormous latitude to tailor your pictures to your liking, and can often retrieve pictures you thought were a total loss.

I recently bought a Macbook Pro and was agreeably surprised that the standard software it comes with can read the RAW from all my cameras. You'd still need specialised software to do much tailoring though.

I think the trick to buying used is to buy something for which there's an obvious reason why someone might have sold it, such as a newer sexy model. Many people "upgrade" automatically without considering the relative merits of old and new, so there are some great bargains around. Obviously you must have good "instinct" for something that might not be right, but selling scams fortunately seem rare. This G10 is the second used camera I've bought and both were raging successes. I bought my DSLRs and all my lenses new, though if I lived in the USA I would probably have gone for used.

For this reason, you might find a bargain DSLR, especially if it's two models old. A T1i is a very good camera, but as there have been two models since you may find them pretty cheap. The T2i is almost the same as its successor the T3i, but because of "upgrade fever" they may also be going pretty cheaply.

I would say used flashes are more questionable since models don't change that often. Technically my Nissins have been superceded (a week after I bought them!) but they're still superb and I have no desire to replace them. However, I have seen people selling them to get the very similar newer model. And having used both I rate this equally with the top model Canon flash at a lot more $. I would always go for a powerful flash - you can always turn it down, but you can't turn up a lower power flash.

On technique, you may find you can get good results with simple lighting and reflectors. Try to work out what's different in the lighting with your good daylight shots and try to replicate that. I'm no expert on any of this, but I used to be a recording engineer and I see lighting for a subject a bit similar to positioning microphones - my rule is "keep it as simple as you can get away with", with as few microphones/light sources as possible.

Sorry that's a bit of a ramble.
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Last edited by peterbj7; Aug 29, 2011 at 8:50 PM.
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Old Aug 29, 2011, 8:57 PM   #5
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The LX5 will do far better in low light than the ZS10. Actually, I don't think the ZS10 is particularly good at all (the ZS7 was far better). The LX5 will also allow you to shoot in RAW+JPEG so you can use the JPEG if you wish, but you'll have the RAW file in case you need to pull a little more detail out of the image or tweak the white balance more easily.
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Old Aug 30, 2011, 12:41 AM   #6
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Peterbj- thank you for further clarification. Rambling is good- gets me looking things up!

FiveO - Thank you for your input! After going around and around on the internet, it confirmed that lx 5 would be a good choice for me.

So far, the flash hasn't been a necessity for my type of photography. I am sure there is a way to use it productively, but not at my level haven't figured it out.

After looking around, I found that G11 had improved the low light quality over G10, so that moved me towards G11. Then I compared G11 with Panasonic Lumix Lx3 and LX5 and Lumix LX5 was a winner. Not much over LX3 , but still. These web comparisons just make your head spinning! It looks like, I would not to have to buy any add'l lenses, since the Lx's take pretty close photos. It also looks that they are pretty decent at taking action and sports pictures of my kids. The only thing now is the price, J&R has it at $400. My upper range. LX 5 also has RAW, as FiveO mentioned.

My day pics are taken in the afternoon with some dappling shadows from the live oak. It's not very efficient as the light moves very quickly, but there are usually a couple in a huge batch that qualify for editing. Sometimes, I would shoot indoors, by the sliding doors, but they are not as good, and mornings are more fleeting than afternoons to me.

As for my indoor photography, I need to look at lights again and see what i can change/ add. Maybe a strobe light would do the trick? I need to find that flashlight too, that somebody recomm. on you tube. I may need stronger bulbs- with that a diff. lamp altogether? Right now, I have 2 desk lamps that fit equiv of 60 W in CLF and one swivel lamp with an equiv. of a 100W bulb. Many times, the setting is too dark and washed- needs some spark at least. I am new to this site, are there forums to discuss those aspects here as well?

FiveO, do you know how do I operate the RAW file on my PC? Does Panasonic have a software for that, or would Photoshop elements help, or maybe something else (free?)

thank you again!
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Old Aug 30, 2011, 5:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrystalMango View Post
FiveO, do you know how do I operate the RAW file on my PC? Does Panasonic have a software for that, or would Photoshop elements help, or maybe something else (free?)
The software that comes with the camera will be able to handle RAW files, but of course Adobe's products are more capable. You can use Adobe Camera Raw to convert the image for use in Photoshop/Photoshop Elements or you can use Adobe Lightroom.
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