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Old Nov 10, 2011, 2:15 PM   #1
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I have been using a Minolta Dimage Z1 for several years. It works pretty good for closeups of jewelry etc. However, I need to know how to make it work for photographing artwork, pastel paintings, from 9" X 12" to 24" X 36" so that they can be reproduced as prints if that is possible. If not, please recommend a camera that would do both of these tasks. I take a lot of reference photos for my paintings, landscape and close-up so really need both capabilities. I would like to not see little boxes so much when I try to enlarge the close-ups for detail. Thanks a lot!
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Old Nov 10, 2011, 2:48 PM   #2
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The DiMAGE Z1 was a fine camera for it's day, but it only has a 3.2 megapixel image sensor. That won't give you the kind of detail you'll need to capture good images of artwork.

I think your best option is a dSLR with a good macro lens, a good tripod, and maybe even a copystand.
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 1:26 PM   #3
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Good Morning,

You have 2 separate questions that need to be handled a bit differently from each other, however, they both can maybe handled with nearly the same equipment.

First your jewelery question. There was a similar question asked and here is the answer along with a procedure all worked out, that I believe you can follow....
Now, the jewelery aspect used a 50mm lens. The same lens could be used for your art work, but you would need to get farther away in order to be able to photography the entire range of sizes (24" X 36") - and I'll address that below.

First we need to do some math - using some on line calculators located here.....
On this page there are two calculators we need to use...
  • Dimensional Field of View Calculator
  • Depth of Field Calculator
First the Dimensional Field of View Calculator. We need to figure out what lens will be able to get your entire set of sizes within its field of view.
  • Lens focal length (mm): 50
  • Focal length multiplier: 1.53 (this is number to use for APS-c sensors)
  • Distance to Subject: 8 feet
So 50 mm will work if your are 8 feet away. Replacing 50 with 35 and you will get about 5 feet away for a 35mm lens.

Then checking the depth of field calculator and putting in both
  • 50mm at 8 feet - aperture 8
  • 35mm at 5 feet - aperture 8
you get 6 and 8 inches respectfully, so these two lenses would work just fine. With 6 to 8 inches of depth of focus, you placement of your work in front of the camera provides you with a bit of room to play with and still be in focus.

Here are some helpful links...
So what you need is a dslr camera body with a 50mm lens (jewelery & art) and possibly a 35mm lens (jewelry & art). So what dslr camera. Note in the calculations I used an ASP-C sensor and not a 4:3 sensor. They will all work just fine. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax.... along with a...
  • Tripod (about $100+)
  • External shutter release (about $5)
  • Lighting (start out with what you have)
The one thing I will say, don't use tungsten lights if you are going to use autofocus lenses. These lights can throw off some of the autofocusing in some of the camera brands.

Reading about the jewelery - they use a pretty old Pentax camera - about 8 years old (6MP). So you can really use just about any camera body. For an example, here is a Pentax Kr with a kit 35mm f2.4 lens for $680.
Pentax and actually all the brands have old 50mm lenses that can be used and are available for around $50 to $100. You can go to f1.7 lenses and the price comes down quite a bit.

You can also go with an older Kx body
The Pentax 35mm lens is also a Macro lens, so it can also be used for the jewelery...
So there you have some homework to look at...

hope that helps,

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Old Nov 11, 2011, 5:06 PM   #4
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The problem with the Pentax 35/2.4 is that it suffers from a moderate amount of field curvature (corner softness) at any aperture smaller than f/11 (at which point the center gets less sharp) so the edges and corners won't appear as sharp as the center. I don't think that lens would give you the quality you might want when photographing artwork for the purpose of making prints. I think the Sigma 50/2.8 Macro would be a better choice. (It won't AF on Nikon's entry level dSLRs, btw.)
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 7:27 PM   #5
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Afternoon TCav,

I understand your concerns, and to varying degrees you are going to have these regardless of the particular lens used. However, using lens correction profiles, a lot of these can be corrected to a large degree in post processing. Using Lightroom 3 you can use the provided lens correction profile to make these adjustments.
There is never going to be an absolutely perfect solution, especially on a limited budget. Canon, Nikon and Sony at this price point are all going to exhibit some sort of constraints.

The Sigma 50/2.8 Macro is comparatively priced, and would do an excellent job across a wide variety makes of bodies.

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Old Nov 11, 2011, 8:03 PM   #6
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Correcting for a lens' sharpness deficiencies in post processing won't actually increase the sharpness of an image. Instead. it just increases the contrast in areas of an image that already have high contrast. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acutance

When photographing artwork, I think this probably isn't a good idea.
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Old Nov 19, 2011, 4:56 AM   #7
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go for macro lens capable dslr , may be 1.8 !
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Old Nov 19, 2011, 5:22 AM   #8
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Yes, any modern DSLR, with a decent Macro lens and solid stand/tripod will do what you need.

You will also want to get some decent daylight lamps or possibly flashguns.
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