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Old Sep 4, 2012, 8:24 PM   #1
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Default A beginner looking to photograph small products, for <= $600?

Hello, I don't know much about photography but I am going to start an online shop to sell small dolls and an important part of that kind of business is presentation, since your customers can't see the product irl.

So I need to learn this stuff. My cousin is a photographer hobbyist (his site) and he suggested to look around for something I can learn with before making a really huge investment.

I am hoping to produce images like this one (shot with a Canon 7D):

A macro type thing. I hope I am using that term correclty
Of course I don't want to get something like a 7D right away, so what would you guys recommend?

Some cameras I've looked at and considered are a Nikon D5000 and Canon Rebel XS.

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Old Sep 4, 2012, 10:55 PM   #2
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G'day Mrs 3 horn !!

Firstly, welcome to Steves - collectively we here have lots of information for you ~ hopefully not to confuse you either

If the above is an example of your work, and the way you want to show it for sale, I would suggest a simple and inexpensive camera ... probably a $100 simple auto camera with a small zoom lens

Others here will offer you their 2-bob's worth as well, I am sure

Regards, Phil
Has Lumix mirrorless & superzoom cameras and loves their amazing capabilities
Spends 8-9 months each year travelling Australia
Recent images at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ozzie_traveller/sets/

Last edited by Ozzie_Traveller; Sep 6, 2012 at 3:29 PM.
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Old Sep 5, 2012, 3:30 AM   #3
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Hi MrsThreehorn... the 7D is a very fine camera- but you're right to suggest starting out with something less expensive- and frankly,for the work you're looking at a 7D is a bit of overkill,with perfectly adequate results achievable from something FAR less expensive- and simpler.
You're also fortunate that your cousin clearly knows a bit about photography (after visiting his site) and utilising his knowledge will help you greatly- and you can learn the basic principles of photography with a simple compact camera- although I would suggest one with full manual controls and a flash hotshoe,so the functionality is the same as your future "big" purchase....
Maybe something like an Olympus XZ-1,Canon G11/12...etc....?
However,if you want to jump straight in with a DSLR (which will give you more control over depth of field) any entry level DSLR will yield excellent results in the right hands- though maybe consider brand loyalty- for example if you're thinking of an expensive Canon in the future,it might be prudent to purchase a Canon to begin with- their menu systems will be similar and most accessories you have purchased- flash/lens etc- can be used on your future model.
Though as Ozzie suggests- even a simple inexpensive point and shoot can yield decent results- and macro work is actually one area most of them excel in !
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Old Sep 5, 2012, 5:42 PM   #4
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I never considered brand loyalty in that aspect, thank you.
Glad to hear I can get the results I want with something that won't break my bank.
Thanks for the informative answers!
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Old Sep 6, 2012, 10:47 AM   #5
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I think Phil nailed it.
Unless your subjects are really very tiny "macro" does not come into the equation.

And images for web sized use are usually small, under 1024 pixels on the long side. Cameras from the most inexpensive point and shoot on up the big dslr's will create that.

Your main issue will be lighting your products well to show them off at their best.
I'd say get a starting camera and start to learn about product lighting.
Lots of sites to be found on google to help out there, or books if you prefer that route.

Lighting does not need to be expensive (though it can be), window light and some white cardboard reflectors can work well, as can a couple of compact florescent bulbs. Lots of options available.
A smartphone is all the "camera" most really need.

Last edited by PeterP; Sep 6, 2012 at 10:50 AM.
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Old Sep 8, 2012, 3:56 AM   #6
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Thanks Peter! I'll definitely take that into account. My cousin is even willing to let me use one of his old lighting setups! So I am very fortunate to have his help. Thank you for the advice
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Old Sep 8, 2012, 7:45 PM   #7
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As you look at the photo above, notice how soft the shaddow is. With an inexpesive P&S would be direct flash which would create a hard shadow. Not certain what his lighting setup is that he will let you use. Obviously, it is is speedlights (flashes) would need a hotshoe and that brand matching the camera.

What Peter was talking about were "hot lights" which are basically bulbs that are on...thus "hot". There you wouldn't use any flash on the camera. With small merchandise photography, probably the best setup is a lightbox. While you can buy them relatively inexpensively, they are also easy to make with light either reflecting off the interior sides, or diffusing through the material. Many times won't even have a shaddow as the opposing lights take out the shaddow created by the other light.
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