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Old Jan 12, 2005, 11:53 AM   #1
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i am searching for the best digital camera to photograph my paintings for archiving. my price range is $500 to $600. features i rate the highest are: accurate color reproduction, minimal (or zero) barrel distortion, clarity across entire picture plane. other features (such as portablity, movie mode, zoom) can be compromised for image quality. archiving paintings will be its primary function. what do you conisder the best and why? i've been considering the panasonic lumix dmc fz20k. thoughts?
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Old Jan 12, 2005, 1:10 PM   #2
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Burnside wrote:
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i am searching for the best digital camera to photograph my paintings for archiving. my price range is $500 to $600. features i rate the highest are: accurate color reproduction, minimal (or zero) barrel distortion, clarity across entire picture plane. other features (such as portablity, movie mode, zoom) can be compromised for image quality. archiving paintings will be its primary function. what do you conisder the best and why? i've been considering the panasonic lumix dmc fz20k. thoughts?

I'd try to find a camera that fits your needs that has a hotshoe. If you're only going to be shooting indoors you'll want an external flash (like the Sunpak 383) to accurately get the colors to show.
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Old Jan 12, 2005, 2:19 PM   #3
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The FZ20 is an excellent choice if you are going to be taking photographs in museums where they don't allow a flash. The stabilization lets you handhold in lower light, and if you can brace against something you can get pictures in most museums.

The better solution would be a tripod if they allow that. Stabilization isn't necessary with a tripod. And you probably wouldn't want a super-zoom to get the best lens performance. The Leica lens on the FZ20 is excellent and there aren't a lot of cameras at any focal length that has better CA and such, but there are some that might be better for barrel distortion.

I haven't done tests on my FZ10, but I would guess there is a focal length where there is no barrel distortion or pincushion. DCRP always has a barrel distortion test photo, but it is always at wide angle. You would probably get rid of most of that by zooming a little. http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/pa...ew/index.shtml

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Old Jan 12, 2005, 3:31 PM   #4
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I am guessing that something like the Canon G6, with its wide-angle aperature of F2.0 would be the best (although I'm not sure how much barrel distortion it has at wide-angle).

I really don't see the benefit of an ultra-zoom like Panasonic FZ20 for (I'm assuming) relatively close up pics. I think a low-zoom would probably be better.

You probably also want a flash hot-shoe on your camera (compacts and low-end prosumers don't generally have it)... but I'm not sure if flash damages the paintings?? :?:
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Old Jan 12, 2005, 4:23 PM   #5
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Sivaram Velauthapillai wrote:
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I am guessing that something like the Canon G6, with its wide-angle aperature of F2.0 would be the best (although I'm not sure how much barrel distortion it has at wide-angle).

I really don't see the benefit of an ultra-zoom like Panasonic FZ20 for (I'm assuming) relatively close up pics. I think a low-zoom would probably be better.

You probably also want a flash hot-shoe on your camera (compacts and low-end prosumers don't generally have it)... but I'm not sure if flash damages the paintings?? :?
I tend to agree with Sivaram that you probably don't need an ultrazoom.

You will get the best results, with lowest barrel distortion, with a dSLR and a prime or macro lens. If you decide on a dSLR, you'll have to get a used camera to stay within your budget.

A good quality digicam with a low ratio zoom lens would be mysecond choice. All of the cameras in the second group will focus close enough for what you need.

You didn't indicate what you need for image sizes...if you don't need the 7 or8 MB files, there are a lot of nice cameras from Sony, Canon, Nikon, Konica/Minolta, Olympus. Kodaketc in the 4 - 5 MB range at attractive prices.

A couple of general comments...

If your artwork is small...up to 11 x 14 inches, you could use a copy stand...see the attached picture If your artwork is larger, then you could mount them on a wall and use a tripod for a camera support. A copy stand will require that you use the wideangle end of the zoom, and most lenses have around 1% +/- at the wide end. Mounting the art on the wall and using the camera on a tripod will allow to zoom out where you'll get a lot less distortion.

In both causes, I would definitely recommend that you NOT use a flash on the camera. It won't hurt the artwork, but it will not give you even illumination, and you will get a large bright spot on your image from the flash's reflection. The best setup would be to use two floodlights or two flash guns on each side of the camera with each light aimed at about a 45 degree angle to the artwork. Some copy stands have built in holders for two or moremini lights or flash heads.

Sorry I couldn't be more specific about the camera, hope thisinfohelps..

Santos


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Old Jan 12, 2005, 7:20 PM   #6
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thanks, all, for your remarks and assistance! sounds like the panasonic might not be the best fit for me (i have no need for ultra zoom, i was lured in by the lens quality). to further help in my quest for the best fit, here is more info:i do not need to print large, high quality prints from these. i want them to look amazing for postcards, and i want the highest quality image for archiving, since the works sell (hopefully!) and the archive is my only remaining image. i will be using two tungsten floods on the paintings, with a tripod for the camera (my paintings are large). i will most typically shoot from three to six feet away. i will also use the images to post on a website, where they may be blown up to full screen size.
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Old Jan 12, 2005, 9:15 PM   #7
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That's an awesome picture of a copy stand above.

As a little note aside, I sometimes have to shoot artwork, photos and all that stuff.

A cheap way to light up your work is buy two of those little clamp on lights that have an aluminum reflector, (the kind they use to light up chicken coops), then clamp one on each side to a chair, and shine it down onyour painting, at about a 45 degree angle. Then, stand above it and shoot with your camera from about hip height.

If your artwork is watercolor (not oil), you could use a scanner. Even a cheap $100 scanner can produce a scan up to about 20mb's, much higher quality than most digital cameras.

I would recommend a scanner if you can afford one. If your doing oils, however, you wouldn't want the textured surface of the oil painting squished on a scanner.

another cheap alternative would be to getyour work scanned by a scanning service. Not sure of the charge, but maybe a couple dollars per artwork.




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Old Jan 14, 2005, 8:51 AM   #8
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Burnside wrote:
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thanks, all, for your remarks and assistance! sounds like the panasonic might not be the best fit for me (i have no need for ultra zoom, i was lured in by the lens quality). to further help in my quest for the best fit, here is more info:i do not need to print large, high quality prints from these. i want them to look amazing for postcards, and i want the highest quality image for archiving, since the works sell (hopefully!) and the archive is my only remaining image. i will be using two tungsten floods on the paintings, with a tripod for the camera (my paintings are large). i will most typically shoot from three to six feet away. i will also use the images to post on a website, where they may be blown up to full screen size.
The large size of your paintings means you can't use a copy stand or a scanner.Your planned setupwill work fine.

With your intended use, a4 - 5 MP camera would give you enough resolution. Fortunately (or unfortunately) there are literally dozens of cameras that fall into this category.

A few suggestions that may help you narrow it down a bit...Your camera should accept filters. Even with the floods aimed at a 45 degree angle to the art, you may still get some reflections from the surface.... a polarizing filter will eliminate this and give you more saturated colours.

Also, for the highestimagequality for archiving, you mightconsider a camera that willsave images in RAW or TIFF format.TIFF files are huge, but uncompressed and will preserve that most detail. If you save in RAW format you'llhavetoconvert the imagesto TIFF or JPEG in your computer. I wouldn't use RAW as a long term archival format because each manufacturer has their own RAW format, and youmight find yourself unable to open these files in the future if you no longer have access to the appropriate software.

I'm not familiar enough with what's available right now to make a camera suggestion. Perhaps the others can. If there's a well stocked photo store near you, a chat with someone there would help you narrow it down somewhat.

Hope this helps...

Santos....
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Old Jan 14, 2005, 10:30 AM   #9
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Very helpful, Santos, thanks so much. Hopefully someone will chime in with a couple of camera recommendations (or models to avoid, even). thanks all!
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