Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Apr 19, 2005, 11:00 PM   #11
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

P.S.

You can still buy a brand new Nikon Coolpix 4500. But, these are grey market (not intended for sale in the U.S.). So, Nikon USA will not fix these cameras if they break (and I don't think I would trust the vendor warranties). ;-)

Here is an example of one:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...01001&rd=1

If you go this route anddecide to go with a commercial product to help with diffusing light, here is one I've seen Steve recommend in the past:

http://www.clouddome.com/

Their tutorials assume you're using a Nikon Swivel Bodied Model (they mention how to make sure you're at the macro sweet spot by watching the flower icon change colors, etc.).

This camera can "fill the frame" with an object less than 3/4" across in macro mode with virtually no distortion (since the macro sweet spot is at around half zoom). Ditto for the older Coolpix 995 and 990 (and even the 950 for that matter). For web use, one of the older models would work fine.

But, these are really "overkill" for what you are trying to do (lower resolution web images). Have you tried simply cropping the images from your Canon when taking pics of smaller objects requiring you to focus from a bit further away?

JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 20, 2005, 12:59 AM   #12
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 26
Default

Still, a fool and his money are soon parted. What I really want is a camera that takes a photo like the following, in a point and click. I can improve my lighting skills, but a photographer I am not. I will promise to use a tripod and light tent.

Also, what is your opinion of the Nikon 5400 ? I think I can get one forunder $300

How the heck do they get photos like this?
Attached Images
 
PaulLeMay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 20, 2005, 1:01 AM   #13
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 26
Default

And for the record, I have actually gotten a decent photo through a magnifying glass.
Attached Images
 
PaulLeMay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 20, 2005, 1:23 AM   #14
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 26
Default

Meanwhile, if I back off to 9 or 10 inches, set the camera to automatic, this is what I get!
Attached Images
 
PaulLeMay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 20, 2005, 7:57 AM   #15
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Paul, the color cast you're seeing is a white balance problem, and you've also got hot spots from light reflecting off of the camera face, because the lighting is not diffused enough (that's the purpose of a light tent, or a product like the Cloud Dome I posted a link to.

Different light has different color temperatures, and most models have poor Auto White Balance in incandescent or flourescent lighting. Trust me, this is not unique to your camera.

Try setting your camera's white balance to match the lighting. It has settings for Automatic, Sunny, Cloudy, Incadescent and Flourescent. From looking at test photos from your camera, it's actually better than average in Incadescent lighting, and about average (or perhaps a bit worse) in Flourescent lighting. Color cast in indoor lighting is a common problem.

You can also use an image editor after the fact to help correct color cast problems.

Your model does not have this feature, but some models alsohavea custom white balance feature. Basically,the camera is metering the light using a white card, then storing the setting. Since it knows that the card is white, it adjusts it's interpretation of color for the lighting you're in when you take other photos in this same lighting. This feature is useful for complex lighting conditions.

Paul... I can't see the settings your camera is using in your photos. The software you're using to downsize them is stripping out the EXIF (this is a headerin images that shows camera settings like shutter speed, focal length, ISO speed, etc.).

This header would be very helpful to try and determine what is going wrong.

Are you getting an Autofocus Lock? When you half press the shutter button, the camera will let you know if it locked focus or not. Most models have a steady green light by the viewfinder when focus lock is achieved.

If you are getting focus lock, the blur problem is probably shutter speed (or you're focusing on something other than your subject). Are you using a tripod? Are you using the self timer with the tripod, to prevent camera shake when you press the shutter button?

You cannot hand hold a camera indoors without a flash and expect to get sharp photos -- especially with closeups. The shutter speeds are going to be too slow to prevent blur from camera shake.

Do us a favor... Download an image editor that doesn't strip out the EXIF when downsizing images. You can get Irfanview for free at http://www.irfanview.com

You'll see the menus to downsize your photos under Image, Resize/Resample. I'm assuming that you're shooting in your camera's highest resolution mode, then using software to resize later for posting. If not, you need to be.

Quote:
Still, a fool and his money are soon parted. What I really want is a camera that takes a photo like the following, in a point and click. I can improve my lighting skills, but a photographer I am not. I will promise to use a tripod and light tent.
Some user intervention is going to be required, regardless of the camera model you select. None of them are perfect. That's why I would like to get you to the point where you're getting acceptable quality photos from your existing camera first (since I know it's capable of better images).


Quote:
Also, what is your opinion of the Nikon 5400 ? I think I can get one forunder $300

It's a very good camera. But, in poor lighting, it's going to have problems focusing (which may be part of your problem with the S100). That's why I want to know if you're getting a focus lock or not.

It's also going to give you motion blur from camera shake if shutter speeds are too slow, and you're going to get a color cast indoors if you don't have the white balance set properly.

These are problems that are common to most camera models.

That's why I'd like to rule out some of the typical problems you see before suggesting you replace your equipment.

Look, there is no doubt that the Coolpix 5400 is a much better camera for closeups compared to your S100. It's not as good as a swivel bodied Nikon, but it's much better than average. It can fill the frame with a smaller object. It's also got an aperture priority mode that you can use to get better depth of field for closeups by selecting a smaller aperture (larger f/stop number). Of course, smaller apertures require longer shutter speeds, increasing your chances of motion blur if you don't use a solid tripod. It also has a custom white balance feature, so you can set white balance for the exact lighting you're using with a white card.

But, you may still have the same types ofproblems if the camera settings are not correct for the conditions you're shooting in.

What you are showing us is typical (color cast from incorrect white balance settings and/or lighting that the camera can't interpret properly, blur that appears to be either a focus lock or shutter speed issue, reflections and glare from lighting that's not diffused enough.

A new camera won't solve these problems ifit's not setupproperly for the conditions.





JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 20, 2005, 8:41 AM   #16
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Just to show you something quickly.... All I did with this photo is use a free editor (Picasa, downloadable from http://www.picasa.com/)andpress an"Auto Color" button to help correct the color cast problems being caused by your lighting and white balance settings. That's it -- one button press after opening the image to improve the color.

It also has the ability to fine tune color temperature (I didn't even do that much). More sophisticated editors give you even more control over correcting these types of problems (set white point, black point, etc.).

Yes, it's stillfuzzy (but that may be a focus lock or shutter speed issue -- or, you're just trying to focus too close).That's more likely (trying to focus too close), since the back of the envelope appears to be sharper.

I canalso see some noise (similar to film grain), caused by higher ISO speeds (and you can set your camera to use a lower ISO speed instead of Auto ISO to reduce this noise).

Let us know if you're getting a focus lock. Ifnot, back up more and try until you do get a focus lock. You may need to be 12 inches away versus 8-10 inches away for sharp photos. Don't be afraid to experiment (that's one thingthat is great about digital - no film processing, etc, so you can take lots of photos to figure out a camera's behavior).

Ifthe camera is not locking focus, you're going to getblurry pictures. If it can lock focus, you'll get sharper pictures, and canmost probably crop the images usingalmost any editorto get the desired composition. This is a very simple process, and we'd be happy to talk you through the steps needed if you're not familiar with editors. (it's only a matter of clicking your mouse and dragging it to form a box around your subject, and selecting a "Crop" menu choice with most editors).

Are you shooting in your camera's highest resolution mode, with the highest JPEG Quality settings? If not, you need to be. Then, crop and downsize the photo later using an editor. I'd do this regardless of the camera model being used.







Attached Images
 
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 20, 2005, 1:01 PM   #17
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 26
Default

Thank you for the very good advice. I do have image editing software, and I use it often to adjust the colors. I use Paint Shop Pro. I was just posting the raw images to demonstrate the focus problem. I had a tripod but got rid of it. Now my shopping list is 1) light tent 2) tripod.

Having more settings on a camera may not help me, I am hoping to find a camera that can give point & click results like the Patek watch above. I think I can get a grip on lighting but all the other technical stuff might be beyond me.

Anyway thanks for the tips. I will take a look at the software today and hopefully this evening try to get a grip on this focus lock thing. Thanks.
PaulLeMay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 24, 2005, 2:19 PM   #18
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 26
Default

Ok, here is my progress report. I checked into the light issue and was impressed with a product called Cloud Dome. Todeay I bought a translucent salad bowl and cut a hole in it. That fixes the lens about 6 inches from the surface and seems to do a good job. Here is a photo of the setup.

The strange thing is that if I do not zoom the lens, it does a decent job, getting a photo of an area about 4" x 6", but if I zoom the lens in, it goes out of focus. So I think I have determined that 6" away from my subject is as close as I can get.
Attached Images
 
PaulLeMay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 24, 2005, 2:26 PM   #19
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 26
Default

And here is the result. I used Irfanview (as recommended) to crop and tweek the brightness and contrast a bit.

It's a big improvement, but still not as good as I am shooting for.
Attached Images
 
PaulLeMay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Apr 24, 2005, 2:35 PM   #20
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

I'm glad to see you're making progress.

Nobody said it would be easy. ;-)

Things like composition (would it have looked better from a different camera angle), and lighting (I see uneven lighting between the left and right face of the watch, with anshadow in the middle), and even things like the color and type of background (the fabric here detracts from the image some) are things you'll have to take into consideration.

Don't be afraid to experiment to see what works best for the types ofitems you photograph.


JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 9:40 PM.