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Old Dec 12, 2005, 5:26 PM   #1
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After many days of research I have narrowed my choices to:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30

Canon S2 IS


The ONLY reason I am buying a new camera is to take high-quality photos of jewelry for posting to my website. I use lots of gems, silver and gold in my work, andI'm finding it difficult to take pictures that reflect the true beauty of the pieces.

I want to get close enough (2-3 inches) to see facets, but I'll also be taking full shots of necklaces (which means I'll be about 12-14 inches from the subject.)I understand that lighting is extremely important, but in addition, I'm assuming that a camera with the ability to take good macro shots will bebeneficial.

I don't have the money to buy an SLR nor the time to learn how to use one...I guess I'm considered a "prosumer." My current camera, a Canon PowershotS200, automates too many functions, so I don't have control over settings such as Depth of Field. I have Adobe Photoshop CS2, so I can make adjustments, but the less I have to do in Photoshop, the better.

I would appreciateany and allopinions on these two cameras.

P.S. This forum isa great resource!


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Old Dec 12, 2005, 9:37 PM   #2
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I think the only advantage the Canon would have is that it's compact, which I'm guessing isn't really important to you.

The Panasonic is a more powerful, higher quality camera. Even though it is not an SLR, it has most of the capability of an SLR and you can buy 55mm attachments for it to do extremely close-up macro photography, or extreme telephoto if you want.

It also has a bigger lens and I assume a bigger CCD, so it should pick up a lot more detail in lower lighting conditions.

However, since your photos are only destined for the web, there's probably more economical solutions. It would likely be more cost effective to buy some kind of lighting set up and a tripod and just get a cheaper or older model that is good at closeup photography. I know the Canon S1 is decent up close, and for web graphics it might be more than sufficient. It's only if you think you'll want to do large prints that you would need something like the FZ30.

The lighting is the important thing. If you buy the FZ30 but take all your pictures on some poorly lit countertop, you will not have impressive photos. I believe what you'd probably want is a lightbox with a number of points of light from multiple angles (like a scattering of white christmas lights) to give you that glittery effect.
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Old Dec 12, 2005, 9:48 PM   #3
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The smallest area most digital cameras can capture is at wide angle. The FZ30 for example will capture an area 5.5cm across in wide but only 15cm across at telephoto. The S2 is more competent and will capture an area 8.5cm across at full zoom in normal macro, which is a tad better than it will do at wide. That is somewhat unique. I don't think the super macro works that way, but I haven't seen data. The S2 super macro will get very close with a very small area, but I don't know about zoom.

The KM A200 gives the smallest area when zoomed out of 6cm across. But that is the smallest area you can generate, with the wide angle macro being a larger area. That is backwards from most cameras that work like the FZ30 with the smallest area at wide.

What I am trying to get at is that you don't normally capture a smaller area with a big zoom. The rare cameras that allow a decent (but fairly large) macro area at full zoom like the S2 and A200 would let you work from further away. That makes you lighting much easier. It is hard to get anything but horizontal light with a big lens an inch from the target.

There are many cameras on the market that give a smaller macro area than the FZ30. None can do better than the S2 in super macro mode and you can still get a decent area at zoom. I would have to say of the two that the S2 is much more appropriate for your work.

You said that macro shots of jewelry is your only use for the camera. On another discussion on that subject one of our moderators suggested a used Nikon 995 would be the best for that. Its best macro is at the medium zoom range, which is better for lighting. The macro area is very small at that medium zoom.

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Old Dec 12, 2005, 10:15 PM   #4
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Corpsy,

I purchased a Cloud Dome and get decent results, but my subjects are still somewhat out of focus unless I get extremely close to the subject. So, I can get good shots of earrings, but for necklacesI have tomove at least 10 inches away so I can get the entire piece in my shot. Then it ends up looking just a tiny bit out of focus.I have 3 lights (one on each side and one above), but maybe the problem is I still don't have enough light on the subject. The Cloud Dome has a bracket for the camera so the camera is held steady.

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Old Dec 12, 2005, 10:21 PM   #5
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Slipe,

Before I make a decision, I'd better make sure Iunderstand the term macro correctly. I'll be taking pictures from 2 inches to 14 inches away from the camera. Is 14 inches considered macro mode?

So maybe I started off with the wrong premise. Maybe I should be asking what the bestcamera is for taking closeups instead of one with macro capabilities.




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Old Dec 12, 2005, 10:42 PM   #6
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Macro means closup in digital cameras. It is usually measured by the smallest area you can fill a frame with. I gave you those numbers for the cameras you mentioned. The S2 will fill a frame with a smaller target than the FZ30 – both in wide angle and zoomed out. The FZ30 will focus to about 2 inches in wide and the closest focus distance is much greater with the zoom. You can actually touch the target and still focus with the S2 in super macro.

14 inches is considered macro with many cameras. Almost any camera you buy can focus from 14 inches at wide angle. Some won't if you zoom the lens. Both cameras you are considering will focus from 14 inches at any zoom.

You don't need a 12X optical zoom for what you are doing.

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Old Dec 13, 2005, 2:47 AM   #7
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Is the ideal situation to try to frame the subject without using zoom? Does using zoom distort the picture (or is this what you are trying to tell me...the S2 can use its zoom and macro capabilities better (for my purposes) than the FZ30?)
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