Choosing A Camera For Pictures In A Book

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by blakers81, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. blakers81

    blakers81 TPF Noob!

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    Hi,

    I am new to the world of digital cameras and have been trying to read up on them, but it seems there are just too many options and too much info I need to learn about. So, I thought maybe some of you on here might be able to help.

    I am wondering what is the best camera to get the quality photos you see printed in books? I am interested in putting together a cookbook and want to make sure I buy a good enough camera for the pictures that will be in the book.

    I have checked out many cameras, but still haven't figured out what range I need to buy for good enough prints that you would find in books.

    So, basically my questions are:

    1.) Are Digital SLR cameras the best choice?

    2.) Do cameras like the Nikon 5000D and Canon T1i have the ability to take good enough pictures to put in books, like a cookbook for instance? Or, do I need to look into cameras more like the Nikon D300S and Canon 50D?

    3.) Would an older (circa 2004-2006) high-end professional model (like the Nikon D3/D2XS or Canon 1DS/1D Mk II) be better than getting a newer entry/consumer level camera (Like the Nikon 5000D or Canon T1i)? Or would I be better off getting an entry/consumer level camera that is newer than a high-end professional camera that is older?

    4.) What is your ultimate camera recommendation for a good enough model that can be used to take the quality photos that can be put in everyday books?


    Any help or input with any of these questions would be greatly appreciated and a tremendous help in my decision making process.

    Thanks,
    Blake
     
  2. Formatted

    Formatted TPF Noob!

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    How large is your book going to be printed?

    If the largest picture is going to be A4 12 MP should be enough, D300 has the same sensor as the D5000 FYI. I'm not a food photographer, but I believe lot also depends on lighting. So yes a good camera D300 or Canon D50 would work.

    But why spend all the money on new kit and not just hire a professional?
     
  3. blakers81

    blakers81 TPF Noob!

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    The book will be 8.5 x 11 in. at the largest, with the biggest pictures being 5 x 7 in. at the most. I would like to take the pictures myself and thus cut out having to hire and pay a photographer.

    So, I am basically looking for the least expensive camera that could take the quality photos for these purposes. So, I would like to buy a Nikon D5000/Canon T1i if that will suffice, but if need be I will dish out the extra money to buy a Nikon D300S/Canon 50D. And, then also if you guys would recommend an older professional camera over a newer consumer camera of roughly equivalent prices, then I would perhaps go that route.

    Thanks for the input in advance everyone.
     
  4. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Any DSLR with 6 Mpix is good enough. I believe you will not see much different at the end. An entry level DSLR or the top of the line will yield the same result for what you planning to do. So even a old used Nikon D50 (I believe it may cause less than $300 used) or a Nikon D40 will do the job. Or any new entry level DSLR on the market.


    For cook book, assuming a lot of raw and prepared food photos, believe me that the camera is not the reason for the good photos you saw in those cook book. It is all about the lighting and how to take the photo. Of course, choose the correct lens for the job as well.

    If you really like photography and want to learn how to take good photos for your cookbook, you may need to learn more about photography and lighting first. Camera actually play only a little part in the game.

    To sum up, any DSLR with 6 Mpix with decent lens can do the job. That includes consumer DSLRs that were made 5 years ago. No need to go with the professional camera. However, if you are planning to do more with the camera later on other than the food photography, that's a different story.
     
  5. bazooka

    bazooka No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What Dao said. I'm pleasantly suprised you haven't been flamed yet for thinking that the camera is responsible for the quality of the pictures. Yay for maturity! You're going to need a lot more than a camera to take top quality food pics. Most of all, you're going to need lots of practice and a group of people who are critical of your work to give you honest feed back. You'll also need some quality lighting equipment and editing software.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum Blake,

    I agree with the previous comments. Any basic DSLR will be a good enough tool, but that won't translate to quality photos unless there is skill, talent & knowledge to go along with it. It would be like someone asking what baking pans they need to buy, to make a fantastic cake.

    That being said, if you really want to shoot the photos yourself...go for it. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think that a non-DSLR might be a better choice and here is why...most photos you see in cookbooks, are usually close up photos...probably taken with a Macro lens. A DSLR with the included 'kit' lens, would work, but may not be the best option. Most non-DSLR digital cameras however, have a built-in Macro mode, it's one of the only things that they are good at (compared to a DSLR), so if you want to do some close up shots, a non-DSLR would get you there with much less money...but of course, not at the quality of a DSLR and a good lens.

    But more than the camera, technique will be important. Use a tripod and concentrate on the lighting. Lighting is key. It may be enough to shoot a plate of food with a window on one side & maybe a reflector on the other...but whatever you do, don't just think you can use the camera's flash and get good results.

    Look at other food photos, and try to see what they have done and emulate the parts that you like.
     
  7. blakers81

    blakers81 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the advice everyone. The lighting is one thing I was thinking about. And, my kitchen has really bad/low lighting. So, I am hoping some of these high ISO's maybe combined with some extra long lamps with high watt bulbs positioned in the right spots and the windows open will all help. I will have to play around with the lighting and take many photos to get it just right.

    I am thinking of going with the Nikon D5000 because Best Buy has a deal right now where they are throwing in an extra telephoto zoom lens, a tripod, and a camera bag with it, all for $829.
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If you use a tripod, you don't need high ISO or powerful lighting. Those thing can help you to get a faster shutter speed, which helps to prevent blur from camera or subject movement, but if the subject isn't moving and if you can trigger the camera without holding or touching it (tripod), then you don't have to worry about slow shutter speeds, so you don't have to worry about high ISO etc.

    Of course, those are nice benefits to have for other stuff, but not necessarily required for product/food photography.
     
  9. blakers81

    blakers81 TPF Noob!

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    I thought the ISO's were to help out with the low light setting and not the fact that the camera might be shaking a little or the photo blurry when snapping the pictures. And, you are saying that simply having the camera on a tripod will help improve light conditions??
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You are close, but you are missing a bit of exposure basics.

    There are three ingredients to making an exposure (a photo). The aperture of the lens (side of the hole), the shutter speed (length of time) and the ISO (sensitivity of the medium).

    You can make an exposure with just about any amount of light, given the right mix of ingredients. The larger the aperture (lower F number) the more light gets in. The longer (slower) the shutter speed, the more light gets in. The higher the ISO, the more the signal is boosted by the camera (the less light is needed).

    The aperture also controls how the light is bent and so affects image quality but we mainly use it to control the Depth of Field (DOF). The shutter speed controls how motion is captured. The longer the shutter is open, the more that motion will turn into blur. On a digital camera, the higher the ISO, the more 'noise' you get...so it's best to keep it as low as possible. We usually only turn up the ISO when we need to get faster shutter speeds because we want to avoid blur.

    So yes, high ISO does help out with low light situations...but only when we are shooting with the camera in our hands and/or when the subjects are moving (even a little). The idea being that by using higher ISO, we get faster shutter speeds.

    Going back to what I said before, if your subject isn't moving, and the camera isn't moving...you won't get blur at any shutter speed, so you are better off using the lowest ISO, to keep the best image quality and the least amount of noise.

    Having the camera on a tripod won't 'improve' light...but you can still get an exposure with little light, provided that you are able to leave the shutter open longer (without blur).

    So even if you have a dim/small window...it may be enough light. What you should be more concerned about, is the quality of the light. What direction is it coming from, is it soft, diffused light, or is it hard light? Can you create a nice ratio between the the lit areas and the shadow areas? That kind of stuff.
     
  11. blakers81

    blakers81 TPF Noob!

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    Ok, now the only other question I have is is a faster or slower shutter speed best? You said the longer/slower the shutter speed the more light can come in, which sounds like you would want more shutter speed. But, then you are saying that the longer the shutter is open the more the picture will come out blurry, which sounds like you would want to find a camera with a faster shutter speed. Also, as far as "noise" is concerned, I really do not care if my camera makes noise when i snap the picture if that is what you are referring to.

    Oh, and I noticed up in a previous post you mentioned that a non-DSLR camera might be better b/c I can get a closer picture. What if I just put the camera really close to the food and snap the picture? That would work just as good don't you think? Or, I could use my zoom lens if need be.

    Thanks for all the help with these questions.
     
  12. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    There really isn't a 'best' when it comes to shutter speed. You just need what is appropriate for your shot. In most cases (general photography), faster (shorter time) is better because it eliminates blur. However, we can't always use a fast shutter speed because we need more light in order to make the exposure. So when you are shooting your kids playing soccer, you want a faster shutter speed to freeze the action....but if you are shooting a plate of food with a tripod, then the shutter speed doesn't matter in terms of blur...it just matters in terms of getting enough light for the exposure.
    I had a different meaning for 'noise'. In this case, digital noise is like 'grain'.
    In this example, the top image has a lot of 'noise'.
    [​IMG]

    The problem is the lens and how close it can focus. For example, if you put the lens right up to the plate (within inches), a typical 'kit' lens won't be able to achieve focus. You would have to back up to maybe 18" or more. Some lenses require a few feet....and by that time, you really aren't close up anymore. Each lens is different, and Macro lenses are made to focus really close, allowing some really close up shots.
    The thing about non-DSLR cameras (often called digi-cams or Point & Shoot) is that they have a 'macro mode' which allows them to focus quite closely. Probably closer than you would need for shooting food...but I thought it was worth mentioning.
     

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