Hi! noob w/questions about image detail

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Ultimate Garage Band, May 28, 2005.

  1. Ultimate Garage Band

    Ultimate Garage Band TPF Noob!

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    Hello. I searched for a photography forum and this seemed to be the most active one I could find, so I hope I'll get some good pearls of wisdom.:)

    I take pictures for a living, but just guitars. I own an online guitar store, just ebay now but I'm currently building my own store site, and the best way for me to show prospective customers what I have to offer is with good photos of my inventory. So shipping is a big part of job too, setting up the guitars, typing reviews of guitars, etc, but I spend dozens of hours regularly in digital photography. As of yesterday, I purchased an Olympus C-725. You can read about it here:

    http://www.cameras.co.uk/details/olympus-c-725.cfm

    although that reviewer doesn't particularly like the image quality, other reviewers do and personaly, I think this guys sample photos look fine. Here's the crux of problem. In my world, what I do is euphamistically labeled 'guitar porn' because we take up close and personal shots of various guitar parts.:wink: I took this picture w/my camera using a macro setting and was no more than 20" away and didn't use the tripod. The quality of this photo shows the detail of the grain in the wood that I'm after:

    [​IMG]


    I have some adjustments on the camera and I took that at the minimal image size, hard imaging with more contrast. I'd like to be able to get that kind of grain detail in a full body shot like this:

    [​IMG]

    That's actually the same guitar but do you see how I lose all that lovely grain detail? What kind of digital camera do I need to get that kind of grain detal for a full body shot?

    My 'studio' set up consists of four 500 watt quartz work lights, 2 on each side, plus the overhead florescents. I'm using a florescent correction feature on the camera. I also use a tripod and use the self timer to snap all the pictures so I don't risk moving the camera. I just really need to juice up my clarity and I'm wondering what kind of digital camera will do this and how much money are we talking about? Thanks!:)
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    There are lots of factors that are going to affect what you want.
    ISO rating.
    Quality of lens.
    Image size.
    Method of viewing the image.
    Your camera is only a 3Meg pixel job so I don't know if it can hold enough information.
    I would suggest at least 8Meg.
    But even with the best digital camera the final image will only be as good as the screen you view it on. The finest detail you will be able to resolve is determined by the pitch of the screen. If you print the image out on a high quality printer you will find that there is actually a lot of detail there that just cant be resolved on your monitor.
    Your best bet may well be to tweak it in PS.
    But there are people on this board who know far more about digital matters than me. They may well be able to suggest something to help.
     
  3. Andrea K

    Andrea K TPF Noob!

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    first off welcome!!!! :D :D :D

    and second i can't really help you with this, but it does seem you're about a day late asking this question ;)
     
  4. Ultimate Garage Band

    Ultimate Garage Band TPF Noob!

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    Thanks! I had actually purchased a lesser model of Olympus, a D580 I think, earlier in the month. I had been using a 2 or 3 year old Olympus D520 but my wife needs it for her job, so I figured I'd buy another camera for me, at the same time stepping up in quality. Well, the D580 wasn't as good an image as the D520! So, yesterday I took the D520 back and exchanged it w/a bit more money and got the C-725.

    I've been messing around w/digital photography for a coupe of years and I thought I wouldn't need a high megapixel camera if I wasn't going to print anything. Maybe I'm wrong about that?

    I'm beginning to wonder if what program you use to manipulate the image might be just as important as the camera itself? I'm using Camedia, the program that comes with an Olympus camera. I guess what's frustrating me is that I can plainly see the grain as I stand at the tripod taking the picture, but that detail never shows up in the picture and my vision is horrible!:mrgreen:
     
  5. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    Hi and welcome to the friendliest photo forum!

    I'd say you could drastically improve your results with a couple of tweaks -

    1) with Olympus point-n-shoot digitals, the choice of shot program is vital - try the macro mode and spot metering if possible (RTM).

    2) Sunlight is your friend - you're getting some kind of yellowing effect in the lower picture and this is going to reduce your effective resolution (I reckon).

    3) Photoshop isn't cheap but the software included with the camera is.... results are as you would expect.

    If you're interested, e-mail me a picture which you find represents your common problem with detail and I'll tweak it in PS and send it back to you. My mail is rob@ukphotographs.com

    Good luck!

    Rob
     
  6. Artemis

    Artemis Just Punked Himself

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    Hi and welcome...im not as smart or camera literate as my friends here but ll give it a shot?

    Set your ISO to the lowest possible, and your Aparature to the highest number (ie 32) and make sure you put on the self timer, because this shot will take a while and if you press the button without a timer, your hand pressure will cause camera shake.
    Umm...Id also advice maybe trying to use white backgrounds? The background in this shot is really distracting and annoys me a bit...Corry's good with backgrounds as she made her own, but a sheet of white paper over the back can work numbers...hope this helped :)
     
  7. Diarmuid

    Diarmuid TPF Noob!

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    Hello,

    There are two factors to getting the most out of the detail of your woodwork.

    1. The main one is lighting. Your guitar is well lit but flatly lit. If you use one main light directed at an angle to the guitar it may bring up some of that woodgrain a bit better. You should play with just one light for starters gradually moving it around the guitar until you see the grain "shine". You can still use a second light but adjust it so it's not as strong, just enough to fill black shadows.

    2. Camera resolution is important to an extent. However anything over 3 megapixels should get you the detail your looking for. As you say, you don't plan to print the images and for monitor display this resolution should do fine. The main thing is to get your exposure just right and the image should record good detail. If your camera has manual mode, use that for more precise exposures.

    Now you question your image programs abilities and this can be an issue. The "freebies" can be questionable. However there are some very good programs out there and you don't have to stretch to Photoshop for good quality. I'm not faulting Photoshop in the slightest but it is pricey and others do as good a job at a fraction of the cost. For example Photoshop Elements 3.0 is a good program. Also have a look at Micrografx Picture Publisher, this is excellent, particularly for bringing out detail using it's exposure adjusting facilities like Brightness/Contrast.

    If you want to know more about how to use image editing programs to their fullest, have a look at this Digital Photography Course from School of Photography: http://www.schoolofphotography.com/digital_photography_course.html
     
  8. Ultimate Garage Band

    Ultimate Garage Band TPF Noob!

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    This is awesome stuff! I'll try more test shots tomorrow and email you one of those. I did play around w/the ISO shooting at 400, 200, and 100 and I really couldn't tell a difference. This camera does have several manual adjustments and I'll try the suggestions above. I'll also snap a pic of the studio set up so you can see how the lighting works. I guess I chose that background/drop because I thought gray would go with every color guitar I could possibly shoot, and the pleats or folds in the fabric break up the shadows. I suppose I could try and lift the backdrop out of the way and see what happens with the bare wall.
     
  9. Diarmuid

    Diarmuid TPF Noob!

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    One more thing I forgot to mention. The images you have posted could use a touch of a sharpening filter, this can also bring up detail much better. In your program try the "Unsharp Mask" or just a sharpening filter. It should have it.
     
  10. Ultimate Garage Band

    Ultimate Garage Band TPF Noob!

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    I did select 'hard' for image resolution when I took the picture, and more than normal contrast. For editing, I'll admit I take the stupid way out and just click the 'Instant Fix' button.:meh: It does sharpen the image usually, but also tends to make it lighter than what I'd like.

    I forgot today was Memorial day and my wife seems intent on getting me to tackle the lawn for the first time this season, so I'll get into the office at some point today, just not as soon as I thought.;)
     
  11. LittleMan

    LittleMan TPF Noob!

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    I would like to help you out some,
    I am not only a photographer but also a musician and I must say that the thing you want the most will be getting the correct white balance for your photos of the instruments. This will bring out the 'true' color of the guitar.

    The detail in the full body shots isn't as important as that. The musicians who will be buying your guitars will want to see the true color and they will be able to see the detail in the close-up shots you provide. With the camera you have the comments everyone made above will get your photos looking a lot better but I don't think you will still have that same quality you are looking for. (just because of the equipment)

    Hope that helped.
     
  12. steve817

    steve817 TPF Noob!

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    I think LittleMan drives home a good point. I looked at the specs on your camera and didn't see an option for a custom white balance. With the lighting combo you are using I don't think you would be able to find a filter to correct it in camera, it can be done with software but it's a pain in the ass sometimes.

    You didn't specify if you were considering another non-SLR type or an SLR. Non SLR types I would reccomend a Canon PowerShot Pro1 you can find more about it here
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canonpro1/
    For SLR's I won't start the Canon/ Nikon debate both the D700 and EOS 300D are great cameras, but you will be looking at the added expense of buying lenses on top of that.
     

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