Ideal Camera Settings

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Scoremann, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. Scoremann

    Scoremann TPF Noob!

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    Ok I'll start off by saying I am a complete novice when it comes to photography. My company has enlisted me take photos of some new products, hardwood floors, for our sales literature and sample materials. My final output size will vary but the largest size is going to be 13" x 9.75". The "best" camera I have available is a Sony DSC-W100, 8.1 Megapixel So I already realize at this size my highest resolution is only going to only be 251 dpi. (pixel dimensions are 3264 x 2448). My "studio" is a couple of pieces of painted drywall in the corner of our warehouse. There is a window that faces west. I have two 500w halogen work lights for lighting. I have been using white sheets to defuse the lighting. The goal is to show the most detail possible in the flooring itself. I plan to use Photoshop extensively to sharpen and reduce the noise in the images, but what would be the best setting on the camera to use? Is there an ideal placement of the lighting? Anything else that may help me?


    Thank you,
    Aaron
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2009
  2. Sherman Banks

    Sherman Banks TPF Noob!

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    I tried your link and it says I don't have permission. You should use a photo hosting service like photobucket or flickr to show your photos.

    As for the lighting, read up here if you have the time. I'm guessing most of your products are going to be very reflective so you'll have to try a variety of methods he describes on his site to reduce the glare while retaining the detail you need.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    My first suggestion would be to consider hiring a professional photographer. If your company is serious about selling this hardwood, it may be a rather small investment compared to the potential returns.

    I'm guessing that one thing you will certainly want to show in the photos, is the 'look' of the pattern/grain of the hardwood...so what you would want is a strait on shot of it. You will want even lighting and place the the lights to avoid any glare. It should be easy to see if it's the typical pre finished hardwood.

    You may also want detail shots, maybe a profile of the wood showing the tongue & groove etc. This might be a little more tricky as you might want some directional lighting...but you will want it to be soft (diffused). A window might be better for this than those work lights.

    One thing to consider is the color temp of the lights. You don't want to mix the halogen lighting with natural lighting because they are probably different and you would end up with a color cast and it probably isn't easy to fix with Photoshop.

    Either way, I suggest putting the camera on a tripod and using the self timer to fire it. This way, you are almost guaranteed to get sharp shots, just make sure you have focused accurately.
     
  4. Scoremann

    Scoremann TPF Noob!

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    Here are the links to the images:

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3608/3595746934_b19714cd5e_b.jpg

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3329/3594940095_59840298be_b.jpg

    Thanks for the tips so far. I will not go into the reasons for not hiring a professional at this time. Yes, we typically do hire a professional for our photography, but that is not an option for this project.

    I am trying to achieve the best results with what I have to work with. Should I use auto mode or should I use the manual settings on the camera? If so, what would be the best setting to use? If I should not mix natural light with halogen should I only use the halogen and cover the window? If I do not use the halogen there is not enough natural light, so it causes the flash to fire which leaves reflections on the floor.

    I do not need detail shots at this time, just simulated "room scenes".
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2009
  5. Big Mike

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

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    It shouldn't really mater whether you use auto or manual mode, as long as you can adjust the exposure level. Take some test shots and review them (use the histogram view if you camera has it). It should only take a few trial and error attempts before you find an exposure that works.

    I'd suggest turning off (disabling) the flash so that it does not come on, no matter what the lighting is.

    As for the mixing of light...if you turn on the work lights and set your exposure to work with that light, it's likely that window lighting won't be strong enough to affect the photo...depending, of course, on the location and brightness of the window/light etc.
    You may have to block off the window in necessary.

    If you are using a tripod, the light levels shouldn't really matter because it's OK if the shutter speeds gets longer. Neither the floor or the camera aren't moving. In this case, you may not need the work lights and window lighting may look more natural anyway.
     
  6. Scoremann

    Scoremann TPF Noob!

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    Big Mike,

    I do have the histogram option. What am looking for as I adjust the exposure? I have three options for adjusting exposure:

    1. Manual Exposure - a can adjust shutter speed and aperture values manually
    2. Adjust EV - allows adjustment of the exposure that has been determined by the camera
    3. Metering Mode - allows change to the part of the subject to be measured to determine the exposure.

    Which would I want to use or try all?

    Thanks,
    Aaron
     
  7. Big Mike

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

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    Understanding Histograms
    Basically, when looking at the histogram, you want to watch for 'clipping'...where the edge of the graph comes to the end and stops. This means that you have probably lost detail. So if it's clipping the highlights (right side) then you would want to lower the exposure a bit.

    Either way is good, although it might be better to use manual because it will keep your exposure consistent if you move the camera around.

    The metering mode affects how the camera takes it's reading for the auto modes. It shouldn't really matter, as long as you are checking your exposure as you go.
     

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