Indoor Lens Advice

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by chjade84, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. chjade84

    chjade84 TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I do a lot of shooting indoors of machines for work under mercury vapor lights (light levels make for settings about 1/6s, f/4.5, ISO 200) and I need a better lens than the one I have now. Here's what I have so far:

    Pentax K10D
    18-55mm Kit lens
    .... and that's about it. (at least that's relevant)

    I try to avoid using a flash because there is a lot of stainless steel sheet metal that just reflects it back at me. That and I only have the built-in flash that does a horrible job. Many shots are hand held so something fast would be nice. Shots are both overall as well as close-up's on individual components. Clarity is important as many of these shots show fine detail that is used later for identification. I think my budget will be in the $500 neighborhood so nothing too fancy but I would like something adequate.

    I notice the kit lens (no surprise) takes decent pictures but leaves a lot of clarity behind...among other things.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Anything with an aperture of f/2.8 or "smaller". And external speedlight may be useful, but it's going to take a lot of work.

    And increase your ISO. Shooting at ISO 800 is not a crime.

    If you're actually shooting at 1/6 shutter speed, you should definitely be using a tripod and a release cable or the timer. If you're trying to hand hold that, it'll cause blur and soft pictures. If that's the case, your kit lens may work perfectly fine and your problem may be in your technique.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Do you have any examples of the type of shots you are taking?

    A lens with a wider aperture (lower F number) is what you are looking for, it will allow you to get faster shutter speeds. However, it will also give you a shallow DOF, which may not be what you want for industrial type shots.

    What about using a tripod? This would allow you to get sharper shots at any shutter speed and also allow you to use a smaller aperture which will give you more DOF and probably better image quality because most lenses (especially cheap ones) perform better when the aperture is closed down some. (try F8 or F11)
     
  4. chjade84

    chjade84 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the quick responses!

    Here are some examples:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    I try not to shoot above ISO 200 as you can see here. This was ISO 400 and you can see how noisy it gets (EXAIR logo in particular). I'm not sure if this is the camera's fault but as far as I know noise is just a function of ISO and sensor capability.

    I include this one because the lens can take great pictures when it wants to.

    [​IMG]

    I do use a tripod and an IR remote...when I have to. When we ship a machine we want to get pictures of virtually everything; for reference later. Using a tripod for 100+ pictures can get a bit tedious if not downright impossible for some shots.

    Perhaps just adding a diffuse flash would be the ticket?

    I know I'm asking too much for hand held shots, in mid-range light, at ISO 200, with a wide DOF, without flash glare, on an entry level DSLR.

    I just can't help wanting pictures of the quality the pro's take. Granted, they have more skill and better equipment. (I saw a camera the other day that was capable of ISO in to 24,000 range...)

    I do realize that these are acceptable for what they are intended for; reference. We actually used some crappy Sony or something point-and-shoot (talk about noisy) until I started working here and brought my camera in to work. However, we do use some of these pictures in advertising so high quality can be a concern at times.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  5. TheOtherBob

    TheOtherBob TPF Noob!

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    Looking at the pictures, I agree with Big Mike. It looks like you have a fairly shallow depth of field, which is not really working for the type of photography -- but you don't need a new lens to deal with that. Instead, try closing down your aperture (try F8 or F11), raising your ISO, and putting the camera on a tripod. That should give you a better depth of field and clearer pictures.

    Also, in some of these you might want to consider using a flash. I'm thinking in particular about the second one -- there are some deep shadows to the rear of the machine. I know reflections are a concern -- in that situation, I believe the standard advice is to get a flash gun (rather than using the on-camera flash) and to bounce the light off of something (a ceiling, for example) rather than aiming it directly. That should give you better lighting without too much of a reflection problem.

    Good luck!
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    If you are just taking the photo to document the equipment, then I'd just turn up the ISO and do your best. Maybe add some light if possible.

    For advertising, it's a whole new ball game. Tripod, small aperture and maybe even specific lighting.
     
  7. chjade84

    chjade84 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the advice guys.

    I may try to get them to buy me a real flash and perhaps I can do some good with that.

    Thanks again!
     
  8. OldClicker

    OldClicker TPF Noob!

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    Also, the industrial environment looks a lot cleaner and the equipment stands out better in black & white if that is an option. - TF
     
  9. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Get a large flash and put it behind a 4X8 foot sheet of translucent white nylon. (google DYI diffusers) You can build the frame out of PVC. I would look for a used Metz 60 CT4 or a Sunpak 622 because of the power issues involved in lighting a large piece of machinery.

    If you need to highlight a section of your subject then get a Plexiglas mirror and shine more of the flash back onto it.

    Good luck.
     
  10. th3_man89

    th3_man89 TPF Noob!

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    using tripod is a good way, however those who works in a factory knows that the vibration level produced by the machine is another factor you need to consider when you are using a tripod. unless you take the picture upon machine idle time (which is almost never).

    I once was taking a shot on a bridge. i zoomed it to 200mm and put my camera on a tripod. when people walking pass the bridge, it would shake vigorously, especially when it is zoom. i think you don't need any tele zooming, this is just an example of how vibration transmitted to your tripod.

    so, to certain extent i do agree handheld is better in this situation and if tripod is preferred, a fast shutter speed should be used, thus getting a flashgun might be the best option.
     
  11. Pure

    Pure TPF Noob!

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    Noise at ISO 400? DAMN.

    The best way would be to use a flash with a diffuser on it. Unfortunately because it seems you're in a large building, you can't bounce it off anything. I'd try a flash with a diffuser at different locations, and different angles.
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Machines like this usually sit on concrete floors and vibration is not a real issue most of the time. Even on a machine that may cause a lot of vibration, you are taking pictures of a unit just installed and likely not even functional yet (ore-setup in other words).

    Deal with each situation individually... if vibration or movement is an issue, use multiple flashes and something like a Cactus V2s receiver/transmitter.

    If vibration is not an issue (and I suspect it isn't most of the time, a stable tripod, longer shutter time and low ISO can be the best suggestion for you.

    Once you get into flash, though, you will see that unless you have several flashes all wirelessly controlled, you are going to have a heck of a time trying to get a picture without some major flare or lighting small sections of it at a time effectively.
     

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