Told to buy and set up a studio - where to start?

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by gunMonkeyINTL, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. gunMonkeyINTL

    gunMonkeyINTL TPF Noob!

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    Sorry for the first-post drive-by but I'm desperately in need of some help.

    I've been tasked with collecting the equipment to do professional-grade product photography for my company.

    My photography experience is limited to 2 semesters of film-based classes in college. My only digital experience is with my personal point-n-click.

    I think I'm good on the lighting, backdrops, tents and lenses (though I'm open to suggestions there as well- especially on places to shop), but the area I'm most at a loss on is the camera. I have no idea what makes a digital SLR "professional" - MP count etc.

    The vast majority of the work will be on products in a studio setting, but there will be some field-work with moving personnel and vehicles. The images will be used on our website, catalogs, trade-show banners etc- basically everywhere a manufacturing company displays its wares.

    I know, from other forums I frequent, what a storm can be created when someone comes in and asks "What's the best xxxx?"- but I guess that's what I'm doing here. I need some recommendations on specific cameras that will meet our needs, provide bang-for-the-buck and that we're not likely to outgrow right away.

    Thank you.
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The photographer makes the images made with a dSLR "professional", not the camera.

    In the Nikon lineup the "professional" grade dSLR's are the D3S (12 MP) and the D3X (24.5 MP). Nikon's prosumer cameras are the D300s (crop sensor, APS-C) and the D700. www.nikonusa.com

    In the Canon lineup the 1D MKIV and 1Ds MKIII are the current Pro camera. www.canonusa.com Their prosumer cameas are the 5D MKII and the 7D (crop sensor, APS-C).
     
  3. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What kind of budget do you have to work with?

    edit
    And what kind of products? (How big are they?)
     
  4. gunMonkeyINTL

    gunMonkeyINTL TPF Noob!

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    I'm not sure about the budget yet. I'm supposed to compile a shopping list and present it- so that's kind of open ended. I would prefer to have a couple camera and lens options in my pocket so I can adjust to fit the figures my VP comes back with.

    The products generally fit within 10"x14"x38" - though we do have a few non-standard items. Additionally, I will need to take close up pictures of some small components (postage stamp size) so i will need something with a good macro lens or macro focus capability.
     
  5. Double H

    Double H TPF Noob!

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    Who is going to be shooting with this equipment? A seasoned pro, or other?
     
  6. gunMonkeyINTL

    gunMonkeyINTL TPF Noob!

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    Primarily, myself. There are a couple other members on the team who may use it from time to time but I would be the primary photographer.

    I'm comfortable around a camera but am by no means an expert. I'm the tech-service/field-repair member for my team but somehow got saddled with a lot of the marketing projects as well (managing the development of our new wesite, new catalogs etc.).
    I'm pretty agile in GIMP and have been authorized to take calsses on whatever subject matter I think I need to take on some of these new responsibilities.
     
  7. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    You get a salary increase too, right? ;)
     
  8. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I sure wouldn't want to be in your shoes. There is such a high possibility of not pleasing your manager(s) that it's a hell of a situation to be in.

    For studio work, you need strobes. And not the kind you get on ebay for cheap. You need serious gear so it lasts, is easy to get fixed (as in not have to send it to China to get fixed), has plenty of available accessories, etc, etc. I always tell people to get whatever decent brand is sold by the closest photo store.

    Then you need a flash meter, a tripod, light modifiers, stands and, backgrounds and a background stand. If you don't have one, you also need a set up table.

    Then of course, you need a camera. I would go with a full frame for this kind of stuff. But would they pay for a Hasselblad? From what you are saying you need to get a macro lens. What other lenses depends on what it is your shooting besides the products.

    I would also put PhotoShop on that list with classes so you can learn how to use it.

    And of course, depending on the kind of deadlines you would be facing, you might want to add a second set of camera, lenses, strobes, etc as a back up.
     
  9. gunMonkeyINTL

    gunMonkeyINTL TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the vote of confidence. I'm assuming you've never served in the military - "I can't..." gets replaced with "I'll figure out how to..." , else you fail. My CO is very supportive and will be more forgiving if I stumble a bit at first, than if I don't try at all.

    I've clicked the shutter on a camera a time or two. I've done some work in a darkroom, in GIMP and I understand the fundamentals of lighting.
    As I said earlier, I'm no expert, but I'm not exatcly a noob either.

    I love equipment snobs. You guys are just SOOO much cooler than the rest of us. I assumed, going into this, that it would be impossible to take professional quality photographs without a pair of $25,000 cameras. I imagine everyone on this forum has two or three - show of hands. I guess I'll just have to wing it with a more reasonably priced POS.

    Also, not being European, I'm probably not intelligent enough to figure out this whole pictureography thing. Next time we come through to liberate your town, I'll look you up and you can give me some pointers.

    For future reference, see KmH's post above for what a relevant response looks like. The equipment they suggested is expensive, but it's also obtainable, appropriate and will get the job done.
     
  10. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Well, you should have told us all you wanted was a vote of confidence. I give those out for free.

    Unfortunately you asked for advice and that is what you got.

    You are quite right. I never served in the military. But I grew up in it and I worked for it as a photographer, so your "I can't..." gets replaced with "I'll figure out how to..." doesn't impress me one bit.

    You may also want to learn that because people live in Europe doesn't mean they are european. I'm american. FU.

    You may also want to learn that if it wasn't for the europeans you so despise, you'd be bowing to the queen these days, lol. Go read a history book.

    If you had mentioned you were in the military my response may (probably would) have been quite different because I know the military gets whatever the F... they want. Yea, I was there.

    And that means whether or not you know what to do with it. Frankly I am not impressed by your "I've clicked the shutter on a camera a time or two. I've done some work in a darkroom, in GIMP and I understand the fundamentals of lighting."
     
  11. DennyCrane

    DennyCrane No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What the heck is this? Who are you ranting at? You're offered some very valid advice and can't get past the first sentence of Cloud's post? What... you took that as a personal affront? He simply said you're in a tough position... he made no implications about your worthiness as a photographer.

    And that whole anti-Europe diatribe? What was that??

    Oh yeah... welcome to the forums.
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Hey! gunMonkeyINTL!​

    :thumbdown:​

    I'm outta here.​
     

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