Advise needed for macro studio photography pictures

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I basically have zero experience in photography, but for several years I have been taking photos of small gaming miniatures for my hobby website. I have done my best to educate myself on the camera settings I need to know, and the lighting requirements. However, despite have a rudimentary understanding of all these principles, I still find that I am having quality issues with my photos. Ideally, I don't want to spend any time on post-production, other that removing the background from around the miniature.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS80 (I bought this camera after much research, and many people recommended this due to it having a smaller sensor which is supposed to be better for the photos I am trying to obtain.)

Items: The items I am photographing are small figures, about 2-inches in height and mounted on clear plastic bases.

Settings: (Aperture Priority)
- fstop: I vary between 3.3 to 4. I tend to have the most luck with 3.5, as it helps to capture the details with minimal blurring of the parts that are deeper back on the miniature.
- ISO: 80
- Exposure: 10 / 8000
- White Balance - Manual Setting
- Exposure compensation: +1 1/3
- Photo Style: Vivid. (I had to switch to this setting as everything was coming out in very dull colors -- my blacks were more of a dark grey color.

Studio:
- My primary lighting sources are 2 Lumahawk, shadowless lights, at 100% brightness 5200k
- I have a GoDox SL60 light for my background light, also at 5200k, and at 35% brightness (If I go up or down from 35%, then the miniature image gets darker).
- A sheet of fairly non-reflective white plastic paper (can't remember the name of it)
- I have a piece of glass raised up off the paper, to help give me a clear separation with no shadowing around the base of the miniature.
- I have tried several light boxes in the past, but the results have never been as good as what I am getting now without a light box.
IMG_0349.JPG



Issues:
1)
One of the main reasons I bought this camera was because it has a focus stacking option. However, it produces an extremely poor quality result. I don't know if this is due to the camera, my settings, or if my subject is just too small and any camera would have a similar issues. The edges around the miniature are all jagged as depicted below. (Subject is about 1-inch high. Left image is with post-focus, right image is without).

postfocus.jpg


2) Many details of the miniature just sort of all blur together, like the facial features and the head on this gargoyle.

gargoyle_1200.jpg


3) The clear bases (or any transparent plastic items on the miniature) are always blurry and do not appear transparent. Even if I just focus on the base and not the miniature, it still comes out blurry and non-transparent. The lack of transparency of the clear plastic base can readily been seen in this picture:

deva_1200.jpg



If anyone has any suggestions on what I can do to get clearer photos, whether it be settings-wise, studio set-up, or camera recommendations, I would appreciate hearing from you. I've spent several years trying to address these issues, reading info sites on the internet and experimenting, and this seems to be the best that I can achieve.
 

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SomeHitchHiker

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Don't know anything about your specific camera model but what happens if you stop down to increase the depth-of-field. So try f8 or f11 to increase DOF. You're shooting from a tripod with flash so it should bring everything into focus.

Also, that's a lot of white, might be better to use a piece of dark card as a floor.
 

Lez325

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A small sensor means noisy images :(

I use a Sony a7Riv for my macro and it has a 61 MP sensor and records little, or no noise

As for lighting - I use a studio strobe or 2 fired from a trigger on my camera 1/200th sec f8 ISO 800 - the lens is also a deciding factor- for this image I used a Sony 90mm f2.8 @ f8 2x studio strobes and a home made pastel painted BG- seems to work ok

VXrFaEP.jpg


Les :)
 

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I've had very good results on my Canons that have in body focus stacking. However, when I do it I still stop the camera down to something between f8 and f16 as someone else suggested. In my case I was just experimenting and was not using a flash and I do not have a light box. I do have a couple of lume cubes that I used to light the object from different directions.
 

SomeHitchHiker

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Another thing that you haven't mentioned. Do you have a shutter remote or are you using the built in shutter timer, this will avoid any camera shake introduced by physically pressing the shutter button.
 

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