Best Camera for Under $1000 ?


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Feb 28, 2009
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Ok I am thinking about buying a new camera. It will be mainly for photos of stationary items in a camera tent of various products like guns and pool cues stuff that extreme detail in the photo are important when reselling these type items. I currently have a Canon EOS XTi Rebel and had it over a year. I have been rather displeased in image quality when shooting these type items. I even used bounce cards different external flash angles manual setting used on the camera i tried numerous combinations and starting to wonder if it the camera. The auto modes on the camera are not much better. Anyway I am sure its well out of warranty and time for a new camera. So tell me what I can get sub $1000 thats the wifes budget she gave me. Like I say mostly will be for product shoots I will need excellent detail in. Also perfer to buy from best buy if they have the model available due to I want something this weekend and perfer not to await shipping on it....

Thanks in advance
Well I don't believe the XTi is a bad camera Sounds like your biggest problem is understanding how to do what amounts to Studio lighting.

For doing commercial studio type work you need to work in manual mode and understand how to light effectively. If you don't know that then your going to struggle in ANY camera.

To do the job properly you probably need 3 flashes, softboxes and a glass table (to get a pure white background) etc.

You won't need to bounce light, just diffuse it and probably need to setup something custom with plenty of room for the item.

You also probably need a lens with decent quality. For what your doing a 50mm prime and a 100mm prime would probably be good choices.

You can use a light box although that means you are limited in object size.

while not perfect was taken with two strobes and manual setting. The lighting could have been done with being diffused ( I didn't have one to hand to just had the flashes some distance away) and use paper for the background.

Incidently this was taken with a Pentax K200D using the kit lens.
I would certainly echo the advice above.
Firstly I would ask what lens your using and what lighting setup - investing the money into a better quality lens and a good lighting setup would do you a lot more than upgrading the camera body.
Camera bodies all operate under the same rules - though better quaility ones can let you get an impoved quality the biggest factors are the lens, lighting and user. If your getting bad results with the XTi there is a good chance that there is a flaw in your method or/and that your lens is of poorer quality - upgrading the body won't change any of this so you will still be having the same problems.

If you could outline your shooting method, kit and also post a few example shots we can work from there and see if there is a change to your method which would give you a boost in quality.

Manual Mode

Flash +2
AI Focus
Quality Raw+L
Redeye ON
Flash exp Comp +2
WB SHIFT 0,0/+-0
Custom WB ( Have No Idea What this needs set to )
Color Space sRGB
Picture Style Standard
Metring Mode is Evaluate Metering
White Balance Tungsten Light 3200K

I tried with those setting just a several quick shots. Used a Bounce card and bounded direct on ceiling off wall ect none turned out. All on a tripod.

Anyway what lense do you recommend . Also maybe I need better tripod this one I have is cheap however I was using a tripod. Is the XTi remote capable? maybe that may help

Biggest thing now is if I try a lense what lense should i get that BestBuy carries. Also if that does not pan out what camera would you recommend.
That doesn't look all that bad. For such shots however you can ALLWAYS shoot at 100ISO. No need to go faster as your working off a tripod.

Lens wise a 50mm f1.7 would be fine.

The shot settings look overall fine.

I think the only comment would be that most profesional photo's would use a glass base to it's 'flat' in colour and no shadowns. Also the glare on the gun is a bit off putting and you probably need diffused lighting to compencate.

You also need proper flash guns. This means you can then set lighting levels much more accuratly and flexibly. My shot above used two SB20's set at different distances and at about 45 degrees either side.
That's probably a decent lens.. but your problem is lighting first and foremost. Your image is pretty decent, crisp, in focus, but you NEED to sort your lighting and also take at 100ISO not 400.
I just take a photo of my 14mm lens with my XTi.

Here is the photo of the lens I just took.


I made a mistake. I should have focus on the Lens logo instead of the front lens element. So the logo is a little soft.

This is taken with my Canon XTi and EF 50mm f/1.8 Lens with the following settings.
shutter speed: 1/200
aperture: F/5.6
iso: 100
with flash set yo 1/4 of the power point to the ceiling

Here is what the setup looks like. Lights were diffused by the 2 walls and the ceilings. I bounced some light to the front of the lens with the little homemade bounce card. The shot was taken handheld. (Tripod is better, but I was too lazy to set that up)


Of course, this is not a professional job, but I think it is not that bad with only one flash. And once you get more off camera flashes and diffuse them, it will looks better. Did I mentioned the cheap Canon 50mm lens?
Looking at the settings I would do two things

1) as others have said turn your ISO down to 100 - in a studio setup you are controling the lighting thus you should not need to boost the ISO since if you need more lighting you can increase that yourself .

2) Your flash power appears to be set to +2 - turn that back to normal exposure its blowing out the details on the left side of the gun considerably.

Your lens should be fine for the work your doing, but for product work a good macro lens would do you well - options are

Canon 60mm EFS macro - good solid choice its only drawback is that it will not fit onto a full frame camera (like a 5D)

Sigma 70mm macro - a good solid choice but this time it is full frame compatable - its also one of sigma's sharpest lenses

Tamron 90mm macro - again another solid choice (this is also the shorts focal length lens recomended for insect macro work)

Canon 100mm macro - a very popular canon choice - like the others its a good solid lens to choose - do get the tripod collar for this lens (sold separatly) as it really helps balance the setup on a tripod.

Any of the above lenses would do you well and only the 60mm and 70mm are limited if you decide to try shooting some bugs - its certainly possible, but you have less distance to work in.

However my advice would be to look to getting a second light so that you can have lighting from two directions- that way you don't have to boost the lighting to get an exposure on the opposite side to work.
I will leave it now since studio lighting is not my direct area - but certainly look into setting up a better lighting setup.

Also for some improvment use a remote cable release for your camera and also read in the manual about setting mirror lockup mode - that should help get a bit more sharpness out of you shots.
I think you would do very well getting a Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro. I love mine.

Since your profile says OK to edit your pics, I ran your pistol briefly through Photoshop. Adjusted the color balance a little and did just a little sharpening and highlight/shadow adjustment. Took me about 2 minutes and I'm lousy at PS.

I think the 400D is plenty of camera. Get good glass and good lighting and practice, practice, practice.

Ok I turned down the ISO to 100 and i think it helped. Also my wife is at bestbuy picking up a 100mm Macro by Canon but already I thnk there is a big difference.
I have the Canon 100mm lens but I haven't played with it much. You can order it from Amazon a lot cheaper ($486.99), no tax and free shipping. Here's the link:

[ame=] Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras: Electronics[/ame]

big improvement there :)
Keep at it and work with it - the camera should be the last thing you really think of upgrading - good quality glass, lighting, tripods, shooting skills - these things will make much more impact to the quality of your work

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