Looking for a touch of insight for very specific camera needs.


TPF Noob!
Aug 9, 2013
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Hello folks. I am somewhat embarrassed to be writing this posts as I feel I am being like many I have tried to help in my area's of interest. To be completely honest I really have no great interest in photography other than my very select needs. I find that the images I am getting with my point and shoot are not bringing out the richness I desire and the color's never really seem to match. As the photo's I take are mostly business related and it is ALL about the image I find that I must up my game. Please do understand I by no means mean any offence or dispassion toward photography as I do take many thousands of pictures. My subjects are just very limited and my knowledge is non existent!!

I generally am very much a researcher and am an avid user of search functions on website. I however have no starting point or even point of reference as to what and where I should be researching. Hence my embarrassment in asking for help without dedicating the weeks of research I would normally dedicate to anything I do.

My needs are VERY limited. I take pictures of razor's. LOTS of pictures of razor's. The greater majority of them are of straight razor's and of ones I make myself. I run a razor restoration business online and the quality of the images I post are what draws my clients in. As I am unsure on the correct questions I should be asking I will simply state what comes to mind. Please don't mind my ignorance...

1. The objects I take pictures of are very close. I would not say "macro" close but close none the less.

2. The objects I take pictures of are often very high gloss with very rich detail in wood grains and color.

3. The objects I take pictures of ALL have metal's that are polished to a high shine.

4. MUST be simple to use and intuitive enough for a base line beginner.

Ok those are my "needs" In reality I understand that my wife will wish to use it for her needs as well. They are also basic. pic's of flowers and such. It would be nice if we could use it as well for night sky viewing as we are both astronomers. So I am guessing that the ability to swap an optic or two would be useful.

I am hoping for a budget of between $250 and $500 for everything. I understand additional optics are rather costly (some of our eyepieces for our scopes are well over the 1k price range) but feel that is something we could move toward should the need arise in the future.

Here are some of the razor's I have pic's of online at the moment. I have a bit of a light box that I will be using as well tho at this point I have little to no knowledge on it's us as well. I however am a fan of the right tool for the job before frustration set's in.

sorry for the long winded post. I hope I gave a bit of info that is useful and I am truly sorry if I have missed a thread that covers my needs as I really dont wish to be a bother in the least.

(I hope posting links is ok on this forum).


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Try for a micro 4/3 unit if you can swing it! It might be hard to get into the DSLR game in that price range... at least with any current tech. You might try the Canon G series too!

My 2 cents.

Sent from my iPhone
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To be completely honest I really have no great interest in photography other than my very select needs.

Have you considered hiring a professional photographer? Seriously, and I do not intend to make you feel uncomfortable, just that if you have gone to all the trouble to make a fine razor, you really need to show it off properly.

Find a local photographer with experience taking pictures of shiny objects. This is a difficult skill to learn, and you should carefully examine his portfolio to make sure he can really do it.

Hire him for a trial shoot to judge for yourself if he is doing what you want, then either keep on hiring him, or learn to do it yourself.

Now for a critique on the two shots posted:

#1 Razor posed at odd angle. Strop not the best background. Extra elements in background. Too much light falloff at bottom of frame.

#2 Better pose, dirty strop, distracting glare, extra elements in frame.
Thanks much for the feedback! I rather enjoy photography and have enrolled in a class on taking pic's of jewelry. My thought is that it would be rather close to what I need. That fact slipped out of my first post. A very important insight! I have been looking at a couple of the mirrorless camera's. They seem to be a bit more beginner friendly yet have many option I might be able to grow into. I have started to read "Light - secience and magic" in hopes of being able to wrangle in my glare and shadow's.

As for hiring a pro the thought has come to mind many times. As I said I really do enjoy taking photo's of razor's. Many thousand's to date. I know a pro would do much better than I. I do tend to be a very hand's on person and like to be able to increase my abilities in anything I do. This includes me being capable of taking a quality well lit image.

On the note of the images it had never even crossed my mind that posting them on a photo site would draw a critique! How ignorant of me! I am very use to posting images on razor forum's as I progress with a razor. As with this one it was cracked and rusted with broken handles when I found it. So what I do is do a bit of a photo thread of my build process. I have a nice stand and use a backdrop when taking final pic's. I just so happen to have these two pic's on my desktop to give an example of what I would be shooting. My hope is that I will be able to draw more depth from the wood and show the blue's in the steel. Thank you very much for taking the time to really look at my images and give me feedback. I will be more aware of my razor surrounding when I take pictures!
Yup. The camera doesn't matter much.

I would suggest that the ONLY criterion you might need to pay attention to is the ability to shoot RAW (which is an uncompressed file format, which represents pretty much just the digital data straight off the sensor, unprocessed). This generally gives you more flexibility in adjusting colors to fit, after the fact, than the standard JPEG format. JPEG does give you some ability, though, and it may be enough for your needs.

Cheaper cameras are not going to give you very much ability to control multiple flash units. For your purposes, you can use continuous lighting. Clamp-on utility lamps, 2 or 3 or 4 of them, should be all you need. Then some sort of light modifiers, you can generally manage those with drafting/tracing paper, or a neutral white fabric, and some tape/staples, whatever. Your jewelry photography class sounds spot on. If they do use flash, just mentally substitute a clamp-on light with an ordinary light bulb in it.

Oh, then a tripod. With utility lights, the exposures will tend to be pretty long. 1/2 a second? More? Less? Way too long to hand-hold.

Cheap camera, tripod, 4 utility lights, some tape and tracing paper, and some sort of decent editing program for your computer (the free ones are OK).

That, and some knowledge and training <--- this is the part that matters, and you're getting that.
Just started reading it last night! Incredible insight on light to be sure! Any other great beginner resources would be amazing. I do not fear reading or research! I am a visual learner so books with "learn by doing" exercises are right up my alley. On a beginner level of course! I am a firm believer in thast the mind is the most basic tool and foundation to any interest. From there it can spread.
Zerandise - first, let me say that product photography is a challenge, and that's why there are people who make a living at it. But on a limited budget, and with limited time, you probably can't hire one of those people every time you need to take a picture of one of your razors.

If you use your light box properly, you will solve a lot of your lighting and composition problems, but, to be honest, it will be a challenge to find a camera that is good at product photography, casual photography and astrophotography for less than $500.

That said, the best image quality you are going to get is probably from a new APS-C sensor interchangeable lens camera from one of the lesser known, and therefore lower priced, manufacturers such as Pentax or Samsung - but they will be just above your price point.

An example would be the Pentax K-30 with a 18-55 kit lens for $540 or a Samsung NX-20 body for $396 with a $135 20-50mm lens.

Or, a smaller sensor micro 4/3 camera that has been replaced by a newer model, such as the $299 Panasonic G5 body with a 14-42 kit lens for $164.

I recommend a camera with a viewfinder, since you plan to use it with your telescope - and looking at an LCD at night is a good way to ruin your night vision.

The Pentax is the only one of these cameras with a mirror, and is therefore subject to "mirror shake" (the bane of long exposure photographers), so you may want to take that into consideration.

With good lighting, and in auto mode, these cameras will reliably produce good product photos - and should be good for your wife's casual photos too.

These cameras can also be adapted for astrophotography. You can get a T-mount adapter for the Pentax for $11, for the Samsung for $11 and for the Panasonic for $19.95. With any of these adapters, you will need something like this $18 Celestron 1.25" T-adapter to adapt the camera to your eyepiece.

Hope this is helpful,

Hybrid Camera Revolution
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Thanks Bill! I have been looking at the NEX and PEN series. I can go over buget but as you stated my profit per blade is somewhat limited. As for astrophotography I am not looking to do raw image and compression via one of my scopes at this point. Many of the members in our society do and create amazing images. I am looking to be able to just take 30 second shot's when we are out observing. Something to supplement a passion me and my wife already share. Having the ability to change that in the future is a very good option however. the primary use will be for product shots. Thanks much for a very informative post!

On a side note I can cover the LCD with red cellophane to same my night vision. It will allow me to change setting and see what I am shooting without killing my cones and rods.

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