New to Photography: What Camera for close work?

Idaho 45 Vaquero

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Howdy All,

I am new to photography. I like playing with my cellphone and tablet camera all the time, but other than that I know very little.

I write historical articles on antiques, mainly antique firearms. My articles include tasteful closeup photos that are able to show small details (engraving, case-coloring, and sometimes internal mechanisms). Prior to now, I have had to hire a photographer to do it for me, which cost me a lot considering the little I get paid. My photographer is moving away and will not be available. I am now considering investing in a camera to do it myself. I was wondering if there are digital cameras ($100-$300) that would be able to capture small close detail, sometimes at only 6-9 inches away? Are there any cameras in that price range that would be able to attach an additional lens for close detail? What kind of lens would I need for that? Any suggestions help.

It appears I have some homework to do.
 

480sparky

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Any entry-level DSLR will work. What you will need is something more than a kit lens. Extension rubes or a dedicated macro lens is what you should research.
 

dennybeall

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The lens is the key to what you need. You could buy a Nikon D70 on eBay for less than $100 or a D80 for a tiny bit more and find a decent macro lens for a few hundred. I'd get at least the D80.
 

goodguy

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Camera is secondary, the magic is in the lens.
If you get a Macro lens then with some skills any camera made in the last 6-7 years will do the job nicely.
You might want to add a ring flash and tripod to really get the job done.
 

AdrianBeaky

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you write for an online publication, correct? If that's the case, I wouldn't worry too much about megapixel count since most monitors people view on are 1920x1080 so the pictures will be scaled down anyway. You can look on Craig's List for older model Canon (sorry, I'm biased towards them :) ) Rebels, like the XS, if you're on a budget. Otherwise any entry level Canon or Nikon currently on the market will do the job just fine, if you want to buy brand new. What you will want to get is a macro lens if you are mostly concerned with detail in the firearms. That's where I'd invest good money on and expect a few hundred for a good mid-range lens. You might also want to get a wider angle lens for shots of the full firearm. Any DSLR will come with a kit lens that will get you by. You will also want to think about a basic photo editing program to edit the photos as well. Photoshop Elements if you're a beginner will be pretty easy to use and should suit your needs pretty well.
 

soufiej

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Photographing an object from 6 to 9 inches distance isn't a serious problem.

I can't even see why a "macro" lens or extension tubes and so forth would be considered.

IMO virtually any digital camera produced with the last five years would be sufficient for your needs. Unless your photos are to be enlarged to full page images, even a smartphone camera should be all you need. Of course, whether you are expected to produce a print ready image to the publisher is another matter.

Whether you select a DSLR with interchangeable lenses or a single, fixed lens alternative, your lens must have a "minimum focus distance" of less than 6 to 9 inches. This should be within the range of virtually any good lens though a "prime lens" will almost always have a shorter minimum than will a zoom. Not always, but often.

A single focal length prime lens, say, a 50 mm, will also tend towards greater sharpness, more accurate color resolution and greater clarity across the frame than an equivalent focal length in a zoom lens. Primes are also less expensive in most cases than are zooms.

Any baseline DSLR will provide essentially the same image quality as any camera up the line and more expensive cameras will normally only get you more buttons. A baseline Canon or Nikon would be all you really need.



In your stated price range you aren't going to buy a new camera if you want to stay with an interchangeable lens camera. Though, as I said, any decent camera from the last five years would do the job. Camera bodies are often sold with a "kit lens" included and buying the prime will add to your cost. Now you need to make a determination, which product do you actually want? How much image quality is enough?

Camera manufacturers have been producing what are termed "bridge cameras" and "enthusiast cameras" for several years now. They are one piece, fixed lens systems. They will have anywhere from a moderate zoom lens to a "superzoom" lens. Due to the one piece construction of the camera/lens system though, they often work extremely well when they are provided sufficient light or you can mount the camera on a tripod.

This camera would do the job; Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Refurbished | Canon Online Store

As would this one; http://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/powershot-s100-black-refurbished

Pretty much anything on those pages would work once you have verified the lens' minimum focus distance. Buying direct from Canon or Nikon will give you a refurbished camera with a warranty. You can contact either company and their representatives will advise you.

It's possible your photographer would have a few suggestions too.

Best results are likely to be had using a tripod. If your budget doesn't allow for that right now, plan on adding one when funds permit.

Lighting is an issue you will need to explore. If you are using a camera indoors, you will probably need supplemental light sources. The built in flash unit of a camera might do what you need but I doubt anyone being paid for their results would be satisfied with only the built in flash. This may be where your budget really smacks up against reality. A good retailer can advise you on the alternatives.



There are tutorials available on product based photography. Whether you need very accurate color reproduction is different than whether you only need a sufficiently detailed image.



Obviously, if you have a local camera shop, stop by. Spending your money with a good local dealer will almost always get you some after the sale service and advice. Developing a plan for how to move forward within a budget is something a local dealer should do best.
 
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Thanks All for the responses,

The camera will be needed for pictures that will be printed in a magazine on glossy paper, sometimes full page photos. I'm thinking about a used Cannon EOS Rebel T5 on Amazon for about $250-$300. There are several other Cannon Rebel models that take the EOS lens system, that seem to be affordable as well. I've found several cannon EOS macro lens on ebay for under $100. There is also a macro-tube for the Cannon EOS by Fotodiox on Amazon that is only $14; It has surprisingly good reviews and for the cheap price might be worth trying out.

Even though its tricky, with my tablet camera I've been able to get the right light for photographing. My problem is that the small engraving, gold inlays, and metal texturing don't show up. They are always blurry. It won't focus that close or that detailed. My hope is that the camera with a good lens will solve this.

By the way I have a good tripod, ironically my ballistic chronograph uses a tripod.
 

jake337

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Can you post an example? I'm not sure if your tablet isn't getting the details or if those details are out of the plane of focus.

Depth of field is still very shallow with a phone or tablets when doing close up work.

To get everything in focus with closeup work you need to focus stack, use a tilt shift lens or use a high megapixel body and crop tight.
 

480sparky

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Can you post an example? I'm not sure if your tablet isn't getting the details or if those details are out of the plane of focus.

Depth of field is still very shallow with a phone or tablets when doing close up work.

To get everything in focus with closeup work you need to focus stack, use a tilt shift lens or use a high megapixel body and crop tight.
DOF will decrease as you increase the sensor size (FOV remaining equal). So going from a smart device with a sensor the size of a pencil lead to even a crop sensor DSLR, the latter will have far less DOF if you adjusted the focal length to maintain the same FOV. This is why teeny tiny formats have, at best, lenses that stop down to a whopping f/2.8, and large format lenses that reach f/64 and even f/128.
 

TCampbell

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This type of photography won't put any specific demands on the camera body (any camera body would work.) If looking at Canon, then the most affordable "true" macro lens is the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM (one of the very best EF-S lenses made.) Official retail is $479, most places have it for $469. But you may be able to pick up a used copy for much less (the Canon line store has the price on a "refurbished" version (which comes with the same warranty as a new lens) at $375 but I see it's listed as "out of stock").

You can use a Canon 250D close-up filter (which needs to be purchased in the correct thread diameter size to match the lens) or extension tubes (the Kenko brand tubes are affordably priced and have a solid reputation. It's important that the tubes pass through the electronic signals between the camera body and lens so that the aperture blades and focus motor will work. Some very low cost tubes don't pass the signals through (avoid those models.)
 

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The $14 extension tube is almost assuredly one that has no electronic pass-through, and will be a PITA, a regal PITA, to use.

You really do not need "much camera" to do macro work for the web or even magazine work on subjects as large as firearms, when shooting objects like say the engraving on the frame of an over/under shotgun or revolver's frame and cylinder. Small image size, on-screen down-rezzed images, or halftoned images in magazine print...none of that requires much more than 6 or 8 million pixels. Plus, firearms are BIG objects, compared against say, fruit flies.

I'd look for a used d-slr, and a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens, or the Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro macro lens, either one, but USED!!! Macro lenses are bough, tried, shelved, then sold or traded in like crazy! The slightly longer length of 90 to 100mm will give you a bit more working room between you and the subject, and will keep your body from being in the area where the light might be positioned.

You do need some kind of lighting setup: I would recommend a softbox, for the flat front and single-plane light source. Continuous light or flash will work for your needs.
 
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Thanks All,

Here is an example of the type of photography I will be needing are at these websites: http://hollandandholland.com/gun-room/royal-double-rifle/ New Guns - Westley Richards Some of my photos that my photographer did from a previous article are below. I won't be taking very many pictures of a whole gun, mostly I need clear closeups of engraving and lock internals.

The best lighting setups I got with my past photographer was outside on a darker cloudy day. Light needs to be fairly even on all sides, or else there is glare on the metal. We also photographed once in a room with windows on three sides when it was a little overcast outside. We had reflectors and white sheets placed in the darker places of the room. With a black background it made some good results.
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beagle100

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Thanks All,

Here is an example of the type of photography I will be needing are at these websites: http://hollandandholland.com/gun-room/royal-double-rifle/ New Guns - Westley Richards Some of my photos that my photographer did from a previous article are below. I won't be taking very many pictures of a whole gun, mostly I need clear closeups of engraving and lock internals.

The best lighting setups I got with my past photographer was outside on a darker cloudy day. Light needs to be fairly even on all sides, or else there is glare on the metal. We also photographed once in a room with windows on three sides when it was a little overcast outside. We had reflectors and white sheets placed in the darker places of the room. With a black background it made some good results. H]

like others have indicated any DSLR and a macro lens such as the Tamron 90mm 2.8 macro works if you have diffused lighting like a north facing window

15829114249_575ffdb27a_b.jpg
 

jake337

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Thanks All,

Here is an example of the type of photography I will be needing are at these websites: http://hollandandholland.com/gun-room/royal-double-rifle/ New Guns - Westley Richards Some of my photos that my photographer did from a previous article are below. I won't be taking very many pictures of a whole gun, mostly I need clear closeups of engraving and lock internals.

The best lighting setups I got with my past photographer was outside on a darker cloudy day. Light needs to be fairly even on all sides, or else there is glare on the metal. We also photographed once in a room with windows on three sides when it was a little overcast outside. We had reflectors and white sheets placed in the darker places of the room. With a black background it made some good results. View attachment 114645 View attachment 114647 View attachment 114648 View attachment 114645


If you want images similar to those in the links you'll need to work on product lighting more than anything.
 

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