CarlyMM

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Hello,

I was looking to purchase a strong yet basic beginner-intermediate level DSLR for product photography. Today I went to a local shop and was very disappointed in what was sold to me (A mirrorless Canon M50 EOS Mark II)- I felt it was a step backward instead of forward.

I am used to using an entry-level DSLR (Nikon D60). My 13-year-old Nikon just died, and I was hoping to take a step up in technology, with the understanding that a parallel model may still be a step up given the improvement of technology in the last decade since I've owned it.

-Primary use: Product photography (clothing displayed on a life-size dress form)
-My lighting setup: Natural light from a nearby window supplemented with a lantern soft box for a natural, diffused look
-Secondary use: shoot video of husband's music performances (low-light situations)
-Willing to spend: $600 - $1300
-How I shoot: Shutter speed mode (open to suggestions)
-How I edit: Lightroom

Although I am a beginner in terms of photography skills, I have been shooting products for over a decade and I am in-process of launching my own Shopify online shop, so I am looking for a highly professional look, but do not need a lot of bells and whistles. Lighting is my biggest challenge as my windows are not large, but I insist on a naturally-lit look for my shop's aesthetic. I am looking for a camera that can allow a lot of light into my images despite this challenge. Image stabilization is helpful too.

I am used to Nikon, but willing to consider other brands that are intuitive to use without too many fancy functions to navigate. I was looking at a Nikon D3500 but open to suggestions.

Thank in advance for any tips!
 
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CarlyMM

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Update: I am looking at a full-frame, The Nikon Z5. Opinions welcome!
 

Braineack

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I'd rather invest in better lighting that any camera made in the last 10 years could benefit from.

However, I would never ever ever recommend a Nikon D3xxx -- ever.

Good low-light video is going to require a much deeper budget for a full frame body and fast glass to match.


The Z5 is nice, but the 4.5fps shooting speed is a big let-down for me, unsure why it's so low with the Exceed 6; where the z6 can shoot 12fps and z50 can shoot 11fps.
 
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jcdeboever

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What lenses do you currently own for the D60?
 

ac12

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You need to reset your expectations.
The biggest issue in your list is shooting in low light.
Speaking from experience, shooting in LOW light is difficult and expensive. And will involve compromises.

Newer cameras can shoot in lower light than older ones, so you get a plus there.
Old saying, "in LOW light, FAST glass wins." This means even with a new camera, you may have to buy faster prime lenses.

Warning, shooting a FAST lens wide open results in a shallow depth of field.
Example on a dress form at 45 degrees angle, the near shoulder would be in focus, but the far shoulder would be out of focus.
So you have to arrange your product and select what you want to be in focus.
Although, here you can probably get by with the kit zoom, as you did with the kit zoom on your D60.

Similar for your husband's music. With a fast lens, he would be in focus, but his instrument may not be.

Warning, selecting a prime lens can be difficult.
WHICH focal length to select? Examples:
- At the same distance, a full length dress would require a shorter lens than a blouse.
- You may not have the space in your home to back up enough to use a longer prime for the full length dress.

While your D60 may have died, you can likely still use the camera and lens to determine what you need for the Z5.
I am going to guess that you used the standard 18-55 lens on your D60.
So on the D60 + 18-55, what focal range did you use for your product photography? From that we can convert to the equivalent focal range for the Z5, then match up to a lens.
 

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A trick to shoot your clothing.
Since it will be on a dress form, it will not be moving.
So, you can put the camera on a tripod and use a slower shutter speed, than you could with the clothing on a person.
In that way, you can get away with a slower zoom lens, rather than fast primes.
Though you will still need the fast primes for your husbands low light music.

Are you pleased with the color of the clothing pics from the D60?
The reason behind this is lighting. My experience has been that colors don't "pop" as much in dim lighting. The camera won't make much difference here. It is the AMOUNT of light.
Maybe you just have to wait till you get a LOT of sunlight coming through the window, onto the dress form.
My friend does still life, and has a 2 hour window to shoot, when the sun comes though the window and lights up the counter.

Understand that Z lenses are limited. You do not have the large selection that you would with a F mount dSLR. Though this may not matter to you.
What will matter is, none of the 3rd party lens companies are making Z lenses, at the present. So you are limited to Nikon lenses $$$$. And there are few used Z lenses to buy, so you likely have to buy new.

I do not shoot video, so I do not know anything about the video capability of the Z5.
 
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CarlyMM

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I'd rather invest in better lighting that any camera made in the last 10 years could benefit from.

However, I would never ever ever recommend a Nikon D3xxx -- ever.

Good low-light video is going to require a much deeper budget for a full frame body and fast glass to match.


The Z5 is nice, but the 4.5fps shooting speed is a big let-down for me, unsure why it's so low with the Exceed 6; where the z6 can shoot 12fps and z50 can shoot 11fps.
Thanks, Braineack, this is good to know. Will stay clear of the Nikon D3 series. I was under impression the z5 could shoot 12fps, but I will have to verify. I will look into lenses as well, thanks for the tips!
 
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CarlyMM

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CarlyMM

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You need to reset your expectations.
The biggest issue in your list is shooting in low light.
Speaking from experience, shooting in LOW light is difficult and expensive. And will involve compromises.

Newer cameras can shoot in lower light than older ones, so you get a plus there.
Old saying, "in LOW light, FAST glass wins." This means even with a new camera, you may have to buy faster prime lenses.

Warning, shooting a FAST lens wide open results in a shallow depth of field.
Example on a dress form at 45 degrees angle, the near shoulder would be in focus, but the far shoulder would be out of focus.
So you have to arrange your product and select what you want to be in focus.
Although, here you can probably get by with the kit zoom, as you did with the kit zoom on your D60.

Similar for your husband's music. With a fast lens, he would be in focus, but his instrument may not be.

Warning, selecting a prime lens can be difficult.
WHICH focal length to select? Examples:
- At the same distance, a full length dress would require a shorter lens than a blouse.
- You may not have the space in your home to back up enough to use a longer prime for the full length dress.

While your D60 may have died, you can likely still use the camera and lens to determine what you need for the Z5.
I am going to guess that you used the standard 18-55 lens on your D60.
So on the D60 + 18-55, what focal range did you use for your product photography? From that we can convert to the equivalent focal range for the Z5, then match up to a lens.
Hi ac12,

Thanks so much for the thorough information, this is helpful.

I am ok with a shallow depth of field. I also use grey seamless backdrop paper so it shouldn't be too distracting.

Yes, my D60 has the 18-55 kit lens. You are correct, shooting in my apartment bedroom means I can't back up very far so my focal range is limited and I am usually shooting without any zoom. Again, I am a beginner, but I would guess I was only using 18-25mm for most shots.

Thanks!
 
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CarlyMM

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A trick to shoot your clothing.
Since it will be on a dress form, it will not be moving.
So, you can put the camera on a tripod and use a slower shutter speed, than you could with the clothing on a person.
In that way, you can get away with a slower zoom lens, rather than fast primes.
Though you will still need the fast primes for your husbands low light music.

Are you pleased with the color of the clothing pics from the D60?
The reason behind this is lighting. My experience has been that colors don't "pop" as much in dim lighting. The camera won't make much difference here. It is the AMOUNT of light.
Maybe you just have to wait till you get a LOT of sunlight coming through the window, onto the dress form.
My friend does still life, and has a 2 hour window to shoot, when the sun comes though the window and lights up the counter.

Understand that Z lenses are limited. You do not have the large selection that you would with a F mount dSLR. Though this may not matter to you.
What will matter is, none of the 3rd party lens companies are making Z lenses, at the present. So you are limited to Nikon lenses $$$$. And there are few used Z lenses to buy, so you likely have to buy new.

I do not shoot video, so I do not know anything about the video capability of the Z5.
Thanks for the extra tips, ac12! I do get better results with slower shutter speed, I will give the tripod a shot.

This makes sense in terms of lenses needed for each situation. I am mostly happy with the color from the D60. I do track weather and time of day to find when the most natural light is available to me- your friend's situation sounds similar to mine! Some days I cannot shoot at all depending on the weather, other days I only have a couple hours at most.

Thanks for the info on lenses. I will look into options available to the z5.

Appreciate your time, this was most informative!
 

ac12

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Thanks, Braineack, this is good to know. Will stay clear of the Nikon D3 series. I was under impression the z5 could shoot 12fps, but I will have to verify. I will look into lenses as well, thanks for the tips!

If you are shooting product, I would think the continuous frame rate would not be relevant, as you would be shooting single frames.
 

Braineack

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Thanks, Braineack, this is good to know. Will stay clear of the Nikon D3 series. I was under impression the z5 could shoot 12fps, but I will have to verify. I will look into lenses as well, thanks for the tips!

don't confuse a D3, with a D3100.

1625160109182.png
 
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CarlyMM

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If you are shooting product, I would think the continuous frame rate would not be relevant, as you would be shooting single frames.
My secondary use is filming my husband's music concerts in low-light settings. Baring in mind that one device can't do everything perfectly though! My priority is product photography.
 
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CarlyMM

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Update: I decided to try the Nikon Z5 from a local shop so I could get back to shooting quickly (hoping to launch my site next week). So far I like it.

Today I shot with heavily overcast skies (something I usually avoid) and it actually came out not bad! Supplemented natural light with a lantern soft box, plus one regular soft box illuminating the room (not the subject) and some reflectors. Here are my first results with some post-production edits.

I shot with an average of: shutter speed 1/80, iso 800, exposure comp 1.0 - 1.3, no zoom. Exported smaller files for upload here.

I need to work on my lighting consistency, but this beginner is fairly happy with the z5 :)

Thank you all for your input, I will be looking at lenses next!
 

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