Best camera for close-up clarity.

Started May 19, 2012 | Discussions
SasQuatch9585
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Best camera for close-up clarity.
May 19, 2012

Hello,

I am in the beginning stages of starting a business selling hand-carved custom wooden jewelry. For my website, I need a camera that can take excellent close-up photos. I am an artist, but I have no serious photography experience.

I'm sure there are a lot of highly experienced photographers here. Can anyone point me toward a camera that can take great close-ups without costing me too much? I'm willing to make a serious investment if I must, but I will not be using the camera for much else, so I would like to avoid spending the money for a camera that can do it all.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

trekkeruss
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Re: Best camera for close-up clarity.
In reply to SasQuatch9585, May 19, 2012

If you will be shooting images for web use, a point and shoot camera is fine. If you need poster sized images for printing, then you need a DSLR and a macro lens. For either, controlled lighting is crucial. See: http://www.tabletopstudio.com/HowTo_page.html

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JoeDaBassPlayer
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Re: Best camera for close-up clarity.
In reply to SasQuatch9585, May 19, 2012

The Pentax K 01 is the best close up/product photo camera I can think of.
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Barrie Davis
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Lighting more important than the camera...
In reply to SasQuatch9585, May 20, 2012

no text.
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Chato
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Re: Best camera for close-up clarity.
In reply to SasQuatch9585, May 20, 2012

SasQuatch9585 wrote:

Hello,

I am in the beginning stages of starting a business selling hand-carved custom wooden jewelry. For my website, I need a camera that can take excellent close-up photos. I am an artist, but I have no serious photography experience.

I'm sure there are a lot of highly experienced photographers here. Can anyone point me toward a camera that can take great close-ups without costing me too much? I'm willing to make a serious investment if I must, but I will not be using the camera for much else, so I would like to avoid spending the money for a camera that can do it all.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

If you will be content with a Point and shoot camera, you can go through the reviews on this site, and keeping in mind, that you will need some manual control, you should be able to find something for under $400.

For the interchangable lens cameras, whether mirrorless, or SLR types, then the camera that takes the sharpest image, will ALSO take the sharpest macro images. With such a camera, you will then need to acquire a macro lens, which takes the sharpest image. Lenses are also reviewed on this site - And other sites.

You may find that all you need IS a good Point and shoot. But as I said, make sure you get one with at least some manual controls.

Dave

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Deleted1929
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Nonsense
In reply to JoeDaBassPlayer, May 20, 2012

The Pentax K 01 is the best close up/product photo camera I can think of.

It's no better or worse than any interchangeable lens camera. You're simply demonstrating your ignorance of this subject.

The key, as others have said, is lighting.

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StephenG

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Alphoid
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Re: Best camera for close-up clarity.
In reply to SasQuatch9585, May 20, 2012

You will want to buy the following:

  • Large sensor camera with a pivot LCD. A Panasonic G3 or Sony a77 will do, as will a number of other cameras. Sony, as well as Panasonic and Olympus, have the (slight) advantage over Canon and Nikon that they will autofocus quickly while in live view. Note that bottom pivot cameras (Sony a65, a55, etc.) will not work.

  • A macro lens. 100mm is ideal. 50mm is adequate. The longer focal length is easier to work with, since you've got a bit more working distance, but costs more. This is the most critical piece of the puzzle. For Sony, this would be a SAL-100M28.

  • Appropriate lighting and background. Some kit with two lights and a tent might be an okay starting point.

  • Small, high quality tripod. Velbon Ultra MAXi Mini Aluminum Tripod with QHD-51Q Ball Head is cheap, yet spectacularly well designed.

  • Grey card.

If you want to spend less, a much cheaper camera is okay. Anything large sensor will do -- you can get an Olympus EP1 for around $200 -- the main downside is lack of pivot LCD and fewer controls (so it'll take longer to set up shots, but they'll come out the same). You can save a little on the lens by going 50mm, or used, but a macro lens will still run a fair bit.

Aside from that, you should get a good book. Photographer matters more than the camera. Try to replicate the shots from the book exactly before innovating. Basic settings:

  • Set white balance with the grey card. Shoot in RAW.

  • Use aperture priority. Set narrow enough aperture that everything is in focus (this will mean long exposure).

  • Use a 2 second delay. This will avoid shake from when you press the shutter (or a remote shutter).

  • Take a photo. Review it. Figure out what was good and what was bad. Tweak lighting, framing, camera settings, etc. See what changes. Repeat until satisfied.

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Bjorn_L
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what budget, what type of camera?
In reply to SasQuatch9585, May 20, 2012

A DSLR will do the trick. Pretty much any of them. You will need some good lighting, a macro lens, a tripod and a macro focus rail.

You can also get it done with any number of smaller cheaper cameras with a macro mode. The key remains lighting and control of your environment.

A quick check of the feature search here showed 422 models with a macro mode. If you are not out after DSLR quality or price that might be worth looking at.

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Chato
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Re: Nonsense
In reply to Deleted1929, May 20, 2012

sjgcit wrote:

The Pentax K 01 is the best close up/product photo camera I can think of.

It's no better or worse than any interchangeable lens camera. You're simply demonstrating your ignorance of this subject.

Is the Pentax actually out yet?

The key, as others have said, is lighting.

I'm not so sure. I really don't think the OP needs a "Professional" set-up. HIs jewelry after all is hand carved "wood," and not the difficult to shoot gems. All these suggestions might very well be overkill. It doesn't sound like he has the resources to really invest in an interchangable lens camera - And lighting can always be added.

I'm not familiar with the lastest higher quality P&S cameras, otherwise I would have made a specific recomendation. I DO know they're out there. My DP2 would do the job, but he could probably do better and cheaper. The DP2 is more "niche" and not really aimed at macro.

Can anyone recomened such a P&S camera for the man, and save him quite a bit of work?

Dave

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Heie2
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Re: Nonsense
In reply to Chato, May 20, 2012

I second the Pentax K-01. Especially with it's focus peaking function, it is the best Macro tool you can get right now for the price (and without any settling in quality) - bar none.

Yes, lighting will make or break your images, but the K-01 is what you are looking for.

-Heie

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sterretje
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Maybe no need for a macro lens
In reply to trekkeruss, May 20, 2012

A macro lens as advised by others might not be necessary; it depends on how much detail you want to show.

A bangle has a diameter of what; 5cm or so? To take a photo of the whole bangle, you do not need a macro lens. To show specific details, you might need a macro lens.

If the jewelry is small (e.g. 1cm diameter), a macro lens on a dSLR is probably be the way to go.

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Bjorn_L
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More Nonsense
In reply to Heie2, May 20, 2012

Heie2 wrote:

I second the Pentax K-01. Especially with it's focus peaking function, it is the best Macro tool you can get right now for the price (and without any settling in quality) - bar none.

Yes, lighting will make or break your images, but the K-01 is what you are looking for.

-Heie

Also illustrating your ignorance on the subject. Stephen was right. Any DSLR will do. Although I suspect the OP does not need or want a DSLR or even a non-dslr like the k01.

To the OP these two here are not trying to share info with you but spread the faith. They go from thread to thread backing each other up with their "go pentax" mantra without any real consideration to your stated goals or needs. That such complete tools use Pentax does not mean you need to avoid pentax. Just that if you decide to consider a pentax do not do it because someone with no knowledge or skill but just a need for you to validate their purchase with your money told you to.
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newmikey
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Best bet: quality compact
In reply to SasQuatch9585, May 20, 2012

SasQuatch9585 wrote:

...For my website, I need a camera that can take excellent close-up photos. I am an artist, but I have no serious photography experience.

... I will not be using the camera for much else, so I would like to avoid spending the money for a camera that can do it all.

The Canon G1X, Nikon P7100 or any of the other brands' (Panasonic, Sony etc.) quality compacts would do extremely well here. Their small sensors will give more DOF at the same exposure settings and as you will be doing product shots, you control the light so no worry about high-ISO noise.

Most of the quality compacts also have a macro mode that will allow you to come within centimers of your object.

The quality of the resulting images will be way beyond what's needed for web alone so you could consider using them even in printed ads etc.

Do take the word "quality" in "quality compacts" seriously. You should be looking at cameras costing around the $400-500 mark.

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Deleted1929
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Re: More Nonsense
In reply to Bjorn_L, May 20, 2012

For those of you under the mistaken impression that lightboxes cost a small fortune :

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-to-diy-10-macro-photo-studio.html

Regardless of what small items you are photographing, a lightbox with a couple of cheap tabletop light ( and the correct bulbs ! ) make a nice even and soft light ideal for product photography.

The cheap tabletop lighttent kits ( that include basic lighting ) are also good. I think Trekkerruss already linked to one. It's a simple way to get going.

I'll simply add that for the price of a Pentax K01 you'd get a very much more useful used DSLR with a good used macro lens, which is far more useful.

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StephenG

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newmikey
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In reply to Bjorn_L, May 20, 2012

Bjorn_L wrote:

Also illustrating your ignorance on the subject. Stephen was right. Any DSLR will do. Although I suspect the OP does not need or want a DSLR or even a non-dslr like the k01.

Small item desktop photography with a couple of desklamps and/or an el-cheapo lighttent kind of dictates directly away from APS-C or bigger. The guy needs DOF and lots of it so a quality compact with a good macro setting will be top of the bill here.

To the OP these two here are not trying to share info with you but spread the faith. They go from thread to thread backing each other up with their "go pentax" mantra without any real consideration to your stated goals or needs. That such complete tools use Pentax does not mean you need to avoid pentax.

I am a dedicated Pentax shooter but I wouldn't be doing the OP a great favor here, quite the contrary! Match the tool to the purpose I say!

A DSLR or system camera with largish sensor is exactly what the OP does not need. Pentax doesn't have anything right now to match the OP's requirements, simple as that, full stop.

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leno
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Re: Agree
In reply to newmikey, May 20, 2012

A point and shoot should be able to do the job and almost all will be capable at a fair price. However don't try and save the last penny and go budget. Our prices are differnat here so I'll not make a suggestion, however my Olympus xz-1 would be very capable at the job but I suspect more then you wan to spend. Best thing you do need is a small table top tripod and a light defuser, both are very cheap and will make big improvment to the task. You might also think of some small model making clamps for the objects.

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JoeDaBassPlayer
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Re: Nonsense
In reply to Deleted1929, May 21, 2012

Your ignorance is that you have not used focus peaking. That and the freedom from being stuck with a viewfinder make an incredible difference.

Go check out the macros and frog shots on the Pentax DSLR forum and prepared to be enlightened.

Variance is Evil!

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JoeDaBassPlayer
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Re: More Nonsense
In reply to Bjorn_L, May 21, 2012

A DSLR is a great sports shooting camera. For still items and macros, the focus peaker wins hands down.
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JoeDaBassPlayer
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In reply to Bjorn_L, May 21, 2012

Will do and best for the job are two different things. In this case, focus peaking is a key success factor in taking close up, macro and product shots. One also has optional grid lines on the screen and In Body Stabilization. The K 01 also has some of the best high ISO abilities out there for the low light shots. Tonality is also very good.

I have a DSLR as well as the K 01. The K 01 is a macro monster. Ask anyone who uses one. You have so much more control of focus and framing compared to a DSLR. It is not even close. You get the job done better and with a lot less work.

The old fashioned, film based DSLR works well for sports and action shots. Compared to a K 01, it is out of its league when it comes to macro and product shots.

So, what is your experience with a K 01 and how does it compare to your experience with a conventional DSLR?
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Billx08
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Re: Best camera for close-up clarity.
In reply to SasQuatch9585, May 21, 2012

SasQuatch9585 wrote:

Hello,

I am in the beginning stages of starting a business selling hand-carved custom wooden jewelry. For my website, I need a camera that can take excellent close-up photos. I am an artist, but I have no serious photography experience.

I'm sure there are a lot of highly experienced photographers here. Can anyone point me toward a camera that can take great close-ups without costing me too much? I'm willing to make a serious investment if I must, but I will not be using the camera for much else, so I would like to avoid spending the money for a camera that can do it all.

Many inexpensive 'Point and Shoot' cameras can do a very good job taking closeup photos. I've got several DSLRs and macro lenses so I know that they can as well, but they'll be far more expensive and for your needs I think that they'd be overkill. In order to get good results for your website photos, you'd need a camera, a tripod, an inexpensive "light tent" or some suitable background for the photos, and decent lighting, at least two to prevent or reduce shadows. A camera's built-in flash will usually produce bad photos with harsh, distracting shadows. Because a P&S camera is light in weight and doesn't have parts that produce vibration that can blur images (such as a DSLR's mirror and focal plane shutter), very light, inexpensive tripods can be used to good effect.

The camera that I'd suggest is Kodak's Z990, their most recent and last offering. It's fairly large for a P&S and is one of the "megazoom" bridge type cameras that resemble DSLRs, but it works very well even if you never shoot using its extremely long focal lengths. Its main drawback is that it's pretty slow, so it wouldn't be the camera of choice for shooting sports, but for product photography, a slight delay between shots shouldn't be a problem. I don't know if some of the reports are true that its original price was over $400, but I saw it sold in several stores for over $300. Because Kodak is leaving the camera business, this is one of the few remaining Kodak cameras that can be bought new. B&H has it for $200, Amazon has it for $168, and you might get it for less if you shop around. You may not need to use its Super Macro mode, but take a look at some photos posted earlier this morning showing how well it does with very close subjects.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1011&message=41568462

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/750195-REG/Kodak_1773662_Easy_Share_Z990_Black.html

http://www.amazon.com/Kodak-EasyShare-Digital-Optical-3-0-Inch/dp/B004FLL53Q

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