shooting shiny metallic objects to highlight flaws

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ranger13 New Member • Posts: 9
shooting shiny metallic objects to highlight flaws

Hi, part of my job involves using a Coolpix S2800 to shoot 'hurt' shiny metallic objects for sale as factory seconds. These are machined parts, abt 3x4", with complex, irregular surfaces. I have to highlight what are sometimes extremely small ( <1mm) flaws so buyers can see what they're getting - not hide them.

The types of flaws are what you'd expect for finished, usually plated metal: chipping, toolmarks, uneven chroming/coloration, scratches, nicks/dents etc.

I read a bunch of blogs & got a light tent & extra-bright light: it basically just duplicated the problems I've had from the start. The tent diffuses light and actually blurs the flaws. Got brighter lights, that didn't work either.

My eyes can see this stuff easier than the camera, it seems - and my eyes aren't that great. But I can't make the camera show what I see.

I got foam core in different shades, another blog suggestion. I use a dull white or black, depending on whether object is chromed or gold-plated (gold is the worst) & angle the foam this way and that. Doesn't work well. Mainly I try to catch flaws in shadows from the florescent lights overhead. That's the only semi-reliable method which has worked.

I'm trying to find a way to get my shots to work more consistently & be less labor-intensive. Haven't been able to repeat good shots reliably or systematize even after months.

Can anyone please help with suggestions of a fast, relatively painless way to get these kinds of shots?? I don't need to become an expert photographer, I just need photos that don't look like dirt.

Camera is on autofocus 'macro' mode. Manual would be too time-consuming, I'm not paid to fiddle with settings, esp when sometimes a dozen shots, each at different angles & from different distances are necessary for each item. Max distance is abt 2' (zero issues there). Camera usually balks at about 10" & cannot focus closer.

The high pixel count on the lens effectively magnifies the shots already, which is why I don't necessarily think a macro lens is necessarily the answer, although I could be way off the mark. (Also we do still need to display the whole object.) Anything that takes a lot of time to set up or swap out would not be optimal. But I do have some pride in my work and do not want to post junky shots that don't read clearly.

I've even tried using a magnifying glass desk light to shoot 'through' the glass, which oc makes the situation worse for most flaws... just extra light bouncing off everything.

The solution must be for a digital camera so I can plug it in to computer to offload shots quickly, which I do 50x a day. This is quick-and-dirty. I've thought about buying a fancy mirrorless camera with a macro lens but am trying to avoid going down the "buy more stuff to fix problem only to find you are the problem" rabbit-hole.

Thanks very much!

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