Setting camera parallel to subject

Started Nov 29, 2020 | Discussions thread
Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 14,548
Re: Setting camera parallel to subject

Tom Ferguson wrote:

I have a couple repeat customers where I shoot big flat products and need to keep them perfectly "square" (no keystoning). Think art copy work, except BIG. Far too big for my copy stand. I can get close to parallel... but I always have to tweak it in Photoshop transform.

I've been experimenting with two mirrors, one attached to the camera lens (plastic mirror attached to filter ring with a one inch "aperture" drilled out to the center) and the second mirror dangled at the center of the product. It is an improvement, but still not "perfect".

Is there a commercial or better DIY solution out there?

You only need a small mirror on center of the flat product. When the mirror is centered in the viewfinder, and you see the lens in the center of the mirror, then you are perpendicular to the mirror.

I shoot a lot of flat artwork.

What I normally do is to make sure the artwork is flat against the wall. My floor boards run perpendicular to the wall. I notice which floor board aligns with the center of the artwork.

I use a laser level on a lightstand to project a plus sign onto the center of the artwork The lightstand is centered over the "center" floorboard.

I then put my camera between the laser level and the artwork I adjust the camera height and position so that the laser level's "plus" sign is on the back of the camera, just behind the center of the lens.

If I do this correctly, the camera is centered on the artwork, and perpendicular to it.  I use a "macro" prime lens, as these typically have very little barrel or pincushion distortion.  Macro prime  lenses generally are very sharp, and have flat field of focus.

The trick is to make sure the wall is level, the artwork is flat against the wall, and that you have a straight line on the floor coming out from the wall that is centered under the artwork.

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