Matbar

Camera advice

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I would like some advice on finding a digital camera capable of taking photos of minis that don't entirely suck, without costing a ton. Let me start by saying I know that truly good cameras cost tons and have lots of neat gadgets, but I can't afford that and probably couldn't work it if I did get one. What I'm looking for is something that fits the following criteria. I know this limits my selection greatly but please don't laugh outright if this is stupidly impossible. :;):

 

Things I want:

Cheap as possible - seriously, I gotta buy minis you know!

Good quality of photos for showing miniature details

Something that uses rechargeable batteries (I've heard some cameras don't?)

One where the data is EASY to transfer to a computer

 

Things I don't care about that can be trimmed to cut cost

Amount of storage space - I don't need one that holds 500 photos. Really, I could care less if it only holds 20 pics, I'll just load them and wipe the card. Or buy another card later.

Fancy settings like action shots, red eye reduction. I am ONLY planning to use this on minis.

Video capability.

 

Any help is appreciated!

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You can easily get a good point and shoot for $100 or less. I personally would look at one of the Nixon Coolpix, but I like Nikon.

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I use a Sony point'n'click. It was around $80 last year, and while it doesn't have a "Macro" setting, it does have a "Food" setting that works well.

 

Go to WallyWorld (or whatever) with a mini, and try a few out. If you can convince them to sell you the floor model, they'll usually give you 10%-15% off.

 

-Dave

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I will post up the camera that I use when I get home tonight. When I bought it, the camera was about $350, but that was a couple years ago. I would assume that if you can find a used one on Amazon that it would go much cheaper now. I can tell you that the macro on it is awesome and it has a huge display panel on it to see what your taking a picture of, plus its small and portable well.

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I've got an old 2005 Canon PowerShot A520 that has been good to me over the years. I want to get an updated version, but it had decent manual controls and lens for the price. Current camera on my wishlist is the SX160.

 

As for transferring, just make sure it uses a standard SD card format. If your pc doesn't have one, get a card reader for it. I'm a sysadmin and if I never mess with plugging in a camera via USB again, it's ok by me!

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Miniatures are not a difficult subject if you know how to use a camera*. Nearly any camera built in the last five or so years should work. You'll want at least 5 MPix and it would be best to have a macro or super-macro mode. Ideally, you want a new sensor (sensor quality is broadly following Moore's Law), and a physically larger sensor is generally better.

 

* Things to consider when thinking about how to use a camera, especially a point-and-shoot with limited controls:

 

1) Use a medium gray background. This will increase the chance that your automatic exposure and automatic white balance will work well.

 

2) Use a single color of light. Correcting for multiple colors of light is remarkably difficult.

 

3) Use lots of light, though try to avoid very small point sources. Note that the sun is a very small point source for this discussion, since it subtends just over half a degree of arc. If you want to use sunlight, use open shadow, diffusion, and/or a reflector rather than direct, unmodified sunlight.

 

4) If you're indoors, use as much light as you can. Lights that seem quite bright to our eyes are not very bright compared to sunlight. And inexpensive cameras don't handle dim light well at all.

 

HTH

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Great! I was hoping since minis aren't hard to "catch" I wouldn't be looking at a ton of money, but then I was afraid it was gonna be "hahahaha forget it if you're gonna be cheap" Knowing that the point 'n click cameras work fine is awesome, and the tips on technique, backgrounds, and lighting are helpful as well! Didn't know there was any such animal as a food setting, but it sounds perfect.

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Yeah, I was suspicious of the food setting, but I suppose it makes sense to non-photographer types. Maybe it's because that's the popular close up work.... "Look what I'm eating now!" People on myfaceytwitspace are crazy about food....

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Man I know it. My brother in law and a girl I work with must photograph every meal they eat. I find it pretty strange, but I'll take the benefits for my future mini photography and not complain!

 

Given what has been said here I've come to the conclusion I DO have an adequate camera for the job. Appparently my technique sucked last time. Going to give it a try maybe this weekend and see if I can get some pics of the Bloodbowl guys. Not the best paintjob in terms of using cool techniques, but the faces were fun.

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I'm getting somewhat passable results with a 4MP 2005 Canon ($150 at the time), so if yours is at least that good, you should be able to get results as good (or mediocre!) as mine.

 

Learning the basics or setting up the camera manually in macro; setting the white balance; setting up a photo box; cropping and sizing in post. Those were the main things that brought me to where I am now.

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For some reason there aren't many point-and-shoot cameras these days that use rechargeable batteries. I'd totally recommend Canon's Powershot series for performance, but I've not yet found one that takes LI batteries and as far as I have found, none can be plugged in AC.

 

My first P&S, an Olympus digital camera made in 2003, took rechargeable batteries and had an AC jack (though I had to buy my own cord). You'd think such a thing by now would be as standard as the tripod-mount hole has become.

 

I'll keep looking though. For what it's worth, older model cameras are not only less expensive, but often you can find accessories such as spare batteries, connectors and other add-ons dirt-cheap on Amazon and eBay.

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The Canon I linked (basically a later version of my old camera) uses AA. The old one works great with lion batts.

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Ok, apologies for the long delay in my response.

 

The camera I have had a great success with is the Sony CyberShot Exmore 10.2 MPixel camera. I am sure there are more up to date models and such, but if you can find the one that is 10.2 with the Exmore feature set, it is an awesome camera for macro shooting. Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions related.

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FWIW in spite of the fact that the Powershot series all use batteries, they don't go through them very quickly unless you're shooting in Movie mode.

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A pair of lithium ion cells in my old Canon last a loooong time. I have to keep spares in the case because I change them so rarely, it will inevitably run out up on some mountain somewhere.

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