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Sony Cybershot 2.0 DSC-P2 Advice Needed...


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Okay guys,

As photography is 1/2 the battle with getting good critiques and accurate representations - I am looking for a bit of advice.


I currently have the above mentioned camera and a photo taking setup of two lamps at either end of the desk with various backgrounds. Now I have read of lot of tutorials on getting better pics - and I know that I need to start using Moana Matt Sealer (as Dullcote is unavailable in New Zealand) but in terms of using the camera itself - any advice?


I will post a few pics of my older attempts at photography - mini critiques not necessary (though you can if you want) - but specific advice on getting the pictures smoother would be great...


Okay so here goes.... :unsure:



Problems here: Top is sharp, clear maybe too much so - bottom, base, boots all fuzzy a bit...



Too shiny - but no distinction of colours in torso and skin is wrong colour...



Forgive the very bad first snow base - :lol:

In this the back looks okay but the front lacking definition of skin tone -


Is the camera okay and my painting is just too glossy and that bad or what....???

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First try changing the positions of the lighting. And trying without the cameras flash if you are using external lighting.


Also try shooting from different angles (lower depending on the hight of where the

mini's at).


And if your cam has a "macro mode" (ie. close range shooting) use that if possible.

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Before using macro mode:




Look for things like "depth of field," "apeture," and "white balance." These are the things you need to control to get good depth of field on 3D minis as well as making sure your camera is reading the colors correctly.


As for the color, you need to just adjust it using a photo manipulation software. Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop Elements (both around $100 retail) or the full blown Photoshop ($600 retail for the new and current version), and GIMP (look for it online) are good products to use for this.


Keep the following in mind:


Cyan - Red

Magenta - Green

Yellow - Blue


If the image is too green, adjust your magenta content. If it's too blue, add yellow. Remember your basics of color mixing as well. If the image is orange, you need to remove yellow AND red (add blue and cyan, sometimes in different amounts).


Use neutral colored backgrounds. I know the faded blue is popular (overly so in my opinion). Gray, blue-gray, and a neutral tan (or gray-tan) is best. Having all three will allow you to switch out depending on the overall color scheme of your model (thus if it's an overly brown model, go with the gray or blue gray background, not the tan).


Read online about "Close Up Photography" and "Portrait Photography." You're taking portraits of small little people and you need to treat it as such. Also, close up photography will help teach you how to adjust for depth of field and proper set ups.


Diffuse your lights with tracing paper, wax paper, parchment paper... so long as it's a clean white. Also, try using the Reveal or "true color" lights if you're not going to spend the money on photographic lights.


Try using three lights. One right, one left, and one on the background or from above. Personally, I prefer four (right, left, top, and background).

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Well... the first image, I can explain easiliy... It's a Depth of Field issue.


Depth of Field is a term used to describe your focal point. When you focus on the subject, objects that are in front of or behind it are out of focus, right? The area that is in focus is the depth of field. Since there's part of the mini that is in focus, and part that's not, you don't have the subject properly aligned within the depth of field. Make sense? Let's look at it like this....


Your depth of field is a plane, roughly in line with the lens of the camera. If you're subject is out of alignment with that plane, then there's a good possbilty that there'll be some of it that's out of focus. In a traditional camera, you'd just adjust the aperture to compensate... and thus 'widen' the depth of field. But, since you're using a digital camera, that's not an option... and since you're using a macro setting, and maybe magnification, your depth of field shrinks even more! Now.. how do we correct it?


Below is a quick illustration of how you (probably) took that picture:




Notice how the feet are not on that plane, but the head and body are? Here's how you can correct the problem:




Seems like a simple fix, eh? Just make sure that the subject is in line with the back of the camera. This will make sure that you get most of the details of the mini within that narrow focal plane. The further 'off axis' your camera is, the more your details will fall out of focus.


Make sense? (I hope so! I've seen lots of articles that go into a lot mroe depth, but this simple fix usually works for macro photography... either that, or go out and buy a new camera that will accept a longer focal length lens!)


On the second and third, I'd say it's poor lighting, compounded by a lack of color correction post-photo. (Take a look at Aryanun's post above!)


Hope I've helped!

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Depth of Field isn't always a focal plane issue. I can be caused by by automatic Macro's who assume you want a shallow depth of field. Here are some examples:




The above image has a shallow depth of field. Notice that the flower is in focus, but the leaves and greenery around it are completely fuzzed out. This is what happens with most Macro modes on todays autofocus cameras.




Now notice how the leaves surrounding the above flower are clearer, sharper, and hold a lot more detail. This is because there is a greater depth of field. This effect can be controlled through the adjustment of your apeture and, occasionally, shutter speed.


To quote from an earlier post I made:


"Let's see if I can explain this better. Every lens has an Apeture setting, generally they run from F22 to F2.5 or thereabouts. In the lens is an iris "door" which controls the amount of light allowed through the lens. The numbers are often referred to as the "F-Stop" (thus the F in front of the number), and the higher the number, the smaller that iris door is.


This is where shutter speed comes in. Generally, the larger your apeture, the more "play" you have with your shutter speed. Shutter speed is how long the shutter of your camera is open to expose film to light.


How does this apply to digital cameras? The same basic rules apply towards shooting a picture. If your shutter speed is too slow and you're shooting pictures of cars, they're going to be blurry because the camera isn't closing the shutter fast enough, so it's recording that movement. If your apeture is too large and you're shooting a closeup of a flower, you could have the outer petals fuzzy and out of focus, the inside clean and crisp, and the background just something green and fuzzy.


So in close-up pictures, if you can adjust your apeture (look for it in the manual) then you'll want it set it to F22 or F11 for the clearest shot you can get of the whole mini. Also look for the term bracketing to see if this is possible with your camera. What bracketing does is takes a shot of your subject with it's best "choice" of apeture and shutter speed, then it stops down (closes the apeture) one to several stops below the "best" and it also stops up (opens the apeture) one to several steps above. By bracketing, you can find the best picture with best depth of field for your use.


...Close-up photography is really best done in a studio-type setting with static lighting, a camera stablized on a stand, and with the full kit-and-kaboodle of close-up lenses, step-rings, bellows, and whatnot with a completely manual camera for the best possible freedom to pick and choose what you want to do."


Since spending that kind of money isn't an option for most mini painters (since not everyone is a professional photographer), this is why I continually tell people to read their manual. Every digital camera is different in how it manages Depth of Field and Apeture control. Some cameras don't even allow it (although most good ones do).


Once I get a thorough article written about managing Depth of Field and shooting pictures of minis I'm going to submit it for posting either as a sticky here in Shutterbug, or in The Craft section of the main Reaper site. It depends on where Kit feels it is best suited.

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Thanks so much for the information given already -


Just a few notes:

I don't use a flash

I do use Macro mode

I do have photoshop and can use it reasonably well...


That said - maybe I do need more lights (diffusion is something I was just reading about at Dragon Miniatures in terms of a handmade diffusion box setup) so will look into that....


Manual - read it when I got it but lost many items in a move a few years ago and all my manuals was one of them...the sony site doesn't say too much as it is a quite old camera in terms of ability....


Anyone know where I can get hold of another manual - online even...


For now I'll tell you a little bit - of what I can access on the menu and if anyone knows - can you clue me in....


EV - from +2 to -2 (I have used this as exposure - the more towards negative it goes the darker the pic) Depends on where I am photographing, but usually a 0.


Focus - Multi AF, Center AF, 0.5m, 1.0m, 3.0m, 7.0m, infinity symbol - I usually use center AF


White Balance - Auto, Sun symbol (makes quite yellow), Cloud symbol (makes a bit red), Flourescent Bulb (long skinny tube) symbol (makes things quite blue), and a normal lightbulb symbol (makes things VERY teal). I usually use Auto.


Spot Meter - On/Off - I use on.


ISO - Auto, 100, 200, 300, 400 - I use Auto - have tried others but can't quite work it out.


Image Size - 640x480, 1280x960, 1600 (3:2), 1600x1200 - I use 1600 (3:2).


Picture Quality: Fine/Standard - I use fine.


Mode - Normal/Voice/Email - I use normal


Flash Level - Low/Med/High - I leave it off.


Picture Effects - None, Negative Art, Sepia, B/W, Solarize - I use none.


Sharpness - +2, +1, 0, -1, -2 - Usually leave on 0


Macro mode - On/Off - Auto Focus Only


So there you go - suggestions for camera settings - after I fix the lights and matt sealant issues....???



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Check out http://www.dpreview.com/. You can post to their forums and ask other uses of the camera (they have seperate forums depending on the brand of camera) where you might be able to find a manual (besides Ebay, of course) or if you can control the apeture setting and how to do it.



Edit: DPReview's stats of your camera.


Notice how the apeture and shutter priority says "No" in gray text? Chances are you cannot adjust for depth of field with this particular camera. You can try the change in focal plane as ThePolo suggested and see if that helps. Try to make certain your lens (not just the camera) is as level to your subject as possible. I can't guarantee that this will correct all the fuzziness.


You could try increasing the distance between your mini and the camera, rather than getting as close as possible and see if that helps.

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The digital cameras have an ISO number setting because you can adjust the sensitivity of the CCD recording the image. When set to a low ISO number, the camera exposes the CCD for the length of time necessary to properly expose the picture. With higher ISO settings, the camera amplifies the CCD signal to store the image. This gives the ability to shoot a reasonable exposure time in lower light conditions, but will result in digital noise appearing in the image (similar to the grain seen with high speed film). They could have used a different term, but the ISO number system is familiar to most film users, so I think they used it for convenience.


My camera has settings from 200 to 3200 ISO, but I use 200 or 400 for nearly everything I shoot.

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Okay - I think I got most of that - but do you use a lower setting ie 200 when you are taking pictures in darker or lighter ambient light?

Rule of thumb:


Opposites attract.


The higher the ISO/ASA rating, the less light required.


So something at a 100 ISO/ASA needs more light than something at 400. This is basically the "speed" of the film. Also, the higher the ISO/ASA rating, the bigger your grain (this is because on standard film cameras, higher film speeds contain more silver content and that is why 400 speed film is more expensive than 100 speed film). I don't understand yet how the speed factor attributes to "noise" or "grain" for digital cameras, yet, but part of me wants to think it's so people who want the grain for their pictures can access that (yes, I've actually used high (3200 ASA) speed B&W film before just for the grain aspect since it can add a subtle, yet distinct, mood to your final image).


Unfortnately, I've found that recent films are tending towards smaller grain, so it's harder to achieve some of the effects I enjoy when I take pictures.

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The settings would be greatly appreciated thanks!


And I am in the very slow process of trying to download the manual with a dial up connection ... :lol: See you next week about the results when it finally downloads....


ISO details - thanks heaps....not that I want grain in these but I have used Noise in Photoshop with web banners and such so I know what you mean...

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