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Kharsin

Who's Using What?

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Just starting a general thread to see what equipment everyone is using to photograph their minis. Do you use a light tent? Dedicated camera or just a quick snap with a cell phone? What lighting do you use for pics?

 

Right now I'm using an iPhone 4 with an overhead kitchen light and an ott light overhead, with the occasional sun ray to help. Lol! I am looking for the charger for an old digital camera that took awesome macro pics... It's been missing for about 8 years or so, but I'm sure it's around here somewhere!  :rock:

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Nikon D7000 with an 18-200 lens. Lighting is either flash at 45 degrees to either side of the camera or desk lamps in the same place. Lamps are undiffused, but flash goes into shoot-through umbrellas.

 

Most of that is massive overkill, btw, but I'm a professional photographer, so I have it around.

 

Unless you know what you're doing, avoid light boxes or tents. By default they put light nicely on the sides and tops of figures, but not much on the front. And its the front that you want lit. (They're designed for nice light on shiny products, not nice light on faces.)

 

Also, I use a small piece of gray paper as a continuous background. Other colors take more work and understanding of how cameras work.

 

Also also, macro lenses on large-sensor cameras aren't actually very useful for shooting miniatures, as their depth of field is razor thin, even at small apertures. Small-sensor cameras have a much shorter hyperfocal distance and are much more likely to hold focus through the entire depth of the figure. (Focus stacking can fix this, but it's kind of a pain.)

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I use a Canon PowerShot SX260 HS.  It's the best camera I have ever owned.

 

For final shots and ones where I care about color, I use a light studio I built in my basement with a paper back drop and three Reveal flood lamps. I also use a tripod for these.  For WIP sculpting shots, I just put my OTT light close to the mini and take the shot.  The SX260 has excellent Macro stabilization and you really don't need the tripod with it.

 

Andy

Edited by TaleSpinner

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I used to use an old 2005 Canon Powershot with a light box and two side lights 45º ahead of the mini. On a tripod, manual mode with the macro option enabled. White balance set to my light box.

 

Now I'm learning to use a Canon T5i with an 18-135 lens, bit of a learning curve to it.

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Just got a NEW camera. The Galaxy Camera and I have a home-made light box that I constructed from a small cardboard box, cut out 3 sides and placed parchment paper into the cut-outs. The camera is pretty good, I'm still figuring out all the settings and learning how to use it, but I love that I can upload directly from my camera to G+, Facebook, Instagram, and Dropbox using Wi-Fi. 

 

I also have a nice big Sony DSLR that I don't like breaking out to use since it's a hassle to take pics, upload to computer, then upload them to a site. For most of my pictures I've been using my iPhone 5.

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Unless you know what you're doing, avoid light boxes or tents. By default they put light nicely on the sides and tops of figures, but not much on the front. And its the front that you want lit. (They're designed for nice light on shiny products, not nice light on faces.)

 

I was starting to come to that conclusion, as well (and I know practically nothing about photography).  I think I may have been getting some better pictures with a plain cardboard backdrop rather than a white-paper-and-parchment light box, but I need to test some more and verify this.

 

 

Also also, macro lenses on large-sensor cameras aren't actually very useful for shooting miniatures, as their depth of field is razor thin, even at small apertures. Small-sensor cameras have a much shorter hyperfocal distance and are much more likely to hold focus through the entire depth of the figure. (Focus stacking can fix this, but it's kind of a pain.)

 

I have no idea what you just said...  :lol:

 

(I kid, but not by much)

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I use this really cheap camera I found on sale a few years ago (Its made by GE if that means anything to anyone).

 

For WIP piccys, I just have the one desk lamp pointed at the mini on the painting desk. For finished piccys, I have this little stage I made out of an old box file (the lid makes a nice mottled grey background), with two desk lamps at 45o angles pointed at the mini.

 

Its a pretty basic and amateurish set-up, but my figures don't warrant anything fancier at the moment.

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Olympus E-M5 with a sigma 105mm macro or panasonic 25mm then crop. Also in the over kill category.

 

If your pictures are going to be sized for the internet virtually any camera from the past 5 years that retailed for more than $50 with it was first released or any "nice" point and shoot from the past 10 years is generally good enough. Learning to light your subject is miles ahead in importance over the camera as long as the camera isn't complete garbage. 

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Canon EOS 1100D with 2 6500K fluorescent bulbs, plus a third one when I need to fill in some shadows.

 

Originally I used a light box but since it didn't help with the frontal light (as explained above) I just tossed it to the side nowadays. 

 

That for final pics because of the hassle of setting up the tripod for the camera, the lights, etc... for WIP I just use my Motorola Rzr camera under good light. The auto-upload is the killer there (thanks Google!)

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Yeah I've been in the market for a Canon 60d for a while due to interests in stop motion animation, film, and photography. Of course we have two young children so my disposable income is almost moot! I need to find that old battery charger and probably pick up a secondary light source. I'll post the 2 sets of pics I took earlier when I get back home.

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Also also, macro lenses on large-sensor cameras aren't actually very useful for shooting miniatures, as their depth of field is razor thin, even at small apertures. Small-sensor cameras have a much shorter hyperfocal distance and are much more likely to hold focus through the entire depth of the figure. (Focus stacking can fix this, but it's kind of a pain.)

 

I have no idea what you just said...   :lol:

 

(I kid, but not by much)

 

 

So, in case I completely lost anyone else:

 

One of the actual challenges of shooting miniatures is that you want to get close enough to fill the frame with the figure. Whether you use a long lens to do this (stand back and zoom in) or a macro lens (get very, very close to the subject), you'll get a very thin slice in focus and anything nearer or farther away will be blurry. The depth of that slice of acceptably sharp image is referred to as "Depth of Field" or DoF.

 

DoF is related to distance from the lens and physical lens focal length (not "equivalent focal length", which is often advertised with cameras and camera phones). Big, expensive cameras have lenses in the 8mm (extreme wide angle, nearly 180 degree field of view) to 800mm (extreme telephoto range. The basic kit lens for both Nikon and Canon entry-level, crop sensor DSLRs is an 18-55mm zoom lens. For comparison, the iPhone 5 has a 4.1mm focal length (the Galaxy S4 is slightly longer). (Aperture used complicates things, but we'll leave that aside for now.)

 

When you're using a 100mm macro lens and filling the sensor with a miniature, your DoF is going to be about .04"/1mm (at f/16). When you're using a 4.1mm lens and filling the sensor with a miniature (at f/2.2), your DoF is going to be about 1"/25mm. Macro lenses can get you a painfully sharp photo of a single eye of a miniature. Shooting the whole figure at a distance where the macro lens actually helps will not give you a sharp image.

 

If you need better DoF, you can take many photographs, moving the camera half a millimeter closer (or farther away) with each shot and combine the sharp parts into a single image. (Focus stacking.) This should be done with a macro rail*, because otherwise alignment will be ... non-trivial.

 

HTH

 

* Not intended to be an endorsement of that product. It was just one of the first that came up on a search.

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I probably just need to take a leisure learning photography course. I've always wanted to learn photography, but my wife bought a camera and wanted photography to be "her" thing (apparently I take over and dominate in areas of interest... she's got crochet all to herself though...) I've just got to set aside the disposable income to purchase something refurbished... and purchasing mini supplies isn't helping! LOL!
 
INCIDENTALLY! Here are the comparison shots I took earlier with my crummy iPhone camera (it's a 4):
 
Well never mind. I can't figure out how to add pic attachments in the middle of the forum. I'm guessing you can only attach pics when you start a feed?

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I knew about Depth of Field (from gaming, actually), and it's the issue I see the most with my own photos. For example, if the figure's hand is extended toward the camera, either the hand will be in focus, or the body will be.  Is there a way to increase DoF, or know how to find a camera's "sweet spot" for it (assuming that's relevant)?

 

I have a Canon digital camera (I'll have to check the model, but it's several years old), and like I said above DoF-blurriness is one of the more common issues I have.  The camera's screen is so small, it's hard to tell whether I'm getting a good focus on the figure.

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Short lens, small aperture (large f/stop number), increased distance from camera to subject (which doesn't go well with "short lens"). These are the things that give you increased DoF.

 

Caveat: at very small apertures (usually above f/16), you'll get diffraction softening that will cause the in-focus parts of the image to be blurrier.

 

Turning the figure so you need less DoF is often a useful trick.

 

The size of the screen can be a real problem for smaller cameras. Can you do manual focus? Can you zoom in on the preview screen on the camera back to see only a small section of the image? For critical focus issues (I use it when shooting fabric weave details, for instance), I'll use live view, zoom in to 10X, and manually focus, but that might not be possible for your camera.

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