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Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: olnacl
Date: January 14, 2014 05:12PM
It's been a while since I've been on the forum, but I recall a number of experienced photogs who are members. I've been asked to help an elderly gentleman who's in the process of creating a "coffee table book" that chronicles his late wife's artistry both in painting and sculpture. His needs are the ability to take a picture that will print up to 11 x 14 at 300 ppi. He hired a pro to take the pictures, but when he sent them to the woman who's doing the pre-press work, she explained that the pictures were too small to be printed full page at high quality. She needs 300 ppi. I have a Samsung that fills the bill as far as picture size at 300 ppi but the color rendition is less than what he's looking for and the lens has pincushion issues especially noticeable when taking pictures of framed paintings.

The gentleman has a budget of $1000 to spend on a camera/lens. He'll be traveling over the state to homes of people who purchased his wife's work, taking pictures and then sending them to the printing person. Accurate color rendition is critical. I realize that's a tough call, but if anyone has experience and is willing to make recommendations I'd sure appreciate the input.

Cheers, Richard

Screenshot sample:




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/14/2014 05:30PM by olnacl.
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: DP
Date: January 14, 2014 05:30PM
Good to hear from you, Ol' Salt!
Any of the newer Canon Rebel types should work. My old XTi is a 10 mp chip that outputs a 12.96" x 8.64" @ 300ppi image. The newer ones are 18mp. Should also be around $600. You may need a better lens tho... I have a Tamron 28-75mm f2 aspherical-which means barrel or pincushion distortion is reduced. On an APS-C chip camera like the Rebel it'll act like a 42-105mm (approx).
Distortions can be fixed in Photoshop too.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/14/2014 05:36PM by DP.
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: DP
Date: January 14, 2014 05:43PM
A T4i with kit lens at Amazon is $700.
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: olnacl
Date: January 14, 2014 05:46PM
Going back 40 years ago, when I was doing this sort of thing with film - would including a gray scale in the frame help in getting the colors/exposure right and/or making corrections after the fact?
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: DP
Date: January 14, 2014 05:52PM
I'm also thinking a color chart too. And maybe a light kit if the pictures he finds are in dark or odd places.
I'm finding it hard to believe that a "pro" wouldn't know to produce a hi rez image. Something not right there.
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: mstudio
Date: January 14, 2014 06:04PM
Quote
DP
I'm also thinking a color chart too. And maybe a light kit if the pictures he finds are in dark or odd places.
I'm finding it hard to believe that a "pro" wouldn't know to produce a hi rez image. Something not right there.


Yes, color and grey scale. I, too, am having a problem with a professional not giving hi-res images. Maybe your friend needs to talk to the photographer.
That being said, does your friend have the expertise to shoot these images? As we all know, just because you can afford a fancy camera does not mean you automatically know how to use it...
I just finished shooting for an Art Book and even though I've been doing this for 40 something years now, the job had it's challenges.
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: olnacl
Date: January 14, 2014 06:06PM
Yeah, calling oneself a pro doesn't make it so. Business card printing is cheap. I guess that's why the gentleman is just biting the bullet and planning to do the pictures himself. I suggested renting a camera, but since he has to travel to gather the pictures over a period of weeks, maybe months, he figures he may just as well buy one for himself. I'm trying to help, but my experience was years ago with a Nikon F2, a Hasselblad 500C, a Pentax 6x7 and a 4x5 view camera. A jump to the digital cameras today.

I see most of the Canon reviews are good.
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: Uncle Wig
Date: January 14, 2014 06:11PM
The problem with this project as I see it has less to do with the camera, but with the plan of going into people's homes to photograph these pieces while expecting accurate colors. Lighting is a bigger problem than the camera! He won't be able to get usable results with the camera's on board flash. But I think you already know that.

17" x 11.33" = 5100 x 3400 pixels. So, for example, my Pentax k-5 which has a 16.1 MP sensor produces files of 4928 x 3264 pixels. You can generally place an image into a document in a desktop publishing application at 120% to 125% without degrading image quality so, any camera with a 16 MP sensor or better will provide enough resolution. More would be desirable of course, to allow for cropping, although files can be resampled and enlarged in Photoshop with good results (most of the stock photos on Alamy, for example, are scaled up.) You do not need to worry or care whether the photos you take are 72 ppi or 300 ppi as you shoot. The prepress person will do that conversion.

And as has been pointed out, you'll want a lens that introduces a minimal amount of pincushion/barrel distortion. You'll also want a lens that is sharp not only in the center but at the corners.



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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: freeradical
Date: January 14, 2014 06:12PM
Wouldn't a 4x5 view camera with movements be the only way to ensure everything is in focus?

You could shoot 120 film with the right back, and there are of course digital backs as well.
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: olnacl
Date: January 14, 2014 06:14PM
Quote
mstudio
Quote
DP
I'm also thinking a color chart too. And maybe a light kit if the pictures he finds are in dark or odd places.
I'm finding it hard to believe that a "pro" wouldn't know to produce a hi rez image. Something not right there.


Yes, color and grey scale. I, too, am having a problem with a professional not giving hi-res images. Maybe your friend needs to talk to the photographer.
That being said, does your friend have the expertise to shoot these images? As we all know, just because you can afford a fancy camera does not mean you automatically know how to use it...
I just finished shooting for an Art Book and even though I've been doing this for 40 something years now, the job had it's challenges.

No, he doesn't. He's struggling with my Samsung P&S. I guess I'm hoping if we work together with the paintings on the walls in his home and the sculptures, we'll both learn enough for him to get by when he travels on his own. I kinda roped myself into this when I got into a conversation with him and I tried to give him some 40 year old advice on things to be careful of. The next thing I knew I was in his house with my camera and tripod. Some people just have a gift of gab. Mainly, I'm trying to dissuade him from doing this on his own and hire a "real" pro, but then the travel issue rears its ugly head.

Thanks for any and all help!
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: archipirata
Date: January 14, 2014 07:12PM
1st thing as has been mentioned is to ensure color accuracy via a color checker system such as like X-Rite or similar, $100. This will allow whoever is editing the images to get the color balanced for all the shots. This is really critical when trying to capture and reproduce images of artworks. How long will the traveling take? While there are a number of systems that could provide excellent results, renting a full frame body might be an option. places like [www.borrowlenses.com] and others offer rentals by the day, week, and month and may allow you to get a higher level camera than you could afford to buy. The key will be how long it is needed for. As far as a lens, you want to get the best sharpness for your money. Maybe something like a 50mm f/2.8, stopped down most brand name 50mm lenses are very sharp. You'll also need a good solid tripod. Of course this all assumes a decent knowledge of photographic technique the basics of exposure. Otherwise just go with a 16-18mp point-and-shoot and a tripod and the color checker.



Athens, OH
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: Dik2
Date: January 14, 2014 09:24PM
I suggest a used Canon Rebel,a hot shoe flash, and used Tamron 90mm Macro lens, an X -Rite Color checker, and
Polarizing filters for lens and for the flash. (the flash filter can be from a cheap pair of polarized sunglasses).
Shine a flashlight through the sunglasses filter and view it through the camera filter, rotating the camera filter for darkest image. note the position of the filter, and keep it constant.

When shooting, move off axis enough that you would not see the camera reflected in a mirror the size of the art work, then move a little more off axis.
This, combined with the polarizing, will eliminate reflections fron your light.
The long working distance you get with the 90mm on a crop body will even out the light across the painting, and the macro lens has almost zero distortion.
The perspective distortion caused by shooting off axis can be easily corrected in Photoshop, just make note of the original dimensions, so you can get the proportions correct.

Sculpture's another story altogether.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/14/2014 09:26PM by Dik2.
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: olnacl
Date: January 15, 2014 06:02AM
Thanks to everyone for the tips and advice. I'll research further and I think the color checker will be a "must have". We may get some good pictures yet!
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Re: Camera purchase advice for painting and sculpture photography
Posted by: DP
Date: January 15, 2014 06:05AM
Quote
Dik2
I suggest a used Canon Rebel,a hot shoe flash, and used Tamron 90mm Macro lens, an X -Rite Color checker, and
Polarizing filters for lens and for the flash. (the flash filter can be from a cheap pair of polarized sunglasses).
Shine a flashlight through the sunglasses filter and view it through the camera filter, rotating the camera filter for darkest image. note the position of the filter, and keep it constant.

When shooting, move off axis enough that you would not see the camera reflected in a mirror the size of the art work, then move a little more off axis.
This, combined with the polarizing, will eliminate reflections fron your light.
The long working distance you get with the 90mm on a crop body will even out the light across the painting, and the macro lens has almost zero distortion.
The perspective distortion caused by shooting off axis can be easily corrected in Photoshop, just make note of the original dimensions, so you can get the proportions correct.

Sculpture's another story altogether.

Sorry, I disagree with flash on camera and offset shooting. You'll have to correct the perspective afterwards-why add extra work? Two flash units on stands is a cheap and effective method. Just keep them at 45ยบ angles to the painting so there isn't a direct reflection on the art. Polarizing would help but isn't critical. I've done copy work without polarizing and it's turned out just fine.
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