Main purpose for camera will be to take pictures of machinists tools
and storage boxes that I have for sale. What do I need to spend for a
quality camera with good zoom capabilities? I'm not a photographer and
have no desire to be one. I'd like something that is easy and
I guess 5X optical is well. 5X is common now. The older L18 is 4X and
I'm happy with that.
I've had two cameras that suffered early deaths. A 4 MegaPixel Canon
died of motorized lens failure. That used to be a common issue with
Canon. And a chunky old 3 MP Nikon started shutting itself off within a
few seconds of being turned on.
Answering only in rec.crafts.metalworking -- I'm not sure that it
belongs in either newsgroup (other than the subject matter), but
certainly not in *both*.
You're in my killfile, so I did not see the original question,
and will likely not see your replies either, unless someone quotes you
as they did here.
A question occurs. Does this include shots of the tools in
individual drawers? If so, a lens with good macro capability is called
My preference (well out of the price range you are probably
looking at) is currently the Nikon D300s (actually, one without the 's'
suffix would suffice for what you want). For the lens -- skip the ones
which are often sold with that body, and go for the 28-105mm zoom (f:3.5
to f:4.5 depending on where in the zoom range you are). It has a switch
which allows you to go to a good macro mode, and the zoom range is
plenty for most things unless you are caught against a wall and can't
back away far enough for a larger tool). But it is going to add up to
well over $1000.00.
If you look at the somewhat lower priced ones in the two-digit
series (I had a D70 which I liked and which is now obsolete) -- be
careful to look at what lenses it will work with. Some of them may not
work with the lens I suggested.
That lens is the one I carry on my camera most of the time, and
in the macro mode it can take good shots a bit larger than your
The D70, the D300s, and others in those series use a special
Li-Ion battery which has a good charge life (and because it uses a true
eye-level viewfinder instead of using the display as a viewfinder, it
does not pull the battery down nearly as fast. Also, not that it
matters for your stated needs, you get quick response to a shutter
press, unlike the ones which use the display as a viewfinder, because
they need to jump through more hoops to do it properly.
Granted, I've been using interchangeable lens SLRs (film, and then
digital) since about 1964, and I like the way they feel.
[ ... ]
Depends on how good a camera. Mine allow you to take a test
shot of an 18" neutral gray card in the same illumination as the photos
will be, and use that for color correction.
But a pair of external strobe lights will work well, too. Skip
the one on the camera in most cases.
I thought we just had this conversation...
Fuji FinePix - any of the S or HS series.
Mine is an S8100, bought 5 years ago?
So it's "out of date".
I paid about $300 for it then.
The S4500 start about $150 now.
The AUTO setting has worked beautifully on all but the
most ridiculous shots.
(The lunar eclipse pics were ok, but not like a 300x telescope)
Don't get sucked in my massive mega pixel numbers.
It's a camera. You need good optics.
You want OPTICAL zoom. 18 to 24X
Totally ignore any digital zoom claims.
Macro and super macro settings.
That's for getting in close for small details.
Like condition of screw threads, for instance?
You can buy more expensive cameras.
But diminishing returns mean you have to spend a LOT more to get
anything noticeably better in performance.
For zoom / macro / macro zoom, one of the highest-recommended cameras
at the moment is the Canon PowerShot SX50 H, mid-$400's. I've been
told by a friend that macro was easier to use on this camera than on
all his other cameras.
Link 1: Fairly complete and detailed review
Links 2 & 3: Macro video with zoom
Link 4: Another review, with some macro photos & comments in it.
Link 5: Amazon sales page
Link 6: 58mm add-on lens sets for even more magnification
Link 7: A page from another review, with some macro photos & comments
Or a couple color corrected studio halogen lamps to get rid of all
shadows. That's how we did it at TV stations. Even if the camera does
auto balance, a too narrow spectrum lamp will cause false color
registration. Not that most people would notice, because they aren't
looking for it. It's really critical for 'Chroma Key' applications, so
that you don't reduce the spectrum to a few narrow bands. you need at
least a few degrees separation, if you don't want a partial overlay.
Here is what I got for exactly this use, and it has been
very satisfactory, and is a good general purpose camera.
If you don't have one, an adapter to directly read the SDHC
memory cards through a USB port can be very helpful. There
are several available for about the same price. One example
Closeup adapters and a polarizing filter can also be helpful
to allow closeups of fine details and cut sheen or glare.
As some one else mentioned, good lighting is more than half
A word of warning -- if you let it, photography will become
an end in itself and not just a tool to help move the
This is sort of like asking, "What is a good car to drive around town?"
Everyone will give you different answers based on what they assume you want
to pay and what they assume your tastes and quality expectations to be.
I think the first thing you should do is educate yourself at this site by
looking at their articles and buying guides, and browse the current models:
As others have noted, lighting is almost more important than the camera for
photographing objects. It all depends how fancy you want to get. Relying on
the camera flash usually does not give a great picture of metallic objects.
Personally, I use a 6-year-old Canon A710 which is fine for a smaller camera
but not made anymore.
My guess is the modern equivalent would work for you, although the larger
cameras with larger sensors do work better in low light and they usually
have better lenses. You also have to decide if you want interchangeable
lenses. Avoid any camera decorated in bright colors.
j> Main purpose for camera will be to take pictures of machinists tools
Others have given good advise...
Might I also suggest:
A Tripod. Doesn't need to be fancy/expensive... but if not really solid,
use it along with the camera's self timer to absolutely eliminate camera
movement. A Tripod will allow sharp shots in much lower light conditions.
Read up on how light meters work, and their 18% gray 'fetish', and when
to compensate for it with your camera's exposure compensation
control when shooting unusually light or dark subjects. This alone can
make a dramatic difference. (An example...ever notice how most all point
& shoot snow shots come out with the snow looking grey & dreary? But in
magazines and the like it's brilliant white as in real life?) Most
camera's, even low end point & shoot's usually have exposure
compensation controls... if the camera your considering doesn't, or if
it's buried and hard to access, I suggest looking at another. (Note, I'm
not suggesting you buy a separate light meter.) It's going to sound
'wrong', but basically you tell the camera to override the light meter
and increase the exposure in shooting light/bright subjects, and
decrease it for dark subjects.
Also a basic copy of Photoshop? they used to call it Photoshop Elements,
but I'm not sure about that anymore. Learn about using it to crop and
set the 'levels'. It's also great for dealing with file size management.
(Look for the 'Save For Web' item in the File menu.) You don't need the
full blown $$$ version of PS, and their are other applications that'll
do all the same things...
This site has a pretty good write up on basic image corrections:
(Yea yea, it's a scanning site I know, but this part pertains to most,
if not all digital images.)
In particular note the Simple Way To Get Better Scans under Scanning
201. It goes on for 10 or 12 pages, and'll take a few hours to absorb...
but you'll forever be rewarded with remarkably better results... no
matter what camera you get; fancy megabuck DSLR to bottom end point
I'v got a Lumix ZS7(?) and a very similar Nikon S8100. Over a year
old, so probably both unavailable now. Both were $200-300 range, and
much more convenient than a real DSLR. The Nikon is 10x optical, IIRC
the Lumix is a more. The Lumix is a bit better in some ways (built-in
GPS, more sturdy access flaps), but they're both quite good (big
irritation with the Lumix is that it won't charge from the USB cord..
maybe they've changed that on newer units). Don't overlook the
possiblity of doing video clips to demo stuff. You can stick it up on
Flickr or Youtube.
Easiest way to take good photos is to take the stuff outside on an
overcast day and use a decent tripod and set the camera to use the
timer or remote shutter release to keep the photo razor-sharp. You get
lots of diffuse light under those conditions. Inside it's harder- you
need light boxes or umbrellas, and diffusers on flashes if you must
use them (and key lights if you want to be an artiste). Don't forget
to set the color temperature to match the light if colors are at all
important. B&H sells a pocket color/gray card and software for color
correction for < $100.
Jon, My Canon ELPH 310 has served me well. Easy point and shoot, 8X
zoom, and you can make movies with sound with the push of a single
button. The body is metal, while many cameras like this have a plastic
I bought this after I thought we had lost our older Canon, which also
served me well.
Panasonic Lumix, or Sony DSCH*. Sony has 13/16" focal length in macro mode,
and I have taken some fantastic insect and flower parts pictures in that
mode. Either a good camera.
I have a Sony DSCH1, and had it so long I had to send it in for rebuild
after tens of thousands of real estate pictures. Wife dropped her Olympus,
and needed another. Got a like new DSCH1 on ebay for $60. No, not like
new, looked like first time out of box. Box, papers, and all. Panasonic
Lumix good, too.
Go to Steve's Digicams for reviews of him plus users. Don't know what Lumix
would be on ebay, but probably similar. My friend has one, and has some
fantastic pictures with fantastic depth of field focus of horse racing.
Lead horse in perfect focus, as well as through the pack, and dirt and
flying turds all in focus, too.
Read a bit and learn about depth of focus, and use it, and UNDERSTAND it.
Then put the camera in manual mode, or speed or aperture priority, and take
professional quality pictures in a very short time, and with repetitive