model photography and DSLRs query

Question to digital SLR owners who know how to take decent shots. Model photography involves consideration of depth of field, get it wrong and
the wingtips are out of focus for example. There are times when the depth of field lines on a camera lens need to get used, that is if you have a sensible lens with these on it. Method being this:- fit model into viewfinder frame focus on nearest part of model and read focus distance off lens body, e.g.1ft focus on farthest prt of model visible in final shot, read that distance, e.g. 2ft 6inch Now rotate lens until both distances fit between the same f number on the dof lines, say f16 accomodates them now take shot...if with flashgun then i know what distance it must be from model to give me f16, as I shoot total manual.
In a hurry aim and focus a third of the way into the subject, where the hyperfocal distance usually is but it becomes 50% in on close to stuff so they say., but sometimes there is nothing on the model that is where this third or half way in is, certainly nothing focusable on.
DOF technique even more important when down level with model getting a realistic angle on it, something I like doing, and necessary with figure vignettes (groups !).
With Digital SLR's how does one do this dof thing at a busy show where tripod usage is impractical and fiddling around with dof charts archaic and slow for me, as someone sugested as the way with the Nikon D70 ..sort of space age meets bronze age ? I studied one and no way, anyhow I dont see other DSLR owners fiddling with charts ! I am considering Nikon D70 or Canon 20D. Latter has A-DEP mode, from what I hear you enter A-DEP mode, compose picture then part press shutter and the focusing points glow red showing what near and far points it has seen, it then sets itself up for the shot. Thats prone to disaster, they are not distributed near the edge of the picture enough to get a near and far wingtip in their sights when looking down onto a model, the usual table top shot. Worse still they are not going to see a port wingtip up at photo top to focus on then realise that the stbd undercarriage unit just visible behind the port unit is the farthest point needed in focus, the focus thingy instead concentrating its efforts on the nearer port unit ! Am I right with this, do correct me please any 20D owner as I am considering this DSLR along with the Nikon D70. I somehow dont trust 'auto' to know or see which bits of a model I need as being at the very least in focus. 35mm film experience gives me f16 as minimum entry level aperture for wingtip to wingtip focus.
JUST HOW IS IT DONE ?
Furthermore, I sometimes use two flashguns, main via pccord cable 3ft to model giving f16, slave light activated set to give f11. What setup should I get to achieve 2 gun lighting ? I have seen peeps using tripod and existing light and setting white point, ok if lighting ok, if I want a sunshine with shadows effect then its perhaps flash. Can one get away with no tripod and existing indoors light but minimal noise I wonder ?
Steve
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Hi Steve,
First off, DoF is for both film & digital as you see the effect through the lens. Advantage of digital is you see the results straight away.
DoF works via a button or lever and all it is doing is closing down the aperure ring while you look through the lens. While the larger number you use makes it darker to see through, ie F16, if you look at the edges of the object/model and compare it with a setting of F5.6 you will see there is more in focus at F16.
Also, could you expand by what you mean when talking model pictures? I think, since you mention wingtips, aircraft models, (which I happen to build), or as I first though models as in people?
For model aircraft pics I'd say get a dedicated flashgun for whichever camera you choose and place a diffuser on top, which either Sto-Fen or Lumiquest will have something suitable, to provide soft even lighting. Then experiment with your settings in aperture priority, F5.6-F16 and it depends on how well your lens macro is for close-ups.
I'd also have a go at using both with and with-out flash and play around with the ASA/ISO settings and deciding on results.
Cheers, Stephen
Cheers, Stephen

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SL wrote:

No, he is referring to a special focusing mode some cameras have. My Canon film camera has it and by doing a two step prefocus (nearest point then farthest point) with a third final focus on the center of the subject it will "supposedly" automatically set everything for full DOF. This does not work well for closeups.
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snipped-for-privacy@blueyonder.co.uk says...

The D70 has a button that you press to close the diaphragm to whatever value the computer selected. This shows you the DoF in the viewfinder.

Well, it is NOT, repeat, NOT done in a hurry. Nope. No way. Most of the better photos you see were taken with the camera on a tripod, a bunch of flashguns (okay, at least two, with one shooting into a reflector), diaphragm screwed all the way in (we're talking f:32 or more, here), manual focus and with a camera that can do at least basic TTL flash exposure. And a bunch of bodyguards to shoulder people away...
I don't know the Canon, but the D70 is my fourth Nikon body, in addition to an F2, an F801s (N8008s in the US, I think) and an F4. I've been shooting a lot of macrophoto, at repro ratios rations from 2:1 to 1:30, and I must say that while the D70 is ok for close-ups, it is remarkably inadequate for serious macro work :
- you can use most AF lenses, but to use the camera to the full extent of its capabilities, you need at least an AF-D lens. If you use an Ai-S lens, or any equipment that sits between the lens and the body, such as a bellows, extension rings, or focal multipliers other than the most recent generation (AF-S & AF-I), you lose ALL exposure metering. - TTL flash exposure is possible ONLY with the two dedicated flashguns (SB-800 & SB-600). If you want to use, say, the SB-29 macro flash, more than one flashgun or any flashgun other than the two above mentiones, you're on your own. - no socket for a remote trigger (except Nikon's IR remote), so you have to fiddle with the delay to avoid shaking the camera when you press the trigger. - AF and macrophotography do not like each other.

If you have a camera that can do TTL flash exposure, you can set your flashguns as you like, the camera will take care of the rest. And with a digital SLR, you can experiment as much as you like. A neutral setup is one flashgun close to the subject at a 45 angle (preferably with a softening filter), a reflector on the opposite side (to light deep shadows), and a second flashgun to fill the background. If there's little or no background, the second flashgun can be used instead of the reflector.
Using a 105mm macro lens instead of the more common 65mm lets you achieve 1:1 reproduction ratios from a little further away. Do not worry about the DoF, it depends only on the diaphragm and reproduction ratio, not on the focal length.
The basic rules boil down to:
- manual focus - camera on a tripod. Always. A heavy tripod identifies you as a professional photographer (as well as a heavily armed guy) which makes people less likely to argue with you when you start to elbow your way to a better point of view - as much light as you can afford. Flashguns, reflectors, candles, sun, moon, lightbulbs, Nubian slaves carrying torches, it's your pick. But you can't have too much light. Besides, it looks very professional. - your worst enemy is the camera's exposure computer. Get to know your enemy. - your second worst enemy is the shadow of the lens, ex aequo with the fingerprint - lots of time and no cats. - beer is a good idea, too.
--
-sdg

"Un gromono, mon royaume pour un gromono!"
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D70 is fantastic camera but the kit lens is not a true macro. Camera/sensor behaves like slide not film, blown highlights are not recoverable. I shoot raw and use a custom curve. I would look at my website to see a cheap solution to the close up problem. http://members.tripod.com/danrutman/Web/Index.html
Best Regards
Dan

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On Tue, 1 Feb 2005 21:35:22 +0100, Serge D. Grun

Although my method has less operating advantages than a good/heavy tripod, I used to bear a second (out-of-order) camera body, with the "alternative" lens mounted. I thus obtained a more "pro" look and both focal ranges at hand.
-- SNAFU
NOTA: per scrivermi in privato, sostituisci "pvtsnaphoo" con "pvtsnafu" NOTE: if you want to send me e-mail, just replace "pvtsnaphoo" with "pvtsnafu"
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wrote:
[stuff snipped]

All good points, (especially the Nubian slave torch-bearing entourage) but the one thing I've seen in many, many model photos is that the photographer shoots from too high above the subject, usually because the model is on a table below them. The end result is that you are always looking at the top of the subject. Model photographers need to get down and shoot more from the table level. The lack of a proper angle can make or break a shot. You will encounter depth-of-field issues more from a lower angle - it might help to back up a bit and use a small telephoto.
John Hairell ( snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com)
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John Hairell wrote:

I have always maintained (and talked about this in an article long ago in Scale Auto Enthusiast) that there are two kinds of model pictures; the 'model as art object' and realistic photos.
The most common kind seen in mags is the 'model as art object'. This is typically shot from a higher angle, against a featureless, bland background, and with flat lighting.
The other kind, rarer, but the kind I like to shoot myself, is the 'realistic' photo, where you try to make the model look like its prototype. You need a realistic background (either an actual scene, or photo backdrop). Sunlight is by far the best light for this type of photo. One should take the picture with the center of the camera lens about a scale height of five feet above the surface the model is on.
Look at some of the model pictures on my web site, as in;
http://www.usfamily.net/web/stauffer/carmod.html
or
http://www.usfamily.net/web/stauffer/airmod.html
for models shot against photo backdrops.
I keep looking for more backdrop scenes, and photograph them. I used to get negative printed by companies that would make large prints. Then I bought a large format printer, 11 x 17 capable, and now print them myself.
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DoF is not related to the type of media used (digital vs. film). It is a function of the cameras optical path.
You increase the depth of field by increasing the f stop (making the aperture smaller). That is why pinhole cameras have a great depth of field (their apperture is very small).
Also, from my experience, the wider angle lens will give you greater depth of field (at the same aperture). For example(using the 35mm lingo): Picture taken with a 50mm lens at f22 will have less depth of field than a picture taken with a 28mm lens at f22.
Also, the wide angle lens exaggarates the perspective which makes the models appear larger. When I take model photos, I prefer wide angle lenses.
And usually the wide angle lens is able to focus closer than a standard lens. When I take pictures of 1:25 scale cars, I use a straight 28mm lens. If I need to get closer, I use an extension ring. But a close up attachment lens would also work.
And, since you need to use small appertures, you need lots of light and longer exposure times. Flash might or might not work in all situations. And a tripod usage is pretty much given.
Same theory applies to digital cameras. Actually a funny fact is that many inexpensive Digital cameras give a great depth of fiels because they use very small lenses (by design). That is similar to using small apertures on 35mm SLR cameras.
All the Digital cameras in my price range only stop down to f8. But that f-stop is equivalent to a higher f stop in the larger SLR lenses (at least that is how I understand).
HTH, Peteski
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Steve wrote:

Learn to set the image output as maximum sized .tif or .raw format, set the f-stop as high as possible for the lens, stand back and crop later with software at which point you can also post-process and dork with white balance. Only foolproof way for fast and dirty shots with full DOF.
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Actually, the DSLR is the one form of digicam that WILL give you this, just like a film SLR. Non SLR digitals do NOT. However, since I cannot afford a DLSR, I still use my film SLR for model photography. Non-SLR digitals use an LCD readout for focus. Non that I am aware of have enough resolution on that LCD screen for accurate focusing. Many do not even have dof preview.
So if you can AFFORD a dslr, you are okay. Otherwise, I do not recommend a non SLR digital, no matter what the resolution (# of pixels).
Even though I use film for model work, I still can do digital processing- I have a decent scanner.
Steve wrote:

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in article snipped-for-privacy@individual.net, Don Stauffer in Minneapolis at snipped-for-privacy@usfamily.net wrote on 2/2/05 8:38 AM:

As an aside to this discussion of DSLRs, I just noticed that Nikon is offering a $200 rebate on their basic DSLRs until March 31. That puts the cheaper one down below the $1K mark. Other cameras such as the CoolPix 8700 only offer a $50 rebate.
I've been using a CoolPix 990 for several years and love it almost as much as my Canon F1.
MB
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LOL! Yeah, when I was in my early twenties, crouching was easy. Now that I'm in my late twenties (very late!) <rim shot> crouching is a party I like to avoid. Quarter/plan views rock! Beers,
The Keeper (of too much crap!)
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Keeper wrote:

I made a folding 'model photography bench' just for taking pictures outside (see previous post- I use sunlight exclusively). It is rickety and lacks some features I have decided I need, so this winter I am designing and will build a new bench. Lighter and sturdier, I hope.
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Keeper wrote:

In our late, lamented hobby shop here the guy in charge of stocking the shelves redesigned things so that the 1/72nd stuff was on the lower shelves. I protested that he was going to have a bunch of mature modellers either stuck in a crouch in the aisle or sprawled all over it. Oh do my knees hate crouching!
Bill Banaszak, MFE
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