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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> What camera to buy for clothing photography ?
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07/09/2006 02:07:11 PM · #1
I want to buy a new camera but the decision has to be the right one due to tight funds. Right now I have to take studio photos in my basement for my vintage lingerie website. I have a very limited 6-year-old Fuji 1.3 mp camera (don't laugh) that I've been struggling with lately. Photos are slightly fuzzy and the main problem is and has always been that I can't capture reds, oranges purples or yellows at all even with changing backgrounds and white balance adjustments. I use photography lighting but there are flourescent lights overhead that I'm stuck with. I take photos of the lingerie on mannequins and need to get true colors and clear, detailed close-ups. I also use a tripod and like to frame the shot with an LCD panel.

Last year I bought two Canon cameras (Rebel and a less expensive one that I don't remember) and I returned both of them. The Rebel was too advanced for me and indoor shots came out very grainy. Honestly, I purchased it at Circuit City and I think it was defective. So Canon is out and I think DSLRs are too complicated. Or are they for the amateur?

Should I buy Fuji, Olympus or Nikon or something else? Which one would you recommend for indoor photography? The Digital Photo Reviews aren't helpful because I really like to read reviews from actual users rather than "experts". Thanks for any advice you may have for me!
07/09/2006 02:13:23 PM · #2
fuji F10 F20 or F30

oh btw: I think canon makes some of the best point and shoots out there as well you shouldn't rule them out completely.

Message edited by author 2006-07-09 14:14:08.
07/09/2006 02:18:13 PM · #3
Love my Canon Powershot.
07/09/2006 02:51:55 PM · #4
If you want to go point and shoot, I would recommend Canon or Panasonic. Indoor shots will always be grainy cause of low light. You will have to get it real bright for good photos.

Message edited by author 2006-07-09 14:52:49.
07/09/2006 03:17:36 PM · #5
For the best results you will probably want to use a flash, and I would recommend an off-camera flash that connects to your camera using a hot shoe. So I'd recommend a camera with a hot shoe and buying a flash with an adjustable head (so you can bounce the light off the ceiling for a smoother result).

Using the onboard flash you'll get somewhat harsh results (especially on light coloured clothes). With no flash you will suffer from grain or a swooshy shot.
07/10/2006 12:37:39 PM · #6
A couple of suggestions...

Go out and find a couple of lampstands. Garage sales are good...

Stick IDENTICAL 20-22W Color corrected Philips Fluorescent bulbs on them... Use lampshades or bent hangers or whatever to make softboxes for them using a light gauze or something... nothing too crazy... just something to take the edge off... I like white plastic bags myself... Pillowcases are also used by some, but be careful about matching colors... The bigger the better, but don't forget that the bigger the softboxes are, the stronger the lights need to be... Because they aren't strong, you will need to compensate with exposure... 1-2 second exposures or even longer might happen. Be careful about the heat from the bulbs on the softbox material... Less of an issue with fluorescents, but it's still an issue.

Shut OFF the overhead light. Your color temperature issues just got simpler.

Get a long peice of string that won't stretch much...

Set the lamps at roughly equal distance from the mannequin.

Find some way to attach the string to the center point of your mannequin and measure out to the center point of one of your lampstands... Mark the string and use it as a measure for the other lampstand... Now you have balanced light sources... you can start to experiment with different balances if you like, but for your needs, a balanced approach is probably best.

Flash light is cool, but it makes things a lot more complicated because it's hard to meter for flash and not all P&S cam's can deal with this very well... Also, using flash will keep you dependent on that overhead light for working with... This will force you into a situation with mixed color temperatures... IE nightmare situations!

If you still feel that you need a new camera, check for something that has RAW and you will get a lot more freedom with your color correction...

If it were me, I'd probably shoot everything between f/4.0 and 5.0... Best for lens sharpness and not half bad for DOF...

Of course, if things iron themselves out with the lighting suggestions above, you can feel free to get any camera you like... In P&S sizes, I don't usually recommend more than 6 or 7 megapixels, so be careful of those crazy 9-10MP cams... eek. Totally unnecessary for your needs.

Canon does indeed make good P&S cams, and I'm a big fan of the ones that have a flip out and twist LCD screen personally... especially for solo tripod work...

If you have any sample pics, you can post them here or PM and I'll try my lousy hand at PS...

I'm sure others around here would have suggestions too...

I'm not an expert...
07/10/2006 06:43:16 PM · #7
eschelar,

Thank you for your excellent lighting suggestions - they sound like great ways attempt correcting the photo colors until I buy my new camera. Although I've been taking product photos for about 7 years, they were mostly for Ebay. Now that I have my own website, I want to take more advanced, professional photos. You are right that I don't want to use flash. While a professional will know how to manipulate it, I don't really have the time, patience or money right now to study the correct way to do it. I do have photos with red clothing but I compressed them and they really look fuzzed - I will take new ones and show you the results under my current lighting situation.

What do you think of a Nikon D50? I know it is an DSLR but maybe I can give one another try. Here is a potentially silly question - can the shot be framed in the LCD panel or only through the viewfinder? Here is another one - what is DOF? I guess I'm showing my lack of photographic knowledge but I am an eager student! One day I aspire to enter a photo in a DP challenge.

Also, thank you to everyone who did take the time to offer their suggestions.
07/10/2006 08:25:58 PM · #8
Originally posted by vintagegirl:

eschelar,

Thank you for your excellent lighting suggestions - they sound like great ways attempt correcting the photo colors until I buy my new camera. Although I've been taking product photos for about 7 years, they were mostly for Ebay. Now that I have my own website, I want to take more advanced, professional photos. You are right that I don't want to use flash. While a professional will know how to manipulate it, I don't really have the time, patience or money right now to study the correct way to do it. I do have photos with red clothing but I compressed them and they really look fuzzed - I will take new ones and show you the results under my current lighting situation.

What do you think of a Nikon D50? I know it is an DSLR but maybe I can give one another try. Here is a potentially silly question - can the shot be framed in the LCD panel or only through the viewfinder? Here is another one - what is DOF? I guess I'm showing my lack of photographic knowledge but I am an eager student! One day I aspire to enter a photo in a DP challenge.

Also, thank you to everyone who did take the time to offer their suggestions.


Eschelar's lighting suggestions are excellent, and you will need to do something like this no matter what camera you buy or the colors will be horrible. I have done the same thing successfully with 500w halogen garage lights but they get very HOT and need care to make sure you don't burn your house down, the fluros are a better idea.

If your camera has custom white balance set it up for the lighting you are using. Pointing the camera at a sheet of white paper gives a pretty good result. You may have to dig out the manual but its worth it for the better colors. Make sure your new camera has custom white balance.

Make sure you use your tripod as this is not bright lighting and the exposure time will be quite long. If your camera has a self timer use that too - it helps reduce camera shake as you press the shutter. When you first press the button the camera and tripod may be vibrating a little, if the camera waits a few seconds to take the picture this should have settled and you will get a sharper image as the camera is now still. Again make sure your new camera has a self timer or a remote control - makes it much easier to get sharp pics.

From what I have read above you are not someone who gets into the advanced settings on their camera. I would not recommend a dSLR like the D50 as you will not get the benefits without exploring the advanced settings, and some simple stuff gets harder e.g. you cannot use the LCD screen for framing your pic.

DOF is depth of field. Shallow depth of field means only objects at a certain distance is in focus, anything closer or further away is blurry. I'm not sure if your camera will allow you to change the aperture anyway, a larger aperture e.g f11 will give you great DOF but a very long exposure, a small one e.g. f2.8 will allow more light in giving you a shorter exposure but shallow depth of field. f4.0-f5.6 will give you a good compromise for most situations. Point and shoot cameras (i.e. not dSLRs) generally have pretty good depth of field for most situations so its not something you need to worry about too much.
07/10/2006 08:30:44 PM · #9
Originally posted by PaulMdx:

For the best results you will probably want to use a flash, and I would recommend an off-camera flash that connects to your camera using a hot shoe. So I'd recommend a camera with a hot shoe and buying a flash with an adjustable head (so you can bounce the light off the ceiling for a smoother result).


I have just the setup you are describing...

//www.dpchallenge.com/forum.php?action=read&FORUM_THREAD_ID=422455

Check it out, the camera will shoot in great detail and I have an off-camera flash cord and flash included.
07/10/2006 08:42:31 PM · #10
Originally posted by vintagegirl:


What do you think of a Nikon D50? I know it is an DSLR but maybe I can give one another try. Here is a potentially silly question - can the shot be framed in the LCD panel or only through the viewfinder?


Only the Olympus E330 dslr has that feature. Lot's of folks moving up from an older camera misses that feature. All other dSLR makes you look through the viewfinder. Or buy a Zigview device that you can put onto the viewfinder and display on a lcd what the viewfinder is showing.

Originally posted by vintagegirl:


Here is another one - what is DOF? I guess I'm showing my lack of photographic knowledge but I am an eager student! One day I aspire to enter a photo in a DP challenge.


Depth of Field is basically what or how much of a subject is in focus.
07/10/2006 11:22:24 PM · #11
I don't really feel that you would benefit in any real way by going DSLR if these are your photographic goals.

If you did want to go that route, I'd say stick with Canon, because to get the DOF you want for fashion photography, you will probably want a deeper DOF... On a P&S, that should be easily accomplished at f/4. On a DSLR, you will probably need to use at least f/8 or smaller...

Because of the way you are going to shoot, you will need to use long shutter speeds. This is the weak area of CCD sensors as they have more noise... Noise can be dealt with of course, but at the cost of fine detail...

I'd recommend sticking with the 350XT... It's all in how you use it.

The OLY does have the live preview, but if you read up on it on DPReview, you will find that it probably isn't what you are looking for...

Honestly, I think you will be able to accomplish most of your goals with a decent P&S with a flip and twist screen.

The Canon G series has that as do some others...

I personally tend to prefer Canon because most of their P&S cameras have full manual controls. (sadly, this is decreasingly so...)
There are some other cameras out there that have some beneficial qualities.

I think that keeping it simple is going to work well with you.
You can have a great deal of control how you picture looks by spending an hour or so just shooting different shutter speeds at f/4.5 or whatever you decide you like best.

So, shoot in Av, flash OFF at f/4.5 and just take 10 shots at different shutter speeds, keeping it organized by going in one direction and then going the other direction. (faster/slower)

And yeah, use self-timer... I like 4 seconds or more myself... I think most P&S cams have a variable self-timer...

For what it's worth, I actually have a Canon S2 IS for the specific set of features that a P&S offers. It's light (so works fine on a cheap tripod), has a flip and twist screen, adjustable self-timer and everything except the manual focus can be easily controlled.

I like to use it for macro work.

I also have an angle viewfinder for my DSLR, but I find it easier to use the LCD for some things...

Oh yeah, DOF is something that is used to highlight the subject...

Ideally with fashion photography, you want the entire subject in focus, from the front to the back (to show the detail in the clothing), but you don't want to see detail on the background... It's much easier to manage this if you have a very clean background of course, that way if it is more in focus, you will get much less distraction.

If you want a great example, Martin Perrault shoots some mind-blowing stuff... His control of light is almost as breathtaking as his models... (it has to be because his primary subject is usually highly reflective)

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Their original purpose was fashion photography, so you see that reflected in his work. His models are pretty much always sharp all the way through the image and detail in their textiles is always superb.

Just that one example above can teach volumes about lighting if you spent an hour or so deconstructing what you see and trying to build something like it in your studio/home.

Message edited by author 2006-07-10 23:28:35.
07/14/2006 12:04:10 PM · #12
posting my studio lighting diagram that I made for VintageGirl.

Others might enjoy it.

I just made it up and it's not based on anything other than my dumb brain, so feel free to knock it about...

It is a basic setup, intended to give a stable foundation to set your lights to so you can have good control and yet not spend too much time and grief wrestling with things...

This is more specific to lighting beginners.

Anyone more advanced than that likely knows far more than me, so it might not be terribly useful.

It also should create some rather dull, flat lighting.

If you use it, try experimenting with moving one light closer to brighten one side and increase shadows on the other side to add depth.

Once you have shadows, you could adjust and fine tune them by moving the light around the circle.

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Peace....

Message edited by author 2006-07-14 12:41:12.
07/14/2006 12:18:12 PM · #13
Originally posted by vintagegirl:

What camera to buy for clothing photography ?

Get one that is color coordinated and compliments your complexion. Don't get one with horizontal stripes and I think pointy shoes are in style.
Originally posted by vintagegirl:

I take photos of the lingerie on mannequins

Wow! Me too! ;-)

just kidding. don't pay any attention to me. I'm just here to cause trouble. :)
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