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Studio Photography

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I'm not shooting with a light box--too confining for me. Have 2 table light stands, some background material, tripod, a decent eye for style & composition, and an "in" with a world-class expert reachable by phone when cell transmission is cooperating (between the NH lakes region and the California high desert, which means frequently dropped). Can't wait to fire up my new camera  & check out what I do & don't remember from my manual 35mm Pentax days. I expect to love learning digital processes..the hardest part is for me not to go down the rabbit hole that you guys inhabit, which makes my brain wrinkle. The more auto settings I can fine tune to work for my set up the happier I will be.  I understand that the a6000 will let me use my cell phone kinda like a cable release--yee haw!  My point of view re: photography is highly flexible, re: what's in the shot and how the whole comes across. I don't wnat all my pics to be like perfect catalogue shots; I prefer they convey some vibe either within or external to the piece.  About the only editing I do is maybe straightening the horizon line (my eye is consistently off by 1 degree) or aligning a ng vertical, for visual appeal/stability.  Unless I want it cockeyed, of course  :P

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Just for contrast, here's a shot I took using a $30 tabletop light box setup and my phone. All the editing was done on my phone as well. I don't normally shoot this way, but I plan to start using this more for putting up quick images for online weekend sales or social media. It's a much simpler and faster setup for me than my typical system.

 

 

Pink-Mug.jpg

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Lovely mug! I use the smartphone camera, which is pretty decent actually, for my reference shots for my inventory spreadsheet. One thing I am excited about re: a larger camera is I'm getting the contemporary equivalent of a wired cable release-I have minor tremors and that, with the tripod of course, will make my life a lot easier.  I don't know why "Deleted" is "done" but I'm glad he or she started a topic on studio photography. 

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15 hours ago, LeeU said:

Lovely mug! I use the smartphone camera, which is pretty decent actually, for my reference shots for my inventory spreadsheet. One thing I am excited about re: a larger camera is I'm getting the contemporary equivalent of a wired cable release-I have minor tremors and that, with the tripod of course, will make my life a lot easier.  I don't know why "Deleted" is "done" but I'm glad he or she started a topic on studio photography. 

Thanks lee!

I've got a little GorillaPod  tripod for my phone, which I set up next to my wheel for shooting throwing videos for Instagram, and it works well with my photo box, too. It's just a little table top thing, so you have to set it up on something to get the height you want. I think you can also get smart phone mounts for full size tripods, too.

FYI, the backdrop in the pink mug photo is just a piece of butcher paper. $12 for a roll that will last years.

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This is my snazzy photo setup. East facing window that’s sheltered by the house next door gives diffuse light, and if it’s a brighter day, I’ll tape white tissue paper over the window. Two storage bins stacked on a chair, topped with one of my show tablecloths and my cutting board for a neutral backdrop with subtle visual texture. To the left of the item is a white foam core reflector to fill in the light on that side. My camera for most purposes is an iPhone 6, and I typically run my images through the  Snapseed app to touch up the white balance and spot brighten things if they’re a bit dark.  If I’m doing more styled shots on the kitchen table, I will sometimes  use the lens blur effect to simulate a shallower depth of field effect. If I need shots on a seamless white background, I built a photo box out of a cardboard box, some tissue paper and a piece of poster board. I’ll take that outside in the shade, or just in the open on an overcast day. 

I do possess a dslr, but it gets used much less frequently. I don’t often need photos of that resolution. 

6897E228-EE51-4729-986B-D3DC2232CFFE.jpeg

C5894C93-7903-4CAF-8426-7EDDA63ACCF0.jpeg

8D55C7C2-A841-4EA8-9F44-F64D58768E56.jpeg

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Here's a comparison of a photo taken with my iPad, and one taken with a DSLR. Keep in mind this iPad is a few years old, so it's not the most updated smartphone camera. I would use the iPad photo for social media, or to send a quick email to a customer who is interested in seeing the item. I would use the DSLR photo for my website, online store, any other form of publishing, and to apply for shows. 

The main differences are that I can control the ISO and the f-stop on the DSLR. With no control of the ISO, the iPad camera sometimes chooses a high ISO which results in a very grainy photo, too much contrast, and missing a lot of values in between. And controlling the f-stop means I have full say over the depth of field, which can be used for nice effects. And I agree with @Rex Johnson that the tiny lens on a smartphone makes it hard to take a photo that is not distorted to some extent. The larger diameter and length of the DSLR lens solves a lot of that. 

iPad

whiskey-ipad800px.jpg.c1d0e414168bfe5b7d5e6b22ec73078e.jpg

 

DSLR

whiskey-talking800px.jpg.40478276b113817e9cb71100fbdc5188.jpg

Edited by GEP

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@GEP  I like both of those photos, for different reasons. I don't really see a big difference in the clarity of the photos, though, and the higher contrast and color saturation that phones and tablets lean towards is easy to edit, with basic editing tools on the phone. Both show your pots very well. The iPad shot is actually showing ore information in the light glare spot near the rim than the DSLR shot. I do agree that having the f-stop control is great, though. The more control the better, if you know how to use it. But I think that for people who don't have a DSLR, or don't care to/ can't afford to invest in one,  your photos prove that good shots can be taken with whatever you have. You clearly understand what makes a good product photo, and believe that is more important than the equipment.

I see virtually no difference in the clarity of photos taken with my cell phone (about 1 1/2 years old) and my DSLR when they're shown on a computer screen. With my old phone, there was definitely a difference, though. Phone cameras are improving at a ridiculous rate. It's one of the main reasons I tend to update my phone every two years, even though it's still functional.

I'm glad this thread has continued despite the OP bailing.:D

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I'm in a pickle for pics, my phone takes terrible photos and I modified my dslr by replacing the internal IR filter so it's more sensitive to hydrogen alpha wavelengths, so it has a red bias. Even with a grey card and custom white balance, the colors are never quite right.

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3 hours ago, GEP said:

Here's a comparison of a photo taken with my iPad, and one taken with a DSLR. Keep in mind this iPad is a few years old, so it's not the most updated smartphone camera. I would use the iPad photo for social media, or to send a quick email to a customer who is interested in seeing the item. I would use the DSLR photo for my website, online store, any other form of publishing, and to apply for shows. 

The main differences are that I can control the ISO and the f-stop on the DSLR. With no control of the ISO, the iPad camera sometimes chooses a high ISO which results in a very grainy photo, too much contrast, and missing a lot of values in between. And controlling the f-stop means I have full say over the depth of field, which can be used for nice effects. And I agree with @Rex Johnson that the tiny lens on a smartphone makes it hard to take a photo that is not distorted to some extent. The larger diameter and length of the DSLR lens solves a lot of that. 

iPad

whiskey-ipad800px.jpg.c1d0e414168bfe5b7d5e6b22ec73078e.jpg

 

DSLR

whiskey-talking800px.jpg.40478276b113817e9cb71100fbdc5188.jpg

Don't know if your iPad has HDR mode but it would help even out the exposure and bring the iPad photo closer to the dslr photo.  Works really well on stationary objects.

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1 hour ago, neilestrick said:

I don't really see a big difference in the clarity of the photos,

I had to downsize both photos to 800px wide, to fit within the forum’s uploading guidelines. The original of the DSLR photo is a whopping 5576 pixels wide, whereas the iPad photo is 2592 pixels wide. At full size, you would see the extra detail. It doesn’t make much difference when viewing them on a screen (because you are limited to the pixels on your screen) but it makes a big difference for other publishing situations, such as printing it on a postcard, or getting published in a magazine. 

To my eyes, there’s a big difference in lighting between the two photos. The iPad photo is too harsh, the DSLR lighting is softer and more balanced, and fuller range of values. 

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15 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

My phone is only 12.2 megapixels but it also shoots in RAW and has all the bells and whistles.  My dslr is older and only 8 megapixels (Canon EOS 350), of course the detail is much sharper with actual optics

I agree with this, the number of pixels matters, but the optics of a larger lens in a DSLR are the more important factor. 

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Here's another view that will hopefully illustrate what I'm talking about better. I cropped a similar piece out of each photo, then resized to 800 pixels wide. Now the DSLR image is at it's full pixel count. The graininess of the iPad photo should be visible now, and that it’s doing a “muddy” job with the darker tones.

iPad

whiskey-cropped-ipad.jpg.28dd9c3179471b9892220c47fb1b340c.jpg

 

DSLR

whiskey-cropped-dslr.jpg.9c2078d07f27eba8562f50b923578ac0.jpg

 

Edited by GEP

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Min

I use Daylight balanced 5000K bulbs like these used in these stands-

https://www.amazon.com/Table-Top-Studio-Light-Kit/dp/B002PNEDFS

My stands are more like these as they have fabric silver reflectors 

https://www.amazon.com/Linco-Lincostore-Photography-Lighting-Seconds/dp/B01DILO2VK/ref=sr_1_14?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1544771912&sr=1-14&keywords=table+top+light+stands+with+reflectors

You can buy just the lights alone -they are called top spiral 30 watt 5000k -you can also get other wattages but the 5000k is the m=balance you want

Same with my underwater strobe lights-they are all 5000k as well.

https://www.amazon.com/CowboyStudio-Fluorescent-Daylight-Balanced-Bulb/dp/B001ML011Y/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1544771782&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=top+spiral+30+watt+5000k+bulbs

You can find them a bit cheaper looking around the web as well-most of this stuff is called table top studio or table top photography .

I use them with light cube -B&H photo has most of this tuff as well-may be cheaper on Amazon or flea bay

I bought mine long ago( decades now)and have since added a few extra lights-I do not use the stuff much anymore as I'm not trying to get into anything anymore.Every few years I will shoot some stuff for sale and its great for that.Sold all my old film cameras and lens  and a ton of underwater housings and gear taking photos in that setup.I tend to do this after xmas ion my off time as I downsize some stuff in life.

When the light is 5000k it looks like this underwater

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_7422.jpeg

Edited by Mark C.

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I used to use 250W tungsten bulbs when shooting film, but they're not necessary any more. I now just use 100 watt equivalent (23 watt?) CFL, daylight color. They are so much nicer, because they don't run anywhere near as hot as tungsten, and they're super cheap and last forever. When these die I'll switch to LED bulbs, but that will be years away. Any halfway decent camera can color correct for whatever bulb you use.

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Thanks Mark and Neil, 

I have one of the white tent/cube setups but find a lot of my pieces are too large for it so I tend to not bother setting it up and actually using it for anything. I'm trying to weigh the merits of either getting a larger one or going for some lights like these and skipping the tent/cube. Is this a 6 of one and half a dozen of the other type scenario?

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1 hour ago, Min said:

Thanks Mark and Neil, 

I have one of the white tent/cube setups but find a lot of my pieces are too large for it so I tend to not bother setting it up and actually using it for anything. I'm trying to weigh the merits of either getting a larger one or going for some lights like these and skipping the tent/cube. Is this a 6 of one and half a dozen of the other type scenario?

I have a large 3 foot cube-they are cheap-I think B&H sells them as well as here

https://www.amazon.com/2090-Perfect-Softbox-Backgrounds-Photography/dp/B000UCEUQI/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1544915599&sr=8-17&keywords=portable+photo+cube

I know you need them from a Canadian source  for import duty issues.The large cubes shoot all size products.

I have the lights  similar to your link and use them with my large cube.I think they are an over kill. For a cube just get some color matched bulbs and put them in cheap clamp on metal reflector sockets.I think thats the cheapest option and it will work well.

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Min, do you live near a good camera store? There are places here in Calgary that will let you rent the fancy equipment for a few days to test it out for a reasonable cost (think $35 CAD/day for a fancy boom light plus all chargers and cords). It can be a good option for those who only need to use those items on occasion. I tried renting soft boxes similar  the ones in your link, and I found I had trouble with the footprint they required to set up.  I needed to clear out the guest room to have enough room to set up, which wasn't practical. When I asked one of the tech guys at The Camera Store, he also recommended a colour correct bulb in a cheap metal clamp light. He said as long as the light is diffused somehow, the housing won't make a lot of difference.

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