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Author Topic: Camera and Lens Recommendations For Landscapes and Copy Work  (Read 2126 times)
Nick S.
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« on: December 27, 2012, 10:18:42 PM »
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Greetings,

This is my first post. I'm in the market for a new digital camera and lens(s) and would appreciate advise from other forum members. I'm an artist and I'm looking for a camera that excels at two very specific tasks. The first task is documenting the landscapes I paint while in the field. Using my oil sketches and photographs as reference, I create larger, more detailed canvases back in the studio. The second task is photographing finished works of art for publication and use on the web. My reference photos will never be seen; they'll simply be used as an aid in the production of my art. I'd like the landscape photos I take to match my own vision as closely as possible. The copy photos I take should faithfully match the colors of my paintings.

This is what I'm looking for in a camera:
- Crisp detail
- The widest possible range of values from the brightest highlights to the deepest shadows
- Images that closely approximate what the human eye sees in both color and perspective
- As little distortion as possible
- A user-friendly design
- A reasonably compact size
- Camera and lens combo for under $2000

I've been reading about the new Fuji X-E1 and either a Fuji XF 35mm f/1.4 lens or a Fuji XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens. I'd welcome any opinions you may have.

Thanks,
Nick
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HarperPhotos
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2012, 10:59:04 PM »
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Hello,

My recommendation for your budget of $2,000 would be a second-hand D700 and the Nikon 60mm G macro lens.

If you have a bigger budget I would go for the Nikon D800E which is what I use for my art reproduction work.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-D700-Full-Frame-12-1-Megapixel-EXC-Boxed-w-accessories-USA-/281043447123?pt=Digital_Cameras&hash=item416f7ead53

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-60mm-f-2-8G-AF-S-Micro-Nikkor-ED-Macro-Autofocus-Lens-NEW-/290823906437?pt=Camera_Lenses&hash=item43b674a485

Cheers

Simon
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Simon Harper
Harper Photographics Ltd
http://www.harperphoto.com
http://www.facebook.com/harper.photographics

Auckland, New Zealand
Nick S.
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2012, 08:09:01 AM »
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Thanks for the recommendation, Simon. Just to be clear, when I mentioned documenting landscapes, I was referring to the actual scenes I paint, not the small oil sketches on my easel. I didn't think a macro lens would be a good choice for that task. One other thing I forgot to mention is that I need to have the greatest possible depth of field so that the subjects I capture outdoors are in focus from foreground to background. -Nick
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nairb
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2012, 09:06:55 AM »
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The lens he mentioned would excel at the second of your tasks, reproducing your finished work for publication. This lens is designed largely for copy work so it has little distortion, high resolving power and low curvature of field which is needed for photographing flat objects like paintings. It would also give a relatively normal perspective to what the eye sees, but perhaps not the same relative angle of view the eye sees. For that you may want a wider lens, but then perspective becomes distorted compared to the eye. Wide angle and zoom lenses generally have way too much distortion to excel at copy work.

For the best dynamic range (ie capture the most between light and dark), the d800 and d600 would be at the top of the list. But it seems you may also want something small and light given your Fuji choice. It seems from the reviews that the Fuji's unique sensor is rather poor at resolving fine detail especially with natural detail you'd find in landscapes. My guess is that the fuji's might be better suited for people pictures. That and relative to similar cameras, they are more premium priced so they represent less bang for the buck so to speak.

I'm afraid if you want something that excels at all the tasks you mention you're budget might not suit. But for a compromise, perhaps something like a nex 6 with the sigma 19mm for your scenery and a macro lens for reproduction of your finished work.

Brian

Edit: actually perhaps the Olympus om-d em-5 would be a good choice as there seem to be a greater variety of good lenses than for the Sony nex system. I'm not that familiar with their lenses but for $ 2000 you just might be able to get a good wide zoom like a 9-18mm (18-35 in full frame 35mm terms) for scenery reference and a good 30mm macro (which is 60mm in full frame) for reproduction. The smaller sensor would also be good for getting everything from foreground to background sharp and in focus.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 12:01:32 PM by nairb » Logged
nairb
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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2012, 10:00:51 AM »
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Another good option could be a d3200 or d5200 as they have 24mp vs most other crop sensor cameras being around 16mp. Along with the Nikon 40mm macro (60mm in full frame terms) for reproduction work and a good 10-24mm or 12-24mm for the landscape reference shots which might allow a relative angle of view to what the eye sees just not necessarily the same perspective.

Brian
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nairb
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2012, 10:21:29 AM »
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This looks to be a great article on the difference between what the eye sees and what a camera can capture:

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/cameras-vs-human-eye.htm


Brian
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stever
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2012, 11:12:37 AM »
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i agree that the Fuji would be a bad choice.  If you want something light, the Olympus OMD would be much better.  Stopped down, even the kit lens will probably be satisfactory for recording landscapes (although the 4/3 format is not as good as an APSC or FF 3/2 format).  Unfortunately the Oly and Pany macro lenses may be a bit long if you're going to photograph large paintings.

Probably any of the relatively inexpensive Canon or Nikon APSC cameras will be adequate with kit lens stopped down for landscapes and you can add a macro of focal length suitable to the paintings you're going to copy.  If the kit lens is inadequate, you can add a wide angle lens based on your experience.

You should probably use a gray card or one of the lens attachments to manually set white balance.  Of course you shoot RAW and develop in Lightroom (which will also take care of the distortions in your kit and/or wide angle lens).
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nairb
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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2012, 11:31:21 AM »
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Yep I'd agree. I just looked at the M4/3 lenses and there seems to not be a shortish macro lens.

The D5200 or D3200 with kit lens stopped down might be your best bet, along with the 40mm or 60mm macro depending on how much space you'll have when photographing your finished pieces and how big they are. Then you should have enough budget wise for a decent tripod and Lightroom/photoshop as well as something like a Colorchecker Passport for making sure your reproduction colours are accurate.

Brian
« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 11:38:33 AM by nairb » Logged
Nick S.
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« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2012, 04:34:46 PM »
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Thanks for all of the great information. It sounds like a DSLR with two different lenses is going to work best for me. If I'm shooting paintings that measure from about 8"x10" to about 30"x40", which macro would be the best choice? I have about 20 feet of space in my studio to set up for copy work.

Thanks,
Nick
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stever
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« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2012, 04:54:22 PM »
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a 50 or 60.  these lenses also have great corner-to-corner sharpness which you may find useful in some landscape situations
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nairb
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« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2012, 05:00:49 PM »
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I think you should be fine with the 60mm macro. I just tried my full frame at 70mm in my gallery and could fit a 30x40 piece in the frame from about 8'. So on a crop camera the 60mm would be an equivalent angle of view to 90mm on a full frame camera. With that lens, you'll be able to use it later on a full frame camera should you want to upgrade in the future. The 60mm is almost twice the price of the 40mm though. $550 vs $275.
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qwz
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2012, 05:05:32 AM »
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Sony NEX-5R (6) + SEL 30mm Macro
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nairb
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2012, 12:07:51 PM »
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Yes, I suppose that would be a pretty good set up. I hadn't thought of it before, but he mostly wants to reproduce for publication and the web, not to make large prints, so 16mp would be plenty. And a much smaller package as well. Unless he wants the 24mp for more detail in his reference photos...
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 12:12:55 PM by nairb » Logged
Scott O.
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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2012, 02:54:34 PM »
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I would recommend a D700 or D600 with a 105VR lens. With your budget restraints a good used D700 would be an excellent choice. The 105VR is an excellent lens for either general shooting or micro work. The previously mentioned 60 is also excellent, but I prefer the slightly more telephoto 105.
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MatthewCromer
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« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2012, 07:33:23 PM »
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For your price range, the Sony Alpha 65 with kit lens is a great option that is reasonably small and has great detail for landscape images with tremendous dynamic range and a pleasing (large!) viewfinder.  That will leave you with another $1000 to purchase lenses -- The Sigma 8-16 is an excellent ultrawide, and you'll have enough left to purchase the Sony 75-300 for telephoto work.

The built in image stabilization and electronic first curtain means you'll be able to get sharp images handheld (with good technique) and you can buy an inexpensive tripod for those times when you really need it (not often with the Alpha 65).
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Pansottin
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« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2013, 05:12:12 PM »
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This is what I'm looking for in a camera:
- Crisp detail
- The widest possible range of values from the brightest highlights to the deepest shadows
- Images that closely approximate what the human eye sees in both color and perspective
- As little distortion as possible
- A user-friendly design
- A reasonably compact size
- Camera and lens combo for under $2000


Sigma DP1 Merrill or DP2 Merrill? ,-)
Search for images and reviews...
Itīs a surprise.
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