Best digital camera for shooting artwork?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by justin_sean, Jan 21, 2007.

  1. I am an artist who uses an older Canon S50 for shooting my paintings. The LCD screen is really useful for
    this purpose. Since the screen doesn?t swivel, I rigged a tiny mirror attached to it so I can shoot hand-held
    with the art flat on the ground and the camera held up high, horizontally.

    I am looking to upgrade to a better camera. I want a higher megapixel, and BIGGER CHIP (to reduce the
    terrible barrel distortion I get). I thought about a DSLR, but without LIVE PREVIEW, it is useless to
    photograph artwork.

    Any recommendations? Do any higher-end point-and-shoots have a large enough chip that would reduce
    barrel distortion? Any DSLRs with live preview?

  2. DSLRs don't have a preview function - by design it is impossible - the mirror is alsways in the way! What's wrong with taking a testshot and then looking at it on the LCD of a DSLR? Use a ladder to get above your artwork and shoot down. What you see in the viewfinder of the DSLR is what you'll get in the final result.
  3. There is such thing as (90 degree) angle finder for Canon and Nikon's DSLR. It should also yield better lighting and color dynamic range (shoot RAW). If you must have live preview, Check out Olympus's E330 DSLR which has a live preview feature. Their 35mm or 50mm macro should give you minimal bellow distortion.
  4. The Olympus EVOLT E-330 is a DSLR with a live preview although I've read that the live preview feature isn't that good.

    Barrel distortion is a function of optics, not the size of the chip.

    My recommendation would be to learn photography without relying on the live preview function. It isn't needed for photographing artwork, you just haven't developed your skills in this area yet.

    Ansel Adams did some wonderful pictures of sculptures without using a live preview.

  5. One of the newer Canon A- series with a flip screen might work. Your distortion misinformation has been corrected but " thought about a DSLR, but without LIVE PREVIEW, it is useless to photograph artwork. " probably needs to be addressed too.
    A Rebel would be a good choice with the right lens. What size artwork are you shooting? From how far away? My daughter used my 30D with a 50/1.8 for her portfolio submission to NFAA for scholarship consideration. You has easy control over your exposure variables, better focus control, choice of lens and can easily vary exposures and then choose the best from multiple shots, including RAW. Yes, many P&S's allow full control but the menus are a pain to do that.
  6. I actually do have a lot of experience in this; I have photographed my work for 20 years
    with slide film. (It was very time-consuming in those days.) The LCD screen is of great use
    for my purposes; I NEED live preview to eliminate glare by carefully angling the camera
    during the shoot. (I then fix the angle of the plane in Photoshop.) Due to the
    circumstances of my workspace, I cannot climb high enough to shoot down with a tripod/
    and or ladder (I shoot some work on a fire-escape, where there is great natural light). If I
    used a DSLR, I would need to take the camera down each time to check each shot.
    I shot these this way:

    Also, isn't barrel distortion directly connected to chip size, in that the smaller the chip, the
    shorter the focal length (and therefore greater distortion)? My camera has a 7-21mm lens;
    there is massive distortion (not to mention fringing) in this range.
  7. The discontinued Sony R1 has the same size sensor as a DSLR, live preview and an excellent Carl Zeiss lense and a swivel screen.
  8. Lens distortion is a function of the design of the lens and has nothing to do with chip size.

    Fixed focal lengths have less distortion than zooms. Macro lenses (your application) generally have even less. These lenses also have the most ability to focus on a flat plane.

    Get a full frame DSLR like the Canon 5D, right angle finder, 60 macro lens.

    Cross polorized lights and camera filter will eliminate all reflections. The simple set up is two lights 45 deg to the flat art, one on either side. This will get rid of most glare etc. Add polariser to ligths and lens only if necessary.
  9. Generally, Primes have lower distotion. But you can minimize the distortion in zooms by setting the focal lenght in the middle of the zoom range were the distortion of the zooms are usually near zero.
  10. sony r1 is very good indeed if you can find one still.
  11. If you used a DSLR you could connect it directly to a laptop computer and shoot remotely.
  12. If you for some reason need the highest resolution file, you might consider some of the digital backs for large format or digital systems.

    As for seeing the viewfinder, the obvious choice to me would be hang the artwork on a wall and shoot horizontally.

    You associate barrel distortion with short focal lengths and thus small chips. A fisheye lens will in fact have (intentional) barrel distortion, but they make lenses of similar focal lengths that are not fisheyes and have little distortion. Zoom lenses normally have some barrel distortion at the wide end and some pincushion distortion at the long end. Moderate length primes usually have little distortion.
  13. Don't get the 60 Macro if you have a 5D as mentioned above. It is designed to only fit on smaller sensor bodies. It is an excellent combo with a 1.6x body though. The distortion you are getting is probably from NOT using a tele lens. See this link on my site for more info on copywork.
  14. Distortion is a property of the lens; a low distortion or high distortion lens can be a wideangle; normal or tele. <BR><BR>In pro artwork copying we use a PhaseOne scan back and a apo ronar; an ultra low distortion lens. Its not a telephoto either.
  15. Paint Shop Pro has an easilly used
    special tool for removing barrel distortion which comes from using a wide angle lens. You need to change your set-up so that you can work with camera and art work vertical, using a standard focal length... in this situation the DSLR would work AOK Alternatively you could look at either the Panasonic FZ30 or FZ50.

    It is a pity that the DSLR makers have not solved the problem of lack of live preview, it is not unsolvable, it just takes a bit of demand from customers. Trouble is that DSLR users cannot think outside the square.
  16. "I NEED live preview to eliminate glare by carefully angling the camera during the shoot."

    I've gotten good results by using two diffused strobes, angled about 45 degrees, on either side of the flat artwork. Try sample exposures with a pencil or cigarette mounted so that it sticks out from the plane of the painting. Adjust the lighting so that the shadows cast are soft and of similar character.

    Use levels and such to square everything. Include a gray card under the same light in the series. Shoot RAW, and tie the white balance to the gray card. Results tend to be better if things are captured right in the first place.

    Diffuse natural light can work. Use large white reflectors to even out the lighting.

    Finally, nothing beats a flatbed scanner for ease and quality (given of course, that the pieces are small enough.)

    "I want a higher megapixel"

    Better Light scanning backs. Different universe though from a P&S.
  17. Get down to your local camera store and try out a few models to see which ones have the least distortion. It comes down to the lens. Maybe one the the canon G series cameras could be better as the lens is supposed to be higher quality. You will need try out various cameras to find one that works in the situation that you would use it for. A used sony R1 sounds like it could be good for your needs also.
  18. People did this for years w/o digital, with the instant feedback you get it should be no problem. But to avoid distortion, get something that has like a 50mm lens on it and zoom with your feet. Wide angle lenses tend to distort. Of course, some of this can be easily corrected in photo shop.
  19. Hi everybody.......

    Don't expect a preview in D'SLR like in amature digital camera, it is not possible. Because in D'SLR camera, shutter always closed till we clicks, and CCD (image capturing device) is behind the shutter, so there is no light falls on CCD till we clicks the camera.

    But in amature digital camera shutter always opened condition and while we clicks the shutter at first closes then re-open according to speed required.

    I am a camera technician with 7 years experience, you can ask me what you need, I will give reply with my best knowledge.

    For more visit

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