Good Lens for photographing indoor mural paintings

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by midhunlal_g_, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. Hi folks,
    I am planning to shoot indoor mural art paintings. Which lens should I use for the shooting?
    If I am going for 50mm F1.8 lens and if I shoot at aperture at 1.8, will I get good depth of field across the whole painting?
    Thank You,
  2. You need to describe the situation in more detail. Have you been to the location yet? Is this a one-meter-wide mural, or a ten-meter-wide mural? Is there a shooting position from which you can get the entire mural in a single frame while using that 50mm lens? Are you allowed to use a tripod in this space? How is the mural lit? How will the photograph be used (high quality printed reproduction, web-only viewing, printed post cards, etc)?

    The short answer is that you do not want to try to use that lens, wide open at f/1.8, unless you have absolutely no other choice because you have to hand-hold in poor light. But you'll have soft corners, and have to be absolutely square to the mural to have a chance at things being evenly in focus.

    You'll get some more specific advice if you can describe the scene and circumstances in more detail.
  3. At f1.8, DoF is so shallow, the camera film/lens plane should be absolutely parallel to your subject. The slightest misalignment will ruin the shoot.
    But it is not the only issue, lens performance wide open will be at best mediocre in the center, and surely bad in the corners.
    You should work with optimal apertures (say f8); the 50/1.8AFD is quite good at this aperture. Micro-Nikkors use to be the best choice for that task.
  4. Hi Matt/Jose
    Thanks for your fast replies.
    The mural width will be ranging from one-meter to four-meter. The photographs will be used for post card size prints and may be used for printing in magazines.
    Unfortunately tripods are not allowed at the location. The lighting of mural won't be that good. But it will have an average lighting.
    I am using a D90.
  5. If you can get far enough to use a 50mm, you might want to invest in either an old used Manual Focus 55mm f2.8 or f3.5 (INSANELY cheap and PERFECT for photographing flat art), or the 40mm f2.8 DX micro that recently came out (although I suspect that that one is not a great lens for anything other than flat art).
    But if you use a tripod and f5.6 or f8, you should get good results with the 50. (don't forget to use mirror pre-delay and keep your hands off the camera and tripod when shooting.) If you don't have enough space to back up, try the 35mm f1.8.
  6. That is great Peter. I will try to get these lens.
    Thank you,
  7. What will be the distance you can take? The focal length choice depends on that as well.
    If lighting is not great and no tripods, I'd recommend at least having VR on the lens. The 16-85VR used at 5.6 is plenty sharp, and does not have too much distortion from ~20mm on. The 18-105VR also wouldn't do too bad. Since a mural painting shouldn't move too much, and wide apertures could cause problematic shallow depth of field, I'd take VR over a wide aperture here.
  8. I have my 18-105 VR lens with me. So I can set the aperture at somewhere close to 5.6 and switch ON the VR. That will give a sharp image.
    Thanks Wouter.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The photographs will be used for post card size prints and may be used for printing in magazines.
    Unfortunately tripods are not allowed at the location.​
    Are you photographing in some sort of official capacity? If the intend is to provide magazine images, can you get cooperation from whoever is in charge and shoot from a tripod, potentially during off hours when nobody else is around so that you can take your time and won't be interfered?
    Magazines certainly come in all sorts of flavors and requirements vary, but without special permissions, it is unlikely that you will get high-quality images under those conditions.
  10. The width of the murals is only one thing that you need to take into account. You also need to know how far back from the mural(s) you can get the camera, and this will dictate the longest lens you can use. For example: with your 4 metre wide mural, a 50mm lens on a D90 will need over 8.33 metres of distance to get it all in. With a 55mm micro-Nikkor that distance increases to nearly 9.5 metres, which is quite a big indoor space. So I strongly suspect that this distance is going to limit what lens you can use.
    The formula you need to work out the longest focal length lens you can use is: 24*max distance from mural/width of mural. So if you can only go back 6 metres from a 4 metre-wide mural you'll need a lens of maximum focal length (24*6/4) = 36mm.
    Another alternative would be to take multiple shots closer to and stitch them together. Good luck with that without a tripod!
  11. As Shun has said, if you're going to make postcards (FOR SALE or mail-shot, I guess) then you come under a PRO and deserve the rights to use a tripod, control the lighting and generally do as you need.
    Your 18-105mm at about 60mm at f11 on a tripod (VR off) will equally resolve anything else out there and mid-zoom should be pretty non-distorting too.
    If you're making postcards 'illicitly', don't be naughty! :)
    PS Rodeo is not kidding, it's an absolute bas**rd, even with a tripod! It's the last option short of removing the wall to get more working space!
    PSS Oh, to answer the original question 'NO', not enough IQ, DOF is not your problem. Wide open does not produce nice pix on that kinda lens.
  12. If you cannot use a tripod, maybe it is possible to use something like a Leki Sierra Antishock trekking pole which can double as a lightweight monopod ?
    It's not ideal, but it hhas helped me out multiple times in area's where tripods are forbidden..
    Here's a link to thge amunfacterers website.. :
  13. C.P.M. does that walking pole have any sort of swivel or ballhead, or is it just a 1/4" screw under the cap? I've recently wondered if anyone made a trekking pole and monopod combo, but it would really need some way of adjusting the camera angle relative to the pole to be useful.
    Think I'll just stick with my Gitzo monopod and Bembo ballhead combo for the time being.
  14. you might consider the 24mm f3.5 PC lens, but you would need a tripod, with that lens you can tilt or shift to frame composition perspective to near "flat", also that lens has nano coating and has very little chromatic aberration, but it is expensive, and has a learning curve. you can stitch images, from this lens without or nearly without perspective distortion, and it has an effective 36mm focal length.
  15. Thanks everybody for your support and response.

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