Using a D800 to take a picture of a picture?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jim_wilson|18, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. I've been visiting my parents for the last few days and just discovered a ton of great, and old pictures that I fear are aging and could be
    damaged. I only have a day left here and I'd like to try to take pictures of their pictures with my D800, but I'm not entirely sure how. I don't
    have a macro lens, which would probably be best. Here's the gear I do have on me:

    Lenses: Nikon 28mm 1.8G, 50mm 1.4G, 85mm 1.8G
    SB600 flash with umbrella and stand (no boom arm though), radio remote flash trigger

    I'm not sure how I can use the light in the most neutral way to capture these images. I'm open to ideas! Any thoughts appreciated.
  2. Jim, I suggest using a flatbed scanner. Using a camera requires a copy-stand and even lighting while avoiding reflection. Perhaps you can borrow the pictures for the project.
  3. Thanks Michael.. not sure how I'll make it work with my time constraints but I'll figure something out. Cheers.
  4. Hi Jim, I have photographed art for reproduction for years. The best way is to use polarizers on the lights and camera. The next thing that will help is, if possible, shoot them using only sunlight with a poalrizer in the camera. Lastly I would shoot through something black, background paper etc., with a hole cutout for the lens. You want to minimize any reflection on the image to be copied.
    Good Luck
  5. The most even lighting from one light would be by putting the light source a long distance away, trying to ensure that it doesn't reflect into the camera - though you might kill your batteries faster that way. You're right that a macro lens (and/or tilt-shift) would be best (after a scanner), but stop down and you'll probably be fine, especially if you can fix the perspective in software later. Good luck.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have done a bit of that recently, while visiting my dad and some of my wife's high school friends. I had no set up in those
    situations, just my D800E and some lenses + flash. At my dad's, I had the 60mm macro with me, and that was great. At
    friends, I only used the 24-120mm f4, which can focus quite close. Those pictures aren't exactly high quality to begin with,
    so I got ok results. Some of them are printed on glossy paper so that glare off the surface is an issue.
  7. Hi,
    Not quite the same thing but I take photos of canvases that an artist friend produces (so he has a record of them when he sells them). I use either a D700 or D800, but mounted on a tripod and then take some time to make sure that the camera is level and the film plane is square to the canvas (hung on a wall).
    I use the lowest ISO and the best f stop for the lens (usually 5.6-8 on a 50mm). As this increases the time that the shutter is open, the tripod is definitely needed. We always go for the pictures being lit by daylight (preferably on an overcast day - hey being in the UK does have it's advantages sometimes) only and try to minimise reflections (either off of any colour in the room or into the lens). I also take some sample frames at the start of each session using a colour chart and then use these to optimise the colour in Photoshop.
    Anything smaller, particularly photos, and I would look to use a flatbed scanner.
    good luck!
  8. +1 to using a flatbed scanner if at all possible. Short of that, copying with one light isn't the best idea, but given the circumstances you should be able to make a reasonable job of it.
    Use your radio trigger and SB600 in manual mode as the sole light source. Set the flash as far away from the artwork (pictures to be copied) as is feasible - at least 6 feet - and at an angle of around 45 degrees; so about 6 feet above the artwork too. The further you can get the light away from the artwork, the less fall-off there'll be from side to side. If you can find a largish mirror to set on the opposite side of the artwork from the flash, that might help (or not!). Also try to shield the camera, tripod and anything else shiny from being lit up by the flash. A bit of black card or paper used as a flag helps here.
    I'd suggest the 50mm f/1.4 will be your best lens option, as long as the flash isn't shaded from the artwork by the lens. If it is then try the 85mm lens if it'll focus close enough, or set the flash at a shallower angle. Set your shutter at the maximum synch speed (1/250th with radio trigger?) to minimise the effect of any ambient light. Do not let the camera set the default flash speed of 1/60th. Also keep the ambient light as low as possible.
    Aperture should be around f/8 for best definition. Obviously if you have a tripod, use it. Although unless it has a reversible column or cross arm it might not be easy to get the camera pointed down at the artwork. The other alternative is to fix the artwork vertically onto a wall using tape, pins or blu-tack.
    With the above setup there's no need for any X-polarisers or suchlike complication. If you get a little fall-off from side to side of the copy it's not a big deal. A gradient mask in an image editor can sort that out.
    Edit: One more thing. Get the pictures as flat as possible. Putting them under a heavy sheet of glass isn't a bad idea. It seems counter-intuitive, but it's far easier to control reflections from a flat sheet of glass than it is from the crinkled and undulating surface of a glossy print. Angle of reflection = angle of incidence and all that.
  9. You have lots of good suggestions in the comments above.
    I had great results photographing paintings by a family member: I put them in direct sunlight, at an angle that wouldn't glare or reflect, and shot with a 50mm f/1.4D. Any 50 will do. Be careful to shoot the artwork straight on. A bit of contrast adjustment afterwards help accurately capture the original feeling.
  10. A "ton" of old pictures? Good luck. Copying any volume of photos and doing a reasonable job takes a lot of time.
    Consider taking possession of them for a while. You can then take the proper time, and do the individual work on each that is necessary.
    If you are not retired, consider using a professional copy service to digitize the photos. They'll get done in a hurry, by folks who have the equipment to do it right. Then, your parents can be consulted for labeling information, something that most folks put off until after they or their memories are gone.
  11. The man needs to do the work with what he has on hand.
    1. Use the 50 or the 85mm lens.
    2. Use natural light, outside, and position the photo to avoid as much glare as possible. If the surface of the original photo is glossy, this won't be easy.
    3. You don't mention having a polarizer with you but if you do, use it.
    4. Since you don't have a tripod, use a FAST shutter speed. As fast as you can get, but keep the ISO at or lower than 400 if possible. Even ISO 800 and a fast shutter speed is better than ISO 100 with blury results from camera shake. Ideally shoot at f8, but open up as far as f4 if you must in order to preserve the fast shutter speed.
    5. Even using a fast shutter speed, brace yourself and keep the camera as still as you can.

    This method may not be ideal but it will give you the best results given what you have with you. I have used this method many times with results acceptable for publication. Be sure to crop and square up the images in PS.
  12. "The man asks a simple question and he gets complicated or irrelevant answers."
    Read the original post carefully and you just might see: "I'm open to ideas! Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks!!"
  13. All these responses have been fantastic, thank you all! I'm going to try to work with natural light the 85mm as that'll be my
    best bet for low ISO/fast shutter speeds.

    I'm overwhelmed by the sense of community on this forum and the quality responses. It's so nice to see - thanks again!

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