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Thread: Newie... Confused newie!

  1. #1
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    Newie... Confused newie!

    Hi everyone, my name is Niomi. I am a new member and I am hoping someone may be able to help me regarding lenses. Am also very new to photography, I have recently enrolled in an online course and have my first assignment due soon. I'm not looking for anyone to answer for me but am trying to understand which lens or lenses (there are a few to choose from) to use and why.

    For the assignment, "You have been hired by a large art gallery to photograph every framed painting. They require colour accurate copies of the art for use in a cataloge".
    What choice of lens and why? (the camera is a DSLR with full size 35mm sensor.)

    The selection I can choose from is....20mm, 24mm tilt shift, 35mm, 50mm, 90mm tilt shift, 100mm macro, 135mm and 300mm lens.

    With my extremely limited knowledge I don't think I'd use anything below 50mm, due to the wide angle? Can you use a 100mm macro for paintings?? Oh boy I have a lot to learn!

    Thanks, next time I'll try to keep things shorter!

  2. #2
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Niomi,

    That's a bit of a misleading question that I'd actually want a bit more information on.

    For example, what size are these paintings? What size is the art gallery? How far away from your subjects (the paintings) will you be able to get?

    Take a look a the video on this page - http://www.adorama.com/alc/article/13226 - and it might give you an idea why I ask those questions.

    - Bill

  3. #3

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    Have a guess :)

    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Hi Niomi,

    Welcome to CiC - great to have you with us. As someone who shoots gallery art works for catalogs ... I can tell you that I use a TS-E 90mm (90mm tilt shift).

    There's really a couple of factors that come into it ...

    - the first is working distance. If you have a really big piece of art - and you use a long lens like a 300mm (especially on a crop-factor camera) then you may not be able to backup far enough to be able to fit it all in the shot. So you might think "so what's the down-side of just using a wide-angle lens like the 20mm / 24mm / 35mm (or even the 50mm)?" - in these cases working distances can STILL be a problem, with the "problem" being that you then have to work so close to the art that the distance from the lens to the centre of the art becomes significantly different from the distance from the lens to the outer edges of the art - and this introduces distortion (which can be corrected, but it's easier to just get it as close as possible in the first place). So in terms of a good focal length, 90 / 100 / 135mm are all pretty much "OK".

    - the second is being able to correct for distortions introduced by the plane of the camera sensor being different to the plane that the art is lying on. If the art is hanging high on a wall you may not be able to get your camera & tripod high enough so that it's in the centre - and if you can't do that with a non-T&S lens then the top of the frame will appear to be smaller than the bottom of the frame (because it's further away). The other issue is that the art may not be flat against the wall - and it's important to get the camera sensor parallel to the art - so without a T&S lens you need to fiddle around getting the camera lens (read "tripod") at exactly the right height.

    So the correct answer is a 90mm Tilt & Shift lens. The tilt allows you to null out any perspective distortion, and the shift feature allows you to capture the scene without having the lens pointed at the centre of the artwork. It's also a good lens for being able to focus very close to an object (so it's good for small art pieces).

    That's the theory anyway - in PRACTICE - I've used TS-E 90 - EF 85/1.2L - EF135/2.0L - EF135/F2L with EF2.0x Teleconverter (and others) - but I have the advantage of being able to move the art in the studio to where I need it. Also in practice, correct lighting also is very important - I normally use a couple of studio strobes (with large soft-boxes) either side of the artwork - carefully check the evenness of the light (using a light meter, in each corner and in the centre) - and I also shoot both a grey card and a colour reference card to ensure accurate reproduction.

    And after doing all of THAT - the artist will STILL complain that "the sky has too much cyan" or something similar, so you really just can't win!

    PS: Let me know how many marks I got

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    I was going to take a guess since art is usually hanged high; but look above, the expert got here first. I think since you have a full frame camera you should be thinking about 90mm and since you want to be dead square you want a TS lens. But also it would be nice to have a fast lens or a tripod. I suspect the tripod is allowed in this case.

    You want some pretty even lighting, but you may not be able to use flash, maybe a reflector or as I suspect you are just going to have to put up with darkness. It is essential though to expose exactly right, to the right, without going over.

    Cor, and that is all based on guesswork.

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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Thanks Bill, Colin and Steve! Much appreciated. Yes Bill I agree, there are too many variables with not enough information to make an informed decision. But that's all the info we get. Will keep you posted on how I go with it!

    Hopefully in the near future I can repay you all with some beautiful photo's.
    Have a lovely day
    P.s the camera I mentioned above is just a hypothetical for the assignment. Mine is not a full 35mm.

  6. #6

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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Hi Niomi
    Good luck with your assignment. I see from your profile that you live at the Towers. You should have a good range of photography subjects out there.
    John

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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Hi John
    Thanks, will do my very best. Yes been here nearly 18 months now, your at Townsville...just up the road! We are going there tomorrow. Can you recommend a good camera place to buy a tripod?
    Nice to meet you! Cheers

  8. #8
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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Given your general description, I would be inclined to use a 90 mm lense providing you have adequate distance between your camera/tripod and the art pieces. You'll want to start with a fairly wide open aperature (no problem on flat objects), then use a shutter speed to ensure a good exposure.

  9. #9
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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Thanks Gary, much appreciated.

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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    While I'm sure Colin gave the definitive answer, I would just note that the 100 macro is also an interesting possibility -- the focal length might be about right, depending on picture size and room size, and a macro lens has a flat focal plane. Generally, lenses have a bit curved focal plane, but macro lenses usually are designed to avoid that. With a flat picture, you may be able to get sharper focus across the field of view on the picture.

  11. #11
    krispix's Avatar
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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Quote Originally Posted by Niomi View Post
    Hi John
    Thanks, will do my very best. Yes been here nearly 18 months now, your at Townsville...just up the road! We are going there tomorrow. Can you recommend a good camera place to buy a tripod?
    Nice to meet you! Cheers
    Hi Niomi and welcome.

    Tripods are as evocative as cameras! Just as you get Nikon, Canon, Sony camps all extolling the virtues of their particular choice, so too do you get fans for Tripods.

    It will depend how much you are prepared to spend and, of course, what you want to do with it. I'm presuming you want quality and longevity. I would recommend that you look at Manfrotto, Giotto and The 3 Legged Thing. None of these are particularly cheap but all pretty good value. Manfrotto and Giotto both do a range of Aluminum and Carbon Fibre, the former being a lot cheaper than the later and a lot heavier which could be a consideration if you're lugging it up mountainsides. I've never used The 3 Legged Thing, but it looks awesome and has a price tag to match. It's made of a composite of Magnesium Alloy and Carbon Fibre which means it's very light and tough.

    In the end it depends what you're going to put on it and what you expect from it. I could direct you to a couple of places here in London where you could check out a huge range, but that's not going to help you very much. Sorry

  12. #12
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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Hi Chris
    You have been reading my mind i think! I've just started looking for a tripod. As usual there is a lot to research and they all look the same to me! I only started looking yesterday and haven't had time to look at everything yet and as I am new to all this I haven't decided exactly how I will be using it. Quality and longevity are of course very important also ease of use I guess. And I will probably want to grow into it maybe?
    So thanks for your advice, I really appreciate it.

  13. #13
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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Hi Tom
    Thankyou so much. I was wondering about that but I didn't know how to explain why I would use it!! SOOOOO much to learn!

  14. #14

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    Re: Newie... Confused newie!

    Quote Originally Posted by Niomi View Post
    Hi John
    Thanks, will do my very best. Yes been here nearly 18 months now, your at Townsville...just up the road! We are going there tomorrow. Can you recommend a good camera place to buy a tripod?
    Nice to meet you! Cheers
    Hi Niomi
    Camera House in Castletown or the City are about the only camera stores I can think of. As you are now aware tripod selection can be as difficult as lens and camera selection. I have to admit I bought my tripod based on price from Harvey Norman and I have found it to be a bit flimsy, so if your serious do the research and select carefully.
    John

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