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Digital Camera on Budget


#1

I spent 2 hours going through the archives and couldn’t come up with
what I am looking for so my apologies if this is a rehashed subject.

From what I read in the archives everybody loves their Nikon’s for
the macro features…however the 900 series is over my budget.
Wondering if anybody out there has a great macro mode on their
camera to take photos for their websites, jurying, etc…for under
$400. Just a camera name would be greatly appreciated. Went to a few
camera review websites and got bogged down in too much information
and would rather have input from someone doing exactly the work I
need this camera for.

Thank you!
Liane Redpath Worlund


#2

Hi Liane,

In my CD “Jewelry Photography Made Easy”, I discuss and highly
recommend using a D-SLR. I’m a very strong believer in good tools,
as they make the task simple, with high quality results.

Under $400 is a different story, but there are some choices that
will work quite well for most folks. In that case I’d recommend you
look at the Canon Powershot SD790 IS, under $300 on the internet.
Small, capable, decent close-focusing (not true macro, but good
enough, and 10 megapixel images, PLUS Image Stabilization so you
won’t need a tripod IF you get some decent light on your subject.

Please keep in mind that the camera is just a tool for recording the
image, a “better” camera won’t make a nicer picture, that depends on
proper lighting of the subject…and there’s more than one “proper”.
But the little Powershot is a lot of camera for the money…

Wayne Emery


#3

Sony! I have a DSC-F707 that I got in 2003 that has a Carl Zeiss
lens that rocks. Although I bought an additive macro lens for it
(special deal when I bought it new), I have NEVER even tried it
because the macro on this camera is great. You might be able to find
one of these used in your budget. In 2006, I also bought a Sony
Cybershot (8.1 megapixels) that is more compact but I’ve found that
it’s macro capability can’t touch my older Sony.

Good luck!
Elizabeth

www.borntobeworn.com (all pictures except the home page were taken
with my Sony F707)


#4

Wayne emery has a great little camera, you can see the camera and
his link on my site:

http://www.jewelerprofit.com/Microscope_TakeIn_Camera.html

David Geller
JewelerProfit
www.JewelerProfit.com


#5

Get a used camera, a great little camera is the nikon 4500, I bet
you can get one on ebay for $200 or less. We still use ours when we
don’t want to set up the digital SLR.

Bill Wismar
www.metalbendersgallery.com


#6

I use a Sony CyberShot DSC S75. It is 3.3 megapixels with a Zeiss
lens, 6X zoom and uses Sony Memory Sticks. It also came with MGI
Photo Suite software and a USB cord. I didn’t get it for jewelry
originally, but I was surprised at how well it works for all kinds of
close in work. I don’t use the macro feature, I manually focus it to
0.1 meter, zoom to the maximum mechanical zoom (the digital zoom
reduces the resolution) and manually adjust the F stop (to f 8.0) for
best depth of field, set the shutter to give about +1.0 exposure
value and adjust the white balance using the “One Push” feature. I
don’t have any extra lenses. I haven’t found a need for them with
this camera.

If you would like to see the quality of the photos it takes, there
is a photo on the Bench Conference website (benchconference.com, 2008
Award Winners, Finished Jewelry, Ladies Ring, page 33) that I took
with it. The only modifications I made were adjusting the size to the
contest parameters (900 by 600 max), correcting the color (it was
slightly green), and removing a couple of specks of dust and fuzz in
the background. The pdf format degrades the resolution a bit on a
monitor, so if you want to see what the photos really look like,
print it out. This photo is 800 by 600, the camera goes up to 2048 by
1538 resolution, which is pretty huge.

Thanks to Paul Reilly for helping me figure out a little Photoshop
(Orchid Rocks)! Maybe one day I’ll have time to play around with
layers.

BTW, if you want to learn a little about Photoshop and get a chuckle
or two at the same time, search “I Suck at Photoshop” on youtube.

As others have said, lighting, lighting, lighting. I have found that
the EZ Cube with the optional lights works very well. I think you
would have to spend a whole lot of money to be able do much better
than this setup is capable of, especially with the included image
editing software. It is certainly capable of more than I am.

The camera cost about $350 new, I got it about five (?) years ago. I
would think you might be able to find one used somewhere for quite a
bit less. The new CyberShots are pretty good also I’m told, but I’ve
never used one. The EZ Cube is relatively inexpensive until you start
to add all the lights, backgrounds, tripod and all the other little
gizmos. I’m into that for about $650, but I got along OK without it.
Best money I’ve ever spent for keeping a record of my custom work,
before and afters and incoming jobs was the CyberShot. It also does
great appraisal and jewelry-on-pets photos.

Dave


#7

Hi Liane,

I use the Canon Power Shot. It is incredibly easy to use, with
excellent results. If you would like to see the pictures that it
takes you can view the images that I have taken with mine at
bestcutgems.com.

I tried the Nikon and was not impressed, nor was I satisfied with a
Kodak. I finally took some of my gemstones to a camera shop and
tested the cameras right in the shop. That is the best way to get
the camera that you are looking for. Try them before you buy one, it
will save you a lot of frustration and money.

I hope this helps.

Linda McMurray G.G., A.J.P. (GIA)
www.bestcutgems.com


#8
In that case I'd recommend you look at the Canon Powershot SD790
IS, under $300 on the internet. Small, capable, decent
close-focusing (not true macro, but good 

On my Xmas list is a DSLR, but for now we have a Canon A-80, which
is no longer in production, but there’s the whole rest of the
line…

The thing about the Canon - I have no idea if other makers have this,
BTW - is that it’s a point and shoot (ours does have macro) plus
there’s no remote shutter - there’s no screw in the shutter button.
Canon has included software that allows you to control the camera
with the computer via USB. You plug everything in, a remote shooting
window comes up where you can see the work, set exposures and
everything, and then a button onscreen to shoot - and it takes the
pic straight into the computer too. Nice…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#9

Hi John,

You’re right, many of the point-and-shoots do not have remote
shutter. But they usually have a self-timer, which works just as
well. HINT: When shooting on a tripod (or beanbag), always use the
self-timer to minize camera movement, and try to adjust exposure
times so they are shorter than 1/50th of a second or longer than 1
second. This will avoid vibration from the shutter affecting the
exposure, and, in the case of a D-SLR, vibration from “mirror slap”.

With the Canon (and maybe others, I’m a Canon fan), you can losk the
mirror up in the D-SLR, but you lose the self-timer function…but
not the remote function.

Things may have changed in the newest Rebel XSi, which I am getting
later this coming week, I’ll report back. This probably means my
Canon Rebel XT will be for sale…maybe. I sure love that camera.

Wayne


#10

Thank you over & over to those of you who have given me your
input…and shared your photos with me. Took my ‘list’ to a small
camera shop today and looked at options… Doing more research tonite
and then will return to actually take some photos in the store.

Hopefully I will have ‘camera in hand’ by the end of this week!

Liane Redpath-Worlund
Bellingham, WA


#11

We have a nikon d50, which was expensive when we bought it a couple
of years ago, but may be in your range now that it is out of date.
Anyway, when we got it, I went to our local camera store and they let
me take a couple of cameras out for a 2 or 3 day test drive. We tried
the canon that was the same price and quality range and the nikon. It
allowed us to figure out which was more intuitive for our needs (both
were good cameras- we just liked the feel of the nikon better).

I think it is better if you can find a dslr than a point and shoot.
You can get a macro lens to increase the quality of your macro
shots. I watched a tutorial that pointed out, when buying your macro
lens, it is a good idea to get one that does not move in or out when
you adjust the focus. Hope you find a camera you are comfortable
with.

Melissa Stenstrom


#12
The EZ Cube is relatively inexpensive until you start to add all
the lights, backgrounds, tripod and all the other little gizmos.
I'm into that for about $650, but I got along OK without it. 

There are less expensive and very similar light tent set-ups for
sale on the internet. They may not have all the features of the EZ
Cube, but I got the basics, foldable light tent, two lamps, camera
stand for about 40 UKP. Apparently the Cloud Dome is a good set-up
too.

Helen
UK


#13
 vibration from "mirror slap". 

With the Canon (and maybe others, I’m a Canon fan), you can losk the
mirror up in the D-SLR, but you lose the self-timer function…but
not the remote function.

Wayne - and all. I will freely confess to thinking of photography as
a necessary evil in my case - don’t know a lot about it (well, some),
don’t really want to. The thing about the Canon software thing is
that you are looking at your shot on the computer, just like a
viewfinder.

Anyway - we had the non-digital Canon Rebel, and loved it, too. We
still have it, it’s just broken and probably not worth the expense.
It’d be my first look at a DSLR, too. But Nikon people would say the
same thing, and I guess it’s the go-to pro camera…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#14

Hello all,

As a professional photojournalist I would recommend Canon as well, I
have always had a love afair with canon though. Nikon is just as
capable but, seem to command a slight premium price upon purchase.
Macro lenses are not necessary but are handy but pricey. cheaper
close focusing lenses can be used but I think the biggest asset would
come from the use of very good software correctly.

Besides canon look at the sony alpha as well.

tim


#15

Hi John,

Most of the better cameras today allow you to see the resulting
image on the computer monitor. The new Rebel XSi not only will give
you tht live pre-view but you can view the scene on a 3" LCD on the
back of the camera. AND…you can magnify the image on the LCD up
to 10X for fine focus capability. This is a fantastic advantage.

BTW…

Nikon lost its prominence many years ago when they fell aslep at the
wheel and let the Japanese lens makers eat their lunch, and then
produced a line of professional cameras that just did not cut the
mustard. Most pro’s in the digital world use Canon, by far. I don’t
know about last year’s sales, but the year before that, Canon held an
incredible 44% market share of the digital market. Nikon was sixth,
right behind Samsung…

Wayne


#16

You really do not need to spend anywhere near that type of money for
a good jewelry photography lighting enclosure. I thought I posted
the lighting solution I use once, should I do it again?

I give complete instructions on how to build a single-light light
box in my CD, but I’m not trying to sell it to you…I’ll be glad
to give the instructions here if anyone likes.

Been doing this for close to 40 years now…

Wayne


#17
Nikon is just as capable but, seem to command a slight premium
price upon purchase. 

Just to point out that a friend of mine had a Nikon point and shoot,
and it had a proprietary battery. My Canon uses AAs, and I have two
sets of rechargeable AAs for it. Something to think about.
Personally, the only reason I care is the feeling of being extorted -
“You have to buy OUR battery, Heh, Heh, Heh…” There’s times when it
needs to be a special battery, but this wasn’t one of them…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#18

I heartily endorse Canon-The new Rebel metioned elsewhere is a great
machine-12 megapixel, and accepts Canons best lenses etc. Thr fact
it is not as sturdy as the higher priced models has no impact for a
camera either well taken care of or on a light box. The Rebel has
Canons latest image color processor DIGICIII which is just amazine,
and the very same processor of thier high end p[ro cameras. the pro
cameras have two of them to accomodate a twenty something megaspixel
count.

BTW-expect your images to exceed 12 megabyte each shot at high
resolution, so plug your camera into your computer for nearly
unlimited storage and the ability to run the camera and see the
pictures on your computer monitor.


#19

My wife and I both use a Canon Powershot A720 IS (8 megapixel) for
taking projects and we’ve been very happy with it. Obviously we’re
not doing magazine publication at that resolution, but for getting a
close-up picture of a piece of jewelry or shots of an entire quilt,
it has worked well for us.

RC


#20
Just to point out that a friend of mine had a Nikon point and
shoot, and it had a proprietary battery. My Canon uses AAs, and I
have two sets of rechargeable AAs for it. 

I’ve had a Canon point and shoot and a Canon SLR film camera which
both ran on ordinary batteries and I now have a Nikon DSLR which has
a Nikon Lithium Ion battery. All I can say is that it was a right
royal pain in the patutey to keep having to change the batteries in
the Canons and I much prefer my Nikon with its Li/ion battery that I
just pop into its charger at the side of my bed. Hubby and I each
bought spare Nikon batteries for our cameras so that we always have
fully charged spares as well as fully charged batteries already in
the cameras. The Lithium Ion batteries last a whole lot longer than
the disposable or rechargeable batteries and I don’t feel "extorted"
at having to use the Nikon batteries at all. The Nikon comes with its
own battery and charger so it’s not as if you have to go out and buy
it, like you do with ordinary batteries - hardly extortion!

I’ve had Canons, Olympus and now Nikon and I love my Nikon DSLR the
best of all the cameras I’ve had. Granted for a true comparison, I’d
need to try the equivalent DSLR’s from other manufacturers, but the
Nikon is a very good camera thank you very much.

Helen
UK