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Digital cameras-new user report


#1

I’d been following the digital camera discussion with great interest,
and just got a Nikon 880 for Christmas. I’ve spent this week trying it
out taking jewelry photographs, and I thought the group might be
interested in what I’ve found out. I took a 13" cubical box of heavy
cardboard, cut off one end and replaced the top and opposing sides
with white translucent plastic. I lit the top with a photoflood light
in a clip-on reflector and the two sides with my studio lights,
incandescent swing arm lamps. Those were the lights I happened to
have. I lined the inside of the box with a piece of heavy white paper,
curving up from front to back. With the camera on a tripod, I took
some test shots. The resolution was fabulous, but the lighting was
very yellow, as I had expected. The whole thing showed great promise,
but I was resigned to buying new lights.

Then I remembered some mention in the manual of setting white points.
When I looked it up, it proved to be the solution to the color
problems. You can set the white point in the camera with the lights
you have, and save that group of settings so you can use it next time
you take jewelry pictures. What a wonderful idea. The pictures are a
tad dark, but when I lighten them a bit the color balance is perfect.

Now I have more work to do on props and such, and getting the right
angle to photograph things, but now I know the camera will do its
part. So far I’m very happy with my choice of the Nikon 880. We wanted
a camera that would do everything, from family snaps to closeup
jewelry pictures. Although I now see why the 990 has the swivel mount-
very handy on the tripod- I like the small size and light weight of
the 880.

And at this point it’s so wonderful not to have to finish and develop
a whole roll to find out how I need to improve something.

Janet Kofoed


#2

Yes, I, too recieved a Nikon 990 last week and I’m still going
through the paperwork and yet to take jewelry pictures. The camera
shop guy talked me into a macro lens so more stuff would be in focus.
Has anyone used one?? I’m going to try to get by without a fancy
lightbox for my first round of shots, I’ll try to shoot them
outdoors. They’re just for my website, not for jury slides. Thanks
fror the tip on the white light compensation. I know I’ll need that.
Have you or anyone else tried the exposure bracketing?

Wendy Newman
www.goldgraphix.com


#3

G’day Janet; with a film camera you could simply have used a blue
filter to alter the colour temperature of the lighting effect.

  You can set the white point in the camera with the lights you
have, and save that group of settings so you can use it next time
you take jewelry pictures. 

I suspect that most digital cameras like the Canon S20 I bought at
Christmas have a setting which automatically corrects lighting colour
balance, or it can be set manually. But of course, if one has
forgotten to set the colour balance, this can easily be corrected as
soon as the picture is downloaded into the computer using settings in
whatever graphics program you have.

     Although I now see why the 990 has the swivel mount-  very
handy on the tripod- I like the small size and light weight of   
the 880. 

My camera fits easily into my shirt pocket; I take it everywhere!
But if I need to use a tripod, I have a swivel which can be screwed
onto the tripod and the camera screwed on to that. Thus when I need
ultra close-ups (like through a microscope or even a 20x loupe) I can
easily set the camera accurately and use the self timer to avoid
shake.

    And at this point it's so wonderful not to have to finish and
develop a whole roll to find out how I need to improve something. 

Agreed wholeheartedly! I sometimes take a picture at the very
highest resolution (3.2 Megapix) which my camera can do - which then
allows me to make a careful ‘selection’, copy it and paste as a new
image, then downsize it to reasonable size if necessary - which
provides a supplementary magnification. But I still use my 30 year old
Canon ftb SLR! – John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson
NZ


#4

Wendy,

I, too, received a digital for Christmas. I am not much farther along
with My Nikon 990 than you are, but I have spent some time playing
with it. I would recommend that you do just that. Keep the book
nearby and just start by getting familiar with the basics. I spent
some time trying to get some decent shots with and without the
lightbox and realize that the most important thing is the lighting.
The macro lens is essential for the shots we want, but there is the
problem of the macro lens blocking the cameras flash, that will
require a lighting setup. And use the timer to overcome camera motion
when you press the shutter. Perhaps we can all help each other
with suggestions as we learn to use our new toys! Susan Ronan


#5
Yes, I, too recieved a Nikon 990 last week and I'm still going
through the paperwork and yet to take jewelry pictures.  The camera
shop guy talked me into a macro lens so more stuff would be in focus.

I’m not sure why you would need a macro lens with the 990 or 950.
They both focus down to 2 inches on there own.

Has anyone used one?? I'm going to try to get by without a fancy
lightbox for my first round of shots,  I'll try to shoot them

Check out my el cheapo light box solution at
http://www.shiningmoon.com/misc/photosetup.html and see how I did it.
You can see some of the pictures I have taken with my new Nikon
Coolpix 950 at http://www.shiningmoon.com/staging in the Gallery
section. I will hopefully be moving my new stuff to my main site
tomorrow.

Cheers,
Paul Ewing
Shining Moon Creations


#6
    I, too, received a digital for Christmas. I am not much farther
along with My Nikon 990 than you are, but I have spent some time
playing 

I just got a 950 myself.

    The macro lens is essential for the shots we want, but there is
the problem of the macro lens blocking the cameras flash, that will 

Why is that? The 950 can focus down to 2 inches if you put it in
macro mode. The key is you can only have the zoom about 2/3 of the
way out. You can tell you are in the sweet spot when the auto-focus
indicator changes to green. I would recommend that anyone with a
Nikon check out http://www.steves-digicams.com/ for in-depth
on these cameras.

    require a lighting setup. And use the timer to overcome camera
motion when you press the shutter. Perhaps we can all help each
other with suggestions as we learn to use our new toys!  Susan Ronan 

I purchased an adapter bracket from http://www.ckcpower.com/ that
mounts to the tripod that allows you to use a remote shutter release
cable. The problem I have is that the 950 has the Macro and Timer
controlled by the same buttons. There are some other recommendations
around this problem on Steve’s site, but this was what I went with.

Good luck and let me know if I can help.
Paul Ewing
Shining Moon Creations


#7

I went through a lot of the same problems I’m hearing from everyone
else. Boy, was it frustrating. I came down to some of the same
conclusions - if you have macro focus capability like the 990 or 950,
get a little ways away from your small object and use the zoom to
magnify the image. It allows the flash some distance to work. I am
convinced that the only way to use a true macro lens (or take
advantage of the super close focus of the Nikon) is to use some
version of natural light and that is really difficult in my
experience.

The other thing I came down to is to use the camera’s automatic
settings. I kept thinking that I was smarter than the camera and you
have so many things to control that I could surely get a better
picture using my smarts. Now I take all pictures on full automatic.

One thing I’m still stuck with is the way the camera reacts to
certain colors of stones and backgrounds. Light colors can really be
a problem. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them. You can
see what I am doing at our website http://www.worldwidegemstones.net

Lee LeFaivre
Worldwide Gemstones


#8

Paul,

I found the steves-digicams site to be terrific! A very good site
for beginner and even better for someone shopping for a digital
camera. Thanks for sharing! I will also take this opportunity to
thank Hanuman for all he does to bring us together and I would be
happy to look at selected advertising for trade suppliers. A small
price to pay for an invaluable resource!

Susan Ronan


#9

Hi everyone,

I am writing from India. I am currently using Sony Digital Mavica -
MVC-FD83 that i purchased from USA.

Currently, I keep the piece 10 cms (4 inches) away from four
flourousent white bulbs (100 Watts each) pointing from all four sides.
I then place the camera about 30 cms (12 inches) away from the piece
and click without flash.

But i am having a tough time trying to get good pictures of jewelery
consistently. If some one is using a similar camera, please help me
with some info on the same.

Best Regards,
SACHIN MODI.


#10

Attn Lee

I read about the color problem you have with your camera. Most of the
Cameras have a correction feature built into them such as red eye
elimination which will conflict with your pictures of products with
ruby or any red tints etc

You will have this in all low end point & shoot cameras. You do need
to have a manual overide to be able to get over this problem or you
can do what I did. I got myself a daylight box.

The day light box (made with special Halogen bulbs) gives a shadow
free lighting alternative to using a flash. It actually elimiantes
any hot spots. It also comes with a camera mounting bracket so that I
can use both my hands to adjust the object angle etc. If you have any
questions I would be able to help you E mail me at
ARJANINC@AOL.COM.

best of luck from snowy NewYork

Kenneth Singh


#11

Hi everyone we got the nikon 990 for xmas and my husband and I just
made a website using it and frontpage, (and dell as a service for
only $ 29. a month.) if you would like to see the 200 pictures we put
on, go to susanknoppenamels.com . we used natural light no flash, out
doors ,under a porch.I used to use a 30 year old manual nikon with
macro lense and photographed my enamels under a white sheet in full
sun. It was difficult to get a perfect photo. The Nikon, once we read
the directions worked great we shot all the photos in one day. I used
a grey mattboard for the background.Click on the photos and you will
see incredible details. We had a hard time making the thumbnail
clear, mostly because of the enamels reflective surfaces, the vintage
silver was no problem. I would also love feedback if any one has time!

thanks sue knopp-susanknoppenamels.com


#12

What is a daylight box?


#13

I started with much the same set up. Couldn’t get rid of the glare
and reflections. What I do now is take advantage of my Nikon 950’s
macro focus and zoom lens (I’m not sure of the characteristics of the
Sony). I stay about 6 to 8 inches away and set the camera on
automatic and use the flash. You can see examples at our site
www.worldwidegemstones.net.

The other piece of the puzzle that I think is important is to pass
the photos through a photo program to clean and size them properly for
the web. I use MS Photo Draw which is inexpensive and easy to use.

Lee LeFaivre
Worldwide Gemstones


#14

The pictures are really good. Actually there isn’t anything like
natural light if you can just control the reflections which you have
done very well. I wonder if you are using a photo manipulation program
to clean, sharpen, and size your pictures. I tried several and have
found that MS Photodraw does a good job at a reasonable price and that
it was easy to learn and use (I really struggled with several others).
I don’t manipulate my pictues much - mostly just sharpen and size
them - but I think it really helps.

You can see examples at our site - www.worldwidegemstones.net.

Lee LeFaivre
Worldwide Gemstones


#15

are the pictures glaring out? lots of shine off the piece? if so try
reflecting the light off white cloth or scrimming it . you would
scrim the light by putting some sort of diffuser between the light
source and the piece to be photographed. this stops the light beam
from actually hitting the piece and producing glare. several commonly
available scrim/diffusers can be cheese cloth, very thin tracing
paper, old worn sheet or pillow case etc. etc. . just about anything
with a thin/transparent white surface will do . the idea is to
deflect the beam but let the light through . hope this helps.

Talk to you later Dave


#16

Looked at your druzy. How come the ones that are sold are by far the
best images? Are they the newer images?


#17
if you would like to see the 200 pictures we put on, go to
susanknoppenamels.com 

Hi Sue,

Beautiful work and the images look great. You might want to consider
putting fewer images on a page, however. It took years to load.

Beth


#18

Sue… Superior stuff. I love every picture. Great Job. Cant wait to
lay my hands on the Nikon 990 once I see this incredible results. I
copied one of the thumbnails to my computer…enlarged it in
Irfanview. Just what I wanted. I dont know how will it print on paper,
have you tried it?

One more thing that only you can tell, does the colors come as in the
originals? Let all of us photo enthusiasts know.

Pradeep


#19

Actually I think the sold ones are among the newer. Some of the
drusy examples just don’t photograph well. The ones with lots of
color - orange or violet - are easier. The very dark ones are nice in
real life - lots of sparkle - but very hard to capture in a photo. We
are planning to put more drusy on the site but it is a little harder
to acquire and more difficult to cut and handle than our other stones.

Lee LeFaivre


#20

Sue, I checked out your website, very nice. I also got a Nikon 990
for Christmas and having been spending time photographing w/natural
light. I’m an enamelist and can relate to the difficulty of shooting
such a refective object. I’m happy w/the results so far, and plan on
sending some pics soon for Dr. Aspler to approve for the gallery. I
would love a critique from our fellow Orchidians. Until then…I
best get to work!

Lisa Hawthorne