Hello Alan, You’ve had a lot of posts in response to your question
and many of them had good input for you. I will offer my unique
perspective for what small value it may have.
I’ve made my living selling jewelry at juried art fairs for over 30
years and for many of those years have had my work photographed by
professionals to get jury slides, paying in the $40 to $60 dollars an
image range. During those years I also took pictures of my work for
record keeping of the evolution of designs and to keep track of
interesting ideas. Sometimes I would get an image good enough to use
as a jury slide and also they were used for flyers and incorporated
in looseleaf books to show clients,etc. I used a 35mm single lens
reflex camera with extension tubes or macro lenses.
5 years ago I entered the computer obsessive phase of my life and
two years ago purchased a Nikon Coolpix 990 with the idea of taking
pictures to put on a website. Both of these things have caused
significant changes in my life and business.
The 990 is the precursor to the Coolpix 995 that several people
posted about and the 4500 that is the current camera in the series.
As far as I can tell by having used all of these and from reading a
variety of reviews on the digital photography resource websites,
these cameras have the best macro capabilities in the digital camera
world at least in their price range. This doesn’t mean there aren’t
other cameras with good macro abilities. The cloud dome that has been
mentioned on orchid a number of times seems like an excellent tool.
I, however, have this thing about making do with what I find about me
and have put together a portable setup from diffusing plastic sheet I
got for $5 and other things I found at thrift stores along with
gradient sheets printed out on archival matte paper on either an
Epson C-80 or a new Epson 2200 inkjet printer. I take a lot of my
shots at motels in the cities where I go to harvest money at shows. I
have all my latest work and I have time the night before the show. At
one show I forgot to bring the diffusing plastic and in my
frustration and determination to shoot the work, got some good images
using a translucent plastic super market grocery bag. Desperation
sometimes leads to interesting solutions. Some of these images can be
seen on my website at http://www.mixedmetaljewels.bigstep.com
At this point I am getting all of my jury slides made from these
digital files for $5 each and got into my first two important spring
shows using only these slides. With the new Epson 2200 inkjet I am
able to print 8 x 10 prints on glossy, semi-gloss or archival matte
paper that are, to my eye, of photographic quality. I also am selling
an increasing number of jewels through what I call internet assisted
marketing, primarily by sending small file size jpegs images to
clients in emails. It is also now relatively effortless to keep a
complete record of the work that my wife and I produce.
As a side effect of my computer obsession and digital delight and
because I am very involved with the Mendocino Art Center in Northern
California, I now also teach workshops to beginning digital
photographers and photoshop users. I just finished a three day
workshop with 9 people, with 8 different cameras including 2 Coolpix
995’s and one 4500. Photoshop is a complex and powerful tool but can
be used by beginners in useful and very effective ways. You don’t
have to know everything about a piece of software to use it well. I
would suggest that you would need to use it or some other good image
editing program to get the best results. Photoshop will not make up
for poor images though, both of these factors have to work together.
The makers of Photoshop, Adobe, have come out with a slimmed down
version of photoshop called photoshop Elements that is a very good
piece of software in its own right and may be generally purchased for
$50 or so with rebates, check Amazon. It would probably do most of
what you needed and if you later decided to switch to the complete
photoshop, the skills you had learned would be easily transferable.
Whether or not you ended up taking all or some of your own slides I
think that you would find a digital camera a very useful tool. They
get better and cheaper each day. I’ve been amazed at the quality of
the images taken by almost every camera that my students bring. I
would recommend buying at least a 4 megapixel camera at this time.
The Nikon Coolpix 4500 is in the mid 400 dollar range.
And finally at the end of much too long a ramble, I will say that
digital photography has awakened my passion for photography that I
first remember feeling well over 50 years ago when I was given my
first box camera as a birthday gift. Being able to see that you have
captured an image in the LCD and having there be no downside to
taking lots and lots of pictures is truly exciting.
If I may be of any assistance in providing more or more specific
about any of this, please email me offlist at
firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to reply. Good luck in your
decision making process.
Jima Abbott Residing in Caspar by the sea at the edge of the pygmy
forest on the banks of the digital river