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  1. #1
    MT Mcleod Guest

    Best Choice for Shooting Artwork

    I need a digital camera for shooting my watercolor paintings to enter in competitions, sales, etc. I'm not a 'camera person,' so simplicity of use is critically important to me. I'd like to spend less than $200 unless you tell me I can do MUCH better for a little more. I have no loyalty to any manufacturers, though I'd probably feel better with a 'name brand.'
    At first, I expect to use the camera solely for taking photos of my paintings, which range from 8"x8" to 2.5'x3'. My paintings are detailed and realistic, so pictures must be straight, ultra-crisp and color-true. (I suspect I'll need a tripod, correct?) I may need to convert some images to physical slides to send through the mail; how can that be done?
    Eventually, we'll probably use the camera for more general purposes (travel, kids, etc.), but we are point+shoot types. Most bells and whistles are of no interest to me; for instance, I can't imagine ever shooting a movie with a digital camera!
    I'm too ignorant even to know what else to tell you -- hopefully this will get you started!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    379
    Quote Originally Posted by MT Mcleod
    I need a digital camera for shooting my watercolor paintings to enter in competitions, sales, etc. I'm not a 'camera person,' so simplicity of use is critically important to me. I'd like to spend less than $200 unless you tell me I can do MUCH better for a little more.
    Sorry, I don't really keep up with the under-$200 range cameras anymore, but I can help you with some things to look for.

    First off, you will want a camera with adjustable white balance. Your typical incandescent gives off a yellow-orange light, which will grey down your blues and emphasize your oranges. Other lights have different color temperatures... Correctly setting the white balance by shooting a grey card, or even just a sheet of typing paper can fix this problem.

    You want a camera without major CA problems. Chromatic Abberations are typically purple fringes at the edge of high contrast areas. Jeff tests cameras for purple fringing, make sure you pay attention to that part of his review.

    You want to know the focal range in which your camera has no barrel or pincusioning distortion. The less prevalent these problems are at the extremes of the cameras zoom range, the longer the distortion free range will be.

    The camera should have some sort of delayed shutter release. Normal folk use this feature to get into their own photos, but you will use it to insure that there is no vibration to blur the photo caused by your shaky hands. To use this properly you will mount the camera on your tripod (you are right, you do need one) and carefully walk away from the setup.

    You will want a camera with overall good picture quality.

    Any camera that fulfills these requirements would be a good point-and-shooter.

    As for slides, yes, you can find some company to turn your digital images into slides. I haven't ever done this. I have an old Pentax K1000 off of ebay that shoots perfectly fine slides, however, since I shoot digital exclusively these days, I don't ever shoot a rolll of film to get a slide. There is a local camera-film-developing place that shoots very high quality slides of artwork for around $7 a piece.

    Finally, you will have to develop the expertise to understand this reply to your post. The learning curve really shouldn't be that daunting though, anyone who is techno-savvy enough to log on and post here can learn to shoot art.

    Just so you know, all the art on my website was shot with a relatively expensive setup. I use a DSLR, the canon 350XT with a tamron 28-75 or canon 50mm lens. I have a cheap SLIK tripod in my studio, and a more expensive Bogen tripod I use to support a pochade box more often than a camera out in the field. All together, I probably have over $1500 in camera stuff, though you could reassemble my kit for less these days.

    Good Luck,

    Clyde

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    2,200
    I think that how you setup your lighting will be more important than which P&S you purchase. A built in flash and standard room lighting are not going to make your art look their best.

    IMO, to the average eye, this is going to have a much more dramatic impact on how they view your image than CA, purple fringe, etc.

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