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Author Topic: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).  (Read 26512 times)

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Offline Dux Aurelius Elysius

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Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« on: August 27, 2007, 12:00:31 PM »
Lately a lot of people have been posting in both the painting and the konversion forum seeking help in taking photos of their minis.  This is just a small checklist for you to follow to make sure that you're taking quick photographs of your work.  If you have any questions or advice, please ask.

1.  Most digital cameras have a flower on them, called the macro setting, which enables you to focus on things within a meter.  Make sure your camera is set to this.

   a.  When using macro, zoom out as far as possible and get the lens of the camera as physically close as possible, anything from 50-5 cm away from the model, 'til you get the model or part to fill the frame.

2.  If your camera's macro isn't that good and you can't get a focus, then switch to normal photo taking but use a slightly different method. 

   a.  Most digital cameras will have an optical and a digital zoom, and when you're using the zoom there'll be a little pause when it switches between the two.  Zoom in as far as possible using the optical zoom only.

   b.  Stand back, and don't be afraid to leave dead space around the model, this can be dealt with later.  The important part is getting a good focus.

3.  Get the background as blank as possible, any discernible patterns or objects can trick the camera into focusing on them, instead of what you want.  Stick it next to a plain wall, or put some blank white paper behind it.

4.  Make your camera as stable as possible.  You can buy a mini tripod or, if you don't want to spend the money, rest it on some stacked books or something like that.  At a push you can hold the camera with both hands, bring your elbows in as tight as possibly and rest them against your stomach and control your breathing.

5.  Use natural lighting wherever possible, and always avoid using a camera's flash.  Camera flash washes out the shadows on the model making it look bland, and most artificial lighting will have an unnatural, orange colour to it.  Another option is to invest in a daylight bulb to put in your desk lamp, which isn't too extortionate and will help retain a truer colour balance for picture taking.  Also useful to painting.

6.  When you press down the button on the camera, you'll find it goes smoothly and then you have a little resistance where you have to push that little bit harder to take the picture.  Push down as much as possible before the resistance; hold your finger there and the camera will start to focus.

   a.  This will give you a chance to make sure that you're not stood too close, there's not too much in the background and you've got a good frame.  Once you're happy that the photo will be good, push the button in the whole way.

   b.  Some cameras will show you if you can't focus (bad lighting or too close to the model tend to be the prime suspects) by showing the little focus box as being red rather than green or white.  If your camera's one of these use the opportunity to adjust your shot 'til you can get it in focus.

7.  Set your camera to take the highest quality picture possible (if you're using a 12 megapixel camera ... make use of all of it).  Once you've uploaded it onto your computer you can crop out the dead space (see stage 3), and shrink it to fit.  Most places like photobucket will shrink jpgs to their maximum upload size anyway.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2008, 04:28:33 AM by Falhandir »
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Offline CODE BLACK

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2007, 12:36:41 PM »
Very useful. Thank you.

Offline Insulin Junkie

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #2 on: September 8, 2007, 11:52:01 AM »
Thanks a lot! I hadn't even seen the little flower before....
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Offline TheOcho

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2007, 11:58:54 AM »
THANK YOU!  I have been trying to figure this out for the past couple of days.  I just went and got the manuals out when it hit me to check the boards first. 

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« Last Edit: September 19, 2007, 12:03:13 PM by TheOcho »
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Offline Yskonyn

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2007, 07:21:33 AM »
1.  Most digital cameras have a flower on them, called the macro setting, which enables you to focus on things within a meter.  Make sure your camera is set to this.

Very helpful indeed! But isn't the macro setting for things up to 30cm?
Focus on things within one meter up to 50 cm can easily be done using normal settings.
Nevertheless the flower is the setting you wish to use! :D Just checking if my info is correct!

Offline Dux Aurelius Elysius

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #5 on: October 6, 2007, 02:47:21 PM »
Very helpful indeed! But isn't the macro setting for things up to 30cm?
Focus on things within one meter up to 50 cm can easily be done using normal settings.
Nevertheless the flower is the setting you wish to use! :D Just checking if my info is correct!

Never with my cameras, I always found that it was good for around a meter distance and using normal settings for anything 2 or more meters away.  My camera may have been messed though, I'm quite open to this option seeing as it really is out of action now.  I think the main thing is to be aware that there is the option, and to play about with zoom and distance from the model until you get it working rather than just assuming you can simply point and click and be done with it :P
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Offline Ryan_m

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #6 on: October 7, 2007, 07:38:11 PM »
the little flow is the for function called macro it allows you to get really close and stay in focus

Offline Ceo

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2007, 03:20:05 PM »
That you. Your checklist was very helpful. It did improve my over quality but I think my camera is suffering from low mega-pixels.

Offline Incom

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #8 on: December 3, 2007, 04:16:59 PM »
Great tips indeed, The Man From Room Five. I follow those steps as well and it'll make your minis look sharp and pristine for sure.

Also, make sure the camera is stable. You can use a tri-pod for this, but since minis are so small, placing the camera on the table will work just as well.

Like TMFRF said, avoid flash light at all times. Natural light is best, but sometimes the sun just won't come out and you desperatley want to shoot your creations and place it on 40k. In that case, make sure your camera is stable, set the diafragma wide open and make the shutter time as long as possible. Also, a low ISO value will help a lot. The higher the ISO value, the more "noise" the camera will pick up, making the picture grainy.

And check if you can manually focus your macro option. Mine (a Canon Powershot A75) has a two-step macro option: one displays the flower, which has an automatic focus function, but I can press it again, displaing MF (manual focus) in the display. I can focus on a mini as close as 10 cm. that way!

Offline Dux Aurelius Elysius

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2008, 04:30:50 AM »
OP updated.  I bought a new camera and you guys were right, it turns out that the macro on my old one just sucked :P

Also updated lighting and included Incoms advice about camera stability.
I carry with me an Inquisitorial Seal. It is a small, unassuming object contained in a neat box of Pluvian obsidian. It is a modest thing. Relatively plain, adorned with a single motif and a simple motto. Yet with this little object I can sign the death warrant of an entire world and consign a billion souls to Oblivion.

Offline Whitestar83

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2008, 08:48:04 AM »
Oh, I meant to thank the author of this post earlier... I'm finally taking decent photos of my minis... took me a bit to get used to the camera, and I haven't really posted the new good photos yet, but I think it's taking good photos now :P  I'm using my desk lamp to stablize the camera for photo shooting :P

Offline lijah_cuu

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Trouble with lighting when taking photos.
« Reply #11 on: February 4, 2009, 06:26:44 PM »
(Mods: If this has been covered elsewhere or needs moving, please feel free!)
Does anyone have any recommendations for a good supplier of lightboxes? Uk suppliers preferably please!

I've been having real trouble getting the light right for my models when I try and take pics of them. I end up with a lot of shadowing or too much light which alters the colours too much.

Ive had a quick look on ebay but it mainly just lists ones for slides /paper but im looking for one I can put the model into.

Any help would be great!!

Offline Lord of Winter and War

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Re: Trouble with lighting when taking photos.
« Reply #12 on: February 4, 2009, 06:30:52 PM »
You need multiple light sources, I don't think that a light box is needed.

This may help. 

http://www.privateerpressforums.com/index.php?showtopic=5813
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Offline StraightSilver

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Re: Trouble with lighting when taking photos.
« Reply #13 on: February 5, 2009, 05:13:21 AM »
Hey mate,

These are meant to be pretty good:

http://www.ezcube.com/

Uk Supplier:

http://www.tabletopstudio.co.uk/Pages/EZcubes.htm

I think I will get one at some point as I am having similar problems. From what I have seen you can put the cube on your desk with 3-4 standard desk lamps providing multiple light sources and the cube diffuses the light without causing the shadows you mention.

Only thing is these look pretty expensive, I reckon we could get something cheaper on ebay. Maybe as a gaming group we should chip in for one?

I've been using the "Spiky James" method from Warseer though which has given pretty good results.

I think the problem you are having is using your painting light to take photos under. this provides a good source of light, but in a small concentrated area positioned above the model, which is giving you shadows as the light is too bright.

I take photos on top of my chest of drawers as I can have three different light sources from here, all of which are actually quite far away from the miniature.

I then give the miniature more light by adjusting the EV value on the camera by about +1.5 or +2.

This means that I don't need as harsh a light and prevents shadows, although I end up taking about 5 photos, of which 1 or 2 are useable.

But I know we tried this already at yours in the kitchen, so maybe a light box is the way to go. Or some sort of light diffuser for your lamp? Have you tried reflecting the light off of something else like they do for tv?
« Last Edit: February 5, 2009, 05:15:16 AM by Chris Parsons »
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Offline DJ-of-E

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Re: Trouble with lighting when taking photos.
« Reply #14 on: February 5, 2009, 06:52:50 AM »
Take your lamp and cover it with a thin white cloth.  That should do the trick.  Fortunately, my desk lamp has something similar already made with it, unintentionally.

Offline Dux Aurelius Elysius

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Re: Trouble with lighting when taking photos.
« Reply #15 on: February 5, 2009, 10:41:13 PM »
http://www.stevesphotoshop.co.uk/photo_light_tents_cubes.html

Looks like a more reasonably priced UK supplier of light boxes.  To be honest though if you're not looking to invest then just try getting some daylight bulbs for your lamps to get truer colour, and moving the lamp further away from the model to reduce glare.
I carry with me an Inquisitorial Seal. It is a small, unassuming object contained in a neat box of Pluvian obsidian. It is a modest thing. Relatively plain, adorned with a single motif and a simple motto. Yet with this little object I can sign the death warrant of an entire world and consign a billion souls to Oblivion.

Offline Tarrin the Space Marine

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camera
« Reply #16 on: February 6, 2009, 06:07:37 AM »
ok so i am thinking about getting a new digital cam. am looking at a sony 8.1 MP  t series. but i want one which is good at taking pics of minis , eg a decent macro, whilst been pretty good on the usual pics of people, places etc.

anyone got the ideal cam?

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The Globals have issued a 2:1 ruling that yes, yes everything about Tarrin is indeed unfair. We have also been sullied merely by contemplating this.

Offline lijah_cuu

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Re: Trouble with lighting when taking photos.
« Reply #17 on: February 6, 2009, 06:39:41 AM »
Much cheaper! Many thanks for that!


Offline DJ-of-E

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Re: camera
« Reply #18 on: February 6, 2009, 10:51:26 AM »
To be honest, 80% of quality pictures does not necessarily comes from the camera.

This link will pretty much explain how to take quality pictures.

http://www.astronomican.com/index.php?Itemid=98&id=459&option=com_content&task=view

BTW, I'm using a 5MP Panasonic Camera I got on ebay for $80.  Here's what I truly believe people did not notice when taking pictures.

1) Have simple background.  Taking a picture of a model on a desk alone will take away the attentive focus to the model as your computer and pots of paint will be attracting the camera's focus.

2) Good light source.  Some people use multiple light sources.  I use a 3rd sheet as gloss paper to reflect light sources.  To each their own.

3) Learn to use the macro feature on the camera.  Most (like 97%) of digital cameras has this feature.  The only brands that don't have this feature is the super generic cameras with crappy brands like Sonry or Vizio.

Offline Tarrin the Space Marine

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Re: Help! My pictures aren't in focus! (A camera checklist).
« Reply #19 on: February 6, 2009, 03:43:19 PM »
You know it really annoys me when people move threads before actually reading them.

I know how to take good pics, i know what functions i need to have on a camera, but i was, if you read the post, looking for a recommendation of a brand or a particular model. 

As in cost vs use etc.

ie:

I have an X and i have found it to be ideal.

or

I have a Y and i have found it to be great for mins, but limited at doing A, B and C.



« Last Edit: February 6, 2009, 03:44:24 PM by tarrin »
However, everything about Tarrin is unfair and should be sanctioned with extreme prejudice.

The Globals have issued a 2:1 ruling that yes, yes everything about Tarrin is indeed unfair. We have also been sullied merely by contemplating this.

 


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