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Old March 23rd, 2004, 09:35 AM   #1
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Camera recommendation?

I'm starting to sell action figures, statues, other toys, comics and such on eBay. I was told a zoom lens is good, but a flash isn't, but lights are.

Can someone recommend a great, affordable digital camera, what kind and how many lights and anything else I may need?

I'm on a tight budget, though...

THANKS!

heath
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 10:54 AM   #2
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All you need is a camera unless you're shooting in the dark. Set up a table by the window and use natural light. You don't need no stinking zoom. But most digitals come with one.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 11:25 AM   #3
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Heath,

I'll probably get flamed, but I would recommend a good used Sony Mavica MVC-FD 92 for what you're wanting to do. It shoots on either floppy disk, or Memory stick w/ 1.6 Megapixels. We have a couple around our shop, and for quicky projects for powerpoint or the web it works well. It also has a very decent macro setting and a decent zoom. Sony sells a the MVC-FD200 on their website for around 299.00 US, but I haven't used them at all. We also have a couple of the CD-1000's, CD-500's and they work well for what we use them for. The added benefit of the CD series is the flash attachment. (The FD200 may also have this, but again no practical experience)

I am suggesting these because of the macro features, which for action figures would work out well. If you have the extra scratch, look at the Canon EOS Rebel w/ a macro lens, or the Nikon D100. I've used the Canon, and have a friend w/ the Nikon, and both DSLR's work well. The downside is cost, both for a body and lenses.

Lighting: If you have lights for your DV camera, you're in business. They work just as well for digital camera work. I would bounce the light off of foamcore, or get a diffuser though, just to keep the harsh shadows to a minimum and to flood the scene. If you don't have lights, then Rob is correct. Use a north window light setup w/ a reflector and go to town.

Good luck, and if you have the opportunity and a local camera store, take a figurine in and play with the various display models. This will give you an even better idea of what works and doesn't for you.

Will
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 11:47 AM   #4
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No ones going to flame you Will, that's not the way things are around here. However, I feel the Sony is too limiting in it's capabilities. Heath, what kind of budget do you have? Some of the less expensive Canon, Nikon, and Olympus cameras offer enhanced capabilities, good quality and more flexibility.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 12:08 PM   #5
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Jeff,
I appreciate the courtesy here, I just won't post other places as a rule due to the rude culture that is so pervasive. I agree with you on the limits of the Sony Mavicas, but without knowing what Heath is trying to do, I figured that would spur conversation. I am also impressed with the Nikon Coolpics line, but, as you asked, without knowing a budget or usage I took a flyer and threw out a couple of models we've used with some success. Have you any experience with the Olympus digitals. I keep getting questions from some of our staff about them, but I haven't any personal experience. The way things change so quickly keeping up is darned near impossible.

Later,

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Old March 23rd, 2004, 01:56 PM   #6
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Thanks, everyone!

Jeff, my budget is limited to around $200 for the camera and maybe $100 for lights. I just want to shoot action figures in their boxes/cases that look great and show any flaws on the packaging (or on loose figures, out of the cases).

I don't want to post a direct link, but for an example, just go to ebay.com and look up Spider-Man figures and see what other people do.

THANKS!!!!!

heath
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 02:47 PM   #7
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You're not going to need that for lights. since your subject is not moving, get yourself some small hot-lights and keep it simple. Bounce the lights of the white walls or some foam core. Take a look at the lower end models I mentioned and see what fits your budget, hands, style of shooting etc.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 03:03 PM   #8
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Since I'm so new, can you recommend some "hot lights" brands, please, Jeff?

Thanks!

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Old March 23rd, 2004, 03:22 PM   #9
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Heath,

You can go a couple of routes for the lights. Perhaps the easiest is dropping by your local home improvement store and looking over the selection of halogen lights. You can get a wide variety of wattages and sizes. I would second Jeff's comment on bouncing these off of a wall, ceiling or bounce card. Be aware they are called "hot" lights for a reason, so be sure you can cool your work area appropriately.

There are several threads in the lighting forum about JTL and Smith/Victor lights, and each will work well shooting either digital stills or DV. Our local photo store sells several "Digital Light Kits" which are S/V lights w/ 50 to 300 watt bulbs. (May be off on wattage, but I'm in the ballpark)

If you're somewhat handy with tools, there was an intriguing article on lighting in DV Magazine by Walter Graff, and a thread somewhere around here on how to make his fluorescent lights using common components found at the hardware store. He's calling it the "Grafflight" and I think we'll probably make a couple for use in our shop. (Sorry I can't remember the link, but a search should come up with it) These would be much cooler, and your digital camera's white balance shouldn't be affected.

I'll defer to Jeff on other brands, since we use our Lowell kit whenever we need hotlights. But for starters a good shoplight might just be the ticket. Sorry if this seems to be steering you toward "cheap" solutions, but working for state government has led toward trying creative solutions in lieu of money for "stuff"

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Old March 23rd, 2004, 03:30 PM   #10
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You can use almost anything, including GE 100 watt household lamps. Just use AWB or do a manual WB. Get some clip lamps or small reflectors, bounce cards and go to it. If you have the space, you can do it outside even (much cooler). I wouldn't invest big bucks in lights right off. Get a decent camera and get better lights as your venture starts making money. Then you can get something that'll do dual duty for still and video.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 03:34 PM   #11
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Jeff and Will,

You both rock, as do everyone else!

I've been doing a little research and came across the EZcube. Any thoughts? Some people like it for the kind of stuff I want to do.

I'm also researching how toy magazines take pictures of figures; looks like it's a much higher budgeted version of what you all described.

THANKS AGAIN!

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Old March 23rd, 2004, 03:35 PM   #12
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Heath,
I cherry picked this from a post Chris Hurd had in the lights forum that's in the dvinfo articles file. For $30.00, we will probably try to build one of these as well.

http://www.dvinfo.net/articles/lighting/clantern1.php


I forget how much information there is on DV Info.

Will
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 03:49 PM   #13
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I just saw how much those EZCubes cost! (And their two lights cost $150!) I'd be out around $300 BEFORE I buy the camera...

It is, however, quite nice and convenient, but I can probably duplicate something for a fraction of the cost.

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Old March 23rd, 2004, 05:40 PM   #14
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Heath
For $200 I would look for a used Canon A series cameras A60, A70 might be in that price range used. My vote might be for the Canon A80. Small-ish, well featured, flip out LCD for odd angles when taking pics of your stuff. I think if you want to shoot action figures for Ebay, you should forget about the on camera flash and just buy two lights to use off camera.

I have a little setup for Ebay stuff which consists of white photo background paper and two long arm/hinged desk style lamps with 60w daylight style incandescant bulbs. The lamps cost me $11each, the bulbs were $1 each, the photo paper was $36 for a huge roll. All prices are in $Cdn so take 25% off. So a total of about $45us. I can take a picture of the setup and send it to you if you want.


The desk lamps are the same as the company Pixar uses in it's 3D title before a movie, except they are clamp to the desk.
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Old March 23rd, 2004, 06:10 PM   #15
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Yeah, send me a pic. heath@mpsdigital.com is my email.

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