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tline3open  Digital Cameras and Photographing Hallmarks

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Author Topic:   Digital Cameras and Photographing Hallmarks
Waylander

Posts: 131
Registered: Sep 2004

iconnumber posted 01-25-2005 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Waylander     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello all

I'm just started investigating buying a good digital camera to enable me, amongst other things, to photograph the hallmarks on my silver. Given the amount of good photography on the Forum, I was wondering what camera people used, specifically the level of optical zoom and the amount of mega pixels. The camera I am thinking of is a Fujifilm 3500, with 4 Mega Pixels and 6 x Optical Zoom. Would this be sufficient?

Additionally, does anyone have tips regarding lighting and backgrounds when shooting hallmarks i.e. should I use a white background, and where should the light be coming from?

All contributions much appreciated

Thanks all

Waylander

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4102
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 01-25-2005 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a 5.1 megapixel Panasonic DMC FZ10 with 12x optical zoom. I have a shooting box built with frosted diffusion panels; lots of light, but little or no glare.

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 01-25-2005 06:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This link (Coin Silverware Photography) and this one (Photography) may be of help.

This site lists cameras good for macro (close up) work, and this one has excellent hands-on reviews/tutorials of most digital cameras.

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sazikov2000

Posts: 254
Registered: Jan 2005

iconnumber posted 01-26-2005 05:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sazikov2000     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Using a scanner with the highest resulution is sometimes better than a digicam (small objects like spoons, hallmarks, details, etc.).

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Kimo

Posts: 1608
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-27-2005 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The thing to look for is a "macro" function. This is kind of the opposite from a zoom lens in that it allows you to get your lens very close up to an object. When you see a professional close up photo such as dew on a rose it was shot with a macro. Not all digital cameras have macro functions, especially the very inexpensive models. Zoom functions (digital or optical) won't give you the same level of detail and clarity as a good macro function.

Perpaps the second most helpful feature is to get a camera with external threading around the lens to permit you to buy and screw on suplemental filters, and then buy a polarizing filter. Polarizing filters cut down glare and reflections which are common problems with photographing shiney items, but they also cut down a bit on total light coming through so you either need to be sure to increase your light source a bit or be sure your camera can capture enough light in an indoor lighted area to compensate. Polarizing filters also have the bonus of making your regular outdoor photos really pop with extra color saturation and contrast. Again, lower priced cameras may not have this threading to allow for filters to be added.

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 01-27-2005 06:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If a camera can use filters, you can also add supplementary close-up lenses or "plus" lenses. They come in sets of +1, +2, and +4, and can be stacked if needed, or singly in powers up to +10. For photographing silver marks with cameras that do not take interchangable lenses, supplementary lenses are a necessity for most, even those with a macro setting. Cheap supplementary lenses will be blurry at the edges; higher powers may be sharp only at the center, if at all.

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 01-27-2005).]

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IJP

Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 01-31-2005 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I use a Nikon Coolpix 8700, on a user setting I customized for the best images. I am absolutely impressed with the capabilities of this camera in macro-mode, and it has numerous other applications as well. It's versatile and easy-to-use.

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 04-09-2005 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Polarizing filters cut down glare and reflections which are common problems with photographing shiney items

If you plan to use a polarizer with a digital camera, be sure it is a circular polarizer (it will be so marked on the ring), rather that the older linearpolarizer (which probably will not be marked as such).

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Scotia

Posts: 125
Registered: Oct 2003

iconnumber posted 04-12-2005 12:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scotia     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi there,

I use an Olympus C5000Z, 5MP Camera. It has a "Super Macro" mode which enables you to take a clear picture really close up, so it is ideal for hallmarks.

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Clive E Taylor

Posts: 450
Registered: Jul 2000

iconnumber posted 04-12-2005 03:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Clive E Taylor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Couple of points which may help.

Scanning -If the object is flat enough and you can scan the mark, this works really well. It's worth trying positioning the object in different positions on the scanner and different axial alignment as this does vary the result.

Soft boxes. Bubble wrap (the clear variety -Not the coloured type !!!!) is a very good diffuser and a piece or two of aluminium foil -(available free from your kitchen!)
makes good fill in reflectors.

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Waylander

Posts: 131
Registered: Sep 2004

iconnumber posted 04-14-2005 07:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Waylander     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to all for their replies.

Kind regards

Waylander

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chase33

Posts: 362
Registered: Feb 2008

iconnumber posted 03-27-2009 08:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for chase33     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey All,

I am looking at buying a new camera and was checking out various threads on here to see which features are recommended. It seems like most of these threads are a few year old and since technology seems to change constantly, I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for good cameras.

Thanks

Robert

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Polly

Posts: 1966
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 03-27-2009 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't have know about specific brands, but I do think it's a good idea to look for one that has image stabilization. It's very helpful for taking close-ups without flash--otherwise they can easily come out blurry.

A little tabletop tripod is also useful for close-ups.

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Clive E Taylor

Posts: 450
Registered: Jul 2000

iconnumber posted 03-27-2009 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Clive E Taylor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am an ex-professional freelance (part time) photographer (any ex US Navy members will have seen my work - either under the byline of C & S Taylor or, uncredited - but well paid, - in USN recognition manuals.)

I therefore have a total bias towards high end , large or medium format cameras . And expensive macro lenses on SLR cameras firmly supported on fixed heavy stands.

And hours of skilled darkroom work in printing and touching up.

Or rather I did have such beliefs.

For non-professional work I went semi-digital about four years ago by using high end SLR 35mm film cameras and had the film negatives digitized onto disks. Much easier editing and printing and I could still use our expensive kit.

Noticing the rapid advances in digital camera capability coupled with equally rapid decease in prices - and the sheer convenience of them - my wife and I bought our first digital camera last year. Mainly for bird, wildlife and silver object and silver mark photography. With great reservations for the "toy".

A SLR with a non -interchangeable zoom lens, the FUJI FinePix S8000fd.

Frankly I have been astounded with what this thing can do - effortlessly.

The features that are needed for close up work - which this camera has - and you should require in any camera are -

  1. A good optical camera stabilization system - I can hand hold macro shots with no trace of camera shake. Excuse the pun, this truly shook me - it is not a gimmick -it really works.
  2. a medium macro setting which will operate along most of the zoom range. This enables you to get light onto the subject more easily. Beware of cameras where the macro is only at the wide angle end of the zoom.
  3. A super macro which works at either some range on the zoom, or a fixed focal length not at the extreme wide angle end.
  4. An auto focus system that works well.
  5. A Tripod bush and an AC powerlead for studio work.
  6. A good large back screen on the camera and lead to output to a monitor - for studio work.

For assay marks I found that the SuperMacro mode was best used at full quality 8M pixel and only using a small amount of the frame.

I spent the first week discovering that the camera's programming was better at virtually all tasks for which I considered my expertise would be necessary to over ride it manually.
Then the next week finding just how good the kit really was. It was a real road to Damascus experience.

The camera has enabled me to grab a shot of a rare bird, hand holding at the equivalent of 450mm and getting a publishable photo. Despite poor light at the time.

There are many cameras out there, but my experience with the FUJI - especially the image stabilization system - means that when I drop this one - and they are very flimsy by Nikon standards - I will buy another.

Once you have a short list of cameras, try to get their operating manuals on PDF from the web. This often reveals far more than the adverts ever do.

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Kimo

Posts: 1608
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 03-27-2009 04:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are many choices and fans of each. The ones that seem to outsell the others are the Canons. I have one and I can understand why they are so popular in terms of being relatively rugged, having all of the popular features, and price. They make several series - the Powershots (the fanciest biggest ones), the Elphs (the smallest simplest easiest to carry ones), and the A series which are a blend of the two. I have an A series. As was mentioned, you really do want not only a really good macro function, but also Image Stabilization which helps get you the sharp photo when you do not use a tripod mounting. The other half of the secret to good photos of silver is a lighting stage. You can make or buy one a small one. Without one you are just going to be plagued with unmanageable reflections and hotspots, and shadows, and such. The best camera without also using a light stage just will never give you the quality you will want.

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FWG

Posts: 845
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 03-27-2009 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I used Olympus digitals for years, but on the last upgrade (last fall) I went to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5, now apparently replaced by the TZ50. Nice thing about Panasonic is they're using Leica lenses which are outstanding; this one has a 28-280mm (35mm equivalent) zoom. Image stabilization is good enough to take handheld nighttime street shots even at longer lens settings, and the macro mode works well for things like marks. Best of all you can throw it in a bag or medium-large pocket and have it with you always.

Before going digital I also used Nikon SLRs and carried around a bag of lenses; I had a few gallery shows of photos and sold some of my shots. Haven't used film for years now and don't miss it at all at this point, and while I'm not doing exhibition photography in the old sense my printed digital photographs are regularly part of exhibits for the Collections I curate. The quality is there, with much greater convenience.

My recommendation is to handle different cameras and see which ones have controls that fall where you want them, and that 'makes sense' to you in its logic and layout - everyone's different in those respects. All the ones mentioned here are likely to perform well in terms of image quality, so that kind of ergonomic and personal comfort question should really be one of the major focuses. The camera that you enjoy using and that you have with you will always be the best for you.

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Clive E Taylor

Posts: 450
Registered: Jul 2000

iconnumber posted 03-29-2009 04:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Clive E Taylor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Everyone has, quite rightly, stressed the importance of getting a camera with image stabilization.

Warning - make sure that the image stabilization advertised is not merely a program that increases the effective film speed and/or increases the lens aperture if the shutter speed is lower than 1/250th.

I encountered several cameras advertised where this was claimed as "image stabilization".

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