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Thread: Help: Best lens for shooting artwork?

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    Member Miyuki's Avatar
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    Help: Best lens for shooting artwork?

    Hi everyone!
    I was asked to take photos of my friend's paintings for upcoming exhibition, and I need some help with choosing a lens.

    I currently have following lenses, but I don't mind spending $200-300 for upgrading.
    Nikon micro 105mm f/2.8
    Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
    Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5

    I use a Nikon D7000, thinking to upgrade to FX in the future (2-3years away).
    My initial thought was buying something like a 50mm lens to replace my old 18-55mm, but I'm not sure if this is a good choice. Macro lens may be another option, but not sure again.

    Suggestions appreciated
    Miyuki

    Nikon D7000 and bits and bobs.

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    The best solution is to try them all on similar objects,but the 105 macro would be the best,macros are sharp,and have flat field of view which is what would be required.

    Jack
    Last edited by pixy; 19-03-2013 at 11:22am.
    Pentax K5iis, k7 plus lenses from 18mm-600mm.

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    Perpetually Bewildered fillum's Avatar
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    Not something I've done much of Miyuki, but here are a few thoughts...

    I'd go with a lens somewhere around the "normal" focal length as this should minimise the likelihood of distortion (compared to your ultra-wide for example) and also give you a comfortable working distance. I'd use the 18-55mm towards the longer end. The 50mm prime will probably give a bit better performance in camera than the 18-55mm, but I wouldn't buy one just for this shoot as I think the zoom will be adequate. Stop down the lens to around f/11 which should maximise sharpness. The 105mm might be an option if the artworks are small.

    I'd mount the camera on a tripod and use Liveview to focus. If you don't have a tripod maybe try resting the camera on a solid table if possible. Try to keep the ISO at base level to minimise noise.

    When shooting watch out for reflections and hot spots. Generally you probably want fairly even lighting. If using lights, the "standard" method is a light source on either side at 45-degress to the artwork with the camera shooting straight on. More 'directional' lighting can emphasize texture if that is desired. Depending on what the photos are to be used for, you might want to check the calibration of your monitor (if not already calibrated) to ensure that the colours (when printed for example) match the original artwork.



    Good luck...
    Phil.

    Some Nikon stuff. I shoot Mirrorless and Mirrorlessless.


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    Thank you for your suggestions pixy and fillium


    Quote Originally Posted by fillum View Post

    I'd go with a lens somewhere around the "normal" focal length as this should minimise the likelihood of distortion (compared to your ultra-wide for example) and also give you a comfortable working distance. I'd use the 18-55mm towards the longer end. The 50mm prime will probably give a bit better performance in camera than the 18-55mm, but I wouldn't buy one just for this shoot as I think the zoom will be adequate. Stop down the lens to around f/11 which should maximise sharpness. The 105mm might be an option if the artworks are small.

    I'd mount the camera on a tripod and use Liveview to focus. If you don't have a tripod maybe try resting the camera on a solid table if possible. Try to keep the ISO at base level to minimise noise.

    When shooting watch out for reflections and hot spots. Generally you probably want fairly even lighting. If using lights, the "standard" method is a light source on either side at 45-degress to the artwork with the camera shooting straight on. More 'directional' lighting can emphasize texture if that is desired. Depending on what the photos are to be used for, you might want to check the calibration of your monitor (if not already calibrated) to ensure that the colours (when printed for example) match the original artwork.

    Good thoughts

    I've seen some of her paintings before, and they are huge.
    Even one of the smallest ones would be something like 3m x 2m.
    Considering the size of the artwork, 18-55mm may be the one to go

    The use of a tripod is not a problem. I am a fairly small person with not much muscles. I guess a tripod is the must for stability (and I have one anyway).

    The light is the thing I am worried about the most. Those art galleries' lightings are usually not good for photos. Does a flashgun with diffuser work? I don't have a proper studio setting, and I really have to think about the light source...

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    18-55 even at the long end still has distortion.

    Use the 105 stopped down, on a tripod for zero distortion and uniform sharpness from centre to edge. Nobody shoots artwork with anything less than 85mm, and thats pushing it.
    Commercial/Editorial/Wedding work - www.jackietranphoto.com
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    IMO Definitely use the 105 macro from the choices you offered.
    Successful People Make Adjustments - Evander Holyfield

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miyuki View Post
    The light is the thing I am worried about the most. Those art galleries' lightings are usually not good for photos. Does a flashgun with diffuser work? I don't have a proper studio setting, and I really have to think about the light source...
    The art is flat and isn't moving and you've said tripod use is fine - light shouldn't be a problem. Just set your shutter speed to as much as it needs.
    -- Mister Q

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    What's your working distance available? Your 105mm would be best as suggested but with a cropped camera, can you move back far enough given the very large artwork size?
    I know a 60mm macro is often used for copy work but much will depend on what your working environment is.
    Nikon FX

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    I don't know how much room I will have for shooting at this moment, so I will take both 105mm macro and 18-55mm lenses, just in case I was worried about the light source, but it seems the light is not the main concern, and it is a great relief to know that. Thanks heaps everyone!
    Last edited by Miyuki; 20-03-2013 at 10:59am.

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    Ummm.. Lighting may be a problem. Just depends how accurate you need the photos to be.
    You have no idea what light is used to light the artwork and how evenly illuminated each piece is. You may want to consider shooting a grey card/color chart for WB/color/tint calibrations post processing.
    Potentially difficult conditions if you want to do accurate copy work. You should still get decent results I'm sure, but like I said it just depends how accurate you want/need the results to be.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I assume you're shooting RAW of course for my post processing comment.

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    This pdf (below) might be the best art reproduction lighting guide around so have a look to at least understand the lighting problems you might face. Understanding lighting will be of far greater benefit than just deciding which lens to use because far greater damage can be done with poor lighting than with the wrong lens. Ideally try to get both right, or as 'right' as you can.

    http://www.betterlight.com/downloads...larization.pdf

    It wouldn't hurt to try your lenses by comparing them against each other to see which works best in a similar situation, and distance to the intend application. Look for field curvature (where the plane of focus is curved), and distortion. You may need to shoot at a couple of stops down from wide open for maximum optical performance.

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    Some good advice above. Now something else for you:

    When you photograph another persons artwork (painting, sculpture etc) under the Australian copyright act, if the main subject of the photo is the artwork, then the artist who created the art is the copyright holder of the photograph, not the photographer.

    What this means for you, is that if you wish to post these photos anywhere, or include them in a portfolio of your photography you have to do two things:

    1. Have permission from the Artist who created the artwork. They need to give you permission to use the photo. Get this in writing to protect yourself.
    2. Anywhere you do display the photo you have to include the Artist's name and the name of the Artwork itself (if it is named).

    The only time this does not apply is if the Artwork is not the primary subject. For example, you photograph some friends in a Cafe and there is some art on the wall behind them. Your friends are the main subject and the Artwork is 'incidental' to the photograph. Under these circumstances, items 1 and 2 do not apply, and you also own the copyright to the photograph you took.

    ******************
    You may be infringing copyright if you photograph the whole or a substantial part of a literary, musical, dramatic or artistic work, if the work is still protected by copyright. For further information on copyright, see the Australian Copyright Council information sheets at www.copyright.org.au. (from the Arts Law website)
    Last edited by ricktas; 21-03-2013 at 6:34am.
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    Quote Originally Posted by swifty View Post
    ... You may want to consider shooting a grey card/color chart for WB/color/tint calibrations post processing.
    Potentially difficult conditions if you want to do accurate copy work. You should still get decent results I'm sure, but like I said it just depends how accurate you want/need the results to be.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I assume you're shooting RAW of course for my post processing comment.
    Yes, I will definitely adjust WB by shooting a colour chart
    I will be shooting RAW as well. I am still a bit afraid of lighting condition though...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjphoto View Post
    This pdf (below) might be the best art reproduction lighting guide around so have a look to at least understand the lighting problems you might face. Understanding lighting will be of far greater benefit than just deciding which lens to use because far greater damage can be done with poor lighting than with the wrong lens. Ideally try to get both right, or as 'right' as you can.

    http://www.betterlight.com/downloads...larization.pdf

    It wouldn't hurt to try your lenses by comparing them against each other to see which works best in a similar situation, and distance to the intend application. Look for field curvature (where the plane of focus is curved), and distortion. You may need to shoot at a couple of stops down from wide open for maximum optical performance.
    The link was very helpful jj! Cross polarisation...never thought about that!
    I might try shooting a painting at home to see how it goes before going to my friend's exhibition.
    Thanks heaps
    Last edited by Miyuki; 21-03-2013 at 10:42pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Some good advice above. Now something else for you:

    When you photograph another persons artwork (painting, sculpture etc) under the Australian copyright act, if the main subject of the photo is the artwork, then the artist who created the art is the copyright holder of the photograph, not the photographer.

    What this means for you, is that if you wish to post these photos anywhere, or include them in a portfolio of your photography you have to do two things:

    1. Have permission from the Artist who created the artwork. They need to give you permission to use the photo. Get this in writing to protect yourself.
    2. Anywhere you do display the photo you have to include the Artist's name and the name of the Artwork itself (if it is named).
    Thank you for this important info ricktas

    Since I'm shooting for my friend, all of my photos will go to her. Having said that, it is really good to know those copyright and legal issues, so I can avoid getting into a trouble

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