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Photography Equipment

I currently use a range of cameras for taking photographs of miniatures, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of the photos were taken using other cameras, which are now being retired. Firstly I will look at digital camera and then tall you about my film and film cameras.

Digital Cameras

HP Photosmart Camera

HP Photosmart Digital Camera

This was a cheap digital camera used in the main for speed. It was also my introduction to digital camers and it was pretty good for that. For example, I had access to the miniatures on a Sunday afternoon, it took five minutes to shoot all the models, and by the evening the photos were on the website.

Now compare that to "normal" film, whereby even using a 1 hour photoshop (and the problems with quality and cost) it would still be at least a few more hours and you would also need to finish the film. So for twelve pictures the digicam was the best option.

HP Photosmart Camera
Photograph from the HP PS Digicam.
click to enlarge

In miniature photography another advantage is a 1" focus, allowing us reasonable close-ups of miniatures; however as it comes without a LCD viewer and the viewfinder is useless for closeup work, it can be a bit hit and miss if I actually manage to frame the shot correctly. Of course the advantage of a digital camera is that you can take the photos again and again once I have downloaded the photos onto the PC, I can erase the photo memory card and start again. Another advantage is that I do not need to use a whole roll of film before "processing".

However there are some disadvantages, mainly quality, 640x480 pixels is fine for web work and 3"x2" photos, but any larger there is an unacceptable loss in quality.

The other main disadvantage for this particular camera is that it only works with Windows 95 and 98 and I have been using Windows XP for the last couple of years. The camera new, cost £250, today a camera of the same capability can be bought for as little as £20!

HP Photosmart C200

I did use one of these for a while but in the end, compared to the original Photosmart camera it was virtually useless for miniature photography, but was quite good for "normal" photography.

SONY DSC-P1

Sony Digital Still Camera DSC-P1

This is the current model I use, this is a much more superior digital camera than the two HP models, with a 3.3 mega-pixel range and an excellent lense. The large capture area allows for a range of images to be taken and then cropped using image manipulation software. Here is an image taken with the Sony Camera.

Canon EOS 300D

We are in the process of getting one of these for work, so I may have to "test" it with a few miniatures images.

Film Cameras

Regardless of what you may have read elsewhere, film will always produce a better quality image than digital! Though with the release of the Canon EOS 300D things are now very close!

Film Speed

Most of the time I use Kodak Ultra Gold 400, or Fujicolour Superia 400. I have tried Kodak Royal Gold 200, but not sure if the extra cost is justified. The key really for good pictures for me, is good film and a good developer and processor, your "average" run of the mill high street or local store processor will not do your film justice. I generally use a professional film processor and at the same time ensure that my images are scanned onto CD (which saves a lot of time compared to scanning them in by hand.

EOS 500

Canon EOS 500

This 35mm SLR is perfect for my needs, allowing me a range of creative solutions whilst giving me the flexiblity of full manual control. Though the camera comes with a built-in flash, most of the miniatures' photographs are taken without it; the flash does appear to wash out the colours. As a result I use long exposure times which does slightly degrade image quality, but at an acceptable level. The EOS 500 was known as the EOS Kiss in the United States.

I do have a large professional flash gun which I use for weddings and the such like, and as it is rather flexible I sometimes use it with a large piece of white card to remove shadows.

EOS 500

Extension Tubes

For extreme close-up work I use auto extentsion tubes, allowing me to get in really close. I have three tubes 31mm, 21mm and 13mm, all can be used individually, together or in some other combination. This allows you to fill the frame with a single 25mm figure (or in some cases smaller figures). I normally use the 13mm or 21mm tubes, but have used all three for extreme close-ups.

For an extreme close-up look at the Epic Dreadnought which is only 1cm tall.

EOS 500

Olympus OM101

This is my "old" camera and is now retired (and sold on eBay) after many years of good service. The main reason for retirement was the sever lack of attachments (ie flash or other lenses), resulting in having to rely on the 35-70mm lens that came with the camera. The other main problem was the "power focus" which had no advantages over a manual focus and was quite annoying to use. With the Olympus manual adapter I was able to take the kinds of shots I wanted, however, due to the lack of a flash, often indoor photographs would be blurred. It was after some thought that I decided to buy a new camera as a replacement, the Canon EOS 500.

Camera Recommendation
Film Choice

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