Guests - If You want access to member only forums on HSO. You will gain access only when you sign-in or Sign-Up on HotSpotOutdoors.

It's easy - LOOK UPPER right menu.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
kdawg

I'm looking for a good, cheaper camera for taking still pictures of guns.

9 posts in this topic

Hi all,

 

I have an old sony cybershot 7.2 megapixel camera.  I've taken some pictures of my guns (I have a small photobooth with a camera stand), and they turn out okay but I really have to work hard with angles and lighting to get anything decent.  The area that the camera lacks the most is on my guns with fine engraving, as they can't seem to pick up the fineness of the engraving as a whole but only in smaller sections.   I don't want to spend a lot of dough but was wondering if anyone out there would have some recommendations on a cheaper (under $200) camera that would be an improvement.  I know the newer point/shoot HD cameras are 20 MP, so I'm guessing my results would be better but would rather hear some unbiased opinions as I know absolutely nothing about cameras.  Many thanks. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would guess the limiting factor isn't pixels but the resolution and focusing of the lens. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got a Sony DSC H-55 I use (discontinued) that's a 14.1 mp with a 10x OPTICAL zoom. (not the cheaper digital) I shoot my gun pics with it; what I like are all the settings, manual video, easy, quick shot,, and there is an Intelligent auto mode (I call it the iDope mode) Shutter speed settings, light balance, shadow, type of lights, etc etc. I can get zoomed right in on the serial numbers with the macro settings.Excellent reviews on this one, you can still find them for under $200, usually around $150. Excellent pics and detail. I love mine. I got mine new at Walmart on clearance for $110...and they're still around out there.

 

http://www.cnet.com/products/sony-cyber-shot-dsc-h55/

 Pic like this can be zoomed in on camera to clearly see screws and serial #'s on the guns.... 

had to downsize this, and quality suffered...

 

ics7i8.jpg

 

Edited by RebelSS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm, you've made it tough with your price point. Even cheap point and shoots are in that range. Does your camera have a manual mode? Do you use a small table top tripod? You mentioned a camera stand I'm not sure what that is? People get hung up on pixels but that is really not the problem. The ability to control your camera and lighting as you mentioned is more of a factor. Controling aperture, shutter speed and of course ISO will provide you with good results and being able to position your lights. Do you have a macro mode on your camera? This allows you to get much closer to the gun and minimize some of your small sensor limitations.

Remember any point and shoot uses a very small sensor compared to a DSLR, that is where you loose some details. I just picked up a Canon S120 and it has the ability to provide complete control over your settings. It has a bit larger sensor than most compact cameras as well. I just shot a few hundred photos up on Rainy Lake on a fishing trip and it does a pretty good job. Does it compare to my DSLR's? No, but I know it would take good close up photos.

If you could post an example or two of your shots along with what the camera settings were I might be able to see what is happening to your shots.

These are a couple  of mine all taken with a DSLR.I use simple backgrounds like a sheet or blanket and some of my studio lights. I add the graphics in photoshop. I could easily replicate these with my S120.

MP-XL.jpg

Buckmark%20Final%20f-L.jpg

Shot on white background and added graphics.

 

IMG_3576a-XL.jpg

 

 

XDm%20Ad-XL.jpg

This last shot was with my Canon S120 a few days ago. You can see the detail available up close in the fish, lure and water. It loses some background detail again because of the smaller sensor but there is no reason it could not take credible shots with close up details like those in a gun.

IMG_0151a-XL.jpg

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all of the responses. 

This would be a good example of what I'm talking about.  The engraving on this gun is crisp, even and clear throughout but it will only pick up a section of it cleanly, while other parts look faded, blurry or dark.  The picture was taken with a tripod.  I believe the setting was auto exposure.  The other settings are ISO, soft snap, landscape and low light.  I seem to get the best results when I don't use lights but position my photo booth in accordance with indirect natural lighting.  I'll be the first to admit that I know nothing about the settings on my simple camera. 

DSC03797.JPG

Here's one more example:

 

DSC03808.JPG

Also, great pictures fellas.  I especially like the fish pic!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it was me, I would try some soft artificial light, Maybe one to each side of the camera if you are looking for total illumination of the guns. Also, when shooting that close, you are going to have set  your F stop as high as you can. Or there are programs that use "Focus stacking". You would shoot many pictures without moving the camera with the focus in different spots on the gun and the program will merge alll them together with the total gun in focus. But I am assuming with the price point of you new camera wish list, new software would be out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the two issues you have here are lighting and the mode your camera is shooting in. You mentioned the camera shot in landscape mode. Try shooting in macro mode if your camera has one. You will get better results shooting up close. IA4PATS touched on the depth of field issue. That is one reason I mentioned shooting in manual mode to take control over your aperture. That is what determines the amount of the gun that is in focus. If you use a higher f stop number more of your subject will be in focus.

I could live with the depth of field your shots have but one area that will give you a boost is change the flat lighting you are getting from your photo booth. While the lighting is very even it is not providing contrast in your engraving. You need a more directional light to make the lettering have a small shadow, that makes it stand out! Your second shot would be perfect with some better lighting. You have sufficient depth of field in that shot, you just need to improve your lighting.

You will have to use care when shooting that beautiful Colt with the nickel plating. You can end up with hot spots on the chrome if you are not careful with your light placement. Best advice I can give is experiment and keep moving your light to get the look you are after. Every time you  change the position of your gun you will have to change lighting.

I see nothing wrong with camera you have now, maybe look at getting a cheap lighting set up. There a number of them around that will stay WAY under your $200 budget. I think that will get you on track to what you are looking at. They make always on type of lights so you don't have to have a connection to your camera. 

The other thing is you are going to have to do some post processing to your shots to get more of the look you are after. There are some free programs out there like Picassa that will do some auto type processing for you.

This is a quick edit of your shot, just have a laptop with touch pad so I can't do much with it but it gives you an idea of what a minimal amount of processing will do.

edit1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm graphic designer by trade so far from a photography expert but I have had do a lot of product photography at work and had to learn on the fly.

I think others have given pretty good info relating to depth of field and also your lighting. 

I shot a lot of products with a highly reflective surface like your Colt.  Finding the right lighting can be a challenge to get the item well light, provide the right contrast for the engraving to show up and to avoid the hot spots.  Here are some tips based on how I set things up that have given me the best results.

1. I shoot everything in a table top photo cube.  Mine is 4'x4' but you can get them smaller and they aren't a ton of money.  I use 4 lights, one overhead light, one light in the background lighting up my backdrop, and 2 side lights (one on either side).  I've shot enough in my studio and my product doesn't change much from shot to shot so I've got them more or less perfected at this point but at times I have to move them around to get the right areas highlighted and to avoid hot spots or shadows.  I have my studio set up in a closed off room that is completely black without my studio lights on so I have control over all of the light in the room.

2. I hang a long sheet of white paper from the top back of the cube that gently bends down and covers table top so I can put my product on the paper.  i find the paper works better than a cloth background because you don't get the folds of the cloth which makes for an easier time editing out the background to get a pure white background.

3. The photo cube helps diffuse the light coming into the product but if I'm still getting hots spots and I can't move the lights around enough I will sometimes add another diffusion cloth over the top of the light to soften it more.  

4. I shoot with photo grade CFL bulbs.  They offer a nice soft light and the fixtures aren't a ton of money.  I ended up having to go with them for temperature concerns.  I used to shoot with tungsten bulbs but they got too hot that the fire alarm company was concerned about my overhead light being too close to the sprinkler and tripping the temp sensor.  So I made the switch to all CFL and they have worked great, less sweating in the studio and I don't have to change bulbs as much.

5. Processing, I do all my processing in photoshop.  Since I'm a designer by trade I have worked with photoshop for years.  Thankfully my photoshop skills help make up for my lack of photography skills.  There are a lot of tricks you can go to improve the contrast and help that engraving pop.  The more you can learn the processing tools the more options you'll have to improve marginal photos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All great information folks.  Many, many thanks.  I think I'm going to mess around more with my lighting and see what I can do.  My camera doesn't have a "macro" setting that I can find but I can try all of the settings and see what produces the best pictures.  Again, all input has been greatly appreciated.  Have a great week everyone! 

Edited by kdawg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0



  • Posts

    •   No expert here either but I've talked to a couple.    Would your new, expanded slab be conducive to making the addition another zone or zones?  You could maybe run that expansion off different lines from the manifold above the slab so you don't have to route and pour over seams.   Definitely insulate below with GOOD insulation.  As mentioned, heat doesn't really rise the way we think it does; it moves to the cold and the earth will soak it up.   Heating your loop would be cheapest with a natural gas fired boiler, propane second.  Geothermal is expensive to put in so your payback on a new system is long.  Air source heat pumps are great until it gets really cold.  In the end, radiant in floor is the most efficient way to heat, but yes, it's slow to respond.  But if your toes are warm, you will be too.
    • I appreciate the response, I take nothing personally and didn't mean to be snippy in my reply. There are a lot of great comments on here and I will keep you posted on what I decide. Thanks again. 
    • Ice is quickly thinning on those northern lakes that still have ice with dangerous conditions on most lakes. The Wisconsin River is now open even in its northern stretches, but ice chucks can be seen melting along the river's edge. The lower Wisconsin River has finally dropped to near normal levels. Some walleye and brown trout are being caught on the Menominee River both trolling and angling from shore. Low water and cool water temperatures slowed the walleye run so far on the Oconto River. Anglers along the Wolf River have been starting to catch walleyes. A few sturgeon have been seen along the Wolf River, but warmer temperatures are needed for the sturgeon to start their annual spring spawning run. Walleye and sauger action on the Wisconsin River and Lake Wisconsin is slowly picking up.The steelhead season opened on the lower stretch of the Brule River last weekend and anglers reported good successPhoto Credit: DNRSpring steelhead fishing opened last Saturday for the lower stretch of the Brule River and there were lots of fishermen and fisherwomen on the river many who had a successful opener. .
    • I apologize if that came out wrong. The idea might very well be the best route to go. It's just that over the past 25 years or so I have seen many attempts to save a dollar that cost a buck and a half to do lol.    Here are my two cents. If you have a slab and you want to pour on top of it while keeping the same footprint that sounds pretty doable and could probably save some money if you don't have to change drain lines, run water, heat runs, electrical etc into the slab.   If you intend to tie into the existing slab and run zones of pex across the joint and have the new and old floors end up at the same elevation it still can be done. Some contractors will not want to mess with tying into and raising the elevation of the slabs and will prefer to start from scratch especially if you as the homeowner want them to warranty the finished product.  The critical thing would be to use enough rebar drilled into the old slab and have enough compaction and sufficient footings to make sure the slabs stay where they are without settling. That would make all kinds of problems with the pex.    Hopefully that response came across better.
    • It'll be interesting to see if the team plays a little harder in front of a different goalie. 
    • Hawg, I'm with you on this one !
    • Check and see if you have a video output on you device. You may be able to record to a digital device.
    • Just use plain old spray paint in a can. I've done it many many times and seems to stick really nice. Nothing special either I can't even tell you the brand because I have no clue. But as mentioned doing 2-3 light coats helps.
    • no expert here, but heat doesn't rise. heat radiates in the direction of least resistance (R value). warm air or water rises because it is less dense than colder air or water.  If you don't insulate you will be heating the ground under your cabin and the earth is a very large heat sink $$$. get some info from an expert in the radiant field as far as tube diameter, spacing, water temp, manifolds, length of runs, and so on. it varies on amount of windows (solar) ceiling height and room type (bed, bath, living area,  storage etc.). once you pour over the tubing you get to live with it. I did my own Home 15 years ago and got some good advise (wish I would have taken it all)
    • Sonar works from above, cameras need to be submerged. What am I missing here?
  • Our Sponsors