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Need a Camera

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by 3Dsigns, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. 3Dsigns

    3Dsigns Member

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    Hi all, This is a sign I just completed. I need a camera for taking good quality photos of my sign work and my phone camera just isn't cutting it. I'm looking for a decent camera, with optical zoom, maybe an "SLR" in the $200-$300 range. What would you recommend? Thanks!

     

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  2. Haw

    Haw New Member

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    Hello 3Dsigns,

    I am a photographer first and a signmaker second (though I grew up with the later). Taking good photos is more of a skill than gear. I hope you dont take offense in me asking but, are you familiar with the manual controls of a camera? The reason I asked is because if you use the auto settings on a camera be it a DSLR or a camera phone, you will not get good results half the time. Sure you might manage to take some good shots when the situation is ideal, but what about during complicated scenarios like when the subject is backlighted (like illimunated signs, signs with the sky as background etc.). Learn how to use a camera where you set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO manually and I assure you, the results will turn out 70% better. The other 30% is composition, this is how you frame the shots. There are lots of photography guides online.

    I myself have a DSLR, too heavy for me now that I am sign maker who is always on the field. So I bought a smaller, palm sized one. Rarely used it. Now, I only use my 3 year old Samsung S7. Very handy, I have it all the time and takes decent photos. Sure its not as good as a real camera but, like they say, "the best camera is the one you have in your hands". My Samsung S7 has manual controls too. Mind me asking what is your camera phone?

    If you still want a real camera, just gimme a few minutes and I'll look for one that is right under your budget ;)
     
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  3. eahicks

    eahicks Very Active Member

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    We have employees here who struggled to take a decent photo with their phones (most all iPhones). Once I sat them down and showed them how to use it properly, they were amazed. The quality of photos from phone cameras these days is pretty dang good, IF you know how to use it. Of course, if you still have a 2003 Motorola flip phone, you aren't gonna get anything good. :)
     
  4. 3Dsigns

    3Dsigns Member

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    Thanks, It's a Samsung LG Treasure (LGL52VL)
     
  5. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    Did you take that pic of the sign with your phone, because it is a decent photo of the sign. $200-$300 is not much for a decent DSLR camera. Sony, Nikon, Canon all have small pocket cameras that take great pics but they come with a price.
     
  6. 3Dsigns

    3Dsigns Member

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    Yes, it was taken with my phone.
     
  7. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    You can take your phone photos and bring them into Photoshop and improve them in many ways. Lot of Youtube videos on that subject. I have the newest IPhone and it takes better pics than my last one which was a IPhone 6.
     
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  8. letterman7

    letterman7 Very Active Member

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    You should also be able to download photo editing software right to your phone. Some of the basic ones are free (I use Aviary - you can mark up dimensions right on the photo through that app), others that have more editing power are a pay-to-play. That photo is easily edited even in basic software to adjust the lighting.
     
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  9. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    several years ago i wanted a kickass camera with lugging around something that weight 40 lbs, my cousin (a photographer) said she owns a canon powershot s95 along with her other big cameras. This little s95 is an asskicker, great pics, great quality I use it still to this day, they are a little pricey but you can pick up a used one for less I think now they are called canon powershot S100.....you got the right idea about taking pics of your signs, we usually get low when we take them
     

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  10. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Nice stuff, visual.
     
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  11. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    What kinds of sign photos will you be taking? That will dictate a lot in the cost area.

    $200-$300 won't get you above smart phone image quality, other than gaining an optical zoom lens. The fake "digital" zoom in smart phones is absolutely lousy. There are various one-piece "point and shoot" cameras that can do a decent job. The $200-$300 price range might get you a decent used DSLR camera body, but then you have to add considerably more for good lenses to go with it.

    If you're going to be taking photos of lighted signs at twilight or night you'll need a good tripod in your camera setup in order to take longer exposure shots. You can't hand-hold those kinds of shots and get good, sharp results. Some time exposure effects, like all the long streaks from car tail lights in various post card city-scape shots, require more serious DSLR gear, a great quality tripod and neutral density filters. That gets into some serious money. The upshot: taking those kind of photos is fairly easy thanks to new things like F-stop calculator apps for Android and iOS. It takes away the guess work when using a 6-stop or 10-stop ND filter.

    Knowing how to use manual controls is important regardless of the type of camera used. Some smart phones have good manual controls. My Samsung Note 5 is starting to show its age, but its built in camera is decent and has a great deal of manual control settings.

    I kind of wish I could still do film photography (without it being a PITA getting negatives developed and prints). It's a lot easier photographing a LED-based variable message center sign with a film camera. No worries about moiré since film has no pixel grid. It's a chore getting decent shots of LED signs using digital cameras.
     
  12. 3Dsigns

    3Dsigns Member

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    I specialize in dimensional signs; CNC routed, sandblasted, hand carved, HDU, EPS foam etc. Primarily they will be for the net, like my website, facebook etc. But some would be for print quality in a portfolio.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
  13. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    Are you going to be taking the photos of the finished signs already installed at the site? Or will the images be product displays? The latter might require some studio lighting for the best results. Even some photos of signs taken on site can require a camera flash (preferably an off camera strobe) for good results, depending on the lighting conditions. There are so many subtle ingredients that go into making an image rise above the quality seen in the typical amateur snap shot taken from a smart phone.
     
  14. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    Taken from a moving car about 100 yds away with 18-300mm lens and Nikon. Just cropped in PS.and sized down.
     

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  15. ams

    ams Very Active Member

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    I use a Canon Powershot ELPH150 and it's great.
     
  16. BobM

    BobM Very Active Member

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    I use a Nikon D3400 DSLR. $500 range but a great camera.
     
  17. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    appreciate it sir
     
  18. Pippin Decals

    Pippin Decals Active Member

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    lol I use a d750 and my backup D7100. Im a photographer tho.So this is all i have besides my smartphone. If you want good quality you will want to spend a little more than expected
     
  19. JTBoh

    JTBoh I sell signage and signage accessories.

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    Not the "best" use of negative space there, Johnny.
     
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