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05-31-2013, 03:07 PM   #1
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Selecting a New DSLR & Lenses

Greetings fellow forum members,

Hello,

I posted this message on the "Welcomes and Introductions" forum, but thought I'd place it here as well.

This is my first post. I'm a painter and have very specific needs that probably differ from most photographers. I use my camera to document landscapes, while on painting excursions, for reference purposes back in the studio. I also use it to photograph completed paintings for publication and use on the web. In the past, I've hired professional photographers to make 4"x 5" or 8" x 10" transparencies of my best paintings, which measure up to about 36" x 48". I never exhibit my photographs and, since acquiring a Canon S90 two years ago, no longer make prints for reference, preferring to use a computer monitor instead. Before I purchased the Canon point & shoot, I had been using a Nikon FM film camera, purchased new in 1980, along with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 manual focus F series lens.

I'm now fully committed to digital photography but am unhappy with the quality of the images captured with my S90. I would like to assemble a high quality digital camera system capable of capturing images that are as close as possible to my natural vision (hence the use of a high quality "normal" lens). Members of other forums have recommended a full frame Nikon or Canon DSLR and a 60mm macro lens for copy work. I'm wondering if the dynamic range of the Pentax K-5 II sensor would be adequate for the tasks I have described. Also, are there lenses in the Pentax line that would satisfy my needs? Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Nick

05-31-2013, 03:23 PM   #2
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What sizes of painting do you generally work with? To avoid or minimise distortion, you should choose the longest practical focal length lens that will allow you to work within the physical space you use for photographing your artworks. I presume you mount them vertically, and have a lighting setup that will minimise reflections and provide even illumination, too.
05-31-2013, 03:35 PM   #3
MJL
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nick S. Quote
Greetings fellow forum members,

Hello,

I posted this message on the "Welcomes and Introductions" forum, but thought I'd place it here as well.

This is my first post. I'm a painter and have very specific needs that probably differ from most photographers. I use my camera to document landscapes, while on painting excursions, for reference purposes back in the studio. I also use it to photograph completed paintings for publication and use on the web. In the past, I've hired professional photographers to make 4"x 5" or 8" x 10" transparencies of my best paintings, which measure up to about 36" x 48". I never exhibit my photographs and, since acquiring a Canon S90 two years ago, no longer make prints for reference, preferring to use a computer monitor instead. Before I purchased the Canon point & shoot, I had been using a Nikon FM film camera, purchased new in 1980, along with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 manual focus F series lens.

I'm now fully committed to digital photography but am unhappy with the quality of the images captured with my S90. I would like to assemble a high quality digital camera system capable of capturing images that are as close as possible to my natural vision (hence the use of a high quality "normal" lens). Members of other forums have recommended a full frame Nikon or Canon DSLR and a 60mm macro lens for copy work. I'm wondering if the dynamic range of the Pentax K-5 II sensor would be adequate for the tasks I have described. Also, are there lenses in the Pentax line that would satisfy my needs? Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Nick
QuoteOriginally posted by Nick S. Quote
preferring to use a computer monitor
Hello Nich & welcome. IMHO, Nikon D800 has the best dynamic range among semi-pro dSLRs but 3X more expensive than the K5II. Also, you should consider the monitor as an integrated part of your viewing experience. Only a properly spec'ed & calibrated monitor plus RAW software can deliver what the camera has captured.
05-31-2013, 03:41 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply RobA_Oz,

An average painting measures 18" x 24". Some are as small as 6" x 8" and some as large as 36" x 48". I'm currently shooting paintings, mounted on an easel, outdoors in indirect light. I plan to acquire a pair of strobes so that I can move the copy work inside. my studio measures about 12' x 20'.

05-31-2013, 03:47 PM   #5
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Hello MJL,

The D800 is out of my price range... a D600, maybe. I'm using a 27" iMac as my computer/monitor. I've never tried to calibrate it. I use Photoshop to adjust images until they look good to me.
05-31-2013, 04:29 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nick S. Quote
Thanks for the reply RobA_Oz,

An average painting measures 18" x 24". Some are as small as 6" x 8" and some as large as 36" x 48". I'm currently shooting paintings, mounted on an easel, outdoors in indirect light. I plan to acquire a pair of strobes so that I can move the copy work inside. my studio measures about 12' x 20'.
Looking at the works of those sizes that I have on my walls, I think a K-5 with an FA43ltd would probably satisfy most of your needs, possibly along with the FA77ltd for the larger works. If your budget would run to a K-5IIs, I would go for that body, but the K-5 is no slouch in terms of colour reproduction and resolution, and its price is good right now if you can still source one. I don't have a DA40 or a DA70, which are lower cost than the FA limiteds, but others here speak highly of them.
05-31-2013, 05:34 PM   #7
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I used a swiss alpa 9D + 50mm macro, then Nikon FM2 and 55mm micro (macro) and now use k20D. Done hundreds of slides of wife's acrylic paintings--and now with digital. (Nothing beats light box and slides--but that's no longer viable.).
The K20d, and thus any later pentax dslr, dynamic range (DR) is plenty for paintings (2-3 stops wider than ektachrome Prof. 64T, which is the gold standard). After all darkest black to white is only about 5 stops. Although I suggest two lights and polarizing filters on lights and lens--but that's not your query.
I suggest a Pentax 50mm f4 macro (older super takumar will do fine)--and then you can see about wider for large canvasses indoors. I also use 28mm f/3.5 takumars (super takumar to be precise) but it may not be wide enough--start with one lens. Any in the range 24-50mm and then see. For reproductions you are relatively close, but not very close, so it need not be a macro. The availability of older (1960' to present) lenses is enormous. I like KEH.com.
As for outdoors the DR is more limiting and demands on lens more severe (as regards flare--so more recent lens may be better)--but any camera will have problems under bright sky and dark trees. There are standard methods for this--same as film.
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