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01-15-2014, 02:58 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
it took me from 10:30 am until about 5 pm yesterday to get the two shots I was thinking were "ok"...not GREAT, but "ok".
That's the famous PS learning curve you might have heard about. Without seeing the art live, I can't comment on colour temperature, and I don't know how much you want the texture of the different media (canvas, paper, oil vs. acrylic, etc.) to be visible. You aren't doing restoration, so feel free to use your computer to tweak the image to give it a look that you like. Use software to correct lens distortion, adjust colours and exposure and so on. I don't see anything in the two images that can't be enhanced with software. By all means put your M 50mm on your K-30, take a few shots with slightly different focus to get exactly what you want in focus, and don't lose sleep over getting exactly the right exposure. Once you figure out how to tweak one image to your satisfaction, the rest will be much, much faster. And for uploading to the Internet, use JPEG files. With reasonably high quality settings (80+) you will retain all the detail a computer monitor can give you. I don't know the details of how bitmaps are embedded in PNG files, but file size is seldom related to the sharpness of the image when displayed on your computer.

With some software fine tuning, those 16 MP RAW files from your camera will be suitable for any size of print. I'm pretty sure your beloved didn't create with a magnifying glass. If I can detect different thickness of paint in the pictures you posted, you are capturing all of the detail you need. You probably know better than I do that exact copies of true art are missing something.

01-15-2014, 06:30 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
Many have recommended a prime, but do get a macro prime for this sort of work, and a tripod. Any "real" macro prime will work. A fast lens (<f2.8) has more field curvature than a slow macro lens. That 1:2 is not very sharp, and does have distortion. Macros are specifically designed for flat field document reproduction with edge to edge sharpness. The Sigma 50mm/2.8 is probably the cheapest autofocus lens, but the DA35 /2.8 Ltd, the DFA50/2.8, Sigma 79/2.8, Tamron 90, any of these would work. In manual focus, there are loads of choices, but they won't save you much, and buying AF gets you a fun toy for the garden too.

The 35 Limited macro is an intoxicating lens, available used in the marketplace for a reasonable price. It really is the finest lens you could ever wish to have for this sort of thing. Love mine.

Shoot at f5.6 or so, at ISO 100, with proper lights and let the shutter speed go to whatever. Use the 2s delay or a remote. Manually focus using live view. Each individual thing will improve sharpness a little, all together, the results will be much better.
Well, I dug around and figured out how to make the old 50mm "M" lens work...I am now officially a "green button puncher" ;-). Took a few quick shots just of objects on the desk, and really remembered why I used to love that lens. I will do some serious testing tomorrow.

I called Precision Camera here and they said they don't really have a stock of Pentax lenses. Bummer. However, going back through all these replies again, and noticing the recommendations for a 'real' macro,I decided to look at the Sigma 70mm F2.8 EX DG reviews here, and I think I might go for it. It's different enough from the 50mm, and everyone is raving about the sharpness in the reviews. Hadn't considered a "non-Pentax" lens, but this being basically half the price of the Pentax 77mm, I may just have to get it from B & H.
01-15-2014, 06:45 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by RGlasel Quote
That's the famous PS learning curve you might have heard about. Without seeing the art live, I can't comment on colour temperature, and I don't know how much you want the texture of the different media (canvas, paper, oil vs. acrylic, etc.) to be visible. You aren't doing restoration, so feel free to use your computer to tweak the image to give it a look that you like. Use software to correct lens distortion, adjust colours and exposure and so on. I don't see anything in the two images that can't be enhanced with software. By all means put your M 50mm on your K-30, take a few shots with slightly different focus to get exactly what you want in focus, and don't lose sleep over getting exactly the right exposure. Once you figure out how to tweak one image to your satisfaction, the rest will be much, much faster. And for uploading to the Internet, use JPEG files. With reasonably high quality settings (80+) you will retain all the detail a computer monitor can give you. I don't know the details of how bitmaps are embedded in PNG files, but file size is seldom related to the sharpness of the image when displayed on your computer.

With some software fine tuning, those 16 MP RAW files from your camera will be suitable for any size of print. I'm pretty sure your beloved didn't create with a magnifying glass. If I can detect different thickness of paint in the pictures you posted, you are capturing all of the detail you need. You probably know better than I do that exact copies of true art are missing something.
Thank you for this...I do wish to capture the textures of the media as best as I can, especially in the paintings and the mixed-media collages...sometimes she would actually stitch/sew bits of vintage fabric to the canvas, so texture was always a big part of her work.

And I will keep plugging away at the software end of it. I didn't really try any "sharpening" on them yet, so will get brave and poke around in that department. Right now, even though I've used Photoshop for years, the working with "RAW" thing is completely new to me, I'm definitely experiencing that learning curve. It's like having a completely different set of tools to use BEFORE you do the "regular" photoshop stuff. Took me awhile to figure that out.

I saved them as "png" files, since I thought that png is "lossless" and that jpegs would generally always show some sort of loss of quality. I generally use jpegs for email photos and such, I figured that png would be a better "archiving" format. I'll post jpegs from now on, and keep the png files for the archiving.
01-16-2014, 06:45 AM   #19
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I can't comment on the png saving, but using Lightroom with RAW files has been a real eye-opener for me over the past couple years. I usually shoot in RAW+ but can see the day when I abandon the jpg. it's still good for snapshots but anything good gets processed in Lightroom.

If you're shooting with a fairly low ISO you won't need much sharpening if you've got a decent lens.

I would remind you that 70mm is pretty tight - if your pieces are pretty big you may have to be pretty far away. If you're cool with manual focus, look for some of the older A or M series macro lenses - they're usually pretty good bargains and the glass is great.

01-16-2014, 07:39 AM   #20
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Google "copy stand" and "light tent". You may also want to look on ebay. Sometimes you can find cheap second hand units.

This used to be a standard little known aside of general photography - copying things from a copy stand. Lots of folks had stands mostly copying other photos, important documents, ARTWORK, etc...

The standard lens was a macro, preferably one with a notable flatfield. Most modern macros would work fine though you should consider the stand height and artwork size. You should use a medium to small aperture that gets the lens in its sweet spot considering performance and DOF.

I have been intrigued with how economically one can find a light tent. These are used for product photography to provide a soft even light. It is essentially a fabric cube.

You should check into. All of these. As important as the subject artwork is to you and your stated quality goals, you should work to get it tight from the start Especially since it is so easily done
01-16-2014, 08:04 AM   #21
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A tutorial on using a light stand and lighting:


Another instructional video regarding artwork in particular:



There are a lot of ways to DIY your own copy stand too, and there are some on ebay currently priced from $12 to $200 and higher...
01-16-2014, 08:51 AM   #22
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A few things occurred to me that do not appear to have been discussed.
- Is your monitor calibrated? Archiving like this needs accurate colour, but the image colour can only be judged if it is displayed accurately
- I agree that a macro is best for its flat field, but I would also recommend a normal lens to eliminate perspective distortion (you said there is some 3D work to archive). A moderate telephoto like a 70mm will compress perspective, not what you want for art. The DA 35mm Ltd is probably the ideal lens for this project.
- It looks to me like you missed focus on the painting of the female. Have you checked the focus calibration on your 18-135? I would use manual focus as a cross-check to AF for archiving, preferably with magnified live view.
01-16-2014, 06:58 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
I can't comment on the png saving, but using Lightroom with RAW files has been a real eye-opener for me over the past couple years. I usually shoot in RAW+ but can see the day when I abandon the jpg. it's still good for snapshots but anything good gets processed in Lightroom.

If you're shooting with a fairly low ISO you won't need much sharpening if you've got a decent lens.

I would remind you that 70mm is pretty tight - if your pieces are pretty big you may have to be pretty far away. If you're cool with manual focus, look for some of the older A or M series macro lenses - they're usually pretty good bargains and the glass is great.
I'm looking at as many lenses as I can before I decide on one...I like the idea of the Sigma, but I found a couple of Pentax lenses used on the marketplace page that look interesting, too...I just have no experience with any of them to know which might be "just right".

01-16-2014, 07:00 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Franklin Quote
A tutorial on using a light stand and lighting....

There are a lot of ways to DIY your own copy stand too, and there are some on ebay currently priced from $12 to $200 and higher...
Thanks for those. ONe of those stands might work for the very small works. I will look on eBay.

I've tried several different kinds of white fabric over/in front of the lights, and none of them let enough light through. I need to find some kind of white cloth that will let enough light through, and I can build my own "light boxes" or just use them as screens in front of the lights.
01-16-2014, 07:12 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
A few things occurred to me that do not appear to have been discussed.
- Is your monitor calibrated? Archiving like this needs accurate colour, but the image colour can only be judged if it is displayed accurately
- I agree that a macro is best for its flat field, but I would also recommend a normal lens to eliminate perspective distortion (you said there is some 3D work to archive). A moderate telephoto like a 70mm will compress perspective, not what you want for art. The DA 35mm Ltd is probably the ideal lens for this project.
- It looks to me like you missed focus on the painting of the female. Have you checked the focus calibration on your 18-135? I would use manual focus as a cross-check to AF for archiving, preferably with magnified live view.

I had a friend ask me about calibration this morning...I have the Apple 27" LCD/LED, and after two different times of calibrating with the system software in the Displays control panel, my calibrations ended up being so very close to the "stock" profile that I just decided to use it. I've been using the Mac OS calibration software forever, and my calibrated prolifes (on all previous monitors I've had) always produced significant differences...not so with this particular display...the factory setting seems to be right on. I've never considered a "hardware" calibration tool. A friend who's a tech piped up with the fact that since the switch to LCD/LED monitors, his high end clients don't use hardware calibration as often as they used to in the CRT days.

On the lens front, the 70mm appealed to me because it can also be used as a macro (for the very tiny work), as well as a "portrait" lens for the larger work, and everyone raves about its sharpness. I would have thought that a 35 mm would be too "wide angle" to be useful...I kinda assumed that the ideal focal length would be somewhere between 50mm and 100mm. I can't afford the Pentax 77mm that is so legendary ($1,000 +for a lens? eek!) but it is touted as a "portrait" lens, so I figure the 70mm would be close enough, unless I'm just thinking incorrectly about it. I'm taking "portraits of paintings", is one way I thought about it. Some of the lenses are so close together, it's like "How do you choose between them", and "what if I pick the wrong one?" It's a lot of info to digest before I can make a decision.
01-16-2014, 07:58 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
I would have thought that a 35 mm would be too "wide angle" to be useful...I kinda assumed that the ideal focal length would be somewhere between 50mm and 100mm. I can't afford the Pentax 77mm that is so legendary ($1,000 +for a lens? eek!) but it is touted as a "portrait" lens, so I figure the 70mm would be close enough, unless I'm just thinking incorrectly about it. I'm taking "portraits of paintings", is one way I thought about it.
A 35mm lens is wide angle on 35mm film or a FF DSLR, but it is a normal lens on APS-C. Portrait lenses are mild telephotos. They are recommended for portraiture because they add mild telephoto compression, which is often considered to be flattering to European facial features. If you're taking photos of paintings, perspective distortion won't matter. if you are shooting a 3D art piece, you will affect perception with a non-normal (i.e. wide angle or telephoto) lens.

Last edited by audiobomber; 01-17-2014 at 07:26 AM.
01-17-2014, 06:28 AM   #27
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The 35-28mm lenses have a normal aspect on APS-C as stated - they have the same look as your eye does. I like the 28mm in a lot of situations because it gives the viewer an idea what and how they'd see the subject if they were standing where I was, with the camera at my eye. Lightroom has a profile for the Sigma 28, though the correction is pretty minor. It's usually a good lens length for photographing things.

I use it for model (aircraft, armor etc) photography because I don't have to be far from the subject to fit it in the frame, but can get right up close for tight views. I use a couple LED panels for lighting and a home-built background hanger. PVC is easy to work with. You can also aim lights at a white foamboard panel to give a diffused source without using a full light tent.
01-17-2014, 08:32 AM   #28
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I've really got to wrap my head around this "difference between film and digital" as far as focal-length of the lens goes. I wish I could try different length lenses just to see what they look like through the viewfinder, and then make a decision. From everything I've read so far, everything from 28mm to 70mm looks like a possibility...I can see why "Lens Addiction" is one of the biggest threats to financial health! ;-)

Foam board does sound like a much better thing to try than the dry-erase marker board, which is incredibly heavy for what it is. I will snag some while I'm out today and experiment.

I'm going to take my K-30 to the camera store today, just to see what they DO have in stock that I might be able to try...the thought of spending hundreds of bucks and not really knowing if it will be what I need just curdles my checkbook...
01-17-2014, 09:08 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
I've really got to wrap my head around this "difference between film and digital" as far as focal-length of the lens goes. I wish I could try different length lenses just to see what they look like through the viewfinder, and then make a decision.
You can set your 18-135 for any of these focal lengths and see the resulting FOV. The main thing a better lens will give you is higher resolution in the borders and corners.
01-17-2014, 09:22 AM   #30
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Thanks...I gotta file that one under "I never woulda thought of that"....but I guess I need to ask:

When I set it to "50mm" using the number on the lens, does that mean 50mm in digital, or does it mean "what's 50 on a film camera is really 70 on this digital"? Or does the camera do the "converting" for you, so that when you set it to 50, it really means 50?
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