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Taking GREAT Shots of Militaria, TIPS, Technical Details, etc. Sticky?

Article about: I'd like to start a thread, or a sticky, on getting fantastic shots of your militaria. It's not always easy, but it's worth it! First of all, you probably need a real camera, it's virtually

  1. #11

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    I need a camera to shoot buckles and other stuff with, but I don't want to buy a camera for 700 USD. I'm a simple man, I just want to get good pics and post here without feeling embarrassed.

    Do I need a digital camera or a system camera? I don't know anything about cameras!

    After a quick search I found the Nikon D3000. Is a used D3000 something for me? Or should I get something even better? Or is it overkill?
    Like I said, I know nothing

    Thank you for your support!

  2. #12

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    Guten Tag Wewelsberg

    I don't think you need a Nikon D3000 to shoot buckles, and it may be frustrating for you if too complicated.

    I'm not sure about the D3000, but some entry level DSLR digital cameras are actually pretty cheaply made*, all at a price point you understand. And the 24 meg is insane IMO, for the web. Pics here are posted at about under a 1 meg file size, and probably most under 500kb.

    It depends though, are you trying to publish a book, like the shoot someone was doing on daggers here, very serious photo work requiring the best money can buy, or do you just want to shoot buckles for this forum, and your own enjoyment?

    I think most solid little point and shoots (PS cameras) are going to serve you just fine, with much less money spent. Also easier to use.

    The few biggies, Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Panasonic and a few others I'm sure all make great PS cameras.

    If you buy one that is slightly outdated, a used camera, you can get a very good deal.

    Buying any camera takes a little bit of research.

    For some reason, I landed on the Panasonic LUMIX LX5 when searching for something to replace my aging Canon G5 last year. I would recommend this camera to any novice photographer or anyone wanting a decent easy to use camera. It has several easy to use things I've never seen on another PS camera, like the ability to switch the "aspect ratio" at the flick of a switch, and Macro, at the flick of a switch instead of through a menu option. This is pure magic as far as I'm concerned.

    Other members here will undoubtedly have input about their favorite cameras, and guys who shoot a lot of buckles

    * Sometimes, and of course we're dealing with used cameras vs new - so this is something some people are comfortable, some not - you can get a much better (in fact pro level camera) that is an older model for the same price as a new lower end camera. Like the Nikon D200 that I still use, was a top notch camera in its day, a much more solid piece - made in Japan - than a new Made in China (or Thailand) entry level camera. It's only 10MP (megapixels) vs 20MP on the new camera, but it's still a better camera. And you don't need 20MP unless you plan to print poster size pics.

    Also, lenses... the "kit lens" lens that comes with any lower end (non pro) camera is not a very good lens, so unless you switch it for something better, picture quality suffers.
    Last edited by Larboard; 12-14-2015 at 08:07 PM.

  3. #13

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    Very good info folks. I'm a computer idiot & don't always understand what I could do, if I was more clued up. But I can't stress how important a tripod is. Without that I would be shafted. Mine cost me a fiver (5). Secondhand fro a photography shop, they offer get them as trade ins & they're not the sort of thing that's in bad condition even secondhand. They're usually infinitely better than some of the 20 Amozon type offers IMO. Stewy

  4. #14

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    Even without a tripod you can get away with simply placing the camera on a pile of books or something similar then to avoid shake from pressing the shutter, just set the shutter timer to 5 or 10 seconds (most point & shoot cameras have this function) then let her go and the shot is taken without shake.

  5. #15

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    Hear hear Stewy, super info!

    I love old tripods, they're very cool, and looking on eBay, you can get them for a song. Some of my best and biggest ones were acquired at yard sales (a US phenomenon?) for $5. Big is good, stable, but hard to carry for long distances. That's why you can drop $600 on a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod, and that's just the legs The fancy "ball head" is another $300.

    I love the quality of the small vintage Germany tripods, Bilora, Leitz, etc. Usually seen on eBay for around $20 and a little shipping and nobody wants them.

    As I may have previously mentioned in the thread or elsewhere. Tripods can be a little tedious....

    If the light is good enough that your shutter speed is at least 30th of a second with a 50mm or shorter lens (shutter speed should more or less be equal to the focal length of the lens to get a crisp, non movement blurry shot), you can get away with handheld shots in a difficult situation where a tripod is not practical.

    For what is called "tabletop photography", buckles, medals, etc, you can also get a variety of tabletop tripods, also usually very inexpensive. You can also use just about any object as a rest for the camera, such as a gas mask canister standing up on end, rest the camera on it and shoot, much stabler than free hand photography.

    The biggest advantage to a tripod after holding the camera steady for longer exposures (under 15th of a second) is the ability to compose an image that is the best it can be. It gives you the time to make infinite adjustments, move things around, ultimately come to the best shot you can get of a subject. Very important for landscape photography as well.

    A tripod is how you move beyond snapshots.

    Not that there is anything wrong with snapshots if you can pull it off, there is a lot of artistic freedom in snapshots.
    Last edited by Larboard; 12-14-2015 at 10:18 PM.

  6. #16

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    Yes, another SUPER tip!!! Use the self timer to avoid "camera shake".

    Obviously, if you're pointing the camera down for a medal shot or similar, and holding it in the position, use the 2 second delay or whatever there is so the camera is totally still by the time it goes off.

    There are old school tricks for taking steady handheld shots too, just like shooting a rifle in a way. You can brace your arms against your chest for stability, and again like shooting... take a deep breath, exhale slightly, and shoot. Do this any way that works for you.

    You can also lean the camera against whatever is handy in the house to make a rest.

    Some photographers, I included, pride ourselves on the ability to take sharp exposures at much slower shutter speeds than possible, just by being exceptionally steady, and through a lot of practice. You can pull off a passable 1 second exposure if you put your mind to it, but it's hardly worth it if you don't have to.

    For tabletop, or using your bed as a quickie shooting surface, I often use my elbows for camera rests. Plants your elbows down, compose and shoot. This is usually enough for pretty some pretty decent shots.

  7. #17

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    In a related topic to tripods and shooting in less than optimal light... someone in the thread that got me started the other day mentioned ISO.

    Yes, learn to take advantage of ISO settings as needed!


    I usually shoot at ISO 200.

    The higher the number is, the better you can shoot in low light, but the price you pay (back in the day it was called "grain") is what they now call "camera noise". Noise is "pixelation", you start to see pixels in the pics, or little red dots, whatever it is, it can look awful. As they perfect digital cameras this will probably become less of a problem.

    At ISO 400, you "halve" the shutter speed for a given aperture setting. This is getting back to EV's. Say, at 200 ISO, the perfect shot for the light you have available is 30th of a second @ f. 5.6. At ISO 400, the shutter speed is then cut in half to 60th of a second at f. 5.6. Or if you wanted to close the lens down much for more "depth of field" (another topic to discuss) you would stay at 30th but close the lens down to the next step, f. 8. All are the same EV. All get exactly the same exposure on film... or in this case the sensor.

    The exact same exposure but at ISO800 would be either 30th @ f. 11 or 125th @ f. 5.6. In the old days... we had light meters, my favorite was the German Gossen Luna Pro, and you'd plug in your film speed, say Kodak Tri-X ASA400 (ASA the old term for what is now ISO), you'd get a light meter reading, "EV 5", and then a sort of slide rule would show you the nearly infinite shutter speed/aperture combinations you could use for that shot.

    Most of these better PS cameras with have lenses that will open up to f.2 or 2.8, and in most auto settings indoors, the camera will try to shoot "wide open". This isn't necessarily the best setting for sharpness, and is terrible for depth of field. To get depth of field, you must close down, which means slower shutter speeds, which means using a tripod for sharp, well exposed images.

    In Ansel Adams' day, the big "large format" lenses went down to f. 64, which is just a pinhole. Google "pinhole camera", and you will see what this does, at this point you barely even need a lens... It gives you near infinite depth of field, the way our eyes see it. At f.2, or f. 1.4 on a decent DSLR 50mm lens, you can get outrageous "out of focus" background effect from shooting with the lens wide open. This great for isolating a subject against the background, but it is miserable for a product shot where the subject needs to be in focus all the way from front to back. But, this is something you can use to your benefit for creating the image that you envision. To focus on a Heer decal and let the rest of the helmet go "soft", slightly out of focus will really draw the attention to the decal. Our eyes naturally go to what is in focus in a photograph, the rest is just background.

    You can also put the camera in "Auto ISO" and then it decides for itself, but that does not guarantee better pics. In fact sometimes I become frustrated enough with any of the Auto setting that I go for M, Manual mode, and "roll your own" camera settings for the results you need to get. With instant replay in the back of the camera, it's very easy to get where you need to be for the proper exposure, or rather the exposure you want.

    Which brings about "exposure compensation". Another subject altogether, in camera manipulation of the exposure to get a different result than what the camera wants to dish out.

    A topic for another post.

    Also for another post, basic camera settings; Auto (camera has ALL the control over exposure and light settings), A for Aperture Priority, S for Shutter Priority, M for Manual (the ultimate in creative control, SCN for Scene (I NEVER use this one) and usually a couple others including Video.

    Also, understanding the Light Settings in the camera, Auto White Balance (sometimes 1 and 2), Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, etc, and how to use these to your advantage.
    Last edited by Larboard; 12-14-2015 at 10:16 PM.

  8. #18

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    Quote by Glenn66 View Post
    Even without a tripod you can get away with simply placing the camera on a pile of books or something similar then to avoid shake from pressing the shutter, just set the shutter timer to 5 or 10 seconds (most point & shoot cameras have this function) then let her go and the shot is taken without shake.
    Believe me Glenn, when you're a nightmare like me with cameras, CPU's, Etc. A Jacks (5) is well worth it. But I have to admit yours is a worthwhile tip. Cheers, Stewy.

  9. #19

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    Quote by Wewelsburg View Post
    I need a camera to shoot buckles and other stuff with, but I don't want to buy a camera for 700 USD. I'm a simple man, I just want to get good pics and post here without feeling embarrassed.

    Do I need a digital camera or a system camera? I don't know anything about cameras!

    After a quick search I found the Nikon D3000. Is a used D3000 something for me? Or should I get something even better? Or is it overkill?
    Like I said, I know nothing

    Thank you for your support!
    Everyone has their favorit, mine right now is the LUMIX LX5, was under $200 very slightly used from privat party, with two batteries, external charger, case, etc. It's super easy to use and has a couple unique features that I think make it supremely user friendly.

    It has no trouble at all getting shots like these, some of these are extremely quickie shots, just set of the computer keyboard where there is decent light, zoom in a little, compose and click ;-) Maybe not as sharp as what you could do with a DSLR with a fancy macro lens, but really plenty good enough. And they are all way downsized to post here, so original quality is even better.

    Double click each image you're interested in to see at full magnification.

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    To me, the camera IS a tool. It's for recording life, but also to authenticate items, as on this forum, or to show off, but either way, it is an invaluable tool For the money, I think the LX5 is hands down the best tool like this I've had. It has a Leica lens that can take very sharp pictures if used correctly. The little Sony X100 has a Zeiss lens and it can take fantastic images also. I can't vouch for the Sony's ease of use though.

  10. #20

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    Thank you so much man, I'm coming back tomorrow and read your posts again and answer!

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