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Holly Moore

Food Shutter Bug Club (Part 2)

108 posts in this topic

Hi Dakki, a few years ago I would only shoot with a DSLR. These days I feel that pocket sized cameras are nearly as good. Remember: it is the photographer who takes the picture, not the camera. Every photographer has to learn to live with the limitations of themselves or their equipment. However, many think that the limitation is with the equipment, rather than themselves. If you know what you are doing, you can shoot superior pictures with the most humble P&S camera - better even than a novice with a DSLR.

Fully agree.

The camera I use is a little dinky thing from five years ago, and it still turns out photos like this:

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Your photos are always nice, Soba. I think Prawncrackers also uses an older pocket camera, with impressive results. Those of us without the "magic touch" are cursed to take mediocre photos no matter what kind of gear we use, alas.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Your photos are always nice, Soba. I think Prawncrackers also uses an older pocket camera, with impressive results. Those of us without the "magic touch" are cursed to take mediocre photos no matter what kind of gear we use, alas.

I don't believe that for a second.

Page back through my food blog (the one linked in my signature) to the very beginning and you'll see some really cringe-worthy photographs. Some which use the word that dare not speak it's name, for example. ;) (hint: 5 letter word, begins with "F" and ends with "H")

If I have a magic touch (thanks for the compliment btw), it gradually developed over time.

edit: bolded for clarity


Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)

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Dakki I've been using a low-end Olympus DSLR for over 5 years, most of the photos I post have been with that camera. I should have read this thread earlier because I actually bought a Canon S95 a couple of months ago. It's a genuine pocket sized camera that takes quality food snaps and I'm really happy with it. Here are some photos of a recent meal at The Ledbury using the S95. It was at lunch time on a murky overcast day and as we were sitting by a window there were some issues with the white balance but as you can see the camera took some really good shots. Only a little post processing was required, up the brightness a little and I always like a little more saturation. The third shot down of the the skewered pigeon heart and wings shows the great DoF of the f2.0 lens:

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Dammit Prawn your stuff makes my best efforts look like something a 6yo with a Fisher-Price camera would take.

What is your opinion on the Nikon P300, if you've tried one? Do you have any particular tricks you can share for getting good food pics with a handheld camera, in less than ideal light (as you'd find in a snapping pics in a restaurant environment)?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Great photos Prawncracker (the food ain't bad either LOL).

When selecting a camera, besides everything else, you need to consider focal length of the lens system. Professionals use long focal length to get that natural look. You can't get better perspective using wideangles.

For instance, one is more natural looking:

dcarch

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IMG_1270.jpg

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Pretend you're talking to a Martian who's never seen a camera before. What do you get with the longer focal length? Can you get a longer focal length using optical zoom? Will that have other effects (such as, exaggerating camera shake)?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Pretend you're talking to a Martian who's never seen a camera before. What do you get with the longer focal length? Can you get a longer focal length using optical zoom? Will that have other effects (such as, exaggerating camera shake)?

Short focal length (wideangle) lens has what's known as Spherical aberation, or, wine barrel effect. You never use wide angle lens for potraits. You end up with pictures of gigantic noses.

Long focal length lenses will require a tripod, or spend $10,000 for a very fast lens.

dcarch


Edited by dcarch (log)

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Aha!

What's a good length to start at? Does it vary by lens? Would you expect to see this spherical aberration in a lens installed on a pocket camera or are we talking about specialized lenses for DSLR's here?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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And, could you get around that by shooting a wider pic and then cropping the edges?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Pretend you're talking to a Martian who's never seen a camera before. What do you get with the longer focal length?

Welcome to our planet, I hope you come in peace. :wink: Longer focal lengths will “flatten” the picture and yield narrower depth of field (less of the picture in focus). dcarch and prawncrackers give good examples of these effects. For more, see perspective distortion (photography) at Wikipedia.

Can you get a longer focal length using optical zoom?

Yes

Will that have other effects (such as, exaggerating camera shake)?

Yes. Get a beanbag, set it on a solid object (upside-down pot?), and rest the camera on the beanbag. That should eliminate camera shake.

Edit: drat, y'all type way faster than I do. Shouldn't have stopped to help elder son with his college essay . . .


Edited by C. sapidus (log)

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There are no rules. A SLR camera allows you to play with different lenses.

with computer designed aspheric lenses and better glasses of index of refraction, they are doing better to minimize distrotions. For food photos, a perspective correcting lenses can be useful, but they don't make that kind of lenses much anymore.

dcarch

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Thanks, C. sapidus. I think I'll spare your puny planet, for now.

Is there any way to get that flat, narrow DOF besides using a longer length of focus, such as manipulating aperture and/or shutter speed?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Pretend you're talking to a Martian who's never seen a camera before. What do you get with the longer focal length? Can you get a longer focal length using optical zoom? Will that have other effects (such as, exaggerating camera shake)?

a tip, from someone who does not use a tripod...

when you hold your camera, form two sturdy supports on the bottom of the camera with your thumbs, similar to that of an inverted "V".

obviously this technique isn't for everyone. in my experience, it eliminated the "shake" effect completely.

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The shakes!

Press the camera tight against you forehead, Set the camera on self-timer. Takes longer (3 seconds on mine) almost completely eliminate shaking.

dcarch

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Thanks, C. sapidus. I think I'll spare your puny planet, for now.

Is there any way to get that flat, narrow DOF besides using a longer length of focus, such as manipulating aperture and/or shutter speed?

Short answer, no.

A very small aperture (old pin hole camera) can eliminate some spherical distortion.

dcarch

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Lots of good info here. Thanks, guys. (And keep it coming if you have any more!)


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Yes, wider apertures give a shallower depth-of-field (and of course you have to use a faster shutter speed to go with them).

I can't believe there's not more love for tripods, at least in the home kitchen: dcarch, your suggestion of self-timer is a good one. Another tip is to drink 30 less beers the night before :shock:

With an SLR now, Dakki, you've the chance of using bounced flash - buy a flash unit with a head that swivels between straight-forward and straight-up, and work out how to set the aperture in various situations (trial and error for your particular kitchen, say). Some of the folks round here who produce exceptional photos are using bounced flash regularly. You also now have the option of multiple flashes (wired together or with the 'slave' sensors that are common now), if you want to get into serious studio-type photography. 2/3 of the light from above and to one side; 1/3 from the other side; a little backlighting for depth.

It's still a trusim that when real expert phtographers talk about equipment, it's about their preference for tripod mounting head.


Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Er, SLR? I think I must've misposted: this is what I got. I didn't pay that much for it, though.

I did get a little toy tripod to go with it.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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... What's a good length to start at? Does it vary by lens? ...

You won't normally go shorter than a normal lens (50mm length in the 35mm SLR format) for food photography. I'd say a portrait lens or just a bit longer (80-100mm) is as long as you'll need to go to cover more than 90% of your needs here. A zoom lens covers all the lens lengths from its minimum to its maximum (so for example a 28mm-105mm zoom would be a good starting place). The trade-off with zoom lenses is that (at maximum aperture) they let in less light than 'prime' (single-length) lenses. So you might see a 28-105mm lens with an aperture range f22 - f3.5; but a fixed 50mm lens f22-f1.4.

A macro facility (lets you get real close and real detailed) is also an asset in shooting food.


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Er, SLR? I think I must've misposted: this is what I got...

Hahahaha. Hmm. Scratch all that.


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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It's good to know this stuff anyway. Thanks.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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