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Digital Cameras for Food Photography


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I don't want to participate in any kind of a photography critique group until I've had some classes, as Ellen has. I am completely self-taught, don't know diddly about f-stops and apertures, and fly by the seat of my pants 100% of the time. I'd be way too self-conscious to have people pointing at my work, saying, "You could have used a slower film speed and a different [tech term here] and gotten a really good shot."

Oh heck, I have never had a course in my life. I have read a couple of books and take lots of photos, figure out what I dislike about them (usually, lots) and then try again. I personally welcome the opportunity to get some free advice. I have absolutely no shame. I would love some info on proper shutter speeds and stuff like that. I fall back way too much on the camera presets. They work, up to a point.

Having said that, I will now go and start a new camera buddies thread, assuming no-one beats me to it and I can think of an amusing enough title.

(edited for spelling)

Edited by Behemoth (log)
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Last point on size: cropping. If you want to crop out say a quarter of an image and have it be print-quality you do need a bunch of resolution to make that happen. Even if you have 8 good professional megapixels your image quality geometrically degrades as you crop smaller and smaller parts of the image.

Just to clarify: this is true asuming that you're going to enlarge the newly cropped image. If you're just cropping and not enlarging, there is no loss of quality. Put it another way: it's the enlarging that causes the problem, not the cropping.

Wellllllll . . . in digital photography size is an abstract concept. Suffice it to say that at any given print size, once you go below about 300 pixels per inch your image quality degrades. So as you start cropping smaller and smaller pieces of an image to display at that size you suffer a corresponding loss of available pixels. Or something like that.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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We've had several false starts in that regard. The food photography class was one of the very first ideas we had for eGCI and it has been assigned to various people all of whom kind of went off the grid once they really started to focus on the challenge. Ellen has always expressed a willingness to help but feels that as a non-food photographer she can't take the lead on the project. I'm sure it will happen eventually.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I was just about to buy the camera I want from those RadioActive people--at $200USD less than it costs anywhere else--when Rich posted the Reseller Ratings website.

Rich, if we ever meet, I owe you one...a big one. This ratings website has saved me from what would probably have been a huge mess. I don't have money or time to burn. Thanks to you, I was able to research sellers and pick another company--not at the same price, but also not at the same COST.

I haven't ordered yet. Does anybody have experience with Shopperwiz.com? It's either them or PCNation. Feedback on either?

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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Ellen, thank you very much for your insiteful posts on this subject. I am just getting back into photography after several years' hiatus and have just switched to digital. I researched and bought a camera that meets my needs beautifully for now. But I know myself. I will want to graduate to better toys. Your tip about the size of the sensor is something I knew nothing about.

You are absolutely right about doing some "classroom work". Several years ago, I had the opportunity to join a small group to spend three days in Rocky Mountain National Park with these two well known photographers. (I can't remember the names right now and their books are in storage. Wendy & Bob? One of the last names Shattl or something like that?) The courses were sponsored by the park service. The course I chose was macrophotography. I have always been fascinated with that. I guess it is a natural outcome of doing photomicrography professionally. That was the most learning-intense three days I have ever spent. There were lots of *smacks forehead with heal of the hand* moments. Some of you might want to see what is available in your area from learning programs at local parks, museums, university programs that have leasure learning opportunities and such as that.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Perhaps someone could do an eGCi series on Digital Food Photography, to include the basics of lighting, composition and manual ocntrol over f-stop, etc. Could work hand in hand with the critique group.

Perhaps we should go knock on bleudauvergne's door....

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Now that ImageGullet is working again . . . I wanted to illustrate something about cameras that I mentioned above. These are a few snapshots I took several years ago with my first digital camera, a Kodak DC-210. This was a ONE MEGAPIXEL camera with a minimum of features. Today it would be considered a child's toy. And these aren't the world's most brilliant photos or anything. But if you point at the right thing and push the button, sometimes you get something usable even when the camera is a piece of crap. These all print just fine at 4x6.

i8697.jpg

i8698.jpg

i8699.jpg

i8700.jpg

i8701.jpg

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Now that ImageGullet is working again . . . I wanted to illustrate something about cameras that I mentioned above. These are a few snapshots I took several years ago with my first digital camera, a Kodak DC-210. This was a ONE MEGAPIXEL camera with a minimum of features. Today it would be considered a child's toy. And these aren't the world's most brilliant photos or anything. But if you point at the right thing and push the button, sometimes you get something usable even when the camera is a piece of crap. These all print just fine at 4x6.

I think I mentioned it before - but in case I didn't - you have to keep in mind what you're going to do with the pictures. In my case - I mostly upload them to the internet - send them to friends/family - or look at them on my computer. Except for looking at them on my computer - I always have to make the pictures less detailed than they were taken. I think on EGullet - I was uploading about 10-20% of of the original resolution. And with Ebay - I can't use the "Best" setting for taking pictures. Only the "Good". And that's with a no-big-deal 3 megapixel camera.

What I do of course varies a lot from what a professional or serious amateur photographer does. Anyway - I'd keep this in mind when you're tempted to get carried away by the latest gee whiz technology. For what it's worth - I wouldn't even own a camera if I hadn't made a bet with my husband that I could pay for the camera by selling stuff on Ebay. He lost the bet :smile: . A digital camera is a great closet cleaning tool. Robyn

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I wouldn't even own a camera if I hadn't made a bet with my husband that I could pay for the camera by selling stuff on Ebay. He lost the bet :smile: . A digital camera is a great closet cleaning tool. Robyn

Oh when will they ever learn? :rolleyes:

(Robyn, that is funny.)

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I have what is probably really stupid question. I am looking at that Canon and a similar Sony. I am liking the concept of the bigger CCD and the other features. But, those things take 8 MP shots. In the first place, I have no use for that kind of resolution and would most likely set it to less just to save storage space. Which (finally) leads me to my stupid question...

What kind of file size does an 8 MP image make?

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Maybe this will help. I've been very pleased with the information provided by the folks at megapixel.net, and this particular article made some sense out of the morass.

Megapixel.net

Go to 'Articles' and then to 'Camera Basics' and then select 'How many "megapixels" do you need?' from the dropdown list.

I'm still looking at the Minolta Dimage A1, but I haven't plunked down the $$$ quite yet.

Esperanza

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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I was an early adopter--bought one of the first Kodak digital cameras that came on the market. Expensive, low-resolution, excruciatingly slow transfers; I played with it for a while and then basically set it aside.

I've been meaning to get a modern digital camera for some time, but kept putting it off. A few weeks ago, I received one as a gift: an Olympus C-700UZ. It's a hand-me-down from my father-in-law, a serious photo hobbyist who just bought himself a gorgeous new high-end Nikon.

The Olympus model I now own is only a 2.1 MP camera, but I am *floored* by the quality of the photographs that it takes. It captures subtleties of light and shadow that rival good film, even Kodachrome.

It also seems to do macrophotography pretty darn well, so be prepared for an influx of food-porn shots from me.

Question: What software are y'all generally using to edit your photographs? I can't justify spending $600+ on a full version of Photoshop. I have been having some success using a freeware/open-source program called The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) which provides much of Photoshop's functionality.

Thanks in advance for any advice...

enrevanche <http://enrevanche.blogspot.com>

Greenwich Village, NYC

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

- Mark Twain

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Photoshop ELEMENTS V 2.0 will do 85% of what Photoshop 7.01 and CS will do, for well under $100.

I have P.S. 7.01, P.E. 1, Qimage (the best $40 you'll ever spend) The definitive printing program that does a lot of Photoship type stuff, Picture It Express 7 & 9, (7's a bargain- free at Walmart with a roll of processing and scan) , IrfanView (FREE!) NIK Sharpener, NIK Pro filters, Sample version of Photoshop Album, and a few others. <g>

Elements is my usual recommendation. :wub:

Sam

P.S. Anybody wanna buy a lot of darkroom equipment?!? :laugh:

Edited by Sam Iam (log)

Carpe Carp: Seize that fish!

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Paint Shop Pro 8 is a great piece of software and cheap. Many cost-conscious professionals use it because PhotoShop is so expensive and offers only a few esoteric features that are better than Paint Shop. Paint Shop Pro 8 is also totally usable by beginners and the "one step photo fix" is one of the best, simplest image enhancement features out there. I have been trying to learn GIMP, which is free, but find its controls labor intensive. There is also a nice piece of software called DCE Autoenhance. This is a little like using Paint Shop's photo-fix feature in bulk: you can select like 100 images and process them in bulk. You can also teach Paint Shop to do that but I haven't bothered because DCE is so convenient.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Ellen, I agree on Paint Shop Pro. It also has 85 - 95% of Photoshop's capabilities. I own an older version, but haven't used it much since I started trying to learn Photoshop. :wacko:

Sam

Edited by Sam Iam (log)

Carpe Carp: Seize that fish!

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I get stuck with a lot of the image manipulation work for The Daily Gullet and occasionally process some of Ellen's photos, and I've done fine with a variety of applications. But I've got to agree that Paint Shop Pro 8 (aka PSP) is the most desirable all-around piece of software I've worked with. It is very, very approachable -- anybody who has basic computer skills can learn to do a lot with PSP in about half an hour. The PhotoShop learning curve is very steep compared to the PSP learning curve, as is the ridiculous GIMP learning curve. And I was really amazed when we upgraded from PSP 7 to PSP 8 at how much PSP had closed the gap with PhotoShop. I had a list of PhotoShop features that I wanted on PSP 7, and PSP 8 has all of them. I'm not actually sure at present what PhotoShop does that PSP 8 doesn't, though I'm sure there's something. Probably nothing you'd use were you not involved in professional printing, though. It seems to me that the main advantage of PhotoShop is that it is the default professional standard, whereas PSP has only a small share of that market. Nonetheless, if you Google around you will find plenty of professional and professional-level photographers who use PSP, and plenty who use GIMP. So if money means anything to you and you don't have a way of getting free PhotoShop, I think PSP (less than $100) or GIMP (free) is the way to go. Even if you have free PhotoShop, you might be tempted to use PSP instead just to avoid the learning curve and to take advantage of what I think is PSP's superior usability.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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PhotoShop Elements is like $99 now and its gotten some really good reviews. So the price constraints and difficulty of use issue no longer really applies because they have really streamlined it for Digital Photography use. But I agree with Steven that if you want a commercial software product, PSP 8 is about as good as it gets.

GIMP, however is nowhere near as difficult to use as it used to be. They've made great improvements with 2.0.

I use both GIMP and PSP 8 interchangeably.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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