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Digital Cameras for Food Photography


Rachel Perlow
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I had downloaded and installed all three of those. Unfortunately there's some sort of missing link between GIMP and my "default browser" that doesn't allow the HELP files to work, even after re-starting the machine. AND, apart from those tutorials, which I had read, the pages containing overall documentation (http://manual.gimp.org and http://wiki.gimp.org) won't load. I think this is because the gimp.org site is undergoing some sort of reconstruction. We're drifting off topic here, so let's take further discussion on this to PM.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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  • 3 weeks later...
Thanks for the info. We use Sun workstations at the department, ....

With my Solaris 9 shippment came a CD full of all open source programs. You can also go to sunsolve site and ask, and finsally do not forget that Univ. of Oregon has a very comprehensive set of Solaris repositories starting from 2.5

anil

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  • 2 years later...

For budding digital photographers:

I was perusing the COSTCO web site today and noticed that they have the Canon A620 on sale:

http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?...topnav=&browse=

$214 is an absolute insane bargain for this camera. I paid $400 for it a year ago. Its 7.1 megapixels and has the current generation Digic II Chip and an excellent zoom lens. The model is a year old (Its the same camera I use for all my closeup photos on eG and Off The Broiler) and is -slightly- larger than some of the other Canon models that use Digic II processor, such as the SD700 and S-80 (we're talking maybe an ounce or two difference, it still fits in your palm or in a small pocketbook).

Only drawback of this camera versus other Canon models of the same capability is that it uses AA batteries, not Lithium-Ion recharageables. But at $214 versus the $400 or $500 the newer ones cost, I think its a no brainer. Besides, you can get AAs readily (especially cheap in bulk at Costco) and you dont have to worry about the charge running out and having to recharge the batteries -- just keep a fresh pack of AAs with you.

As I said the closeups this thing does are incredible (1cm focal length), it does very well in restaurant lighting and it also takes 30 frame per second videos, which I've been making a lot of use out of for my blog.

Here's an in-depth review of the camera in case anyone is interested.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canona620/

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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^ The review at DP states "NiMH recommended", which I would definitely recommend too. I have a Powershot A80 (which is awesome) and the lifespan of AA batteries in it is ridiculously short. I keep two sets of NiMH batteries and have a charger with a car adapter. Each set of NiMH batteries lasts a solid day of shooting.

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Yeah, you can get the rechargeable NiMH AA's for it, but I just buy big packs of the AAs at Costco. I find that if you don't use the flash, the batteries last about 4x as long.

If you're travelling, the battery charger is one extra thing you have to bring with you (when you already got the cell charger, the bluetooth charger, the laptop charger... etc) Its convenient I think that you can get AAs everywhere.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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I've pretty much beat up my Nikon Coolpix 5200. A while back I was thinking about a SLR - but it is just too big and obvious for my purposes.

My main complaint with the pocket sized cameras such as the 5200 is 1) the time from power on to first picture and 2) the time between pictures. The big advantage of the newer SLRs is that both these times are pretty much instanteous. But I have yet to find a pocket size camera with the same qualities.

The other nice-to-have is image stablization or a similar feature that permits low light, not flash shots.

Since I all too occasionally sell the pics to mags or books, I need decent resolution too.

Any suggestions? Thanks.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Yeah, you can get the rechargeable NiMH AA's for it, but I just buy big packs of the AAs at Costco. I find that if you don't use the flash, the batteries last about 4x as long.

If you're travelling, the battery charger is one extra thing you have to bring with you (when you already got the cell charger, the bluetooth charger, the laptop charger... etc) Its convenient I think that you can get AAs everywhere.

I just stash the charger under my car seat. Carrying all those AA batteries takes up space (and money) too. ;) With my camera, using AA batteries really isn't an option - they last about 10-20 shots (without flash), no joke. My NiMH batteries last for about 200-250 shots. Perhaps newer cameras go easier on AA batteries.

One of the many things I love about my digital camera is never having to buy film or batteries (well, I guess the batteries may eventually need to be replaced in the distant future) ever again. :)

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My main complaint with the pocket sized cameras such as the 5200 is 1) the time from power on to first picture and 2) the time between pictures.  The big advantage of the newer SLRs is that both these times are pretty much instanteous.  But I have yet to find a pocket size camera with the same qualities.

The other nice-to-have is image stablization or a similar feature that permits low light, not flash shots.

Since I all too occasionally sell the pics to mags or books, I need decent resolution too.

Any suggestions?  Thanks.

Holly, I'm not sure this is a recommendation, but the guys at B&H Photo talked me into grabbing a little Fuji Finepix V10, for the times I just don't want to lug the SLR (and even if the lugging isn't an issue, it does put some people on edge, while a little point-and-shoot just seems like you're a whacky tourist...)

So far it's been a mixed bag, it's pretty quick, usually, but as with any of these little autofocus cameras, sometimes it's a little confused about what to focus on, and takes some time grinding away, trying to decide. And sometimes it decides wrong..

The main appeal was that the camera could be set to ISO 1600, which is the same maximum sensitivity as my SLR has. Sadly the shots are pretty noisy at that setting, and it's a bit of an ergonomic pain to use those higher values: it has to be set manually each time the camera is turned on, it won't save ISO settings of 800 or 1600. That's not a big deal if you power-up, set it, and take a bunch of shots, and are done. But it IS annoying if you're taking shots throughout a meal: powering-up, paging through a few menus, scrolling through settings, hitting OK, before you even try to focus the thing. And you can't leave it on, the huge LCD sucks (proprietary) battery.

In decent light, it really takes nice shots, and the LCD is beautiful, but the whole reason I got it was for dim shots, which have been not so great. Part of it is noise, part of it is noise-supression, which looks even worse, part of it is grain, nd part of it is that perhaps I'm just trying to push it too far. Even at 1600, the shutter speed sometimes rocks down to 1/10, and it's just really hard to hold a little camera still at that slow of a shutter speed. It would probably behave a little better on a tripod or beanbag, but if Im going to haul all that, I'll just bring the SLR!

There's another Fuji, the F30, that can go up to ISO 3200, and it might be really helpful, but I'm a little skeptical about the image quality that will result from that...

So on the upside, the V-10 is pretty responsive, does better than most in low light, and is nice and small. On the downside, the low-light shots are often a bit blurry and blotchy, there are some inconvenient set-up issues, and it's a battery hog. And the battery is a proprietary Lithium.. Oh, and it uses an xD memory card, not an SD or CF like everybody else in the freaking universe!

here are a few of the better shots I've gotten with the V-10

gallery_23992_3342_48913.jpg

(excellent light, easy shot....)

gallery_23992_3348_2003.jpg

(medium-dark, you can see the grain and noise)

gallery_23992_3348_42915.jpg

(again, moderately dark, so it's not bad, considering, but this would not fly in print...)

gallery_23992_3348_16163.jpg

(extremely dark, it's largely candle-lit. So, it's not terrible for the circumstances, but you're not going to put this in a magazine..)

gallery_23992_3348_24983.jpg

(same deal, there's very little overhead light, most is coming from a candle on the table. It works to document the moment, but it's not a beautiful photo... )

Jason has gotten good results from his little Canon, and my little Pentax S4 did a pretty decent job before it lunched. But I'm not sure you're going to get low-lag, low-light, print-quality, without a large sensor and a big piece of glass. Therefore, an SLR is calling your name...

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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I've pretty much beat up my Nikon Coolpix 5200.  A while back I was thinking about a SLR - but it is just too big and obvious for my purposes.

My main complaint with the pocket sized cameras such as the 5200 is 1) the time from power on to first picture and 2) the time between pictures.  The big advantage of the newer SLRs is that both these times are pretty much instanteous.  But I have yet to find a pocket size camera with the same qualities.

The other nice-to-have is image stablization or a similar feature that permits low light, not flash shots.

Since I all too occasionally sell the pics to mags or books, I need decent resolution too.

Any suggestions?  Thanks.

The A620 is incredibly fast. Turn on to picture is 1 second, and time between photos is basically instantaneous.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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By the way, Amazon has the camera for $219 with free shipping in case you aren't a COSTCO member. Actually I think Amazon may be cheaper because COSTCO charges tax.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000AYJDD...6653547?ie=UTF8

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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just saw this camera at my local office depot on sale for $160.99 (northern california). sounds like a good deal for this camera, huh? i'm trying to make a decision between something like the canon a620 which is similar to my current hand me down, a canon powershot s40 (about five years old), and something that i can slip into a pocket. does anyone have any recommendations for a very small camera? i guess something like philadining's finepix? i'm a terrible amateur photographer and even the s40 i have has too many options that i don't utilize on a regular basis. will the a620 also end up with more options than i can use?

For budding digital photographers:

I was perusing the COSTCO web site today and noticed that they have the Canon A620 on sale:

http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?...topnav=&browse=

$214 is an absolute insane bargain for this camera. I paid $400 for it a year ago. Its 7.1 megapixels and has the current generation Digic II Chip and an excellent zoom lens. The model is a year old (Its the same camera I use for all my closeup photos on eG and Off The Broiler) and is -slightly- larger than some of the other Canon models that use Digic II processor, such as the SD700 and S-80 (we're talking maybe an ounce or two difference, it still fits in your palm or in a small pocketbook).

As I said the closeups this thing does are incredible (1cm focal length), it does very well in restaurant lighting and it also takes 30 frame per second videos, which I've been making a lot of use out of for my blog.

Here's an in-depth review of the camera in case anyone is interested.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canona620/

Edited by alanamoana (log)
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  • 5 weeks later...

interesting thread that I wasn't aware of before:

thoughts from someone who does a lot of photography (albeit not food photography) and has invested way too much in a DSLR and a couple "L" lenses:

some of these points appear to have been made a couple years ago but are worth repeating:

1. Megapixels, schmegapixels. As a general rule of thumb, you will get higher quality pictures from a P&S made several years ago than today. why? because as a general rule of thumb, any P&S with more than 4-5 megapixels is a piece of crap. in a digital camera, the vast majority of the cost relates to the sensor itself, a flawless piece of silicon. to get the vastly larger amount of pixels onto a piece of silicon that consumers are demanding, manufacturers are simply reducing the size of each pixel...because increasing the size of the sensor would be too expensive. (this is why the 12 megapixel sensor on the Canon 5D or the 16.7 megapixel sensor on the Canon 1DMKIIS is so expensive -- those sensors are huge pieces of silicon with huge pixels.)

what this means is that each pixel is acquiring much lower light than before...degrading quality.

so, you're better off with an older P&S.

2. if you do find a P&S that outputs in RAW..that will be really nifty for food photography. one of the great advantages of RAW is that it allows you to forget about white balance when shooting. when you process the RAW photos in a RAW converter later, you will simply adjust the white balance then.

3. when shooting in low light in a restaurant, personally, I'm offended when people use flash..I find it annoying. and it takes bad pictures. pump the ISO as high as it will go on your camera. on a P&S the high-ISO settings will be noisy (heck, on DSLRs this is still a major advantage that Canon has over Nikon -- superior high-ISO performance (of course, Nikon has other advantages over Canon))...but that can be fixed later with Noise Ninja or Photoshop CS2 (if you have either of those or something similar).

4. don't rely on Best Buy or Circuit City for advice. those kids are clueless. their job is to push megapixels, megapixels, megapixels.

P.S. a nifty free photo-editing program that is useful for P&S shots is Picasa. www.picasa.com

Edited by Nathan (log)
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  • 2 months later...

Bumping this up in time for holiday gifts - thanks for the update, Nathan.

I have a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-V1 now, and as my photo skills have progressed, I'm always tempted by Jason's review of the A620. Is that stiill the best of its type, given that food photography, and other macro-type shots are my first priority?

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  • 2 weeks later...
Bumping this up in time for holiday gifts - thanks for the update, Nathan.

I have a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-V1 now, and as my photo skills have progressed, I'm always tempted by Jason's review of the A620.  Is that stiill the best of its type, given that food photography, and other macro-type shots are my first priority?

I'm also in the market for a new digital this holiday season.

I'm slightly tempted by the Canon S3 IS; but, after seeing it in the store, it is pretty large. It also takes AA size batteries, which I have a strong dislike for after toting a charger, voltage changer, and 2 sets of NiMh batteries on a long trip to countries with different electricity standards.

My wife has a Canon SD550, which I've been borrowing.

Cons: It can be persnickety trying to autofocus closeups in low light. The flash blows out the colors on most photos closer than 3 feet. The lens is also not very good for panorama shots.

Pros: It has astounding battery life, even when using the flash. I only had to charge it once while doing all the photos in my foodblog! It is small enough to tote in your pocket and whip out in a restaurant without feeling too conspicuous. Very good color. Zippy response times from off to photo. In most situations fast and accurate autofocus.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I just got my first digital SLR, the Canon 30D. I've never used an SLR before - I'm graduating from the Canon S400, which is an old point and shoot. This is my favorite of the few food photos I took with it the night it arrived, taken with the Canon 100mm/f2.8 Macro lens:

327130171_8dbf11410f.jpg

(You can see the larger version on Flickr and read about the pear liquor at my blog.)

Point being, for anyone considering going for the Canon 30D, this is an example of what it can do. I'm thrilled with it.

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