Good camera for photographing paintings

I'm trying to help my sister find a good camera for photographing her paintings. She works in oils and her work varies in size from 18x24 inches to 4x8 feet or so. Painting is her livelyhood, so it's important that she be able to show her work accurately and well. She also has made it clear that she doesn't want to learn much about photography or cameras, so ease of use is very important. The most important criteria, as I see them, are:.

Accurate color representation.

Good, accurate image quality.

Decent tripod mount.

Good long end zoom (so she can get distortion free photos of the larger works).

Good auto mode.

I suggested an entry level DSLR, but she's worried about ease of use. Not sure if there's something with a better, more novice friendly auto mode. I also suggested the canon G9, although I have no personal experience with this camera. I think her preference would be something small and more point and shoot like, but I'm not sure if there's something like that that would do what she needs it to do..

Any suggestions anyone has would be most appreciated..

Thanks so much...

Comments (10)

A couple issues come to mind..

1. What's the purpose of the pictures? Website, small print, big print?.

2. Will they be photographed someplace bright enough that flash is not needed?.

David Smith

Comment #1

Everything depends on what is is "accurate color representation / good, accurate image quality"?.

You should explain her that depending of interior light color tones will be different (tungsten, halogen, window light)..

Oil paintings produce strong reflection, that could be avoided by not using flash. She will need to use Circular Polorizing filter..

Also, PS cameras may not be able to produce final detail quality she is looking for..

Tripod advice is good. You should also teach her to make photos with self timer to avoid shake from shutter button..

I'll still recommend basic DSLR like Nikon D40, Canon XTi, Sony A200 or Pentax K10D. + as good lens as she is able to afford + CPL filter..


Comment #2

Sorry, I meant to include that..

Right now she is mostly using the photos for her website. However, I think it would be good for her to also use these photos of a way of documenting all of her work. Sort of like how artists used to shoot slides of their work..

She shoots the paintings in her art studio, using mostly natural light. I've suggested though that she might want to at some point buy a simple light set up...

Comment #3

Hi baiely.

Actually there is nothing simple about shooting art work and her not wanting to learn (understandable) and just get point and shoot goes against probably everything she believes in in doing her work..

It would be much like me asking her as a photographer that I want to paint pictures but don't want to really learn and just want a house paint brush to do it....LOL..

She really should hire someone who has done it before and knows about polarized light, keystone effects and how to get correct color that will match exactly the colors she artistically picked out to create her work..

If she has sebveral ready at one time it won't be very expensive for a shooter to come in and record them.'The moment you think your great is the moment you quit learning.'

Comment #4

There's a decent guide to photographing paintings here:.


Maybe point her in that direction first. Since she doesn't need lightning fast responsiveness from the shutter, she could do well with one of the better compact or bridge cameras. The lack of a mirror-induced vibrations will certainly simplify things, although I would of course recommend a tripod. Maybe spend a little more on a solid tripod rather than on an SLR with decent glass, or at least a camera with image stabilisation. An SLR is not very useful if you aren't willing to spend time setting up a steady shot. She shouldn't be using flash for this kind of thing either, so the extra options available with an SLR could tempt her down the wrong path..


Comment #5

The reason colleges etc used to insist on Kodachrome slides of artwork is colour fidelity. A camera capable of RAW allows detailed correction of colour in a way JPEG does not..

The other thing she might look at is a second-hand medium format film camera. It is easy to scan negatives for web applications and for documentation as prints the quality of MF would be superior to similarly priced digitals...

Comment #6

I seriously doubt that someone who's worried at the prospect of an SLR is going to want to mess about with processing raw images, let alone go to the expense of running an MF film camera, and then scanning the results. That may well be the elegant solution, but it's certainly not feasible for someone who doesn't already know how to use a basic SLR. MF will show up any problems with focus and lighting that she is bound to make - certainly it's not a solution in this case..


Comment #7

I don't think medium format is an option (although I'd love it if she had a medium format camera I could have access to). Back when we were both applying to art schools and making portfolios she shot her work on slides, and has made it very clear that she likes the simplicity of digital and being able to crop easily in photoshop..

I think getting a camera that can shoot RAW would be good though. She might not opt to use it, but she's pretty savy with photoshop, so maybe she would..

As far as I know the only non DSLR cameras that can shoot RAW are the canon G9, the panasonic LX2, and the ricoh GX100. Any others?..

Comment #8

Older bridge cameras had RAW..

Most of them: Canon G3, G5, G6; Nikon 5700, 8700, 8800; Minolta A1, A2, A200.

She can still find these cameras at KEH, BHPhotovideo, Adorama used equipment departments.Back then bridge cameras were built very well - to last..

As you know RAW is very convinient to correct light shift. And to bring detail out from shady/dark areas..


Comment #9

Some of those will take an external flash, I think that would be a good feature to have, so she could bounce the flash off the ceiling..

Stan_P wrote:.

Older bridge cameras had RAW..

Most of them: Canon G3, G5, G6; Nikon 5700, 8700, 8800; Minolta A1,A2, A200.

She can still find these cameras at KEH, BHPhotovideo, Adorama usedequipment departments.Back then bridge cameras were built very well - to last..

As you know RAW is very convinient to correct light shift. And tobring detail out from shady/dark areas..


David Smith

Comment #10

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