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  1. #1
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    EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    Hi Guys

    First post here so apologies for being cheeky and jumping right in with a question.

    I want to set up a permanent small studio to shoot lots of small parts (screws, nuts & bolts etc) for a catalogue production and have been looking at either a nikon D300 or a canon EOS 5D any thoughts on which would be best, I'm kind of confused with the full frame option on the canon (advantageous or not for close up work). I may also want to shoot slightly larger items such as toolboxes but that would be as big as it gets.

    I have been advised to get a macro lens but not sure about size etc.

    As you can tell I'm pretty new to digital photography so any help gratefully received :thumbsup:

  2. #2
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    Scruffy - welcome to the forums! You have 2 great options here, I don't think you could go wrong either way. Though, I think you might be a little better off with the Canon EOS 5D. The full frame will give you a better lens resolution, as well as a larger viewfinder. An all around benefit, and a particularly great benefit shooting macros. And yes, for what you are shooting you definitely want a macro lens, heres a lens at a solid 65mm with 5x magnification - click. You could blow up a grain of rice to a 13x19 print!!! ;) You may also want to invest in a macro flash ring like this.

    Hope that helps.

  3. #3
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    I'm going to disagree with Anbesol about the full-frame. I am doubtful that most people really benefit from it. I committed to APS-C sensors a couple of years ago and haven't regretted it. I also do a fair amount of studio product photography, including some closeup work. And with closeups, you'll actually benefit from the crop. It gets you closer and you'll have more depth-of-field with the same angle-of-view. That means it's easier to keep the whole product sharp. And that's one of the hardest things to do with close-up work.

    I would actually recommend a step down from either the 5D or the D300. For studio work, you don't need the speed or build quality of those cameras. I would recommend either a Nikon D60 or the Canon EOS XTi / 400D. With those two cameras you'll get excellent image quality and save money which you can put toward a macro lens and lighting. For the kind of work you want to do, lighting and the lens will be much more important than the camera.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    "It gets you closer and you'll have more depth-of-field with the same angle-of-view. That means it's easier to keep the whole product sharp. And that's one of the hardest things to do with close-up work."

    Well, sort of, only by bringing it through the sweet spot of the lens, but this only differs by and between lens', not the bodies, if he got a solid EF macro lens I can't imagine that would be a problem. You could also crop the image from 5D and still get the same effect of the APS sensor.

    I do agree though that its a large chunk of change for such a project that, though their may be a slight photographic benefit, it is hardly the practical benefit for the application. I would also echo John's suggestion of going for a less expensive body. But I would suggest looking towards Sony's line as well, they have comparable macro flash rings and they have Zeiss lens'. the A700 and A300 might be worth looking at as well, all of which I think you get a better value with than the Canon/Nikon line. The A700 for example is comparable to the 2 you mentioned at about $300-500 less...

  5. #5
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Anbesol
    "It gets you closer and you'll have more depth-of-field with the same angle-of-view. That means it's easier to keep the whole product sharp. And that's one of the hardest things to do with close-up work."

    Well, sort of, only by bringing it through the sweet spot of the lens, but this only differs by and between lens', not the bodies, if he got a solid EF macro lens I can't imagine that would be a problem. You could also crop the image from 5D and still get the same effect of the APS sensor.
    Just cropping the image won't give you the same effect! You have to realize that the spacing, pixel pitch, size, and depth of field depending on physical sensor size. For "part" photography, you're going to want the deeper depth of field of a crop sensor.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    No, I am sorry to disagree again, but cropping the center APS-C square of a 35mm plane will still give the same exact benefits of DOF, sharpness, abberation, and other lens exclusive benefits as an APS sized sensor offers. A 35mm plane still gets the sweet spot of the lens, it is simply placed in the center of the shot. Lens problems tend to show themselves at the outer edges of the elements more than the center, that is the cool part about APS is that every 35mm lens gives you only the sweet spot, and problems with it as a 35mm lens hide themselves in the outer parts of the element, but you are still just cropping the lens resolution. However, the pixels per inch are denser on the Nikon than the Canon in this case, is this what you are referring to?

    The reason I find it is pertinent to the application is because you can get closer to the object while still keeping it in frame, and thus better magnification. Is this not the case so much? Of course, I'm really splitting hairs, hes doing this for a catalog not billboards, lol.

  7. #7
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    Thanks for the replies guys, I am still a little confused as to whether I need a frame crop camera or not.

    Do I guess then that the D300 and 5D cameras are overspecced for my needs, I was also looking at a D200 (whiuch is a good deal at the moment) but the company that usually shoots our work reccomended the canon. (the studio I want to set up is overseas hence they can't do it for us).

    I also don't really get the lens length on the macros, does longer get you closer etc ? what would be a reccomended length for 'parts'.

    Finally I have some provisions set aside for lighting and was thinking maybe a tent and tripod type lamps etc. so is a macro flash necessary as well ?
    Last edited by scruffydoo; 06-24-2008 at 04:56 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    There is minimum focus distance, but as far as how 'macro' this makes you depends on the range of the lens, the better way to measure a macro's performance with another lens is to find out the magnification. 1:1 is typical for a macro, meaning that the nut will appear on the sensor at its actual size dimensions, 4:1 means it will show up 4 times larger than it really is on the sensor. Mind you, this is as it refracts onto the focal plane, not the actual image itself. Nuts and bolts and the sorts could definitely benefit from the magnification - with a 4:1 magnification you could actually print a poster of a little tiny screw.

    However, having said that, if the mentioned applications will be its exclusive use, particularly if you have no plans of making prints larger than letter size, then the EOS 5D and D300 would be very much overkill... If that is the case, get an entry level, a Sony A200, a Nikon D80, or a Rebel XTi or the sorts and spend almost 1/4 the price. But if you would like this camera to do a bit more, it might be worth considering every option.

  9. #9
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    I would definitely advise against the Canon MP-E 65mm. It is an excellent lens, but far too specialized here. You need to consider that at the absolute minimum magnification, you would be able to fit something 36mm long across the frame on the 5D, 22mm long on any crop body. The lens does not allow for normal focusing, the ring only controls magnification from 1x to 5x so you need a focusing rail to accomplish focusing. You also cannot shoot anything at less than 1:1 magnification. I would suggest a conventional macro lens going up to 1:1 magnification... the Nikon 60mm or 105mm AF-S micro-nikkors, or for Canon crop bodies (not the 5D) the 60mm EF-S or for any Canon the 100mm f/2.8 Macro. All are very good lenses, both Nikon versions are extremely new designs.
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  10. #10
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    Unless you are producing engineering drawings as part of your catalog the pros and cons of FF, APS, circles of confusion (technical for part of the cropping issue), relative magnification, ratios are meaningless.

    What you need to keep in mind for catalog work is getting the best image you can that can be used in the proper format for catalog layout.

    Lighting and ease of shooting item after item is the real concern.

    For what I believe you will be shooting a nylon box with two external lights providing even fill on a table on probably all you need. Solves most of the knockout and background issues for the graphic designers and layout specialist at the printer.

    If you go with a DSLR, regardless of sensor or manufacturer, a longer lens such as the previously mentioned 100mm or even up to a 150mm is key. Numerous great fixed focal length lenses in this range are available at a justifiable cost.

    The reason is for this, you've got to be able to get between the camera and the table/stand. A short 50,60, even 70mm lens is going to be right on top of your work area. Longer lens, you don't have to move the camera for every new item. Zooms are not as good as they want to creep.

    Needless to say you will want a good tripod and a remote or delay release capability for the camera to prevent any unnecessary shudder that will otherwise appear in your images.

    Now too perhaps further confuse the issue: consider a pro-sumer or high end compact camera. The macro capabilities will easily outstrip most DSLR's in less than a very experienced photographer's hands. Just look at the galleries here at Photography Review, and for that matter anywhere. Check the cameras used where listed. Nature photos don't count as they are so often cropped from a much, much larger frame and are the result of ten's if not hundreds of exposures to get the'right' one.

    This is a production problem you are facing as much as photographic. Many identical shots one after another of slightly different subjects(i.e. parts) that you need to be as similar to one another as possible.

    If I can offer any other info, let me know.
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  11. #11
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    I would try and do the 5D from the studio work I do. We have a 5D, 30D, 20D, XTI and the 5D just has larger files and more crop ability! this is from a 5D at work BTW...

  12. #12
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by ianjenn
    I would try and do the 5D from the studio work I do. We have a 5D, 30D, 20D, XTI and the 5D just has larger files and more crop ability!
    Good to see you over here!

    The Canon XSi / 450D has about the same size file as the 5D, costs a lot less, and I really think the smaller sensors are better for close-up work.

    That is a pretty nice image, though. Reflections from the lights are a bit much. But I know how hard that can be with shiny stuff! Where do you work, anyway?
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  13. #13
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    Good to see you over here!

    The Canon XSi / 450D has about the same size file as the 5D, costs a lot less, and I really think the smaller sensors are better for close-up work.

    That is a pretty nice image, though. Reflections from the lights are a bit much. But I know how hard that can be with shiny stuff! Where do you work, anyway?
    THANKS
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    Last edited by ianjenn; 07-01-2008 at 10:12 PM.

  14. #14
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    thanks for all the info guys, naturally if I can get away without spending a fortune so much the better, its amazing how the body price doubles and trebles when you start adding the accessories etc.

    I think I'm going to go for a Canon 40D plus an f/2.8 100mm macro lens, canon throw in the capture software etc. whereas nikon is an extra cost and also this lens seems to have very good reviews. The 400D is available at very good prices though (500 inc BG and 18-55 IS lens) so is there any real advantage to stepping upto the 40D do you think?

    Also can the canon macro lens be used for anything else other than real close up work ? I may want to shoot items as big as large toolboxes and also use the camera for some hobby shots perhaps.

    A typical group shot from a current catalogue and printed in A4 size is like this, followed by more single item detailed pics. Shot with a D200 I believe.

    Last edited by scruffydoo; 07-10-2008 at 07:30 AM.

  15. #15
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    Macro lenses (other than the MP-E 65mm previously discussed) will operate as "regular" lenses as well - meaning they can still focus out to infinity. Actually a lot of people use macro lenses in place of standard ones.

    I think the 100mm f/2.8 macro is a good choice. And I really doubt that you'll ever need to go higher than 1:1 magnification. As for the 40D over the 400D in a studio application, I think the only difference is that the 40D has live view so that you can see the image on the camera's LCD. I understand that a lot of people don't like/use this feature but for macro work on a tripod in a controlled environment, I think it would be highly useful. You can zoom into the live image at 10x magnification to verify critical focusing and you have a near-vibrationless shutter actuation so no need to lock up the mirror (it is alreadly locked up). Although a remote shutter release cable is still required.
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  16. #16
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Benefit Of EOS 40D

    Quote Originally Posted by scruffydoo
    I think I'm going to go for a Canon 40D plus an f/2.8 100mm macro lens, canon throw in the capture software etc. whereas nikon is an extra cost and also this lens seems to have very good reviews. The 400D is available at very good prices though (500 inc BG and 18-55 IS lens) so is there any real advantage to stepping upto the 40D do you think?
    I have an 400D, and a 40D and I use the 40D in the studio because of the Live View feature. That's also available with the 450D, though. I find that Live View makes tabletop studio work a lot easier. There's a little less bending over and critical focusing is actually a lot easier when you can zoom in on the LCD. So, for that reason I'd go for either the 40D or the 450D.

    Quote Originally Posted by scruffydoo
    Also can the canon macro lens be used for anything else other than real close up work ? I may want to shoot items as big as large toolboxes and also use the camera for some hobby shots perhaps.
    I haven't used the 100mm macro. I have the Canon 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro Lens along with a closeup adapter if I really need 1:1. The 100mm lens will allow you to shoot from farther away which will make it easier to light your subject. On the other hand, stuff like tool boxes will be tough because you'll have to get way back to get the whole subject in. The lens I use the most in the studio is the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di. It's very inexpensive, the optics are wonderful, and it covers 80% of my needs. I shoot less small stuff than I think you do, though. Mostly, I'm taking pictures of cameras and details of cameras. In any case, I think you're going to need something besides the 100mm.
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  17. #17
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    Re: EOS 5D or D300 for small parts shooting

    thanks a lot guys, I'll let you know how it go's

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