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Best camera lenses / settings for gun photography?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by SolidChoice, Jun 6, 2010.

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  1. SolidChoice

    SolidChoice Member

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    I've seen a lot of really nice pictures of firearms on this site -- many of them showing small details of actions quite well. Aside from building a light/macro box, does anyone have any tips on favorite lenses, focal lengths, or other settings for getting quality shots? I have a Canon 50D, and even with a lot of manual setting work, I'm still having trouble getting images I'm happy with.
     
  2. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    I recommend a fast lens, like the Canon 50mm prime.

    Natural light images tend to look better, and to require lower ISO settings, creating much less "noise".
     
  3. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Lighting is the key as you already know. Also you want to shoot in as high a f-stop (as in a small aperture opening) as is possible with your lens for the most depth of field. More than likely, the "wildflower" setting is the one you probably want if you shoot on automatic. The ideal lense would likely be a dedictated macro or in the case of Nikon, Micro lens. The old Nikon 105mm Micro was a fantastic sharp lens.

    A trip to Walmart's cloth section might be useful in picking up a yard of a number of different fabrics (color and texture) for a nice clean background.

    You can make reflectors to bounce light onto your subject outdoors or you can use a number flash units. Most cameras have a fill flash setting which is quite useful in removing shadows outdoors and giving you as much depth of field as is possible.
     
  4. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    i'm more a Nikon guy than a Cannon guy, but the same general tips should apply.

    1. a prime lense will be better than a zoom with a Macro lense having it's elements optimized for close work. i like the Nikkor 60mm Micro and the Sigma 70mm Macro
    2. i like to shoot with an open aperture to make a detail pop out of a blurred background:
    beveled slide stop on Kahr
    DSC_1703.gif
    focus on shape of mag lips of EMP
    DSC_1676.gif

    but the smaller aperture will keep more of a gun in focus if you want to see the whole thing in focus
    3. while a light box is best and direct flash is the worst, natural light usually works great and is cheap (overcast days are the best...no shadows)
    4. shooting at a lower ISO and using a tripod usually allows the best picture quality
     
  5. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    Tripod is your friend. :)
     
  6. franconialocal

    franconialocal Member

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    Many photography "purists" will tell you to that post-production is kind of like cheating (e.g. "take the picture you want to take")...but I find that playing around with Adobe Photoshop can be a real benefit. Little things like just one or two steps of sharpness, saturation of color, cropping, etc. can make big differences in the finished product.
    For those of us on a budget, rather than spending $600.00+ on CS4, you can pick up Elements 8 for around $100.00. This includes a photo and video editor and I've had very good luck with it. It's a great package for those of us in the semi-professional realm.

    I've been playing with the RAW editor settings (rather then large, medium, or small JPEG) on my Canon Rebel T2i. This gives you much more flexibility with what you can do in post production, but it is much more time consuming.
    The only thing I DON'T like about photoshop work in RAW is that you tend to lose some of the quality when you convert it back to JPEG format for e-mails, powerpoint, etc.
    I do all my work in manual mode on the camera, no flash. I'd rather trade a slower shutter speed for use of the flash any day....a tripod with remote shutter release is a must for this type of photography.
    Keep a good journal for each photo too. This way you can refer back to the things that worked in a particular photo, as well as what didn't work. No more wasting film!! Just battery life...
     
  7. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    one of the major advantages of digital photography...and one of its greatest faults...is the ability to take numerous pictures without additional expense in development.

    Pro: you get to try different exposures of the same shot and get to chimp (peek at pictures on the screen after every shot)

    Con: folks don't spend as much time getting the shot right the first time...when was the last time you saw a photographer actually use a hand held light meter to take a reading
     
  8. M60

    M60 Member

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    The light meters in cameras are so advanced these days, you don't really need a seperate light meter unless you are using studio lights or are doing a really "Pro" set up.

    -Mark.
     
  9. grimjaw

    grimjaw Member

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    SolidChoice, it depends on what you're trying to achieve. If you want closeup details many cameras nowadays have macro settings, even the point and shoot cameras. After that it's mostly lighting. I haven't had the budget for studio lighting so I've used table lamps and sketch paper to diffuse it. For a long time I was using a Canon G3 that I bought used, and I got many compliments on the results. It doesn't take an extremely expensive camera to post results that look good for viewing online. Print is another matter.

    For general work, I stick with lenses between 35mm and 105mm (as measured by a 35mm format). If you're going to be doing closeup work, I strongly recommend a tripod.

    I guess you don't see me much. ;)

    4458145355_8c25749c88.png
     
  10. Vonderek

    Vonderek Member

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    I have the same Sekonic. In 25 years I have never seen an LD on a video production use a light meter. They all just use a video monitor whether it's been set correctly or not. When I am lighting and take my meter out people look at me like they just saw bigfoot.
     
  11. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    i got the same look when i mentioned using a "grey card"...i still think fondly of when i used a twin-lense reflex and 120mm film
     
  12. Chemist

    Chemist Member

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    My canon, which has slightly diff software but built on the 50D frame, will bring the image in the foreground to a crisp focus while blurring the background using the automatic setting for portraits.

    I also vote for the "nifty fifty" lense and Adobe lightroom for editing.

    Always remember that a good picture is a good picture no matter what you did to produce it.
     
  13. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    I have a 30D body. There are two lenses that I use almost exclusively for gun photography:

    * For action shooting (3Gun etc) I use the 70-200 F/4L

    * For product shots or wide-angle outdoor shots I use a 24-70 F/2.8L
     
  14. Aw4g63

    Aw4g63 Member

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    I'm no photographer but in the time it takes someone to load a 30rd mag, I set up a table and took a bunch of pictures of my AR.

    Just use a camera that doesn't make phone calls, don't use the flash and try to use natural light.

    Macro for close stuff if you really want. Play in photoshop if you want effects.

    Guncontrol.jpg
    AR2023.jpg
    pmags.jpg
    barrel2.jpg
    Side.jpg
     
  15. chains1240

    chains1240 Member

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    My opinion. Sigma 70mm EX DG Macro. I just sold mine in a Pentax mount. One of the, if not THE, sharpest lenses made by Sigma. A tripod is a must if you are going to set your aperture open in low light or to reduce the focal plane. If you really want to be picky, use a remote shutter actuator and set the camera to 2-second delay. This will let the camera stabilize after mirror slap.
     
  16. jlasserton

    jlasserton Member

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    I would recommend the Canon S3 IS. My friend has it and says it has good image quality, a 10x or greater zoom, and the ability to take shots quickly, such as a fast burst mode for action shots. It is relatively inexpensive for a nice camera.
     
  17. Jay Kominek

    Jay Kominek Member

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    I'll repeat the tripod suggestion. Can't suggest a tripod enough. Turning on mirror lockup will help a bit for the still life type shots. Figure out what aperture setting on your lens is sharpest. IIRC, it is usually somewhere in the middle of the range. Prime glass, too. Whatever Canon's inexpensive 50ish mm lens is would be the place to start.
     
  18. jfh

    jfh Member.

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    jeez, I finally make contact with other Sigma 70mm users. I've used mine for portraiture, however, for the most part--my gun shots so far have typically been 'candids' with the Nikkor 18-70.

    Mine is on a D80, and 9mmepiphany pretty well said what I know.

    Jim H.
     
  19. atomd

    atomd Member

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    Canon = gun grabbing antis. Nikon all the way for me. Or heck....anyone but Canon.
     
  20. AWorthyOpponent

    AWorthyOpponent Member

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    How so?
     
  21. whitecoyote

    whitecoyote Member

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    Nothing wrong with a Canon, they work for me! :)
    Canon 40D
    ...and still learning!
    33tpeuv.jpg
    ih5u0x.jpg
    dlrsz8.jpg
    fa6dmo.jpg
    29d91rm.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  22. chains1240

    chains1240 Member

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    I have only been into photography about 10 years. But from what I have learned and heard there is basically nothing wrong with any camera. The lens is the important part. And skill in using the equipment. Just use the camera you have and get a good lens. Doesn't really even have to be a macro unless you really want one. 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, Vivitar 105mm, etc. etc. etc.
     
  23. atomd

    atomd Member

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    It was quite a few years ago when this first came to light. I had to google to make sure I got the details correct and found a posting that pretty much summed it up in one paragraph. Here's a basic rundown of that:

    Canon requires every employee to disclose whether they had a CHL as a term of employment. They also require all employees to advise the Human Resources department if they ever apply for a CHL and if their status as a CHL holder changes. Canon said that they would periodically send a request to the DPS to check whether they had a CHL.

    It has nothing to do with bringing a gun into work. I'm sure their policy prohibits that already. To go to those extremes, you have to be pretty passionate about it. Yup, big time antis.
     
  24. wishin

    wishin Member

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    There was a time when an SLR with interchangable lenses would have been my recommendation, but today's digital cameras are great for most non-professional photography. I use a Canon SureShot for all my photos.
     
  25. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

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    Tripod,Get a good (not StufMart) Tripod.
    Light diffusion, Make a good light box or some sort of reflector/diffuser for outside shots.

    If you want cool depth of field, get fast glass, f2.8 or better.


    Learn how light and shadow works.
     
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