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     Should I buy a digital camera?

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The following was gleaned from The Custom Rodbuilders Guild BBS, back in March.

  1. Too much fluorescent light gives a green cast, if the shots are farther away.  If you intend to use a lot of fluorescent. lighting, then use a fluorescent filter. This should reduce you by 2 F-stops. If you are taking micro shots then screw it onto the lens first, before the close-up lenses.
  2. Film is cheap. Shoot lots of it.
  3. If you have a slide/negative scanner don't bother getting prints, just develop the film.  The scan resolution will be higher.
  4. Use the proper film and shoot outside. For those without proper equipment, use white cardboard reflectors, and cardboard covered with aluminum foil to direct the light exactly where you want it, and to kill any shadows.
  5. Focus accurately, even if it is necessary to use a magnifier for the eye piece.  It will allow you to do a "razor" sharp focus job.
  6. If correct color is important, get a photographic gray (18% neutral gray) card at the photo/camera store and include a shot of it at the beginning and end of each roll of film. Make sure it is lighted in the same way and with the same light source as your subject. Then tell the processor that you have included these gray card shots and that they may use them to get their basic print filter packet.
  7. For developing, use a reputable lab that specializes in processing for professional photographers.
  8. If you use any type of filter, remember that the reading on your light meter, if separate from your camera, must be adjusted. For every filter used, there is a reduction in the available light.
  9. If you have bracketed some of your shots, be sure to tell the developer, otherwise all the photos will be adjusted to look the same.

Hope some might find this useful.   Your turn, Danny.  (Martin-Darrell)

Rule

Here is how I shot my rod pics, I have an old, I mean really old kitchen table that Annes grand-grand father made, (at the moment there is nothing in the kitchen at all, we are emptying the house. Going to rent it out while we move down to NZ for a year) Anyway, I put the rod on this table, sometimes I lay it flat, sometimes I put some block under to have it higher above.  The table is placed in front a big southern window, and I get lots of nice soft light. Then I get the directional light I want, which modeling the rod, moving the rod to get the light where I want it. Sometimes I use a big white cardboard to reflect some light into the shadows. This is a very simple way which work great. I have several studio flashes, but this way is faster and easier.  Use a tele or normal focus length (50 mm) wide-angle is not suitable for this kind of work and 50-200 ISO film..

File size for pics to web sites etc: 20 cm longest side, 72 dpi is plenty big on the screen, and is the  biggest file I make for the web.

Most modern photo lab will make digital files from any kind of material, scanning requires some skill and insight to get the image good. I've been working with Adobe Photoshop and scanning daily for almost 10 years, and I still have negatives I can't get right.... (Danny Twang)

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I'm not a photographer, but it always takes my computer and modem connection a lot longer to download images that have highly textured backgrounds like rugs, grass, or some other kind of "pretty" background. Kind of annoying to wait for all that useless data. It would be better to just use a smooth, nonreflective background to put the rods on.   (Steve Weiss)

Rule

Bob Maulucci suggests looking at part of The Global Flyfisher web site to see their information on photographing and digitizing flies.  Now, this isn’t directly related to bamboo fly rods, but much of the information can be used to photograph bamboo rods.  Make sure you check out Power Fibers.

Rule

Have tried everything that I can think of to reduce the "shine " from the finish when taking pictures of the cane rods.   Anyone got any ideas how to light these things to get rid of the "shine" so that the cane shows up?  (Don Anderson)

    Using a polarizing filter set to maximum screen should both block the polarized reflected component to some extent, and enhance the bamboo color.

    If you don't want to go buy a filter just to try it out, then just take a few shots through the lens of a good pair of polarizing sunglasses; not as good, but will certainly give you some indication as to whether the technique will work or not.  (Peter McKean)

    You might try "bouncing" the light from your flash.  If your flash is capable of manual settings, aim it at a white or light colored ceiling, at an angle that would reflect the flash back down to the rod.  You will have to do this using the flash with manual settings, because auto flash will determine the distance to the ceiling, and set the flash intensity for that distance.  You'll need to double the distance on the flash, then add in a little more "fudge factor" distance because of the slight loss of light due to the reflection.  I would take multiple pics with slightly different settings, some more, some less. That way you should get at least one useful pic out of the bunch.  There's other ways of doing this, but this is about the easiest way.  (Mark Wendt)

    If you are taking the photo perpendicular to a nice shiny flat, then any flash that goes off will be picked up by the gloss on the surface.  If you don't want that, then turn the flash off and use a different source of light.  A polarizing filter will  help, but the best thing to do is to light it without any hot spots or direct hits.

    You can do this by using a diffuser or a reflector to light the rod.  A diffuser can be as simple as a piece of white paper or a sheet in front of the light source (it should be really bright and directed toward the object from the side).  Two or more light sources will minimized any shadows.  A reflector would be a good way to shine diffuse light on the rod, as well. If you want to do a lot of photos, an inexpensive reflector can be purchased at camera stores.  If not, put some tin foil (dull side out) on a large piece of cardboard and shine your light source toward the reflector (if you can find it, gold foil or wrapping paper makes a nice, warm highlight that might really compliment the rod).  You will need to play with the angles a bit and it will help to set up in a well let room.  Again, reflect the light from the side so that there is no direct light between the rod and the camera lens.  The reflector is good for diffuse light and makes good highlights, but it should not be used as the only source of light.

    One last suggestion, and possibly the best.  If you want a really good photo of your rod (say for a brochure, or something) you can do what most pros do. Fake it.  It sounds immoral, but think of it like tying a really large fly to submit for publication in a magazine.  If you can tie it on a size 4 hook, then the photos will be easier to see and detail will be more obvious. In your case, make a prop rod and shoot it before you put that really nice glossy coat of varnish on, or give it a matte finish instead of a glossy one.  No one will know by looking at the photos, but it will show the details of your workmanship that you are presumably trying to illustrate. (Jason Swan)

      You've gotten lots of good advice already, and I'm certainly no photo expert, but I'll offer my $.02 anyway.  For the best looking photos, go outside, on a cloudy day.  Use no flash.  The diffused light from the clouds  makes for great looking rod photos.  I can send you an example or two if you would like.  (Harry Boyd)

    You might also check at your local photo shop for some dulling spray.  This stuff wipes off after your done.  Or try vegetable oil in a sprayer.  Lightly spray the rod and then shoot the picture.

    My dad was a professional photographer and was always raiding Mom's pantry for something to enhance a shot.  (Dick Fuhrman)

      It takes some messing about and I don't know if you can do this with a digital cameras because they may want to compensate too much but the best time of day is early morning when the light is soft. If you can manage it take the pic near a window with soft early morning light angling in on the subject and reflect some light back onto the subject from a large white card.  That will increase light from the same source reduce shadow. 

      Danny Twang has taken some very nice rod pics he's shown me and that's what he's recommended to me in the past.  (Tony Young)

    Try a Polaroid filter should work.  Like this:

    Colo, Rich Fly Photo(Rich Colo)

    Try to use indirect light and don't use the flash.  Try bouncing the light off of some poster board or thru sheets of paper. I had a hard time taking pictures of ferrules and reel seats until I started changing the lighting.  (Brad Love)

    Just an amateur, but try using backlighting instead of a flash. You can move the backlighting around so that you have a clear shot of the rod with no light reflecting from the finish. What I use is 3 of those cheap reflector lights that you can clamp on anything and just clamp them to things around the rod until I get the lighting I need without the glare. You can get them at Walmart or a hardware store for about $5 each.  (Bob Nunley)

    Consider taking some shots of the rod before you finish it. Low inside lighting and distances greater than 3 feet from camera will also help.  (Rex Tutor)

    Have you tried aiming a light source at a 45 degree angle at the cane from the side opposite the one  from which you are shooting?  May help, just my $.02  (Mike Shaffer)

    Try to avoid shooting at right angles to the rod, use the diffuser if your flash has one (if not try holding a sheet of onion skin tracing paper about a foot in front of the flash making sure to keep the paper out of the picture), if your flash allows for bounce tilt (not the case on most point and  shoot digital cameras) use it, and last but not least, avoid using the flash, just shoot in a well lit (diffused light is best) room or even outside (hazy days are best to avoid the harsh sunlight. If your camera will allow it you can shoot at a lower shutter speed using a tripod. Hope there is something here that helps.  (Shawn Pineo)

    Have you tried using a polarizing filter on your lens? It will remove most (if not all) of the unwanted reflections.   (Ed Miller)

    If you can find a position where the light can't possibly bounce back at you, that'll help. Stay oblique in every direction you can think of and any glare won't flash back into the lens. Don't know if you're familiar with "Snell's Law" but it says that the angle of incidence of light equals the angle of reflection. It's the reason you have to stand directly in front of the mirror or, while you can see lots of stuff, you can't see yourself.  The idea with the Polaroid glasses may or may not work as an indicator of whether the polarizing filter will help,  though I'm sure the actual filter will. Most newer 35 mm cameras (and I don't know if the digitals are the same, but I'll bet they are) require a "circular" polarizer or their focussing mechanism gets fooled and they screw up the shot. The glasses are linearly polarized, since that's fine for eyes and lots cheaper.

    The great part of your problem is that you aren't spending fortunes on developing prints to find out if you're successful!  (Art Port)

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I'm wishing to record details of rod hardware with the new digital camera. I do have a copy stand with R/L light reflectors and diffusers.  What light source would give the best colors? Do have a pair of blue photo flood bulbs.  (Jerry Young)

    Since I work around Graphic Designers, Photographers, Advertising and Marketing agencies I've been asked about the quality of digital cameras. A lot of people don't like my answer and it really depends on what your final needs are, but here it is:

    1) Nothing in the digital realm comes close to Large Format film (4 X 5) transparencies. This is still what anybody who is really serious about image quality uses. I can almost guarantee this is what Orvis, Winston and any number of other rod companies used for their catalogs.

    2) 35 mm Slide Film produces much better results than any digital camera on the market (priced under $10,000). It's also more cost effective than 4 X 5 transparencies.

    Of course, as Ed mentions you do need to scan transparencies and slides as well as know a bit about using Photoshop.

    It does seem that digital cameras are designed by techies and not photographers. They lack a lot of the features a film camera would give such as control of flash, exposure, metering and such.

    I have been using a new Canon PowerShot G2 (4 megapixel) for the last few weeks. It takes very large photos, shows better detail than most other digital cameras I've used but still doesn't come close to a slide. What's really infuriating is dealing with a flash that you can't control.  (Chris Wohlford the Ultimate Bamboo Fly Rod Library)

      Not being any kind of expert, One might think I would disagree with Chris, but I do not.

      I still use the 35 MM Nikon when I really want a good photo - don't have access to large format.

      Even so, I have gotten great use out of my Canon S100 (Elph) that casims to be 2.1 megapixels, but has a pretty small element ( so, the photos don't have the  detail of some 2.1 megapixel units I have seen).  The entire reason I got it was to take more pictures due to the portability of the camera and storability of digital data.

      The flash is erratic, IMO.  It does have exposure control in one-half stops.  (Jerry Madigan)

    Most digital cameras that are worth their weight in empty film canisters will allow you to select various  "white balance" settings, meaning you can use almost any type of lighting as long as you don't mix and match them and correct it inside the Camera (or Photoshop)

    I personally (notice legal disclaimer) would avoid anything Kodak like the plague, the K word is a dirty word in my shop right now.

    For consumer level digital cameras right now I would stick to Nikon's Coolpix series 775, 950, and 885 (little more $ than other 2) are all fine choices with lots of cool add on toys if you want to experiment later. The Coolpix 800 is an older model that can be purchased for peanuts now if you don't mind the fact that it's not USB. The nice thing about allot of the Nikon cameras is that you can also use a Nikon speedlight (or other suitable flash) instead of just the rinky dink built in flash, this opens up a whole new world of possibilities for shooters!

    Epson actually makes a good line of digital cameras too, they really work well for print options if you have an Epson photo inkjet printer.

    On the lighting note a  half sheet of translucent white Plexiglas makes a nice makeshift lighting table with a light source placed a couple feet under the sheet and the object you are taking the picture of on top of it.

    If you want to really get into it make a tent of diffuser paper (thick tracing paper) and put it over the object on your light table and stick your camera lens through a hole in the paper. Add lights all around the tent (except in front of the lens) and shoot away!! This technique done properly will produce crisp, well lit picture with no shadows or hot spots.  (Shawn Pineo)

    I have been a professional  photographer and teacher for 30 years, 95% of my commercial work has been on slide film (unless it was a black and white assignment). But times are a changing and I am looking at digital cameras to see what is best for me.

    It depends on your photo needs, as to how much megapixels you require.

    This is what I have learned, so far.

    Rule of Thumb (part 1)

    1 to 2 megapixel cameras make photo quality prints from 3x5 inches to 5x7 inches.  2 to 3 megapixels make up to 8x10 inch photo quality prints. 5 megapixel make up to 11x14 inch photo quality prints (you need a good photo quality printer to do the above printing). If your photo images are only for web / internet use, 1, 2, or 3 megapixel is fine, but if you want high resolution 11x14 prints for gallery shows, then 5+ megapixels is the way to go. (along with the memory to shoot dozens of high rez photos for a photo assignment)

    Rule of Thumb (part 2)

    Just when I learned all the answers, "they" went and changed all the questions! <g>  There probably are some 1 to 3 mega pixel cameras, along with certain printers, that give great 8x10 photo quality results........... but I don't know which do. (If any of this information is wrong, please tell me, I would love to learn more!)

    The sales guy was convinced that I needed at least 3 megapixels ($599+) to do the job, and he said a regular 35 mm would be too costly to produce a lesser effect.

    The 35 mm image produced on film would not be "a lesser effect" if you have a good conventional camera, and Photoshop in your computer, and are trained in Photoshop, and shoot slide film, then you can make "huge" photo quality prints. Except the roll of professional slide film will cost nearly $30 to buy and process, and yes, that would be costly.......(Edward Miller)

      Be careful of these companies claims of "photo quality" at such and such a size. "Photo quality" is a very subjective matter.  Many of the lower end cameras will print 4x6 prints reasonably but even to push them to 5x7 makes most of the images start to fall apart.

      A good printer and good photo paper is paramount as well. There are inkjet printers out now at a reasonable price that will do as good (in some cases better) a job as our Dye Sublimation ($$$$) printers at work will do.  Epson even makes an inkjet photo printer that will print photos from 4x6, 5x7, and 8x10 rolls of paper. They do a very nice job.

      As for camera resolution, avoid cameras that only allow you to save the file as a jpeg, look for one that will allow you to use Tif format (the jpeg format makes a small file but at a loss of image quality, good for card storage but not so good for top quality images) This is one reason a Pro SLR Digital 2.2 MP camera (like the Nikon D1 or DCS720X) using Tif format will take a far superior picture over a point and shoot 3 MP camera using jpeg.   

      Digital cameras are a lot like slide film, meaning they are much more picky about proper exposure than print film which is fairly forgiving of sloppy exposure. "Experts in the field have speculated that a digital camera would require approximately 30 MP to match film quality. At work we currently have 16 MP digital Pro backs for our Hasselblad medium format cameras that take incredible shots paired with a quality printer produce beautiful prints, even portraits.  Unfortunately at $32,000 (not including the camera and lens to put the back on to!) they are out of most of our price ranges ;^(  A good conventional (film) camera and negative/slide scanner is a good option as well, not the cheapest but nice just the same.

      For the average user, $ for $ , a good 35 mm SLR will produce better prints at a lower cost than any digital camera all factors taken into account.  Where digital cameras shine is when you:

      • don't need prints
      • need images immediately
      • use the images for internet
      • want free film
      • want to manipulate the image, or want to be able to make the same image color or Black and white.

      Digital photography is a godsend to photojournalists!  (Shawn Pineo)

Rule

I am sure that Danny can add to what I am about to write, as I am in on way a photographer, or photography literate. My photos are in the process of being professionally shot. The following was gleaned from The Custom Rodbuilders Guild BBS, back in March.

1. Too much fluorescent light gives a green cast, if the shots are farther away. If you intend to use a lot of flor. lighting, then use a fluorescent filter. This should reduce you by 2 F-stops. If you are taking micro shots then screw it onto the lens first, before the close-up lenses.

2. Film is cheap. Shoot lots of it.

3. If you have a slide/negative  scanner don't bother getting prints, just develop the film. The scan resolution will be higher.

4. Use the proper film and shoot outside. For those without proper equipment, use white cardboard reflectors, and cardboard covered with aluminum foil to direct the light exactly where you want it, and to kill any shadows.

5. Focus accurately, even if it is necessary to use a magnifier for the eye piece. It will allow you to do a "razor" sharp focus job.

6. If correct color is important, get a photographic gray (18% neutral gray) card at the photo/camera store and include a shot of it at the beginning and end of each roll of film. Make sure it is lighted in the same way and with the same light source as your subject. Then tell the processor that you have included these gray card shots and that they may use them to get their basic print filter packet.

7. For developing, use a reputable lab that specializes in processing for professional photographers.

8. If you use any type of filter, remember that the reading on your light meter, if separate from your camera, must be adjusted. For every filter used, there is a reduction in the available light. 

9. If you have bracketed some of your shots, be sure to tell the developer, otherwise all the photos will be adjusted to look the same.

Hope   some   might   find   this  useful.  Your  turn,  Danny.  (Martin-Darrell)

    I'm not a photographer, but it always takes my computer and modem connection a lot longer to download images that have highly textured backgrounds like rugs, grass, or some other kind of "pretty" background. Kind of annoying to wait for all that useless data. It would be better to just use a smooth, nonreflective background to put the rods on.  (Steve Weiss)

    Here is how I shot my rod pics, I have an old, I mean really old kitchen table that Anne’s grand-grand father made, (at the moment there is nothing in the kitchen at all, we are emptying the house. Going to rent it out while we move down to NZ for a year:-)) Anyway, I put the rod on this table, sometimes I lay it flat, sometimes I put some block under to have it higher above. The table is placed in front a big southern window, and I get lots of nice soft light. Then I get the directional light I want, which modeling the rod,  moving the rod to get the light where I want it. Sometimes I use a big white cardboard to reflect some light into the shadows. This is a very simple way which work great. I have several studio flashes, but this way is faster and easier.

    Use a tele or normal focus length (50 mm) wide-angle is not suitable for this kind of work and 50-200 ISO film.

    File size for pics to web sites etc: 20 cm longest side, 72 dpi is plenty big on the screen, and is the biggest file I make for the web.

    Most modern photo lab will make digital files from any kind of material, scanning requires some skill and insight to get the image good. I've been working with Adobe Photoshop and scanning daily for almost 10 years, and I still have negatives I can't get right....(Danny Twang)

Rule

I can not take a decent photo of any of my rods.  Admittedly, I am trying to use quite basic photo equipment, but I am willing to upgrade.  My question is: what tips do you have for taking photos of your rods?  Tips about lighting? Tips about background?  Tips about range?  Other?  I would like to know what factors you have found make a big difference.

I am not trying to get professional quality, just some reasonable views of my work to share.   (Dan Zimmerlin)

    I use a small Canon Powershot SD850 IS and it does a good job. I have some colored fabrics (light tan and green) that I put on the floor and put the rods on top. I use a tripod for the small camera and that helps even though this camera has image stabilization. The camera does have a zoom and close up features that help as well.  (Frank Paul)

Rule

My 3 megapixel Vivitar is just about dead, and I'm thinking of buying a new one.  In addition to taking pictures, I expect to connect the camera to my computer and a digital projector to display (not capture) hands tying flies (for example).  Are there certain features I should be looking out for?  Do you have a specific recommendation?  For those that do not know me, please be advised that I am one cheap SOB.  (Grayson Davis)

    My vote for Canon G10 or G11 - wish I had one - not cheap but they take great pics.  Add waterproof housing and you are smiling.  (Steve Dugmore)

    I shoot a Canon G10 as my back up to my Canon 5D DSLR. I have the underwater housing fo it also, for cool fishing pictures and diving. The question is, do you want a point and shoot that is auto everything, which can be bought for under $100.00, or do you want total control of exposure? Do you want a hot shoe for an external flash unit? Do you want the camera to process in JPEG only, or do you want the ability to shoot RAW (uncompressed lossless files) and do your editing in computer software?

    I never shoot in auto anything. I want total control of exposure, and for me that's either manual or aperature priority mode. The camera is just a light box - it has no clue what you want out of it (think snow pictures that look grey instead of white).

    One thing, don't get carried away with megapixels. Unless you want to blow up images the size of a billboard, you don't need to spend the extra money on the marketing hype. The more expensive cameras do have up to 20 MP and beyond, but to most pro photographers it's the other features in the camera they are looking for.

    For posting photos to the web, or for projection, a 6 or 8 MP auto everything camera that shoots only JPEG is sufficient.

    If you want to have complete creative control, are interested in Photoshop or other editing software,  shoot low ISO, or you want fast buffer, low noise, a histogram, fast burst rate, etc., than we are talking interchangeable lens  DSLR's that start at around $800.00 with the kit lens, usually a fairly slow 18-55mm. Look at the Canon Rebel TI if you are interested in a DSLR in this price range. The Canon G11 will set you back about $500.00, but has all the creative control of many DSLR's without the ability to change SLR lenses.

    By the way, nothing against any of the other manufacturers but I shoot Canon, so it's what I know best.

    Start here (no financial interest, blah, blah, just a good company to do business with):

    Sorry for the information overload, but photography is also one of my passions!  (Tom Vagell)

    I WAS a SLR enthusiast and got tired of lugging the auxiliary stuff around. I wanted something more than the typical point n shoot so I got the sx10is from Canon. It doesn't do all that Steve and Tom's suggestions do, but it's a LOT of bang for the buck. I've suggested it to several friends and all have thanked me for it. It's been replaced by the sx20is, now but they seem to be identical in most respects. You can check it out here.

    There are lots of reviews on the page and most are pretty accurate. I don't understand the knocks some gave it about the batteries. You can use NiMH batteries from Best Buy or wherever and if you keep one set charged and another in the camera, you should never have a battery problem (unless maybe you get permission to use flash in The Louvre and shoot every painting there!) Perhaps the couple of gripers used alkalines, they're TERRIBLE in cameras and the instructions tell you so!  (Art Port)

    I am using an Olympus SP 550 UZ.  This is the most versatile camera I have ever tried ( and I also had 2 of its predecessors, so obviously I'm sold).  What got me started is that it gives me most of the versatility and features of and SLR without the interchangeable lenses.  It does phenomenal macro shots of things like fly tying.  The zoom is fantastic, 18X optical, and I don't recall the digital component, but, basically, I can carry the equivalent of a 300mm telephoto in my pocket, well, maybe a big pocket. I have shot some fantastic photos with it. 

    This one is a couple of years old, think the current model is the 700.

    Incidentally, a member of our local photo club, a professional, told me the time to buy a camera is in November, just beforethe new ones come out, prices drop drastically then.  (Carey Mitchell)

      Canon G11 is a good recommendation as is BH Photo.  If need cheaper, look for a Nikon that does not use AA batteries (response time is poor on the very cheap).  (Dave Wilson)

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