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Camera settings for my light tent?

FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting
Thread started 08 Jun 2007 (Friday) 04:53   
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garindan
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Hi all,

I am new to shooting with a light tent. I have two tents - one a 50cm and one a 120cm.

I am only using the 50cm tent right now to shoot pictures of some action figure toys. I am having some mixed results! Some are coming out well and others not, but anything that has multiple planes is causing me issue. I am also shooting stock pictures of boxed items (and other flat plane things) which all seem to come out fine without issue.

So what am I doing wrong???

Here is the current layout:

I have the light tent illuminated by two lamps. Both lamps have three natural daylight fluorescent 5000K bulbs in them. Each lamp is positioned directly at the side of the light tent facing each other like I have tried to show below.

-> [] <-
----^----
Camera

The Camera is on a tripod for stability, is set to custom White Balance (using the palm of my hand as the reference - as suggested by someone in another thread), set to AV at f18 and i use the timer to take the photo so as to avoid jog. I am not using flash, but have a canon 580 if needed.

So what do the pictures look like? The 'white' tent background tends to either come out tinted blue or too grey. The depth of field and sharpness is OK with items about 4inches tall, but when I move the camera a little further away or zoom out for larger items the photos are too dark and have a greater blue hue to them and are not so well detailed.

Has anyone any pointers to what I am doing wrong or might have some other suggestions?

Any help would be much appreicated.

Best wishes,
Andrew

Post #1, Jun 08, 2007 04:53:27




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Curtis ­ N
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garindan wrote in post #3341331external link
set to custom White Balance (using the palm of my hand as the reference - as suggested by someone in another thread),

You can use your palm for metering, but not for setting a custom white balance (unless your palm really is white).

Shoot something white inside the tent for your custom white balance reference.

Post #2, Jun 08, 2007 06:16:46


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airfrogusmc
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If they're 5000 K daylight bulbs try setting your K at 5000 and tweek from there.

Post #3, Jun 08, 2007 06:24:31 as a reply to Curtis N's post 7 minutes earlier.




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johnms88
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Post an example shot please :P Also, read thru the DIY lightbox thread.

Post #4, Jun 08, 2007 09:49:52


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garindan
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johnms88 wrote in post #3342406external link
Post an example shot please :P Also, read thru the DIY lightbox thread.

I have read that thread entirely, but can't get mine to work the same as others. However - I'll give it another go tonight and will post some pictures should my interpretation of the tips given do not work when I try them :rolleyes:

Anyone know how to change the K setting on a Canon EOS 350D?

Thanks,
Andrew

Post #5, Jun 08, 2007 09:54:43




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johnms88
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garindan wrote in post #3342426external link
Anyone know how to change the K setting on a Canon EOS 350D?

Thanks,
Andrew

That is refering to your white balance. Read your manual and learn how to do custom white balance.

Post #6, Jun 08, 2007 12:24:51


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Bohio
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Several things garindan, but most of your problems should be solved thinking about 18% gray.

1. White balance
Focus your camera to a white (or ideally an 18% gray card) area inside the box. Be sure that the white area fills the whole frame. Take a pic.

In your camera, go to Menu, jump to the second page ("camera icon 2"), scroll down and select "Custom WB". If not already selected, browse to the picture you just took, then press the "Set" button. Now, in the same menu page, move up to "White Balance" and select "Custom". As an option, you also may have just chosen "Daylight" (or some other setting) instead. With your own experience you'll decide what works better for each photo. Depending on how far is set your camera from the light temperature falling on the subject, a color cast will be more or less pronounced.

2. Contrast
Your camera will always come up with an exposure that makes things look middle gray, not too dark, not too light, but in the middle (18% gray). If you take the reading from a dark area, the whole photo will end up overexposed, take the reading in a light area and you get underexposure. Try to get the reading from an area close to middle gray (the palm of your hand may work but being in a studio why not to use something more reliable?).

There is a rule of thumb that I've found effective when shooting digital: exposure for the highlights (as opposed to film where your main concern are the shadows when exposing the film). Also, keep an eye on the histograms, you want to push them as close as possible to the highlights side, but without overlapping it.


3. Focus
In a studio, with the camera set on a tripod, there is no need for using such a small aperture as f18, this is a probable culprit for a lack of detail in some photos (because of something known as diffraction). Try something between f8 and f11 to see if there's any improvement. Also, zoom lenses tend to be better at certain focal lengths.

Hope this help, regards!

Post #7, Jun 08, 2007 22:59:16




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lionking
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Bohio wrote in post #3346347external link
Several things garindan, but most of your problems should be solved thinking about 18% gray.

1. White balance
Focus your camera to a white (or ideally an 18% gray card) area inside the box. Be sure that the white area fills the whole frame. Take a pic.

In your camera, go to Menu, jump to the second page ("camera icon 2"), scroll down and select "Custom WB". If not already selected, browse to the picture you just took, then press the "Set" button. Now, in the same menu page, move up to "White Balance" and select "Custom". As an option, you also may have just chosen "Daylight" (or some other setting) instead. With your own experience you'll decide what works better for each photo. Depending on how far is set your camera from the light temperature falling on the subject, a color cast will be more or less pronounced.

2. Contrast
Your camera will always come up with an exposure that makes things look middle gray, not too dark, not too light, but in the middle (18% gray). If you take the reading from a dark area, the whole photo will end up overexposed, take the reading in a light area and you get underexposure. Try to get the reading from an area close to middle gray (the palm of your hand may work but being in a studio why not to use something more reliable?).

There is a rule of thumb that I've found effective when shooting digital: exposure for the highlights (as opposed to film where your main concern are the shadows when exposing the film). Also, keep an eye on the histograms, you want to push them as close as possible to the highlights side, but without overlapping it.


3. Focus
In a studio, with the camera set on a tripod, there is no need for using such a small aperture as f18, this is a probable culprit for a lack of detail in some photos (because of something known as diffraction). Try something between f8 and f11 to see if there's any improvement. Also, zoom lenses tend to be better at certain focal lengths.

Hope this help, regards!

These are very pro tips!
Thank you!
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Post #8, Jun 09, 2007 05:47:00




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DavidW
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Custom white balance, as Bohio says, makes sense.

Similarly, f/18 is far too low - f/8 to f/11 is on the mark if you don't want a larger aperture (smaller f/number) for creative purposes.

I think this is a case where M mode might be the best option. You can get the correct exposure off a grey card, and your continuous lights will produce reasonably constant output (that's not entirely true - they will probably decrease a little over time, but it's slow). Once you have the correct shutter speed for the chosen aperture and ISO, you can keep on using it, and it should expose every subject correctly - hence M mode. (You can modify things a bit in the light of the histogram, and if you're shooting RAW, exposing to the right will give you better signal to noise ratio - but don't blow the highlights beyond recovery!).


Finally, if you're using a tripod, be careful that you don't get into the 'danger zone' for mirror related vibration without shooting using mirror lockup. This is somewhere in the 1/2 to 1/30s range on most cameras. Mirror lockup just needs selecting on the camera's custom functions - don't forget to reset it to normal afterwards!

A remote release makes it easier to fire the shutter, not least as you're then not knocking the camera. Press once to lock up the mirror, wait a few seconds for vibration to die down, press again to fire the shutter. To avoid stray light getting into the back of the camera, you can put the little cover on your camera's strap over the viewfinder - or simply shade it with your hand.

David

Post #9, Jun 09, 2007 07:56:32




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Bohio
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Just wanted to note that my comment about using a tripod and a small aperture was misleading, obviously small appertures call for longer exposures ... I was falling asleep last night when posting.

Post #10, Jun 09, 2007 09:07:24




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garindan
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Bohio wrote in post #3346347external link
Several things garindan, but most of your problems should be solved thinking about 18% gray.

1. White balance
Focus your camera to a white (or ideally an 18% gray card) area inside the box. Be sure that the white area fills the whole frame. Take a pic.

In your camera, go to Menu, jump to the second page ("camera icon 2"), scroll down and select "Custom WB". If not already selected, browse to the picture you just took, then press the "Set" button. Now, in the same menu page, move up to "White Balance" and select "Custom". As an option, you also may have just chosen "Daylight" (or some other setting) instead. With your own experience you'll decide what works better for each photo. Depending on how far is set your camera from the light temperature falling on the subject, a color cast will be more or less pronounced.

2. Contrast
Your camera will always come up with an exposure that makes things look middle gray, not too dark, not too light, but in the middle (18% gray). If you take the reading from a dark area, the whole photo will end up overexposed, take the reading in a light area and you get underexposure. Try to get the reading from an area close to middle gray (the palm of your hand may work but being in a studio why not to use something more reliable?).

There is a rule of thumb that I've found effective when shooting digital: exposure for the highlights (as opposed to film where your main concern are the shadows when exposing the film). Also, keep an eye on the histograms, you want to push them as close as possible to the highlights side, but without overlapping it.

3. Focus
In a studio, with the camera set on a tripod, there is no need for using such a small aperture as f18, this is a probable culprit for a lack of detail in some photos (because of something known as diffraction). Try something between f8 and f11 to see if there's any improvement. Also, zoom lenses tend to be better at certain focal lengths.

Hope this help, regards!

This was excellent advice. I'll post a few photos for you guys to see later!

Thanks,
Andrew

Post #11, Jun 13, 2007 02:36:10




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garindan
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garindan wrote in post #3368817external link
This was excellent advice. I'll post a few photos for you guys to see later!

Thanks,
Andrew

I forgot to add - initial photos using this advice were still too dark, so I +1 the exposure compensation for some results that look pretty good in my opinion.

Andrew

Post #12, Jun 13, 2007 02:38:06




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