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I learned technical photography when everything was film and darkroom. The advantage everyone has today is you get instant feedback on the basic picture, and instead of working in a darkroom to alter your pictures, you use any photo software.

The camera basics haven't changed - what ever camera you're using, you first have to understand it's limitations - situations where it's auto expose or auto focus (if you're using these) will be fooled, plus optical limitations and lighting limitations. This used to take up a lot of time and be somewhat expensive using film - now it's fast and free. As long as the capabilities of your equipment are up to the scene you're trying to capture, you're good to go.

I'll point out that, even being an enthusiast in the film days and doing my own developing, anybody can get way more experience with a digital camera these days in a month than I got in a year, and you don't need an expensive set up to get very very good.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
What's a "good setup" run from scratch? What exactly do I need?

The pics of that bath made the bathroom look like a 16 x 12, not what it actually is, an 8 x 9. Over the years I've had the opportunity to do some really awesome work and am kicking myself greatly not ever realizing the wow factor that comes into play concerning a great photo of the work done.

Today, I take a ton of before photos with my ipad on projects, so I have great before pics ;). If I had a decent setup for after pics, it would compliment the work done nicely.
 

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I'm often trying to get people to see the value in having a skilled photographer. As mentioned, you can learn things on your own, but the time invested will probably pay better doing your trade. If you have a passionate interest in photography, fine, go for it, but for most contractors, you'd be more productive hiring a pro.

The idea that professional photographers are a thing of the past is ludicrous. I'm a graphics guy highly skilled in Photoshop, yet I would never pretend to be anything more than marginal in my photography skills. I routinely work with client photos and make the best of it, but when clients give me professional photos, it's a serious advantage to help them bury their competition. The money they spend on a pro comes back to them many times over.
 

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What's a "good setup" run from scratch? What exactly do I need?
There's a longish answer to that, since cameras are changing all the time. The same companies tend to own the high end year after year - Canon and Nikon. I'll get back with a better answer later, and see if 480sparky wants to talk about his set-up.
 

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There's a longish answer to that, since cameras are changing all the time. The same companies tend to own the high end year after year - Canon and Nikon. I'll get back with a better answer later, and see if 480sparky wants to talk about his set-up.
Not talk...... sell. Head down to the Buy&Sell forum. I'm selling my DX stuff. :thumbsup:
 

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The need for a pro has not changed but the perception of what a good image is has changed tremendously. Passable images are what I see when I look at a lot of "pro" work because passable is in the reach of everyone.

Go look at Playboy images for a bit. Call it research if the wife catches you. Pick one you like and go google 'naked women' and then compare the Playboy image to one of the 30 million other images side by side. There is no contest. Playboy will crush most every one.

Playboy hires PRO Photographers. They consistently have the best shooters on the planet and for a good reason. There images sell. Every image Hef puts in print is a pro image not a passable image but a real live genuine PRO image.

Most of us don't need to be quite that uptight with our images but if you ever need to plunk down come real coin for advertising your best bet it to hire a pro.
 

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Ill be hiring a pro to do some shots on a couple fireplaces and stone chimneys. I simply cant get the long tall chimney/fireplace to look acceptable. If I back up so it fits the room all the detail is lost.

$300 a location, probably 20 minutes of shooting would be my guess lol.
 

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Go look at Playboy images for a bit.
Lighting for Playboy shots can be difficult to figure out. That, and they use top notch makeup / hair people - a huge difference when shooting nudes.

Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue is what I tell people to look at for basics of lighting - many of their shots have simple lighting set ups.

Things to look for, besides the obvious:whistling

-Light reflection in eyes - this can tell you location and rough type of some of the lighting
-Highlights on skin / hair
-Shadows / lack of shadows

Never ever try to be as good as some of the fashion advertisement shots - they can use as many as 30 lights, and 8 is common. Figuring all that out will give you a head ache, but then, so can Playboy:blink:
 

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Jumping back in, I'll ignore the expensive systems. Here are some things to look for in a camera

-RAW format is preferred - makes it easier to do some image editing
-Any thing less than 15mega pixels and you're probably shortchanging yourself
-ASA 1600 or higher rating is a necessity
-Wide angle ~ 28mm or smaller - this lets you get more of the room in
the shot
-Either a remote OR a time delay for shutter release is a necessity
-Flash is a necessity

A note about zoom. There are two types out there, optical and electronic. Electronic isn't really a zoom, and doesn't give you any more real resolution in the image. Optical zoom is the one to pay attention to. Here's the bottom line on optical zoom 4X is pretty easy to design without having to trade off optical performance, but 20X or 50X requires trade offs that degrade the pictures at ALL levels of zoom. In the absence of an actual technical test / review of the camera's resolution / clarity, lower zoom cameras are a safer bet.

A note about cost. As the price goes up, you do get more performance. While a very good DSLR, associated equipment, laptop and software for Photoshop can run a few thousand dollars, that's still way way less than a single top quality lens for a view camera. Very serious professionals can drop some very serious money on equipment - even a single lens.

Back to reality. A lot of cameras don't do very well in "low light", like what you can run into indoors. Normally, ASA 400-800 would be fine for interiors, but the way they spec digital cameras, you can have a noisy picture. Even one that's spec'd at ASA1600 can give a noisy picture. CMOS sensors tend to do better in low light, but in the end it's the overall camera performance that counts. Get a camera that performs well in interior lighting situations - not all do.

Remember I said either a remote control or a time delay shutter release capability? The single most common mistake people make is they hand hold the camera and press the button. No matter how steady you are, the camera movement will be noticeable even with a 5MP camera. A person with a 5MP camera using a tripod and delay or remote control will get a clearer picture than someone hand holding a 20MP camera. Image stabilization is supposed to be the cure for that, but image stabilization by its self degrades the picture. Good for just goofing around taking bar pictures of your friends, or any hand held shooting. You pay extra money for stabilization, but the same camera without the stabilization system would be capable of taking a better picture - just use a tripod. Personally, I'll carry a small clamp on type, just because it's handy - full sized tripods have their uses, and I'd definitely take one when it counts. For practice, the clamp type or mini tripod are just way easier to haul around.

I'm guessing there's at least 100 cameras out there that meet the basics (except for RAW) and are under $400, and then another $100-200 for full size tripod, mini tripod, and clamp tripod.

No matter how much you spend on equipment, you'll never get good with it unless you practice. Everyone today has a huge advantage. You used to find out if you got everything right when you developed the negatives. Then along came Polaroid, and you could set up all the lighting and composition, and find out in 60 seconds if you got it right (I'd do this with view cameras, then take the actual shot), now all you have to do is look at the LCD and you can see what the lighting and composition are doing, and see what happens as you make changes. You can learn in a few seconds what it used to take a few hours to learn.
 

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I have to agree that great pictures especially today are very important. If you read the story of AIRBNB which is now considered a company worth over 1 billion dollars it was the pictures that made the difference. I am sure there is a photography student in the local school that would love to do it and has great equipment and will not cost a fortune . If you want to read the airbnb story here is the link http://goo.gl/mALVK
 
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