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     I think this is the correct place to post this (since the photography section seemed to be more of a “show photos” instead of asking for information about how to take photos)... I’m looking to purchase a good camera for taking pictures of playmobil scenes and such. Any and all advice is most appreciated. I’d like a great quality camera, but the price ranges for a good camera are all over the place. Ideally I’d like not to spend a fortune and put the extra money into the expansion of my newish collection, but I definitely want a quality camera that will take some great pictures.
     When I started my newly formed collection, I began having a world of fun. This fun brought waves of nostalgia associated with hours of fun my friends and I got to have as children. We were lucky to live in playmobil worlds with the limits of creativity being the only thing holding us back. Working at times in children’s hospitals, however, I’ve seen far too many instances of children who have never had (and perhaps will never have) such opportunities. So, I decided that while collecting, it would be a great opportunity to help those children if at all possible. I want to create a children’s book to help them escape and live in some of these worlds as well. It’s been a goal and project of mine to write a children’s book with the artwork consisting of scenes from my playmobil world. This is my “mystery project” and Im hopefully entering some of the final stages of its development. I plan on all proceeds going directly to providing these books for the children or perhaps the proceeds going toward another form of gift for them instead (I work with members of various departments in a few of these hospitals so I will take their advice for what they recommend for their patients). I need help choosing a decent camera for the task. Please let me know if you have any suggestions relating to a good camera for the job. I don’t think I’ll need anything too extravagant with a ton of features. I believe I just need something to produce good quality images. Thanks for your help...

As with any photography, composition, lighting, sharp focus and avoiding camera shake are probably the most important considerations. Almost any camera can achieve good photos, but some equipment choices can make the job easier.

A camera which shows exactly what you are looking at can help composition. I use an SLR camera for this reason, but many cameras, including phones, show you on a screen what the camera sees.

Digital capture is essential. You can play around with lighting and composition, taking pictures as you go to check how things turn out. Digital cameras don't use expensive "Silver halide" film, so you can take hundreds of pictures for nothing and see the results immediately.

If you do have control over the lens aperture, using a smaller aperture (higher 'for number) gives a better depth of focus, useful when you have close-up objects and more distant ones in the same picture. Good lighting, possibly flash and a firm base (eg table tripod) all help to get sharp pictures with good depth of focus and minimal blurring from camera shake.

See JLMatterer's recent pictures on here to see how effective a lightbox can be. Diffuse light rather than direct lighting is often best.

Software for processing images can help to improve them. Cropping, rotation, exposure correction and brightening or darkening parts of an image are useful facilities, especially if you have already cleared the Playmobil away when you realise the picture isn't quite right!

Use a digital camera with a screen, tripod, good diffuse lighting, small aperture if possible.

If you take some pictures, post them on here and ask for constructive criticism, I will be happy to oblige!

I agree with Graham. Any decent quality digital camera will work. If you are just posting online and not planning to print out large prints then you will not need the highest quality camera. I use Photoshop Elements to process all my photos and reduce sizes for web loading. The brighter your lighting is the easier you will find it to get decent photos. You will want to be sure there is a macro mode, to allow for sharp closeups. I use the auto setting on my camera and it switches to macro when appropriate.

Thank you for the helpful insights! Any idea what price range I should be looking at, or perhaps any other features that are necessary for the camera, which will also help determining what I need to spend (like the suggestion of macro mode, etc.). The range for digital cameras seems to go from a few hundred dollars all the way through a few thousand. I’m certainly hoping I don’t have to spend anywhere near the top of that range!

I have a Canon PowerShot SX420 IS. It cost about $400 on Amazon. I  think that with Prime I got it for about $300. My light box was $40, also from Amazon Prime. There are better cameras out there but this one does me fine. A light box can make your smaller set-ups look very professional.

Good software is very important. I use Dynamic Photo HDR from MediaChance. It's absolutely incredible & makes blah photos look amazing.

Dynamic Photo HDR

For example: Pic 1 is the raw shot of the light box. (Please excuse my messy shelf.) Pic 2 is the cropped close-up. Pic 3 is the final result using DPHDR.


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