I think most will agree with me that one of the best cameras for photographing art these days is digital SLR (single lens reflex). The phrase “single lens reflex” refers to a moveable mirror which reflects light up to the viewfinder. When the shutter is pressed, that mirror moves to allow light to reach the film or sensor. I have a Digital SLR (Canon Rebel Eos XS) and it has suited me very well.
The right camera represents an investment for the future of an artist. Even if prints are not something you do at the moment, it will give you the capability of creating them in the future. Who knows, you may be creating a catalogue of your art in 10 years time, or speaking about your art in public venues. Having good quality photographs will not only give forthcoming capacity for creating prints, but will help document your progress - and make you appear more professional as an artist.
What advantages do Digital SLR’s have over smaller and cheaper cameras?
- Digital SLRs are more versatile than smaller, lighter brands. They allow more creative control, especially by having interchangeable lenses, such as wide angle, macro, and telephoto. The wide range of accessories available allow artists and photographers more control over varying photography situations they may encounter.
- With a larger sensor and more megapixels, the quality of the image is much better. Having used a cheap digital camera for years, I noticed a huge improvement in image quality, even in my first shooting. I still like to use the smaller, lighter camera at times, especially since it is so convenient to carry around. But, for my artwork, I always use my Canon Digital SLR.
Digital SLR Cameras – The Basics
- Digital SLR cameras have lenses which can be interchanged for photographing from different distances, and varying situations.
If in the future you ever feel the need to buy a new camera, it is advisable to search for one which matches the lenses you already possess.
- When set to manual, these cameras give artists full control over photographing – the focus, exposure, ISO and white balance can be set.
- Most digital SLRs allow shooting in RAW format. RAW files can only be manipulated with special software, such as Photoshop. Settings for RAW images, such as file type, white balance, etc. can be changed after the image is taken.
- Depth of Field – This will allow focussing in on certain objects with a blurred background, and may be very useful for sculptural work.
- White Balance – Your camera should have white balance option - adjust the setting according to the type of lighting – sunlight, tungsten lighting, and fluorescent.
- Most digital SLR cameras have high megapixels. Something in the range at least 10-12 megapixels would be ideal for photographing art. If you are planning on creating prints, go even higher.
Choosing the Right Digital Camera for Photographing Art
Before investing in a digital SLR camera, you should first determine your purpose for buying one.
- Are you planning on using it just to take photos of your artwork, or are you using it in other situations as well (ie portrait photography)?
- For moving objects, you will need a faster digital SLR camera with a higher frame rate, and anti-shake system.
- If you plan on using it a lot outdoors, the camera may need to be weatherproof.
- A “live view” function comes in handy for composing the composition in the viewfinder.
- What lenses are you planning on using? If you already have lenses, it may be a good idea to make sure your new camera is compatible with them.
- Preventing blurriness and camera shake - If photographing art, always use a tripod, which will steady the camera. Make sure it is compatible with a cable release or has a timer function.
Before Buying a New Camera
Ask for opinions from professional photographers about the best brand to buy and the features you should have. Read reviews of cameras online. Consider taking a photography course or spend some time at photography forums and blogs online. Thorough research will help you find the best type of camera for you and your situation.
Where to Buy a Good Digital Camera?
Look in local camera stores, or search for them online. Ebay is a good place to search for Digital SLRs, but I recommend avoiding used items unless the seller is reputable, and has plenty of good feedback. Amazon is also a popular site to search for a new camera. The reviews feature may come in handy for finding the right one for you. Here are some Digital SLR cameras listed at Amazon.
Canon EOS Rebel T3
Nikon D90 DX
Canon EOS Rebel T3i
As you can imagine, there are many choices when it comes to buying a good digital SLR. Choosing the right camera comes down to how much you are willing to spend, what situations you plan on using it, and what plans you have for your art career.
Do you have any questions? Do you have a Digital SLR camera of your own, or are you planning on getting one? Are you getting good results for photographing your artworks from another type of camera?