Photographing your micro RC car
May 25, 2002 at 7:46 pm #9020
Let’s be honest – we’re all kinda show-offs at heart. I mean – we don’t all do nude streaks down the main street of our city/town :smiley2:, but we do like showing off our cars to fellow micro RC enthusiasts, right?
Over the last month I’ve answered a few emails asking what equipment/techniques I use for photographing my Bit Char-Gs. Figuring that this might be something of interest to the rest of the ausmicro.com community, I’ve decided to offer some of my thoughts, tips and tricks. I hope that other members, who have also enjoyed some good photographic results, can add their thoughts onto this thread. Down the track, of course, it might become a part of the FAQ.
Up until a couple of weeks ago, all of my photos were taken using a Nikon Coolpix 775 digital camera. This is the entry-level digicam in the Nikon range and, bang-for-your-buck, it represents exceptional value (around USD399.00 in the USA or AUD899.00 here in Australia).
For me, the 775 was actually a “downgrade” purchase – of sorts. Prior to the 775, I owned a Fuji Finepix 4700,a 4.3MP camera with lots of bells and whistles. Photography is one of my main hobbies and my trusty Nikon SLR and lenses are constant travel companions. But the 4700 offered the manual controls that I was looking for in a digicam, without splashing out on a full-blown digital SLR like the D1 or D100.
Ahh….sorry…. went off on a tangent there! :smiley3:
When I started getting into the Bit Char-Gs, there was one key function that the 4700 wasquite sloppy at. And that was MACRO photography. The macro setting wasbloody ‘ordinary’ to say the least,and I could never seem to pull decent focus unless I was 30cm away from the subject and in full manual mode.
Eventually I decided to buy a new camera. I chose to forfeit all of the functionality/quality the 4700 offered, and get a camera that handled macro work better than anything else. That camera, of course, was the Coolpix 775. With a minimum focussing distance at the wide setting in macro mode of just 22mm (yep – LESS than an inch!) it is perfect for photographing the circuit boards and bodies of our favourite little cars.
The entire Nikon Coolpix range has this superb macro capability, including the new-ish Coolpix 5000. So, in terms of “which camera?” I’d recommend for snapping pix of your pride and joy, take your pick – Coolpix 775, 885, 995 or 5000. Just look at the other features/functionality offered to see what will meet your general photography needs. After all…. you don’t spend ALL of your waking hours photographing micro RC cars. Ummm…. or do you? :smiley3:
My latest camera, a black Canon G2, does not make the grade for macro photography. With a minimum focusing distance of around 15-20cm in macro mode, the standard kit was not designed with micro RC in mind (bastards! :smiley2:). However, all is not lost. I’ve kept a few dollars to one side for a set of add-onmacro rings which, from what I’ve seen/read, will improve the situation considerably. But – it still won’t be Coolpix-grade macro :smiley6:
If you’ve got money to burn, lash out on a “macro ring flash” for your SLR. This will give you the most even coverage and also the most accurately-controlled lighting. But be prepared to shell out upwards of AUD1000.00(USD500.00) for a good setup. Oh… and then you’ll need a camera with a hot shoe flash adaptor to hook it upto.
My AUD6.00 (USD3.00) work-around is a 100w General Electric ‘Lux Solaris’ (‘Daylight’) lamp screwed into my old Ikea desk lamp. If you’ve never seen one before, here’s a quick pick:
I try to shoot most of my non-action stuff under this lamp, as it casts averywhite light despite being an incandescent bulb. The spring-loaded desk lamp (about AUD20.00 from those crazy Swedes at Ikea)is easy to pull into position as required.
When doing any sort of macro photography, I cannot stress highly enough the importance of a steady hand. If you don’t HAVE a perfectly steady hand, treat yourself to a tripod and watch the quality of your images improve. It doesn’t have to be an expensive Manfrotto tripod – just something that will hold your camera (instead of you) andlet you pointit at the car from the desired angle. A cheap, about basic tripod can cost any where from AUD8.00 (desk type) to about AUD40.00 (extendable legs etc).
I use a Canon TP3 mini-tripod, which I purchased about 12 months ago. I wrote a short review about it which can be found here at Google.
What to show
I like to photograph my cars as you would normally view a photograph of a 1:1 scale car. I mean, there ARE some exceptions (eg photographing PCBs etc), but a few of the standard shots that I like takingare:
Front quarter elevated
Hope you find something in all of that helpful. I would appreciate any questions, comments or additions that you would like to contribute!
May 25, 2002 at 11:54 pm #14167
Since I started selling on eBay over a year and a half ago Ifound someuseful tips myself for taking clear pictures in good light.
I would have to say that a tripod is a must for taking clear images,using the 10 second timer of your camera in conjunction with a tripod ensures there’s no chance of a blurry image due to hand shake.
Sunlight is one of the best light sources available, unfortunately you can’t turn it on at 10pm when you just finished your paint job :smiley2:, so you can either try using a halogen spotlight (whiter than an ordinary bulb), or use the flash on your camera.
But using the flash on your camera results in horrible sharp contrasts and shadows, however you can get around this by holding some white card in front of the flashat a 45 degree angle so the light from the flash bounces up to the ceiling where it’s evenly dispersed and you end up with your object well lit which has smooth shadows.
I’ll post some pics of how I achieve well lit closeup shots (I have 2 digital cameras, an Olympus C-1000L with optical zoom & SLR which is just under a megapixel but takes amazing images, and a Kodak DX3700 which is a 3.3 megapixel but takes naff images) if someone can tell me how to post images here (is HTML allowed?).
May 26, 2002 at 3:49 am #14170
Some good info there – thanks! – especially the stuff about bouncing the flash output to diffuse it. Also, it was interesting to read your opinion on the sub-MP C1000L vs the 3MP DX3700. It’s further evidence of what I call the “megapixel myth”. Hang on…. let me get off my soapbox… I just remembered that this isn’t a photography forum :smiley3:
Adding an inline image to your posts is as simple as pressing the “POST IMAGE” button () on top of the message composition window and typing in the URL of the image (starting with http:// and ending with .jpg or .gif). Just note that some places, like Geocities and Tripod, do not allow you to link directly to media resources on their servers from pages outside their network.
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