Ok, so this evening I decided to have my first go at getting my head around how to use the CAPcam.
Be gentle with me - this is very early days...
For those who are not familiar with this camera - and it's probably pretty much everyone since I believe there are literally only a handful of these out in the wild right now - it's a fully computer controlled view camera.
GFAE, who make the CAPcam, have a website here where you can get some more information about the camera.
To be honest, I should probably have held off writing up anything about it until I understand how to use it better myself - I've forgotten a lot of what I learned in Schaffhausen last Tuesday already (sorry Rolf!), but there has been quite a bit of interest from people since I posted about the fact I've just picked one of these up, and I thought my initial simple test would be worth sharing since it demonstrates one aspect of the basic functionality.
Also, just writing this helps me get my head around the concepts
Here's the set-up:
Lens is the Schneider 120mm, back is my trusty IQ180.
I'll spare you more photos of the set-up. What you can't see in that picture is that the lens has a Schneider electronic shutter.
Cabling wise (can be complicated to get your head around this), power goes to the shutter control box; shutter control box controls the shutter; shutter control box is connected to the camera through a ribbon cable; to the flash via a sync port; to the computer via USB; and to the digital back via a sync cable. Finally, the back is connected to the computer over firewire.
There are other ways to set up the cabling (for example, the back can be powered off the camera, and with a USB connection from the back to the computer), but for my kit (old MacBook Pro with firewire), this is the simplest way to do it.
I didn't have a lot of time this evening, so wanted to keep the learning curve fairly simple, so set out to achieve just one thing.
The subject is the 5x5x5 Rubik's cube on the shelf. Roughly angled edge on to the lens.
The self-imposed challenge: How quickly can I change from having the focal plane aligned along the left hand face of the cube, to having it aligned along the right hand face of the cube?
I honestly have no idea how long this would take to do manually - I'd be very appreciative of some input from those with experience of product photography, since this is a new area for me.
I won't bother sharing the images themselves, since the interesting stuff is actually in the screenshots of the CAPcam software.
A few things to note -
I did this roughly - wasn't looking for 100% accuracy. I wanted to try to refresh my mind about some of the basic concepts.
I was actually triggering the wireless flash manually - I didn't have a cable to connect the transmitter to the shutter box - hence the 1 second shutter speed.
There is a LOT of information that the CAPcam software gives you about the set-up of the image. I won't go into all of it now, but one thing worth appreciating is that the software does not work on the lens tilt and swing angles that we would be used to thinking about - it works on the focal plane tilt and swing angles relative to the sensor plane. To me, this is a MUCH easier concept to work with, since it's directly related to the end result that you are after. You never have to think "what lens tilt do I need to get the desired focal plane angle I'm after?"
Here's a screenshot from the CAPcam software for the shot where the left hand face of the cube is in focus:
The red, green and blue markers are what are important for this test - ignore everything else for now. On the right hand side you'll see a table that gives the distance that represents the distance from the sensor that the point in the image each marker is highlighting is. If the three points highlighted are all in focus, then the three points define the plane of focus.
What I did between the two shots was this - I dragged the green marker over to the far edge of the right hand face of the cube. Since the cube is (roughly) edge on to the sensor, the distance of the far left edge and the far right edge should be (roughly) the same.
As you drag a marker across an image, the software recalculates (continuously, in real time) how far away that marker is from the sensor - on the assumption that it is still on the focal plane.
So once I placed the marker on that right edge of the cube, the value for the green marker in the table was a lot lower than it was previously. This makes sense of course since dragging it to the right of the image would bring it closer to the sensor were it to be dragged along the focal plane. I then simply overwrote the computed value with the SAME value that it had prior to moving it.
Since I didn't touch the red or blue markers, nor alter their values, the distances to the three markers should now be defining a focal plane that runs down the right hand face of the cube.
Here's the second shot:
Time for me to redefine the focal plane before hitting the capture button for this shot?
Very early days for me with this camera, but I will continue to update this thread over time as I get my head around it better, and (hopefully!) become more capable with it.