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Thread: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

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    Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Hi everybody, I hope I don't start on a bad note for my first post - I mentioned the word Nikon in this forum (again.... I know I know ).

    We're currently shooting Canon 5D mark IIs at the studio doing jewelry photography, including watches. I've been wanting to get more detail out of my work, being always done in the macro world. Cropping my 21mp images reduces the pixels I can play with, and sometimes my work is blow up quite large for in-store or tradeshow displays. So detail is important.

    I can't rent a D800 here yet, but have tried a H4D-60 and Phase One 645DF w/P65+ briefly (~2 hrs). In the very fine detailed areas, such as brushed metals, etchings, etc, it's incredible. Watch faces are incredible.

    With our 5D MII cameras, tethered shooting has been raising a hellfire, we use C1, but I'm on my 5th camera that's had to have the USB plug fixed - for some reason, this is a weak link (3 cameras, 4 repairs, one that will need it shortly it's starting to bug). It's frustrating when we shoot catalogs and focus stack with 9-14 images per shot and need to restart. It's $400 each repair.

    My question to you knowledgeable folk is this: For macro purposes (as I said we focus stack), what would be better? A Nikon D800(e) with Macro lens, or a used Phase One 645DF + 120mm Macro w/P65+ back? We shoot tethered 99% of the time. We also do some fashion shoots, but this accounts perhaps 5% of our work currently.

    I've snooped around the forums, but for my macro purposes, I'm a little lost.

    Thanks so much for any help you can give me!

    Vadim

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Ming Thien seems to do a good job with a D800. He shoots watches mainly. Personally I love working with MF tethered in the studio using a tech cam. I think you'd find something like the m679cs would be heaven for your use, movements would broaden your options immensely.

    RZ67 ProIID could use the back and is great for fashion. Didn't like the DF but the lenses are great.

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Vadim
    Only thing is C1 does not support tethered shooting with the D800 yet (I think)
    But perhaps a D800 and the Nikon 45mm Macro Tilt lens would work well.
    Interesting topic...
    am

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    I shoot studio macro shots tethered via C1 + Arca Swiss ML2 + Schneider 120 digitar + P45 back. Never a problem. Focus stack with Zerene Stacker.
    Last edited by darr; 7th July 2012 at 10:42. Reason: ML2 not ML1 !!
    "Creativity takes courage." ~ Henri Matisse
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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    I shoot tethered in the studio with a P1 back, Linhof C967 view camera, and 55mm and 90mm Rodenstock lenses. If I were doing product work like this I would want a view camera so I can control the plane of focus and perspective. With tilts, you may not even have to focus stack getting the product in one exposure or at least minimizing the number of images in a stack. You could use title/shift lenses on the Nikon, but that would be less flexible. Also, a view camera has huge bellows draw.

    Certainly fashion is trickier with a view camera, but you could also have a Mamiya body for that kind of work.

    But sensor size means something. Sometimes a larger sensor has pluses over a smaller one given the same pixel resolution, and sometimes the other way around. One thing you may want to think about is aspect ratio--are most of your final images 3:2 or 4:3? A 4:3 40MP sensor will becoming out with more information than a 37MP image cropped to 4:3. But a smaller sensor does not have to work at higher magnifications and so will have greater DoF at a given aperture. Larger sensors work at smaller apertures better. Larger sensors don't need to work at higher frequencies and so make life easier on lenses. How does this add up? I am not sure, but even a 40MP back can have advantages over a 37MP 35mm camera.

    BTW, if you go to a view camera, you don't want a sensor with micro lenses.

    As far as a definite answer to your question, you either want a MF back or a D800. I hope that clears things up.

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Seems like the view camera is getting many votes here I'm thinking it's a very different beast vs a 35mm camera!

    My little worry is that we are starting to do more fashion oriented work - so a view camera system appears cumbersome - also, investing into a Mamiya body & View camera + lenses seems like it can start costing no? I know really little about view cameras except that they look really impressive and complex.

    Reducing the amount of images to focus stack can help save time (and money). Is sharpness not lost when too much tilt? I have a Canon 90 TS-E lens that I pretty much stopped using replacing it 90% of the time with a 100mm macro + focus stacking. Felt like with the TS I just lost sharpness.

    I was looking into a P65+ back since they appear to be available used quite easily, and aren't priced like a IQ160 either (though those seems awfully nice). From the tests I did from the rep (with the Phase One/Mamiya 645DF), there's tons of cropping possible, and if doing fashion, that would be great for jewelry close-ups/crops. Then again, we're only starting to do more these days.

    Would a D800's resolution be at par with say a P65+, but isn't there less cropping room since there is less pixel data

    The one worrying trend I'm seeing by lurking the FOR SALE forums are many digital backs becoming available for quite a substantial amount less than new. Are 60+ MP backs just not justifying the costs vs the new breed of 35mm high MP cameras?

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    i don't have a D800... but considering the type of shooting you are doing, i will go with a MFDB of your choice
    + Arca swiss M line Two + a 120 macro for objects
    + Phase One DF and lenses

    If you want's to have really good technical pics with a D800, you need expensive lenses as well...

    Compare the total price of your system, and keep in mind that a good DB is still superior for watch photos... then if money difference is no concern, i will go with a MFDB...

    clients are impress when you are working with an Arca M line 2... it can help for business...

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Quote Originally Posted by vchiline View Post
    I can't rent a D800 here yet, but have tried a H4D-60 and Phase One 645DF w/P65+ briefly (~2 hrs). In the very fine detailed areas, such as brushed metals, etchings, etc, it's incredible. Watch faces are incredible.
    Vadim
    If you want the best detail, get a lens optimised for around 1:1 (like the Apo-Digitar or Sinaron 120 macros.)

    ...and if you want a reliable camera for heavy use stacking doing tethered work, get a Sinar.

    If you are in the UK, I will be glad to let you try my kit.

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Quote Originally Posted by darr View Post
    I shoot studio macro shots tethered via C1 + Arca Swiss ML2 + Schneider 120 digitar + P45 back. Never a problem. Focus stack with Zerene Stacker.
    Hi, Darr - what makes Zerene stacker your choice for DoF stacking?

    I have H4D-60, Sinar 54H, Schneider Apo-Digitar and Sinaron Macro 120s, full set of Zeiss Luminars, 100mm to 16mm.

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    Jewelry Photography - what lighting?

    I thought I would like a heavy-duty fan cooled studio flash system with fibre optics,,, but no-one makes fibre optic adapters for studio flash, and a nice Broncolour system is 20k!

    The Schott LED system (for photo and micro) is about 2k, and I am now thinking about Welch Allen medical LED lighting (5K5 Kelvin) - what do you use?

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Decisions, decisions....

    Thanks for your inputs. I wish there were some real world tests with comparisons. Is the resolution difference between 36mp and 60mp worth it? Seems like some people say the D800e is amazing, matching VERY closely MFDB... while others say no way... that there is a special "I don't know what" about the files.

    View cameras are an entirely different world to me - I'd have to research this. The thing is, currently we shoot for catalogs around 40 items per day - with focus stacking and perhaps around 60 without stacking. The little I've read about view cameras is they are a little finicky to focus? Can this be a detriment?

    I guess what I liked about the 645DF was it was basically a larger DSLR (said bluntly).

    BTW, I'm in Montreal, Canada. To stack we use Helicon Focus - I hadn't tried the other software. How's the speed?

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Helicon focus is a good software. We use it in our microscope lab with stacks up to 50 images.

    View Cameras are not really hard to use, but, like anything, there is a learning curve. One of my first jobs was working at a catalog studio down near Boston that shot everything with 4x5 view cameras and had in-house processing. These were catalogs for department stores and so the product volume was high. The camera was not the thing that slowed us down.

    Now with watches, you are using lots of magnification. That will not make your ground glass image brighter. The first time you see an image on a ground glass, you will not be impressed, by you soon learn to use it. And when tethered, seeing the image on a computer monitor after it is taken is really nice.

    Are there no dealers that can let you demo a back on a view camera in Montreal?

    As far as a D800 being the same as MFD, there are a lot of opinions. I am not sure the comparison is important. What is certain, the D800 is a fine camera and you will see a difference coming from your Canons. Live View will certainly have benefits to your work. The D800 would be the easier of the two upgrades.

    Why not both?

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    no one mentions here. Digital back will capture the highlight like magic, 35mm wont be able to compete.

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - what lighting?

    Quote Originally Posted by dick View Post
    I thought I would like a heavy-duty fan cooled studio flash system with fibre optics,,, but no-one makes fibre optic adapters for studio flash, and a nice Broncolour system is 20k!

    The Schott LED system (for photo and micro) is about 2k, and I am now thinking about Welch Allen medical LED lighting (5K5 Kelvin) - what do you use?
    Not sure this is what you mean Dick ... but Hensel does make Fiber Optic accessory kits for their StarSpot 3000 Fresnel. Probably also fits the 1500 model also.

    Hensel USA - Studio Lighting for the Professional Photographer

    -Marc

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    I think you need to get your hands on a Nikon D800 with a 85/2.8 PCE Macro and see if it does the job. While I haven't personally tried this camera I suspect it'll do what you need ... maybe. Whether it can stand up to long term studio production output has yet to be determined ... but at that price you could buy 5 of them and still be ahead.

    I shoot a lot of table top from wheels to smaller objects including jewelry, and the criteria is often the same as yours ... in-store posters and trade show applications which are perhaps the most demanding since it is a critical eye that attends those shows, and the subject is viewed up-close and personal. Sometimes it involves "fashion type stuff with the jewelry being worn.

    I've never been able to get the subtile gradations and tame the specular highlights with a 35mm DSLR up to and including a Canon 1DsMKIII and Nikon D3X ... but as I mentioned, I never tried it with a D800.

    My current rig is a Hasselblad H4D/60 either using a HTS/1.5 or the 60 meg back on a Rollei Xact-2 with a 90 or 120 Macro digital optic.

    The 60 sensor is so big that I can back off the camera a bit, and usually get the entire object in focus front to back without breaching the de-fraction limits of the lens in use. Makes it easier to light also.

    I think if I were in your shoes, I'd also explore keeping the Canons for the fashion stuff, and look into a Sinar tethered back that has zero LCD and features redundant cooling approaches allowing up to 24 frames a minute all day long with far less image penalty due to heat. The current Sinar eVolution backs are also Multi-Shots as well as single shot.

    Multi-Shots assure no Morie' and produces the most faithful color repo of any digital capture available. Hasselblad also makes Multi-Shot backs, I used one for some time and still have never equalled the color reproduction. There is a H3D-II/39 Multi-Shot kit (camera prism and back) in the for sale section for $8,500 ... the seller is in Canada BTW! It is tempting even to me

    -Marc

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Hi Marc, thanks for your input.

    The highlights - that's something I haven't mentioned much - since we do jewelry mostly, some watches, it's what we see the most of. From all the readings I've done (and most of which are on getdpi.com), everybody talks about the great shadow detail in the Nikon camera. Yet, for my purposes, there's much more in the other spectrum. Tonal range is what people always talk about in MF....

    At the price of the Nikon, I guess I could always just buy it, I do have 2x 5D mark II and 1x Mark III (which can't tether yet with C1). Just would need to get a macro lens, and some extension tubes. I guess if the D800E doesn't do the trick, selling it shouldn't be a problem

    In some of the image tests, Phase one backs appear to my eyes to have a better IQ, but for that price.... you would hope to see it.

    The View camera has been mentioned several times, if not nearly every post. Arca Swiss.... Sinar.... Rollei, etc... I think just reading up on that will take up another several hours. Like which system, which lens, how much will it cost, etc.

    I'm leaning towards a P65+ back as I said, they seem to really be in a (relatively speaking) more reasonable price range, around $17k. Then again, still several multiples of D800E away.

    I want a system that can expand ideally, and one that should give me optimum quality for my macro, and jewelry fashion photography needs.

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    PS: How does the Rollei Xact-2 compare with Sinar and Arca Swiss for MFDB coupling? Maybe this is a question for another forum

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    The Rollei looks like a great camera. Don't forget Linhof:

    Linhof M 679cs

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Just tested D800 vs Leaf80/mamiyadf....we do jewelry, shoes and medical instruments all day long every day. Mostly use Canon 5D2's and yes, have experienced same weak link in the production chain which is that USB port. Platinum CPS membership brings repair cost down to $200, but still a pain. We take extra special care with these connections and are down to 1 break/year...yay! That's using (4) 5D2's over 3 shooting stations, one is a spare because...well..you know
    I have a machine shop nearby working on a "breaker box" idea...we'll see...
    Anyway, the Nikon D800 delivers resolution good enough for small in-house posters but not billboards and the tethered use of the Nikon is nowhere near the functionality of the Canons. Also, the Nikon PCE lenses are terrible compared to Canon's and are entirely manual. Also Nikon's NX software costs extra and is not very helpful.
    Canon Utility and Adobe ACR is a production machine unrivaled in the studio industry by anything else out there.
    For the image quality and extra res you seek, go with the P65 back and don't look back. I went with the Aptus2-12 for the even greater resolution but am still on the fence if that was the right decision and maybe should have gone with the cheaper P65.

    I want to add that Lance, Doug, and the good folks at Digital Transitions have been exceptional and helped me with my decisions and have been just fantastic with support and demo help. Get your back from them, if you can. You will want them in your corner.
    Last edited by Egor; 8th July 2012 at 07:44. Reason: Wanted to acknowledge DT

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    - Shashin - I'll take a look at the possible options as well.

    - Egor thanks for your input. That's a test that's really worth hearing about - directly up my alley.

    Are you getting the Mamiya/Leaf setup? Any reason for that instead of the DF? Digital Transitions probably only deal with US clients? I'm in Canada, on the Eastern side (north of NYC).

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Hi Vichiline,
    I will contact you later today. Are you in Hamilton? st. Catherine's? I know the area well.
    Anyway, I did go with he Phase DF body and am getting a handle on t,he Leaf back, with DT's help. Not anything close to the production ease of the Canons, but the quality of file is out of this world.

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Hi Egor,

    My studio is in Montreal, Quebec. Send me an email. We'll chat!

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    For the Canon, this might help:
    Tether Tools JerkStopper Tethering Camera Support
    JerkStopper Camera and Computer Cable Retetion Devices for Tethered Photography
    www.achdigital.com
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Antonio, Thanks! That looks promising, I will try it. I also like their USB - Cat6 Ethernet solution for longer than 16ft

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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Quote Originally Posted by vchiline View Post
    I want a system that can expand ideally, and one that should give me optimum quality for my macro, and jewelry fashion photography needs.
    That's the most important aspect to me for someone running a long-term analysis for equipment discussions.

    A dSLR of any ilk is a relatively fixed thing. That is to say if you buy a 65+ and a DF now and want to expand the system in the future you have an entire world into which to expand. View cameras, tech cameras, Phase/Mamiya lenses, Hasselblad 200 and 500 series lenses, upgrading your back (but keeping the rest of your equipment and workflow untouched).

    The 120mm TS for the Phase platform is something to consider. I recently shot a collection of Audemars Piguet watches using that lens with extension tubes and was extremely impressed by the image quality. The movements, while limited compared to a full view camera, were more than enough for what I needed. Previously I had only considered this lens suitable for "breadbox" photography (tabletop still life and product photography for items the size of a breadbox) but with the extension rings and the quality of the underlying optics it really is a great macro / jewelry lens as well.

    I mention this lens because you'll already be hitting a learning curve transitioning to medium format - where diffraction starts, what magnification is required for a larger sensor, the lack of excellent live view, how much tighter technique has to be to render out 60mp worth of pixel-sharp detail etc. Adding a view camera into the mix right off the bat would be a bit much in my opinion, though a really great next step after you're feeling comfortable with medium format in SLR form.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183
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    Re: Jewelry Photography - Used P65+ or Nikon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Egor View Post
    Antonio, Thanks! That looks promising, I will try it. I also like their USB - Cat6 Ethernet solution for longer than 16ft
    I would avoid like the plague any non-standard methods of transmitting tethered data. Or, in the very least I would make sure you have a quick way of switching to a standard method. A short manufacturer provided cable or a very high quality cable from a good third party (e.g. Unibrain) is the only thing I'd rely on in a professional setting.

    If you need to transmit long distances I'd suggest alternative thinking like using a laptop or Mac Mini as the tethering device close to the camera, and then using a method to connect to that computer:
    - screen sharing from another computer via wireless or ethernet
    - having the computer run a script to copy the images from the local drive to the drive of another computer via wireless or ethernet (for various technical reasons I don't suggest tethering to a remote folder directly)
    - Capture Pilot in conjunction with Capture One

    But keep the camera-to-computer connection very conservative. While I've seen things like the USB-CAT-USB and FW-Hub-FW-Hub-FW-Hub solutions work they always leave me feeling less than 100% confident.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

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