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Thread: Budget art-copying system

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    Budget art-copying system

    Hi all,
    Found this Forum, a vibrant, lively and hence useful one; Just joined and coming with a post for your advise and possible help:
    From India, now till this weekend in USA, Atlanta.

    Need to buy an art-copying MF system, budget and cost-effective, naturally pre-owned is only possibility.
    Want to copy paintings of sizes about 4x3ft to 5x10 ft..... (Big sizes can be 2or3 tiles to stitch)
    It will mostly dedicated to indoor copying alone, I got my 5DMark2.

    1. On looking around i found a Mamiya based system is most economical (?)
    2. i wonder why not a Mamiya ZD as a compact one. But is that 22 mp enough ?

    There are many brands and configurations, confused too, since not much knowledge in MD and DB system configurations. Budget is not allowing a preferred high end 60/80 mp systems.

    Ready to go and meet and possibly buy any source nearby Atlanta in these weekend itself.

    Please share your knowledge in this, every drop will be valuable and thankful too...

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    Re: Budget art-copying system

    I am offered the below by someone:

    " Hasselblad 500 CM
    80 mm Lens
    100 mm Lens
    Extension rings - 2 No.
    Pistol grip
    Pro. Lens shade for 100 mm
    Lens shade for 80mm
    Waist level finder
    Leaf Digital Back - Aptus II 65 ( 28mp )
    Leaf system accessories including hard box, battery chargers,
    DB to camera cable,
    Fire-wire cable etc.
    (all the items are well maintained and in mint condition)"

    Is this setup fairly enough/ entry level for my above-mentioned need?

    Prices quoted is the Leaf Aptus II 65 $ 5500 and camera Hasselblad 500 CM $ 1200
    Total for kit $6700

    Please evaluate for me...

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    Re: Budget art-copying system

    Hi,

    Those are very big paintings. Even doing the larger ones indoors in regular rooms is going to be a significant challenge.

    You are talking about cameras but you have not mentioned lighting at all. You will need good and for that size, a significant investment in lighting.

    I'd be honest that a D800e would make more sense IMO than a ZD back. We're using the D800e alongside our Leaf 40 megapixel back and they are very close, especially with the controlled and flat lighting of copy work.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com
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    Re: Budget art-copying system

    Ok, I do this for a living, so... first is lighting.

    Up to 4x3 feet 2 strobes would have been fine, but any bigger and you'll want at least 4 strobes, and a way to mount each light one over the other... ideally. Anyway you'll want some decent lights with good shot-to-shot stability, like Hensel, Elinchrom or Profoto, don't go any cheaper or you'll want to tear your hair out.

    For eliminating residual reflections and ambient light, you'll want polarizing gel filters, Rosco 17x20" are good ones and cost about $40 each, but you'll have to mount them to a frame yourself. Cutting out a rectangle of cardboard and duct-taping the filter to the back is fine. The filter needs to be situated in front of the light like so:



    The lights themselves should ideally be at a 45 angle to the surface of the artwork from the sides, so you'd have one light on the left and another on the right for example; it's the most basic setup, but you can't go too wrong with it. With the polarizing filters though you have a lot more freedom in placement, and the light can almost be reflecting in the artwork before it becomes a problem. One important detail is do not use diffusers like softboxes or umbrellas, they tend to defeat the effect of the polarization.

    Of course, you need a polarizer on the lens of your camera too for this to work, it can be any kind linear or circular. And do keep in mind that you lose over 2 stops of light using this method, so you're going to need at least 1000w lamps, for me personally 500 is fine.

    Next up is... shading correction.

    Capture One has this wonderful tool called LCC that can correct any gradual shifts in color or tone across an image so long as you have and additional frame that has the information of the light. Although you may have to go out of your way for this, it will improve your results immensely. What you need is a large - larger than the actual artwork - surface, that is a flat matte gray or white finish edge to edge. I just use a large white canvas that's been stretched, and after I take a shot of the artwork, I remove and replace it with the canvas and without changing any settings at all I take an additional defocused shot. This shot you're going to use LCC on in post and it should end up looking like a flat white plane, you just copy the settings from this image to the actual artwork and voila, even lighting.

    If you intend to shoot some artworks in sections (stitching, which at the sizes you mentioned, you'll likely have to), the panel that you use for the shading correction should only have to be as big as the largest section you expect to shoot. Just place the panel in front of that section and take an additional frame for each one. It's important that this panel extends to the very corners of the camera frame in the shot, or else you will get unexpected results with LCC.

    What it should look like:


    I'll also add that you should set the response curve to "Linear response" under the "Base Characteristics" tab, otherwise the image will look too contrasty and unnatural. Having a linear curve film in the slide film days would have been to die for.

    As for the camera... the only real requirements are lots and lots of resolution, and a lens that can deliver the resolution and also have a flat field curvature (absence thereof in other words). The D800E is the ideal candidate for being on a budget, and you'll want the Zeiss 100MP to go with it, but it can be any macro or tilt-shift lens really. Regardless of the size of the painting, you really want to stick to lenses in the 85-135mm focal range for a number of reasons, and shoot at an aperture of around f/6.3 or f/7 max.

    In order to align the camera to face the artwork exactly, you may want to have a small mirror with you that you can place near the center of the artwork (if possible) and have the camera look back at itself in the reflection, then you're square-on.

    I myself actually use a 5D2 for many of the reproductions I do because the end result will typically be a catalog or small prints (under 30in on the long side), and 21mp is easily enough for that, even as a single shot.

    So that's off the top of my head. Good luck!
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    Re: Budget art-copying system

    +1

    You don't need MF for reproduction work. Your Canon would be fine. If you want a new camera, then I agree with Ben that a D800e would also be good.

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    Re: Budget art-copying system

    I want to add that you don't strictly need polarization depending on the art medium, for instance something that is very matte or coarse, or art that contains metal paint or other metallic elements. Cross polarization (the method involving PLs on both the light source and lens) will remove reflections from everything including metal, which may or may not be desirable. Sometimes I'll shoot two images with the PL rotated 90 for one of the shots, and blend the shots in Photoshop to keep the sparkly bits.

    Similarly, if you need to emphasize depth, you should try lighting the artwork from only one side. It's tricky to pull off, but pretty much required for anything that has relief, otherwise it'll look flat as paper. Even trickier, the lights need to angled so that the light falls from the top of the artwork so it looks natural, practically it means that you may need to set everything on it's side, unless you have a way to rig the lights to the ceiling.

    Lots of things to consider, but it boils down very simply, spend your budget on lights and rigging, and what's left on a good macro. You can never have enough stands.

    Oh yeah, if the lamps have modeling lights built-in, do not use them when you have the PL filters in place, they will distort from the heat and fade. If you want to use hot (tungsten) lights, there should be at least 2ft/50cm between the light and filter.
    Last edited by Kolor-Pikker; 2nd November 2013 at 04:11.

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    Re: Budget art-copying system

    More info.

    When shooting in sections, do not pan or tilt the camera like you would when shooting a panorama, it seems like the easy way out, but then you have to deal with distortion correction in post, which will ultimately impact the sharpness and time to correct. The camera must always face the artwork in a straight line, and you should reposition the whole camera to shoot the next section, this is less work in the long run.

    Before, I mentioned that you want to use lenses in the 85-135mm range. Besides the obvious reasons for such FLs, such as being very sharp, low distortion, and low field curvature, many photographers also know that the angle of incidence for light is also its angle of reflectance, but how does this apply? Well, this is also true when taking into account the field of view of lenses:



    As you can see in this diagram I whipped up, the wider the lens, the more reflections it sees, and this can be a problem for light placement. Even with polarizing filters, a light that's directly reflecting will be visible.

    Finally, polarizing filters tend to cause color shifts, so you may want to make custom color profiles by shooting a color chart with the filters on.

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    Re: Budget art-copying system

    From our experience you don't want to be polarising period. Obtaining perfectly equal polarisation on both sides is extremely difficult and if they are not equal then the colours and contrast side to side are going to differ. Added to that you decrease the depth of brush strokes which is so important for a painting. We used to use polarisation and LCC corrections at the beginning but the LCC ruins any kind of contrast in areas that it brightens so that if your lighting is not equal, the shadow areas become over contrasty in relation to other areas.

    I agree about using Linear response with a custom ICC profile made with a large chart (the regular gretag 24 patch chart is not enough, especially for artwork). We are huge fans of the Nikon 60mm macro on our D800, we have the 105mm macro but it's never come out of the box yet. The 60mm is a very special lens for copy work.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: Budget art-copying system

    There are really two questions here. THE most and important one is the lighting. That is where you want the budget. The lighting is going to have the biggest impact on quality. After that you can think about a camera. If you just want more and newer pixels, then a D800E or the Sony A7r will be a great choice--this is 2-D artwork and the sensor size is going to be insignificant, especially since the lighting is controlled.

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    Re: Budget art-copying system

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    From our experience you don't want to be polarising period. Obtaining perfectly equal polarisation on both sides is extremely difficult and if they are not equal then the colours and contrast side to side are going to differ.
    When I got started I used to take two variants of each image, one with cross-pl and one without, and I've personally never seen any discrepancies, though I do take care to align everything exactly; YMMV. I have one friend who shoots with tungsten lights and polarizers, and another who shoots with flash and umbrellas, so hmm... I guess it's just my method.

    Added to that you decrease the depth of brush strokes which is so important for a painting. We used to use polarisation and LCC corrections at the beginning but the LCC ruins any kind of contrast in areas that it brightens so that if your lighting is not equal, the shadow areas become over contrasty in relation to other areas.
    Well, this really depends on the nature of the artwork, as I've mentioned you may not need to polarize at all. It just so happens that I get to shoot almost always one type of painting (extremely glossy varnish that reflects like a mirror), and this setup works best for that. If the surface finish is already very smooth, you don't lose brushstrokes that almost aren't even there. If one doesn't have a dedicated studio space or is shooting on location, polarizers could be a life saver.

    The lighting should of course be equal LCC or not, but it does help you get that last bit of evenness that might otherwise take a lot of extra time, before you used a light meter and you had to make sure you were within 1/10 a stop all over the place, here it doesn't hurt too much if you're a little bit off. But yes, LCC is not a crutch.

    I don't know about over-contrasty shadows either, I have never seen the shadow levels go below 5 on the histogram in CO7, and in fact I sometimes make them darker when making final adjustments to get them to match the original.

    There are as many do's and don'ts as there are types mediums and substrates, it just happens to be what works for me. The end result is what matters and sometimes the artist might tell me he accidentally mistook a print for one of his originals, it happens every now and then and I take it as a compliment.

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