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What photography gear do you use?

Steve_J_OMSteve_J_OM Member Posts: 993
edited April 2011 in Photography/Video
I'd love to hear what other people use for their Lego shots. I'm an enthusiastic hobbyist when it comes to photography, and I've invested quite a bit of money to further my macro work.

This is roughly what I'd be using when setting shots up:

Canon 40D
Canon 100mm Macro USM lens
Canon 580ex II Speedlite
Manfrotto tripod
White and black A1 sheets of card, depending on the shot.

I also have a Ray-Flash ring flash adapter, but it doesn't get used much for Lego. Reason being, the minifig plastic is highly reflective and it casts a nasty shine. I need to get a circular polariser (have one, but it's the wrong thread diameter for my macro).

Some of the best Lego shots I've seen have been taken on compact cameras, so I'm aware that better gear doesn't necessarily equal better shots! I'm interested to see the variety of set ups people use here.


  • HuwHuw Administrator Posts: 7,076
    The minifig shots at Brickset were taken with a Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 105mm 2.8 macro lens, and three remotely fired flashes.

    As you say it can be tricky to avoid reflections, but repositioning the flashes can usually minimise them. I haven't tried a polariser, like you mine is the wrong size for the macro lens
  • VithVith Member Posts: 31
    I have a Canon 350D with 2 kitlenses. No macro lens though.
  • tomcatttomcatt Member Posts: 24
    edited April 2011
    I'd love to hear what other people use for their Lego shots. I'm an enthusiastic hobbyist when it comes to photography, and I've invested quite a bit of money to further my macro work.
    I have almost the exact same setup as you for macro:

    Canon 40D
    Canon 100mm Macro USM lens
    Canon MR-14ex Macro Ringlite
    Manfrotto tripod

    I also do primarily macro work (as a hobbyist), but mostly flowers. For Lego, I use that setup when I want to take pics of minifigs. Truth be told, I've only ever used it once for taking pics of all the minifigs in the Death Star. For taking general shots of sets I just use the kit lens. I'm thinking about upgrading to the 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM (IS would be so nice for macro, and L-series glass!), but it's pricey, and I might be better off upgrading to a new body first.

    I do have a circular polarizer for all of my lenses, including the macro, but I've only ever used it for outdoor flower shots. Never even thought of using it with the ringlite on indoor stuff - might have to try it.
  • Steve_J_OMSteve_J_OM Member Posts: 993
    edited April 2011
    I'd love to hear what other people use for their Lego shots. I'm an enthusiastic hobbyist when it comes to photography, and I've invested quite a bit of money to further my macro work.
    I'm thinking about upgrading to the 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM (IS would be so nice for macro, and L-series glass!), but it's pricey, and I might be better off upgrading to a new body first.
    I've read that the differences between the 100mm 2.8 and the 100mm 2.8L don't really justify the leap in price. The image quality of the 100mm is approaching L-quality by all accounts. The IS could be a nice feature, but most of my macro stuff is done on a tripod anyway (though I do shoot insects handheld - IS would be a nice addition but I haven't missed it so far). That said, the 100mm 2.8 would have decent resale value, so you'd be on your way to the L version if you sold it.
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    edited April 2011
    My kit for shooting figs will look fairly familiar ...

    Canon EOS 7D
    Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro USM
    2x Canon Speedlight 430EX II's (fired using the 7D's remote trigger)
    Manfroto 190 Pro tripod + 3-way head
    Canon TC-80N3 remote controller

    My 'tent' is home made from A2-sized foam board panels (5 full sides); I place the flashes inside & bounce off the walls & ceiling of the 'tent' to diffuse the light. I usually use a piece of card as the background; my wife has a load of different coloured & textured craft card around the house, so I always have a choice :-)

    I always use the remote & mirror-lock-up to reduce vibration from touching the shutter release and from the mirror 'slap' as it moves out of the way.

    I've also got a flash stand & portable diffuser for the flash units, which is what we used when Huw & I visited the the Archive/Vault back in late 2009. Because of the variation in box sizes, I didn't use the 100mm macro in the Vault; instead I used my Canon EF-S 17-55 f2.8 zoom, which is a very good lens.

    I've got (& have used) a circular polariser on the 100mm macro, but with mixed results. I tend to just tweak the flash positions until I'm happy. I've got a very old Canon flash unit (can't remember the model without going to check) which I occasionally use in manual mode (with a cable back to the hot-shoe) to fill in the background. I've got one of the Canon ringlights, but never been happy with using it on shiny little figs.

    Some examples-
  • PaulTRPaulTR Member Posts: 115
    Wow, you people have some serious tech! By comparison, I use:

    Kodak Easy Share M1063 12-mega pixel (lame, I know; start the booing:)
    Industrial strength white cardboard
    white sheets
    goose-neck lamp
    4 spot lights
    Ikea soft light
    custom LEGO-built camera stand
    Black light for weird shots.
    My brother (I think he should be considered gear since he's so useful)

    I take pics in my basement, which has the best lighting in my house. My brother helps me out with a lot of my shots; he's only 16, but he has proffesional skills in digital art, video recording, photography, graphic art, editing, and game programming, so I'm learning tons of stuff from him. Sometime in May my brother plans on buying the latest in Canon's EOS Rebel line, which will definitely help out with my pics. My current camera is getting old, but I believe in my micro-managing each of my shots, so I guess my extreme planning beats out my junky tech.

    As you can see, most of you people out-gun me, but at least I have my brother's skills and the hope of a new, beastly camera :)
  • korkor Member Posts: 392
    I have a Nikon D60 and a light tent. I really want to get a good macro lens. All I have now is the standard kit lens that came with the camera. I get good shots but I know they could be much better.
  • Cam_n_StuCam_n_Stu Member Posts: 368
    Does anyone shoot 'tethered' to their computer for immediate review on a monitor? I would like to but my Nikon D50 is not very tethered friendly...
  • HuwHuw Administrator Posts: 7,076
    ^No, since Nikon want an arm and a leg for their tethered software. However I have an eye-fi card which gives you fast (30 seconds or so) upload of the images to your PC for review: it's been a real boon while shooting the minifigs: saves faffing about taking cards in and out.
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    Does anyone shoot 'tethered' to their computer for immediate review on a monitor?
    Sometimes; for example, when Huw & I visited the Vault at Billund, I had my Canon 7D tethered to my laptop for the entire time; Canon's software gives you a live preview (from any Canon dSLR with live-view) on the PC's screen, as well as a review view post-shot. You can also control pretty much all of the camera's functions from within the PC tool as well (shooting mode, exposure, ISO, flash control, etc.). Made it very easy to check focus. It also transferred the photos directly to the PC as they were shot, meaning there was no mucking about swapping flash cards. It made it much quicker to get through the 700+ box shots we took; without the tethering it would have taken an extra day to get through all the shots we needed. The Canon software comes free with every one of their dSLRs; it's part of their Digital Photo Professional suite. There are other 3rd party tools that provide tethering capabilities for dSLRs, but I haven't needed to take a look at any of them.
  • jwsmartjwsmart Member Posts: 298
    edited April 2011
    Nikon D3100 w/ the 18-55mm kit lens & the 55-200 Nikkor
    A 12" light box -
    Some Macro Filters -
    A pair of florescent 5500K lamps -
    A wired shutter release -
    A Sunpak Pro 423PX tripod

    Although I've only had the light box, filters and lamps for about a day or so, it looks like they'll do the job.

    I tether the D3100 using this: (It's free!)

    It may or may not work with some of the older Nikon cameras. It looks like the D50 may be supported, My D3100 isn't on that list, but it works, mostly. I've also been told that the new version of Adobe Lightroom is able to tether Nikons...

    All told, it makes some fairly nice pictures:

    And the investment (besides the camera) was about $100 for the lamps, light box, shutter release and the macro filters.

    If I had more time, I might have tried to build a light box like this guy did:
  • gimegime Member Posts: 21
    I use:
    Canon EOS 40D
    Speedlite 580 EX II
    EF 24-70 F2.8L

    You can see example photos in my reviews

    There is really no need to use expensive and sophisticated gear. With enough skill you can make outstanding photos using simple DSLR with kit-lens.

  • legoDadlegoDad Member Posts: 529
    edited April 2011
    I use just an inexpensive Nikon Coolpix with a decent desklamp, white background and it comes with a Macro setting for small figures and details. Keepin' it low cost.
    Couple examples below..[email protected]/5585629529/in/photostream/[email protected]/5596604523/in/photostream/

    For certain pics, I just play around with brightness and contrast with simple software. For me, I like the results I get. They're not perfect but gives a decent look to each pic.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ Member Posts: 4,179
    Canon EOS 7D
    Speedlight 430EX II
    Manfrotto ball-head tripod
    Canon EF-S 15-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens
    & Soon: Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens (esp. for big layouts)
    And a 1000W builder's light or two if I'm at home :o)
  • Steve_J_OMSteve_J_OM Member Posts: 993
    It's nice to see other peoples' work. Some of my own:

    Occupational Hazard [Behind You, #1]


    Phobias [Behind You #3]

    Those were taken before I had my Speedlite. This is more recent with the flash:

    End of Days
  • gamermicgamermic Member Posts: 8
    How bout using compact cameras?
    Anyone tried using canon ixus :p
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    @Steve_J_OM Really like the fisherman pic!
  • Steve_J_OMSteve_J_OM Member Posts: 993
    @Steve_J_OM Really like the fisherman pic!
    Thanks :) It was a hard one to take, the only suitable rock was in the middle of a marsh, I absolutely destroyed my clothes taking it. Had to stick the feet of my gorilla pod into mud and contort myself to look at the frame using live view. Well worth it though!
  • JasenJasen Member Posts: 283
    I also use a Nikon 3100 w' 18-55 lens. I also have a 55-300 lens bt don''t use that often.
    I've set up a studio with 1 overhead lamp and 3 satelites. I've also hand painted some skyline backgrounds.

    Here's a video I made of my set-up:
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