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What photography gear do you use?
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 100mm Macro USM lens
Canon 580ex II Speedlite
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.
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Recent discussions •
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
Canon 100mm Macro USM lens
Canon MR-14ex Macro Ringlite
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.
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.
Kodak Easy Share M1063 12-mega pixel (lame, I know; start the booing:)
Industrial strength white cardboard
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 :)
A 12" light box - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001TKD6WY
Some Macro Filters - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001UE6NAQ
A pair of florescent 5500K lamps - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002SOBPH8
A wired shutter release - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XN4XJU
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: http://www.diyphotobits.com/download-diyphotobitscom-camera-control/ (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: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-to-diy-10-macro-photo-studio.html
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.
Couple examples below..
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.
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)
Those were taken before I had my Speedlite. This is more recent with the flash:
Anyone tried using canon ixus :p
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: