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Cameras and Nail Photography
#1
I don't know if it's just me, but I have the WORST time taking pics of nails. I have an older Kodak Easy Share C360. I use the little tulip/macro setting and I can't ever seem to get good detail. I have a tripod and even pics with that are ending up sort of blurred.

Does anyone have any recommendations for maybe an online tutorial or a book or something that they've had success with to help me learn to do this better? I really want to enter the SYS comp but with my current photography skills, I might as well have my 5 year old do the nails.

S
Sarah Hallford
CND Grand Master Artist
Akzentz Gel User
#2
Sarah,

Are you trying to use the zoom to focus? I know I have learned, by trial and error basically, that you need to zoom all the way out and just get closer to your item otherwise they will get blurry with the macro setting on. I try and take pictures outside or by a window in natural light. HTH
Bobbi
#3
Nope, I haven't tried zooming. I've only really used the macro setting.

S
Sarah Hallford
CND Grand Master Artist
Akzentz Gel User
#4
Hope that this helps - but feel free to email me if you have questions:

http://irynagiblett.blogspot.com/2009/04...-nail.html
Iryna Giblett Nail Products Inc., Sweden
http://www.irynagiblett.com
#5
Bob that info is perfect - thanks for sharing the link Smile
Laura Merzetti
http://www.scratchmyback.ca
CND Education Ambassador
Toronto, Ontario Canada
#6
that is great info thanks for posting it
when i take photos at my nail table i push my light up and over out of the way but still have it on to illuminate, i use macro, turn off flash and get into p mode..... i stand up over the table and get at diff angles so i have several shots to choose from just in case one gets blurry.....then i crop on the camera
Kathie Kirkpatrick get a grip on reality and choke it to death
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and
well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally
worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"
#7
Sara:

I have limited experience with the Kodak Easy Shares, and I haven't loved the ones I've played with. Primarily, they have really bad "shutter lag"-- it takes a long time between the time you press the shutter button and the time the camera actually records the image. This shouldn't be a problem with nails though, since you aren't dealing with a subject that is moving.

Do you still have the directions that came with the camera? Look up what the minimum focus distance is for the camera in macro mode and in non-macro mode. Many cameras can still only focus down to 6 or 8 inches in macro mode, so you have to be careful to stay within the focus distance-- not too close, not too far away.

Also, most cameras won't let you zoom while in macro mode. And even if the camera will zoom, it won't focus.

Do you have the option of setting all you settings manually? I use a Canon Powershot S2-IS, 5 megapixels. It has a super macro mode-- which is why I bought it, I can focus at 1/2 an inch! (which is WAY too close, btw!) But I notice my best shots are done at about 1/30 to 1/40th of a second, at F2.7 under my desk lamp, which is a compact flourescent. (no flash) I also have my "white balance" set for the flourescent lights.

I know your camera doesn't have as many options for fine tuning the settings though. If you can manually set the shutter speed and the aperature (f-stop) then you have a lot of room to play around and find what works best. You should be able to set your white balance manually. White balance is equivalent to light balanced film-- film that was designed to use indoors without a flash was balanced for tungsten light, for example. Remember the old days when your pictures came out all yellow if you didn't use a flash indoors? Because most film was balanced for daylight.

Anyway.... most cameras allow some manual white balance settings. Sometimes the auto mode just doesn't tweek a good nail shot the way you want it. Just remember-- if you use that camera for anything other than nails to set the white balance back to auto! You may have sunlight, tungsten, flourescent, etc. Take a few sample shots and see what looks best.

Also, remember that "auto focus" doesn't mean "instant focus." Most cameras-- and I think yours in one-- focus when you press the shutter button halfway. So you can set up your shot, then press the button part way and see the image come into focus. If you just press the button without giving the camera time to focus, you get blurry photos.

The lower the number of your f-stop, the wider the aperature opens up to allow light in.... I'm not even going to try to convert what I know about film cameras into digital camera geek. It doesn't matter that the camera works differently than a film camera-- the results are the same, and if you understand one, it translates just fine. When you are working in macro mode and holding the lens so close to the subject, you need to allow as much light as possible to get to the lens. A lot of times you get a shadow from you or the camera over the nails-- but you can't use a flash cuz that just washes everything out! Once you figure out your white balance for your light, you can use your desk lamp to get light where you need it in the shot. But you're going to want to use the smallest number for your aperature settings as possible-- or, rather, the largest aperature possible. On my camera, in the super macro mode, I can get as low as 2.7. Most cameras go to 3.5 or maybe 4.1-- the lower that number, the more light will get into the camera, BUT! The wider the aperature, the shorter the depth of field.

Basically-- those super cool photos you see where the nails are in super sharp focus, but then the rest of the hand and background is blurry? That's depth of field. So if you want the whole composition in focus, you'll need to set the aperature to a higher number.

Just play around. The best part of digital cameras is that you don't have to spend all that money on film and processing anymore! But keep your laptop nearby and check the photos on a big screen before calling it a wrap. It amazes me how a photo can look so perfect on that tiny little 1.5" screen on the camera and then look like total poo when I load it onto the computer! LOL!

One last thing: what photo size and quality settings are you shooting at? Shoot at least 1600X1200-- a high file size. You can put a LOT of pictures on a one gig card even if you shoot at the highest file size. Learn to resize the files with a photo editing program for using on the web-- but large file sizes give you the best clarity and the ability to make large prints if you want.
Maggie Franklin: Art of Nailz, Visalia CA
http://blogs.nailsmag.com/maggie
http://www.artofnailz.biz
#8
Thank You!

OK, my options for adjusting are:

Exposure Bracketing +/- 0.3 to 1.0 (using off now)
Exposure Compensation - 0.3 to -2.0 and the same the other direction (using 0 now)
Picture size I have set all the way up to 5 mp

White Balance is Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, Flourescent, or Open Shade but I've been using it on Auto

Exposure Metering has Multi-pattern (what I've been using), center weight or center spot

ISO Speed Auto (what I've been using) or 80, 100, 200, 400, 800

Focus zone--multi zone (what I've been using) or center zone

Auto Focus--single (what I've been using) or continuous

Color mode--natural, low, b&w, sepia, or high (using natural now)

Sharpness--normal or high or low (using normal)

Long Time Exposure--none or 0.5", 0.7", 1.0", 1.5", 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 6.0, 8.0
(using none now)

I'm looking for the manual but I can't seem to find it. I'm going to check the Kodak website to see if it's there anywhere.

When it's in macro mode and I hold down the button to focus it says f 2.7 on the screen.

S
Sarah Hallford
CND Grand Master Artist
Akzentz Gel User
#9
Ok, I also noticed when I hold down that button to focus that after the f 2.7 it says 1/8 so am I right to assume that corresponds to the 1/30 to 1/40th that you mention?

S
Sarah Hallford
CND Grand Master Artist
Akzentz Gel User
#10
slhallford :
> Ok, I also noticed when I hold down that button to focus that after the f 2.
> 7 it says 1/8 so am I right to assume that corresponds to the 1/30 to 1/40th
> that you mention?
>
> S

Sounds like this is your biggest problem with getting blurry photos. That 1/8 refers to how long the shutter is open. Which means it is open for 1/8 of a second. That SOUNDS like it's very fast, but in camera-talk it's really slow. Anything under 1/30 of a second and you need extremely steady hands.

At 1/8 of a second you'll need a tripod, but even with a tripod, just the movement of pushing the button can bump the camera enough to blur a photo. If you use a tripod, try putting the camera on the timer setting so there's still a little time between you pushing the button and the camera actually taking the picture.

I would try setting everything manually: ISO 100, White balance flourescent (you'll have to play with that to suit your lighting), color mode natural, low or high-- try them all and see what you like.

IF you can change your shutter speed while in macro mode then see if you can get it up to 1/15, 1/30, or 1/40. I have an OTT light on my table and with that as my primary source of light (plus overhead flourescents) I get enough light on my subject to get decent results at 1/30 or 1/40 of a second.

However, your camera may set that shutter speed automatically, not giving you an option. If that's the case, then try moving your desk lamp to get more light on the nails and see if the camera will adjust that setting automatically up to at least 1/30.

Why don't you post a couple of photos here so we can see what results you've been getting?
Maggie Franklin: Art of Nailz, Visalia CA
http://blogs.nailsmag.com/maggie
http://www.artofnailz.biz
#11
Thank you so much, Maggie! I really appreciate your help. I did notice that as I adjusted the light the shutter speed does change & you are right that I was getting blur even with the tripod. I checked out a really highly rated digital photography book from the library. I also tracked down the manual online. I should have some time to practice this week while my 9 year old is recuperating from his tonsil surgery.

S
Sarah Hallford
CND Grand Master Artist
Akzentz Gel User
#12
i Hope u get great pics
Anya
#13
Im sorry!!! i dont know how to use this web site

 
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