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Opinions on These Cameras

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  • Member since
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  • From: Arizona
Opinions on These Cameras
Posted by pilotjohn on Thursday, February 19, 2015 8:26 AM

All;

OK, the last time I was really taking pictures we used real film (gasp)..  So I have been wanting to get something and have been looking around and reading and always get scared with the Cons section of the review.  Here are three models I have narrowed my latest search to.  Any thoughts or recommendations would be great.  This will primarily be for still work wit the model kits.

Thanks.

Nikon D3300

Canon EOS 1200D

Canon EOS Rebel SL1

John

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, February 19, 2015 8:55 AM

I am only familiar with Nikons, but the D3300 is an inexpensive but very capable camera for model photography.  One real plus is that the kit lens, Nikon's 18-55 mm lens, has some attributes that make it very good for tabletop/closeup/model photography.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
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  • From: Arizona
Posted by pilotjohn on Thursday, February 19, 2015 9:03 AM

Don;

Thanks much.  

John

  • Member since
    November, 2003
  • From: Virginia
Posted by Mike F6F on Friday, February 20, 2015 4:05 PM

John,

While you've mentioned that you have narrowed your research to your three choices, I'm curious why you've selected DSLRs strickly for model photography.

While any of your choices will perform well, there are various non DSLR cameras that can handle model photography quite well that don't cost as much as your selected choices, aren't as bulky and in this professional photographer's opinion, do an excellent job with close-up and general photography.

I'm speaking of the fixed lens "bridge" or "super zoom" cameras offered by Canon or Nikon.  While I've used both brands in my professional work, I use a Canon Power Shot super zoom camera for my model photos.  (A search of my posts will show multiple examples.)

The smaller cameras are more handy to keep readily on hand by the workbench, etc., and are more convenient for me as opposed to "work" DSLRs.

As I said, your camera choices will perform well, but since you posted that you are buying a camera to photograph your model work, I'm suggesting that DSLRs can be more camera than you may need for the job.

However you want to go, have fun.

Mike

 

"Grumman on a Navy Airplane is like Sterling on Silver."

  • Member since
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  • From: Arizona
Posted by pilotjohn on Friday, February 20, 2015 10:44 PM

Mike;

I did think about that, and probably should have said I will be starting with the models.  I am sure I will want to do some more once I ca learn some things about it.  I have ordered a D3300 and am awaiting its delivery in a couple of weeks.  I won't have any way to hide my bad modelling skills:)

John

  • Member since
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  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, February 21, 2015 10:19 AM

I would say that an SLR is not more camera than you need for model photography.  Depth of field, and the position of the best plane of focus, are critical in closeup model photography.  Auto focus just doesn't hack it- the computer does not have enough smarts to do the tricks and rules of thumb a human can use.

So you need either an SLR or a rangefinder, so you can do accurate manual focus.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
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  • From: Virginia
Posted by Mike F6F on Saturday, February 21, 2015 11:01 AM

Don,

Many super zooms can do accurate manual focus too.

As someone who's made his living with cameras and photography for over 40 years, I'll never deny that a SLR is ultimately the best way to go.  It has often been my experience that folks often buy a much more complex, capable camera than they need.  Then they are stuck with a camera they often leave at home because it is too bulky with multiple lenses, etc., to bother with.  They end up not using the camera all that often and forget how to take advantage of the capabilities available to them.  A smaller camera that can be used often for general picture taking, but contains more sophistication than a smart phone or point-and-shoot box, is often a better compromise for many folks.

I'd never use anything but full frame DSLRs for any of my "real work."  But, many super zoom image chips are up to the image quality that a small imager DSLR, such as the D3300, can produce.  While there are still some focus and image advantages available to a DSLR, to many folks those advantages probably aren't worth the extra costs and hassles of the DSLR vs. a super zoom/bridge-type camera.

With all the camera choices out there, photographing one's models well, does require more than a smart phone can do if the model builder wants/needs it.  A low end DSLR is certainly and excellant choice, but it really isn't the only choice.  There are other good options there, but can be hard to choose with all the available selections.

Mike

 

"Grumman on a Navy Airplane is like Sterling on Silver."

  • Member since
    February, 2015
Posted by Bick on Saturday, February 21, 2015 5:30 PM

pilotjohn

Mike;

I did think about that, and probably should have said I will be starting with the models.  I am sure I will want to do some more once I ca learn some things about it.  I have ordered a D3300 and am awaiting its delivery in a couple of weeks.  I won't have any way to hide my bad modelling skills:)

John\\

Good luck with the Nikon John. And, just think of all the wonderful lenses, external flash, ball heads, tripods and things you can buy now. Joking of course - I don't have a lot of stuff for my Nikon but I enjoy it. Enjoy yours and post pics!!!
  • Member since
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  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Sunday, February 22, 2015 11:20 AM

It is not the lens I am worried about in manual focus, it is the poor resolution of many EVF.  Some newer cameras are getting higher res EVF, several MP, but the DSLR is limited only by how good your eye is.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Sunday, February 22, 2015 3:22 PM

I've got a Nikon Coolpix P-520. I also have a Pentax K-100 DSLR - a fine camera. The Pentax cost me a little over a thousand bucks - body only. The Nikon cost three hundred.

I agree with Mike (an old friend). The resolution produced by that little Nikon is mighty impressive. But the big thing it has going for it, from my standpoint, is depth of field. For some reason of physics (which has been explained to me, but I still don't understand it), those little superzoom lenses have enormous depth of field. For many serious photography purposes that's not a good thing: it effectively rules out the deliberate use of blurring ("bokeh"). But for model photography, big depth of field is great. When I'm shooting a model, I want as much of it as possible to be in focus.

I don't like electronic viewfinders; they just don't show you what an old-fashioned viewfinder can. But that's a relatively minor sacrifice. When I'm shooting models, I usually can take the memory card right to my computer and see the results on the big screen (or make a print).

This is an exciting time to get into photography. I urge anybody thinking about it to take a careful look at all the options that are available.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    February, 2015
Posted by Bick on Sunday, February 22, 2015 5:14 PM

jtilley

<LGE SNIP>This is an exciting time to get into photography. I urge anybody thinking about it to take a careful look at all the options that are available.

How true jtilley! Many, many people own cameras, few people take great photographs, I think that camera choice can be (is?) confusing but, for other than a few "toy" cameras, it isn't the camera, it's the 'loose nut' behind the camera that is the limiting factor. I've seen beautiful photos taken with an iPhone and some with the very same cameras/lenses that I own. It isn't the equipment, the problem is ME. And, yes, I'm not a professional photographer but I've been 'into' photography since my Dad taught me to develop Verichrome in trays more than 70 years ago. Photographing models is the art in photography in my opinion (product photography) and many cameras can do it extremely well - for me I usually just take snapshots - or they look it. But is isn't the fault of the camera.
  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Sunday, February 22, 2015 6:43 PM

You are so right, Bick! I hate to think of how much money I've spent on photography stuff over the years. But nothing I've bought has made me into anything better than a mediocre photographer.

I've noticed the same phenomenon in the great game of chess. I've bought several really handsome chess sets, and built my own board. But for some reason or other I'm still a lousy chess player. (The guys in the local club love to see me: they can always use cannon fodder.)

I think it was Edward Steichen who said it best: "The photographer has not been born who has mastered the box camera."

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
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  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Monday, February 23, 2015 9:31 AM

Depth of field is primary a function of f-number.  The design of the lens has little to do with depth field.  Depth of field equation uses only subject distance, center wavelength, and f/#.  The key to good depth of field is to shoot with as high an f/# as the lens will go to.  Use either manual exposure or aperture priority.

Good result with superzooms is probably because they tend to be a bit higher in minimum f-# because of limitations in lens design

Don

(old lens designer)

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    February, 2015
Posted by Bick on Monday, February 23, 2015 5:33 PM

I always thought there was only one plane of focus and circle of confusion defined what appeared sharp to the viewer. Doesn't the small aperture of lenses for "small" sensors with short focal length do that or is the 'circle of confusion' different for short focal length lenses with relative wide angle of view. I'm curious, And don't forget diffraction limitations of the smallest (highest number) f stops - it really does effect sharpness,

  • Member since
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  • From: St louis
Posted by Raualduke on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 4:31 AM

I gotta a nikon camera, i love to take a photograph ,so mamma don't  take my kodachrome away!

  • Member since
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  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 9:24 AM

Bick

I always thought there was only one plane of focus and circle of confusion defined what appeared sharp to the viewer. Doesn't the small aperture of lenses for "small" sensors with short focal length do that or is the 'circle of confusion' different for short focal length lenses with relative wide angle of view. I'm curious, And don't forget diffraction limitations of the smallest (highest number) f stops - it really does effect sharpness,

True, but the circle of confusion may still be tolerable in other planes.  The most widely used formula for depth of field sets the limiting circle of confusion equal to the diffraction blur size.  It is surprising how high an f/# one can use before diffraction blur exceeds geometric blur. I often shoot at f/32.

The smaller chip size in smaller cameras indeed does increase depth of field for small cams.  For a good discussion of some of this, do a google search on "hyperfocal distance."

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
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  • From: Arizona
Posted by pilotjohn on Thursday, February 26, 2015 7:34 PM

All;

OK, my Nikon D3300 arrived today:)  After charging the battery and putting in the card and attaching the lens, I have set out on my journey.  So far I have read and just played with the Point and Shoot modes.  Really happy with how easy it is to take simple pictures of the dogs and the rooms in the house.  Flash works very well even in a pretty dark room.  Not sure if I like the Live mode through the monitor or the traditional through the view finder way.  I can keep my reading glasses on with the Live mode though which helps see what is going on.  I tried a couple of pictures on the model and it works OK, but I need to learn all the tricks with that subject.  

Good size camera without being a huge thing.  Can't wait to try out all the settings and options that come with it.

John

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, February 27, 2015 9:04 AM

I am amazed at how well flash works today.  I am old enough to have worked with flash bulbs, then uncontrolled strobe flash. It never used to be possible to use flash in closeups, the control of the flash was just not precise nor fast enough.

I often use flash and auto modes (except for focus) in WIP shots, but do restrict myself to sunlight for realistic shots and poses (against photo backdrops).  I also always take my pictures used for photo backdrops on sunny days to allow using those backdrops on sunny days with the model.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Friday, February 27, 2015 11:57 AM

Amen, Don! Not so long ago, really serious photographers scoffed at built-in flash units, and the better SLRs didn't have them. Nowadays, anybody who rejects built-in flash is shooting himself in the foot.

It does have its limits. I once saw, with my very own eyes, a man take a picture of the other side of the Grand Canyon with a built-in flash.

I've got a nice hotshoe flash for my Pentax K-10, but under most indoor conditions the built-in does just as well.

The owner of our local camera store says two developments revolutionized photography in the eighties and nineties (even before digital): TTL flash and autofocus. I agree. My wife, who got some good photo training in the Marines, gave up on photography completely for years because of her bad eyesight. Then I gave her a super zoom with autofocus (and an adjustable diopter on the EVF). Now she consistently takes better pictures than I do (which isn't saying a lot).

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    January, 2013
Posted by jibber on Saturday, February 28, 2015 1:04 AM

My photography is really lacking. I spend way more time building and 2 minutes shooting so I'm thinking about moving out of my portable and into a Nikon Coolpix P520 that would be used exclusively for models. I recently finished a locomotive in 1/35 and couldn't fit all in the photo and I have a lot more larger projects in the works so any recommendations is much appreciated. I like the idea of a $300 camera and I'm wondering if theres any thought to inexpensive lighting? Right now I shoot against white poster paper and turn around all my desk lighting, thats causing me to lose color and it makes things a lot darker. 

Thanks, Terry

  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Saturday, February 28, 2015 2:08 AM

Unfortunately the Nikon Coolpix 520 is out of production, but there are plenty of other good superzooms available - including its successor, the Coolpix 600 ( http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Nikon-Products/Product/Compact-Digital-Cameras/COOLPIX-P600.html ). Do you have a decent camera store, with a knowledgeable staff, in your neighborhood? If so, that's the place to go. But you can also pick up such a camera at Best Buy, probably a bit cheaper.

I spent about $150 (an excellent price) on a box full of lighting equipment: two sockets, two stands, two white umbrellas, and two blue photo bulbs. Again the camera store is a good source. But you can make do mighty well with blue photo bulbs screwed into simple, cheap "clip light" reflectors, which you can get at a place like Lowe's. While you're there, pick up a roll of cheesecloth. You can stretch it over the reflector to serve as a diffuser.

First, though, I'd suggest that you see what you can accomplish with natural light (or room light, for that matter) and the flash that's built into the camera. Those little flash units are pretty amazing things.

Another small suggestion: whenever I buy a new camera from our excellent local camera store, when the staff member tells me his best price I say, "Give me a good price on a spare battery and you've got a deal." Such batteries aren't cheap, and you definitely want a spare. (Nikon says the battery in the P-600 will deliver 330 shots per charge - but you'll be amazed at how quickly you can shoot 330 pictures.) The guys are always willing to sell me such a battery at their price.

Good luck. Have fun.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    October, 2007
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by pordoi on Saturday, February 28, 2015 7:15 AM

jtilley

... you can make do mighty well with blue photo bulbs screwed into simple, cheap "clip light" reflectors, which you can get at a place like Lowe's. While you're there, pick up a roll of cheesecloth. You can stretch it over the reflector to serve as a diffuser.

jtilley, 

any concerns with heat production using a cheesecloth diffuser over a blue photo bulb in a Lowe's reflector?  I use a similar system to light my workbench, and it can get quite cozy at times.

Don

  • Member since
    February, 2015
Posted by Bick on Saturday, February 28, 2015 8:01 AM

Terry,

jtilley's advice is great if you have a reputable camera store nearby. In addition, most cameras have reviews posted online - either by users or by professional outfits - that can be helpful. Nikon and Canon are the big two but there are others including Fuji, Panasonic, Sony, Pentax, Ricoh and others that make quite capable cameras. As pilotjohn said, it can be quite confusing! You might want to look at some of the camera fora/reviews on:  http://www.dpreview.com/. Too, buying factory refurbished can often save a few bucks as can buying a slightly older model. B&HPhotovideo ( http://www.bhphotovideo.com/ ) and Adorama ( http://www.adorama.com/ ) are two online photo stores that are very reputable. If you want the Nikon P520 you can find it though it's discontiniued or the P530 is available now (http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-COOLPIX-Digital-Camera-NIKKOR/dp/B00IA9LUP2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425133011&sr=8-1&keywords=nikon+cool+pix+p530 )

As far as lighting is concerned - that is a whole new subject. It's easy to spend more on lighting equipment than on the camera. Do you want photoflood, strobes, quartz etc. As has been mentioned above, the on camera flash or natural light can work well without any investment. With modern cameras, color correction/white balance will allow even indoor lighting to be used and corrected in-camera or post processing. For model photography even a couple of inexpensive halogen desk lamps can be used successfully. My advice, get the camera first, experiment and decide if you even want/need lighting equipment.

edit corrected link

  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Saturday, February 28, 2015 8:05 AM

Oh yeah. I've had a little scorching now and then, but never an actual fire. This is one reason I switched over to the stands and umbrellas.

Those photo bulbs have two weaknesses: they get really hot and they have a life expectancy of something like three hours. Once I get set up, I turn the lights on for just a few seconds at a time.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    November, 2003
  • From: Virginia
Posted by Mike F6F on Saturday, February 28, 2015 3:49 PM

A couple of things.

One reason super zoom cameras appear to have such a wide depth of field is the size of the sensor along with the focal length of the lens.  While lenses are often listed by their 35mm equivalents, unless you are using a full frame DSLR you aren't shooting with the lens you think you are.  Since the physical size of the imager is much smaller than a 35mm film frame, the actual lens focal length you are shooting is "wider" than you think.  Since a 50mm lens renders the same DOF at a given aperture, it doesn't know or care what size the imager is.  Since a small imager is only capturing a fraction of the lens' field of view, the DOF will be greater the smaller the imager size.  This is one reason why pros who use 35mm full frame imagers were so happy when the full size imagers came along.  Their 35mm lenses were finally acting like they had when shooting 35mm film.  Wide angle lenses were wide, and the full size imager allowed a narrow DOF again for portraits, etc.

All this is complicated, and more technical than many people, including pro shooters, care to think about.  Bottom line is: The smaller the camera imager, the greater the apparent depth of field will be produced for a given lens focal length.  This is a great advantage to model photography for super zoom/bridge style cameras, and the small imager DSLRs.

As far as eye level viewfinders go, I won't use a camera without one, nor use a camera without a good one.  That's why I've stuck with the super zoom/bridge type small imager cameras.  They have EVFs while many sophisticated smaller cameras have abandoned them.

Regarding a simple studio lighting set-up, don't bother with trying to find daylight blue photoflood bulbs in a camera store.  That's important only if you are still shooting film.  Since digital cameras offer white balance choices, any type of bulb will work just fine. Even the lights on your work bench. You just have to tell the camera if you are using incandescent or florescent lights as your source.  Of course, you have to remember to reset you camera to daylight before you shoot outdoors or with flash again.

Very good model photos can be taken with just about any camera and lights as long as the background is kept plain and preferably not white.  A plain light blue, pale gray or similar background helps avoid exposure problems that crop up when using a glaring white backdrop.

Using two lights at 45 degree angles to the camera/subject line, render acceptable model photos most of the time.  With experience, slight adjustments of one light's angle and distance from the model can help with different subjects.  Try to use two lights using the same type of bulb for a consistent light balance and color capture.

If you want to be an advanced photo hobbyist as well as a model builder, have at it!  But photo gear ain't cheap and for many folks, it is better spending the cash to improve the quality of model build you'd want to photograph anyway.

A good photo of a good model will beat a lousy photo of a great model every time!

Mike

 

"Grumman on a Navy Airplane is like Sterling on Silver."

  • Member since
    February, 2015
Posted by Bick on Saturday, February 28, 2015 6:09 PM

Mike F6F

A couple of things. <snip>

As far as eye level viewfinders go, I won't use a camera without one, nor use a camera without a good one.  That's why I've stuck with the super zoom/bridge type small imager cameras.  They have EVFs while many sophisticated smaller cameras have abandoned them.<snip>

Using two lights at 45 degree angles to the camera/subject line, render acceptable model photos most of the time.  With experience, slight adjustments of one light's angle and distance from the model can help with different subjects.  Try to use two lights using the same type of bulb for a consistent light balance and color capture.

A good photo of a good model will beat a lousy photo of a great model every time!

Hi Mike,

Because pilotjohn already has his Nikon I guess we're not really hijacking his thread so- ! I hope that Terry is reading this. I agree about eye level viewfinders - whether optical or EVF, Cameras without one are almost impossible in direct sunlight (personal experience with a Lumix LX3). Don't know why manufacturers abandoned them for P&S  And, yeah, a couple of lights at 45 degrees works well.

  • Member since
    January, 2013
Posted by jibber on Sunday, March 01, 2015 8:50 AM

Bick & guys thanks. I started looking at Nikons at a local BB. The Coolpix P600 might just be what I need with a couple lights and diffusers. I'm thinking under $600 (I hope) for a setup I can get much better pics than what I'm doing now. Great thoughts especially the cheese cloth, never would have thought of that but sometimes in what we do, whatever works works.

Thanks its much appreciated, Terry

  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • From: Arizona
Posted by pilotjohn on Sunday, March 01, 2015 9:24 AM

All;

I am learning from this thread that I don't know much more than point one end at the model and click on the button on the top:)  I am very pleased with this camera overall as it is easy to use and a good size.  The controls are well organized and the screen is large enough to see what is going on.

For the curious, I go this bundle from Amazon:

www.amazon.com/.../ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00

I really like the extra batteries, the tripod, and the IR shutter release.  the other lenses  and filters I don't know but what the heck.  Tax return meant I can get the new toy.  I might have been able to buy pieces and get it cheaper, but one stop was easiest for me.

Here are three sample pictures with everything on automatic.  I need to start to work towards some manual settings I think, but these are OK for a raw beginner.

  • Member since
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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Sunday, March 01, 2015 9:29 AM

Mike's right about old-fashioned hot lights, of course. The blue bulbs were designed to simulate daylight, and that's not necessary with adjustable white balance.

The old-fashioned blue lights do have one other advantage: they're just plain bright. But the new halogen floodlights available at places like Lowe's are coming closer all the time - and they're at least a little cheaper.

Usually the auto white balance function on the camera will take care of it. Usually. But adjusting the white balance is one of the first things you ought to look up in the camera manual.

Speaking of which - a tip that I wish somebody have given me. (I'm assuming the P-600 is set up like the P-520. If not, ignore the following.) The only printed instructions in the box are a "quick-start guide," which only explains the most basic operations. Then there's a CD-ROM that contains the full manual. Being an Olde Phogey who's most comfortable reading printed pages, as soon as I opened up the disk on my Mac I hit "Print." Ten minutes later, when the stack of 8 1/2" x 11" printouts was an inch and a half tall with no end in sight, I shut off the printer. I knew my senile brain couldn't memorize the whole thing, and lugging that pile of paper around would seem to defeat the purpose of a compact camera.

The solution: the whole manual is online. I make it a point to take my I-Phone wherever I take the camera. Whenever I need to look something up, I google "Nikon P-520 Manual" and the whole thing pops up in front of me.

Terry, if you get that camera I envy you. Getting to know mine was one of the more fascinating experiences I've had in years. It's an astonishing piece of equipment.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Sunday, March 01, 2015 11:13 AM

If you have photo editing software, you can adjust for color balance if the camera doesn't do it well enough.  You don't need an expensive package like Photoshop, many cheaper programs offer this too.  If it is not an automatic function there is usually an adjustment that will allow changing of color hue.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

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