Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

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Nicadraus
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Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Nicadraus » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:23 am

Shooting diecast model cars (and toys) is something that should be taken seriously. The only thing the will require you to spend a little extra is for a nice camera. Other accessories need not to be expensive. Of course, other people would opt to use their phone cameras. However, camera phones still won't produce the same quality images that a real camera does.

1. Buying a camera - always settle for a camera that can be used with manual setting. DSLR cameras have full manual setting. Aperture, exposure (shutter), focus. Some micro 4/3s and other PS (point and shoot) cameras offer the same features too. Inter-changeable lenses is an extra but not necessary especially when shooting your models at close distances.

Remember that the gear used is only good as the user. You don't need high end cameras to achieve nice images. Always master your camera's full capabilities to maximize it's features.

Aperture is the depth of field. The lower the setting, the focus point becomes smaller.
Exposure - speed of shutter. For dark environments, long exposure shots with the use of tripods gets really good results.

2. Use a tripod - There are no 100% steady hands. Only a tripod can hold your camera at zero movement. There are tripods available for as low as $10 each. When shooting at slow shutter speed or long exposures, use the timer or a remote trigger. Most Nikon cameras work with the ML-L3 IR remote. While Canon has the RC-6.

3. Be creative - Deflect, filter and bounce the light. Use white card boards, plastic corrugated boards or white cloth for filtering, deflecting and making the light bounce.

4. Lighting - You can choose between using multiple sources such as flash (or strobe), lamps and natural lighting. Natural lighting is still the best because it provides and distributes light evenly. For excessive natural lighting, you can always filter them by using the boards mentioned above. White balance should always be set to proper light environment.

5. Surface and background - you can use different surfaces. From sheets, felt paper, graphical backgrounds to natural (perspective shooting).

Felt paper is best used for indoor shooting with light/photo boxes because it absorbs excess light. No glaring.

6. Photo box/light box - there are countless of photo boxes available at different price range. Cheapest would go for $10 each while prices go higher depending on the brand and quality. I use two different photo boxes. One is a DIY made from plastic corrugated boards assembled together while the other one is a set that comes with changeable nylon backgrounds which I got $15.

My $15 photo/light box
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My DIY photo box
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The sides and top are made of white plastic corrugated boards. It also serves as filter for excess lights. Background is black felt paper. Glass surface with black board underneath.

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Here's the shot:
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Camera: Nikon D60

My settings:
Manual:
ISO-100
Exposure: 30secs
Apperture: f20
Focal Length: 36mm
Triggered with IR Remote: ML-L3

Another shot using DSLR with the DIY photo/light box

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No flash. My only source of illumination is natural day light from the window. But the light is filtered by the curtain and addition plastic corrugated board for defusing the light.

Shot using DIY photo/light box with PS camera

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Camera: Panasonic Lumix LX7
ISO: 80
Aperture Priority: F8.0
Exposure: 40secs
Focal point: 7.3mm
Self timer at 2secs.

Lighting: daylight lamps, three sides. Left, right and top. Filtered with white plastic corrugated boards. Front illumination deflected from top.

Shots using $15 photobox with white background and PS camera (Panasonic Lumix LX7)

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Shot using $15 photobox with dark background and PS camera (Panasonic Lumix LX7)

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Perspective Shooting

Here's an example of Perspective shooting using actual backgrounds.

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Other samples of Perspective Shots:

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The surface is a road diorama I made for these shooting purposes.

Hope you guys like it. ;)
Last edited by Nicadraus on Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:03 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Zondaracer » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:37 am

That's awesome! Many thanks for this thread. Don't you have any artifical lighting at all? I am into the process of building a light box, but am puzzling about lighting. I was going to buy daylight light bulbs, but your pics are just wonderful with only daylight. The trick with the glass plate is great. I thought everyone was using fancy software to get this effect.

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Nicadraus » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:49 am

Zondaracer wrote:That's awesome! Many thanks for this thread. Don't you have any artifical lighting at all? I am into the process of building a light box, but am puzzling about lighting. I was going to buy daylight light bulbs, but your pics are just wonderful with only daylight. The trick with the glass plate is great. I thought everyone was using fancy software to get this effect.
Not all images were shot using natural day light. Some were also shot using cheap daylight lamps. Most of the time, illumination comes from three directions. Sides and top. Still filtered with white plastic corrugated board to avoid glare.

As for software tricks, I only use Photoshop for correcting colors, adding watermarks and image re-sizing. I try to avoid editing the images to exaggerated them such as adding artificial backgrounds, light streaks and edited reflections.

You can also use glossy acrylic surface for reflective shots.

:)
Last edited by Nicadraus on Fri May 22, 2015 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by [KRAFTIG] » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:52 am

Thank you sir for sharing some of your excellent tips with us. I've moved the thread to the Photography section with a Sticky. Cheers!

PS - I'm going to publish on the website with permission of course? :deal:

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Nicadraus » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:12 am

No problem at all KRAFTIG. ;)

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by StratosWRC » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:31 pm

Excellent tips, thank you!

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Zondaracer » Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:04 pm

As an extra trick for added sharpness I found a useful feature on my DSLR camera. Perhaps a handy trick that is also available in other camera's.
Although using a tripod I still had a little bit of unsharpness in my pictures. Reason was me pushing the button or the mirror clicking. It would cause a minimal movement in the camera. I have now found a 2 second self timer in the menu. When I make the picture, the mirror clicks open but only 2 seconds later the picture is taken. This has increased the quality of my pics. Still learning though, but I am getting there. Should anyone suffer from unsharp pics while using a tripod, see if this feature is available in your camera menu.

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by [KRAFTIG] » Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:36 pm

Zondaracer wrote:As an extra trick for added sharpness I found a useful feature on my DSLR camera. Perhaps a handy trick that is also available in other camera's.
Although using a tripod I still had a little bit of unsharpness in my pictures. Reason was me pushing the button or the mirror clicking. It would cause a minimal movement in the camera. I have now found a 2 second self timer in the menu. When I make the picture, the mirror clicks open but only 2 seconds later the picture is taken. This has increased the quality of my pics. Still learning though, but I am getting there. Should anyone suffer from unsharp pics while using a tripod, see if this feature is available in your camera menu.
Some cameras have a remote feature too that can be utilized too. I bought one for my Nikon D40 for less than $10

Image

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Kwando » Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:08 pm

Awesome tutorial! I've always wanted to try it..but for a tripod I always recommend spending decent coin on one. It doesn't have to be the most expensive one but midrange is good. The last thing I would want is my tripod toppling over because it's a cheap piece of crap and breaking my expensive camera.

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Zondaracer » Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:12 pm

[KRAFTIG] wrote:
Zondaracer wrote:As an extra trick for added sharpness I found a useful feature on my DSLR camera. Perhaps a handy trick that is also available in other camera's.
Although using a tripod I still had a little bit of unsharpness in my pictures. Reason was me pushing the button or the mirror clicking. It would cause a minimal movement in the camera. I have now found a 2 second self timer in the menu. When I make the picture, the mirror clicks open but only 2 seconds later the picture is taken. This has increased the quality of my pics. Still learning though, but I am getting there. Should anyone suffer from unsharp pics while using a tripod, see if this feature is available in your camera menu.
Some cameras have a remote feature too that can be utilized too. I bought one for my Nikon D40 for less than $10

Image
Yes this will solve the problem of the user, but still the click clack of the mirror can shake the camera which was visible on my photo's with long opening times.

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Nicadraus » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:27 pm

Oh yeah...

I forgot to mention the timer & trigger. As mentioned by KRAFTIG, Nikon has an IR remote for wireless triggering which I also use with my Nikon D60. Very, very useful. As for camerass with no remote, 2sec timer will do as well. :)

Edited post above.

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Bynx » Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:20 am

This is a great tutorial. Im sure it will be helpful for all of us who want the cars to look good. The main problem I see with diecast photography is the use of such short depth of field. Everything in the photo should be in focus so you have to use a small aperture and use a tripod for the longer shutter speed needed.

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Zondaracer » Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:12 am

Bynx wrote:This is a great tutorial. Im sure it will be helpful for all of us who want the cars to look good. The main problem I see with diecast photography is the use of such short depth of field. Everything in the photo should be in focus so you have to use a small aperture and use a tripod for the longer shutter speed needed.
Yes indeed, I already have encountered shutter times of 30 seconds. Another option would be the software stacking tool Rob uses. I love to get my hands dirty on that. There are plenty of freeware tools, so don't need to spend any money on expensive software.

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by Bynx » Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:34 pm

There is a nice software I use called Helicon Focus. It focus stacks images with shallow depth of field and combines them to extend the depth of field in the final combined image.

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Re: Diecast Models Photography: Tips & Tricks

Post by /bp » Fri May 08, 2015 5:46 am

@Nicadraus what lens do you use?.. I use the stock Canon 18-55mm, but I get a very low Depth of field at 40-50mm from 0.5meters .. any suggestions.

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