Camera recommendation for texture artists?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by phaedarus, May 30, 2011.

  1. phaedarus macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    #1
    As a texture artist, I'm constantly searching for new material to photograph for use in my 3D work.

    Lately however, I've been growing more frustrated with my old compact 5MP Leica due to the perspective camera distortion it introduces with every brick wall and fence I photograph. Consequently, a lot of time is spent correcting this in Photoshop.

    I'm now in the market for a better solution that will help to either eliminate or drastically reduce the effect of lens distortion. Budget is around $600 or so.

    Any recommendations?
     
  2. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #2
    I know at least some of the newer P&S cameras have software algorithms that correct for the geometric distortion given by the lens. You could check for that

    Otherwise, a cheap old used DSLR and a prime lens might work too. The "classic" primes (like 50mm) typically have little to no meaningful distortion.

    Might not be doable on your stated budget, but a DSLR + PC (perspective correction) lens might work better. Not necessarily for the PC aspect, but as those lenses were typically designed to do architectural photography, they have been deliberately engineered to have no geometric distortion.

    Ruahrc

    Edit: you are referring to geometric distortion (pincushion/barrel) and not perspective distortion (keystoning), correct?
     
  3. phaedarus thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    #3
    Thanks for the response.

    Yes, I'm referring to barrel distortion where the image is bent along the edges of the photo like a sphere.

    Are the perspective correction lenses the ones with the rectangular cap?
     
  4. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #4
    You are looking for a Tilt / Shift (T/S) lens.

    "http://macdanzigphotography.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/ts-e-17mm-lens-review-part-2/" provides some great examples.

    (Disclaimer: I have never used a T/S lens so I am not sure if they can correct barrel distortion, although I do not believe they can. Your best bet might be a high quality wide angle prime lens, or possibly even simply developing some photoshop actions to correct it)
     
  5. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #5
    A tilt shift lens (more specifically a shift lens, as the tilt performs a different optical function) does not correct barrel distortion, rather it corrects perspective distortion. Barrel distortion is an intrinsic property of the lens based on the optical formula the designers used. A lens can be made with little to no barrel distortion, or a lot depending on the goals of the designer and the other constraints which they had to work under.

    OP: rectangular caps? Don't know what that refers to. Tilt shift or shift lenses usually have a special designation from the manufacturer. For example Canon tilt shifts are called TS-E lenses. Nikon uses the term PC-E, although their older lenses were just called PC. They are usually identifiable by the fact that they have extra knobs near the lens mount, to control the movements of the lens. They also usually (but not always) have a squarish segment near the lens mount where the tilting/shifting mechanisms are located, as opposed to a standard lens which is cylindrical along the entire length of the lens.

    Ruahrc
     
  6. c1phr macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    #6
    I second the cheap dslr + prime combo. However, I assume in Photoshop you are correcting with file>automate>lens correction? Have you tried correcting in Lightroom (if you have it)? I know that the Nikkor 18-105 VR has some awful distortion at 105mm that Lightroom cleans up very easily.
     
  7. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #7
    Come to think of it, as long as you have Photoshop CS5 or better, you have Camera Raw 6, which includes lens distortion correction in the RAW converter. If your P&S can shoot in RAW, it may have a lens correction profile available in PS. If not, Adobe has a process for you to print and shoot your own test charts, and the Adobe profile generation software will calculate the necessary adjustments.

    I think this only applies to cameras that can shoot RAW though, as the distortion correction module is in CameraRaw. I know some of the newer P&S like the Nikon P6000/7000 have modules for lens correction supplied by Adobe, like they do for the DSLR lenses.

    Ruahrc
     
  8. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #8
    Tilt Shift might not be what you are looking for. You have control of most aspects of perspective in what you are shooting (this was my bag in college). With a tripod and the fact that your subjects don't move, you can set up nice and square and eliminate perspective distortion. What you are looking for is a lens that is sharp at the corners with as little barrel distortion as possible. Stepping back a bit and cropping in the center of the image might eliminate some of what you are dealing with now.

    You will probably need to go to a dslr to get access to the lens you need, so getting everything in a $600 budget will be tough. The following lens looks like a very good macro.

    Canon 60mm f/2.8 Macro

    Dale
     

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