Selling Art

Photographing Art: The Pros and Cons of SLR Cameras and More

May 30, 2014

By Alina Bradford


Many artists wonder: “Why can’t I buy a $20 point-and-shoot and still get high-quality photos of my art? Is a SLR so much better? What about digital?” Choosing a new camera to take pictures of your art can be confusing. Here are some facts to help you choose the right camera for you and your art.

Point-and-Shoot

For the most part, you don’t want to use point-and-shoot cameras for taking pictures of your art. There is too much surprise involved with these types of cameras. Colors don’t come out exact, the camera crops the image in strange ways, and the image may come out darker or lighter than expected.

SLR

For one, you get what you pay for. For two, you simply can’t get the same quality and versatility from a point-and-click that you get from an SLR (Single Lens Reflex).

Here are some simple SLR pros to consider:

  • Since an SLR has one lens to view the scene and capture the image, (hence its name) what you see is what you get in the finished photo. There’s no surprise cropping or distance problems.
  • You can change lenses to take telephoto or wide angle photos for small or extra large works.
  • You can adjust an SLR’s settings to take photos at night, in low light, or in bright sunlight.
  • You can add filters to an SLR’s lens to alter the colors in the image, incase the lighting on your painting is not quite right.

Just like everything, though, there are some drawbacks:

  • Even though most SLR’s come with an “auto” mode, you will still have to focus most models before taking a picture.
  • You will have to learn how to use it. Unlike a point-and-click camera, you can’t take an SLR out of the box and just start clicking.
  • SLR’s are a bit cumbersome to carry and transport. Most won’t fit in a purse (unless you have a really big purse).
  • An SLR will need cleaned periodically.
  • SLR’s are usually more expensive.

Photographing Your Art Indoors

As you can see, there are quite a few things to think about when buying an SLR. In the end it mostly comes down to personality. If you are a patent and want perfect pictures of your art, then your best bet is a SLR.

Digital

Today there are some great digital cameras that can give you instant results to upload to your computer, crisp images, and foolproof quality.
It is important to look for digital cameras that have at least 200 pixels-per-inch for the best quality photos. Basically, the more pixels-per-inch (ppi) the better photos you will get. Sometimes, even with more ppi, you will still get a lower quality photo. Playing with the size of the file and reducing the image will take care of that.
Try to choose a digital camera that has a clear, crisp viewing screen so that you can accurately predict what your final image will look like. The whole point of having a screen is no surprises, right?

Choosing a camera to fit your needs takes quite a bit of time and research, but in the end, you will have crisp, colorful pictures of your art for your website, business cards, and more.

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