Photographing Inscriptions: Nikon Coolpix 8800 or Canon Dig Rebel XT?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by dmango1, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. dmango1

    dmango1 Guest

    I'm leaving for Europe in a few weeks. While there, I hope to
    photograph and cataloque any ancient inscriptions (ie GreeK, Latin,
    Etc) that I may find. Most of these inscriptions are outdoors, the
    majority of them carved in stone.

    My primary goal is to preserve these inscriptions by photographing
    them, with the intention of publishing them in a book with an
    accompaning illustration. I'm not interested in national geographic
    results, just a sharp, high quality image of the inscription.

    I have decided between either the Nikon Coolpix 8800 or the Canon
    Digital Rebel XT. The Rebel may be a better camera, but with the extra
    lenses required to match that of the 35-350mm lens of the Nikon, I am
    not certain if I can justify the extra cost for
    the lenses.

    The only necessary item that I have been informed to bring by
    my friends in Europe, is a zoom lens. I may also use photoshop
    to enhance the images if necessary.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated, as well as any tips/suggestions
    for photographing inscriptions in general
    (ie time of day, flashes, etc)

    Thank you
    dmango1, Jun 29, 2005
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  2. You need to look at the many articles on the net regarding
    photographing tombstones.

    You'll find you need a reflector board to provide oblique light to
    bring out the inscription.

    As for the time, you'll need to consider the orientation of the
    particular inscription relevtive to the sun. Early moring and late
    afternoon are the times I find best for tombstones.

    Just one of many article on this.

    "A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters.
    Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its
    mouth: "I, the state, am the people." "

    _Thus Spake Zarathusttra_
    by Friedrich Nietzsche
    Chapter XI
    The New Idol
    John A. Stovall, Jun 29, 2005
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  3. dmango1

    SB Guest

    I would go for a Nikon 8800 in your case.

    It is a fantastic camera if you are shooting outdoors and your subjects do
    not move - which is exactly your case.
    The 35-350mm lens is a piece of art, and will bring the inscriptions which
    are all the way up there, right under the roof,
    so close to you that you'll cry. The "in-built" image post-processing in
    point-and-shot (which in fact is the 8800) will give
    you sharp and crisp images. And you wil have the whole thing +(NB!) a spare
    batery and mre memory in a relatively small bag!

    I had an 8700, moved up to 8800, then to EVOLT - ust because I need a faster
    camera. Otherwise, Nikon Coolpix 8800 is
    a great camera.

    SB, Jun 29, 2005
  4. dmango1

    Stacey Guest

    Off camera flash will be your friend. If either won''t work with an off
    camera flash, that would be a deal killer for me.
    Stacey, Jun 30, 2005
  5. dmango1

    Misifus Guest

    If I were to tackle that project, I would use a Nikon D-70, the
    kit lens (18-70mm) and an SB-600 flash. For photographing
    inscriptions you wouldn't normally need a long telephoto, the kit
    lens should work. Either the SB-600 or the SB-800 will work as a
    wireless flash with the D70, enabling you to get the oblique
    lighting you will need to bring out inscriptions.

    Misifus, Jun 30, 2005
  6. dmango1

    dmango1 Guest

    I have a Sony 10/20W video light. Could this be used in place of
    an off camera flash? Are there any advantages to flash lighting
    over constant/video lighting? Thanks.
    dmango1, Jul 1, 2005
  7. I'd go for the Rebel XT with the kit lens and the 1.4 50mm lens for
    natural light and sharpness combined with speed, should you be shooting
    in shade or indoors.

    Good luck with your project.
    John McWilliams, Jul 2, 2005
  8. dmango1

    DoN. Nichols Guest

    For your subject matter, I would suggest that the only nuisance
    might be that the batteries for the video light source would weigh more.

    For live things, like small insects, the extra heat might be a

    A *benefit* of the video light is that you can more easily judge
    (by naked eye) the effects of light placement without spending a lot of
    time zooming in your display and examining the results.

    Good Luck,
    DoN. Nichols, Jul 2, 2005
  9. dmango1

    Deedee Tee Guest

    (cross-posting to other groups eliminated)

    A good illumination of the inscriptions is far more important than
    which camera you will use. Illumination is very critical with
    inscriptions - probably you need a grazing but uniform illumination,
    so the light source cannot be very close to the subject, and its angle
    to the surface of the stone must be low. This means that you are going
    to need a strong to very strong light source, unless your inscriptions
    are one foot or less in size. Make lots of practice before you travel
    (any graveyard or church should offer plenty of test subjects).

    A flash will not let you check the quality of the illumination except
    on the small LCD screen of the camera, which may be insufficient to
    judge the results if the subject contains a lot of detail. A
    battery-operated video lamp is much better in this respect, but also
    heavier and the battery may not last long. Also, the lamp will be
    completely ineffective in sunlight or even light shade, so a powerful
    flash would be better in this case. Likely you will need also a
    foldable black screen (the round shape is fine, black colour) of
    appropriate size to cut off direct sunlight. You will also need a
    third hand to hold the screen, of course, and/or a tripod or two.

    Probably most point-and-shoot cameras with about 5 MP and higher and
    all DSLRs are adequate, but most likely the built-in flash is useless
    for this subject because you cannot change its angle to the surface.
    Deedee Tee, Jul 2, 2005
  10. dmango1

    kashe Guest

    With all the variables expressed in this and oher good
    postings, you might do well to find out how many you can implement
    easily, then go out to a local cemetery, preferably one with lots of
    old, weathwered stones, and spend a day in different light conditions
    to see which are most useful . It would be quite disappointing to
    accept suggestions only to find they don't work well after arrival.

    Good luck on the project.
    kashe, Jul 10, 2005
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