What camera should I buy?

On lots of gaming forums people often ask about which camera they should get for taking photographs of their painted miniatures.

My answer is quite simple, I would buy a cheap second hand Digital SLR. An old Canon Rebel (EOS 400D or 300D) would certainly suffice and can be picked up quite cheaply.

I have taken thousands of photographs of miniatures at home and at shows. The flexibility and ease of use that a DSLR brings makes it much easier to take decent, in focus and well lit photographs of your miniatures.

Imperial Guard Rapier

You will read a lot on forums and the like about the “importance” of macro when taking photographs of miniatures. That’s very much a myth. The key is having a high f stop, in other words the aperture is very small, as a result you need to keep the shutter open for longer. This is why you need a camera with full manual control such as an DSLR. It’s also the reason why you will need to use a tripod. With a standard 400 ISO (speed of the “film) you may find that the shutter is open for a couple of seconds, so hand holding the camera just isn’t an option. You could increase the ISO, but I have found with high ISOs on the low end DSLRs you do get a lot of “noise” and a grainy picture.

Lighting is just as important and wherever possible avoid using the built-in flash as this will wash out the colours of your beautiful paintjob. Too little light and you will find that the resulting images may be too dark or too noisy. In the main I now use the “daylight” work lamp I have for painting, but I also try and use natural daylight too. More on camera settings.

So what do you use to take photographs of your models?

Flames of War British Sherman Tanks

In a future blog post I will talk about setting the scene.