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Customer Discussions > Digital SLR forum

Best Digital Camera for Interior Room Shots AND landscapes?!

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Showing 1-25 of 51 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 3, 2012 12:48:27 PM PDT
Whether mirrorless or other, I would love opinions on this as I'm very novice but trying to learn. I'm opening a B&B and will be taking shots of rooms (bad lighting, tight spaces), as well as exterior shots of landscape, buildings, etc. I'm consider Canon T2i/T3i, Sony Nex 5n, Olympus PL3, Canon G1x, or... as you can see I'm having a horrible time narrowing it down.

I don't need great video or action shots.

What is the most reasonably priced camera that can handle my needs shown above?


In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 3:43:30 PM PDT
T. Campbell says:
Your question is less about the camera and more about the lenses. Most cameras will come with a kit lens capable of modestly wide-angle to very gently zoomed in. The wide angle of a kit lens *might* be enough, but if you'd prefer wider, then I'd probably suggest RENTING the lens because it sounds like you want a wide angle lens for this one task and probably wouldn't get much use out of it in the future. It would cost you maybe $50 to rent a lens for a week vs. maybe $800 to buy the same lens. This means cameras with non-removable lenses are off the list.

Wide angle has two advantages... the obvious advantage is that it can actually photograph tight spaces. The second advantage is that wide angle lenses create a feeling of "depth" which makes interiors look bigger.

The downside of everything you're asking about is that it can take some practice to learn to shoot wide angle and do a good job. If the camera lens is angled either up or down when you take the shot, then all verticals will "lean" and you end up with trapezoidal shaped doors instead of rectangular ones. You can fix this in software... but you'll need software that can do it (Photoshop Elements can do it and that's under $100.) If the camera is truly level when you take the photos, then the walls and doors won't appear to "lean".

The next challenge is the lighting. Any photos where windows or doorways appear will have a huge difference in the indoor light vs. the outdoor light. This means that when the lighting is correct to illuminate the room, the window or doorway to the outside will seem "blown out" (much much too bright.) If you expose correctly for the outdoors then the interior will be FAR too dark. You can't do anything about how bright it is outdoors, but you CAN do something about the interior. Ordinarily you'd just use enough lighting to bring up the exposure to balance it against the outside lighting. But the alternative is to use HDR (High Dynamic Range) in software to create the balanced exposure. Put the camera on a tripod (you'll need a tripod). Put the camera into "bracketing" mode. It'll take 3 exposures. One exposure will be "correct", one will be deliberately underexposed (because the very bright windows will appear "normal" in those photos) and one exposure will be deliberately over-exposed (which brings out detail in the shadows.) The three photos are then merged in software to create a balanced result.

You could use a Canon T2i/T3i (which frankly is over-kill... even a T3 would do the job) and then rent a wide angle lens... such as an EF-S 10-22mm lens. If you intend to do HDR then you'll need a tripod. And lastly you'll need some processing software.

Posted on Apr 3, 2012 5:41:56 PM PDT
Thank you so much for this great information. I am planning on taking some classes so that I can try to do the camera justice. Renting a lens is a great idea. I do have Adobe photoshop and also Serif photoplus...hopefully they will have what I need for sw. If Canon is overkill what would you recommend? Will def. get a tripod - hoping it's common sense to make the camera completely level on it....

Posted on Apr 3, 2012 6:59:18 PM PDT
T. Campbell says:
You'll need to be able to choose the lens -- when I've shot interiors, the wide-angle of most standard lenses isn't wide enough to shoot interiors. Wide angles come in two flavors: rectilinear and curvilinear. The vast majority are "rectilinear" -- which means that straight lines in real life (walls, door frames, windows, etc.) will remain straight. On a curvilinear (aka "fish-eye" lens) straight lines in real-life will become curved in the photo -- which makes for interesting "art" but bad "architecture" images. So avoid buying or renting anything with "fish eye" or "curvilinear" in the name.

Maybe "overkill" is overstating things a bit. If you JUST want a camera to take photos of the B&B then the T2i or T3i are at the high end of the Canon entry-level bodies. The T3 is at the low end of the Canon entry-level bodies. But MOST of the difference in the outcome are based on you & your skill, the lighting, and the lens. The body is in last place when it comes to how much influence it'll have over your results.

So if the motivating factor is that you want B&B photos, then I'd probably just go with the basic entry-level T3. If, on the other hand, you think you have a more serious interest in photography (you said you wanted to take classes), then maybe the T2i or T3i would be better. BTW, the T2i and T3i have the SAME Canon 18 MP sensor. There's virtually no image-quality difference between these two cameras... mostly it's just features of the body (a T3i is a bit more optimized for video with it's flip-out LCD screen.)

If you've got Photoshop, and want to do HDR, then take the three images (the camera has a "bracketing" feature built in... but you could also manually adjust the exposure (vary the shutter speed... not the aperture) to create an under-exposed, correctly-exposed, and over-exposed image. ("Bracketing" is a feature where the camera will automatically shoot the three images and vary the exposure for you... all you do is click the shutter button three times.) Open Photoshop, click "File" -> "Automate" -> "Merge to HDR" or "Merge to HDR Pro" (depending on which version of Photoshop you have.) It'll prompt you to select the images (it's typical to use 3 images but you *can* use more if you want.) Photoshop will then process them and create a composite image based on merging the dynamic range of all the images you fed to it. You get to tweak it and/or change the HDR effect (I prefer a natural look, and, for your B&B, probably so will you... but HDR photos allow you to create some crazy effects.)

The popular application for HDR is "Photomatix" (which you can also get as a Photoshop plug-in), but that would be an extra purchase. It's very likely that the built-in HDR features of Photoshop will be adequate for create balanced photos of rooms where the windows are blown-out with over-exposed outdoor lighting.

Posted on Apr 4, 2012 5:25:52 AM PDT
Thanks again. One last question...I think I'll go for the T2i. The trouble is, where I live, there aren't any camera shops so I think renting a lens might be tricky. If I buy the body of the camera only, is there a lens to buy that would accomplish interior shots and also other shots (like landscape, a flower, a hot tub, a donkey, etc.)? Or not possible>


Posted on Apr 4, 2012 5:43:02 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 4, 2012 5:49:25 AM PDT
Tom Martin says:
I'd recommend you get a kit lens with your camera so you can use it for general usage too. Either the Canon EOS Rebel T2i 18 MP CMOS APS-C Sensor DIGIC 4 Image Processor Full-HD Movie Mode Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-inch LCD and and EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens or the Canon EOS Rebel T2i 18 MP CMOS APS-C Sensor DIGIC 4 Image Processor Full-HD Movie Mode Digital SLR Camera and EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS UD Standard Zoom Lens.

For the wide angle lens either the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX Digital Zoom Lens (for Canon EOS Cameras) or Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM SLR Lens.

edit: if this is truly a one time event, you might consider hiring a photographer to come in and take the pictures.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2012 7:43:06 AM PDT
T. Campbell says:
You can rent via the web., B&H Photo, Adorama, -- they all do rentals.

You can buy a DSLR as a body & lens, or as a body only (no lens). The lens that comes with the kit is generally always an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6. This is suitable for most shots you'd take around the house. There are lenses that go longer (for example, there's an 18-135mm, there's an 18-200mm, you can even get 18-270mm). But I should warn you that as you buy lenses with longer zoom range, the image quality suffers (there's a reason photographers will buy a few lenses with less ambitious zoom ranges rather than one lens that covers the whole range.) But 18mm is usually the bottom end of the zoom range on most standard zooms and super-zooms designed for use on APS-C crop-frame camera bodies like the T2i. To go wider, you need a specialty ultra-wide zoom or ultra-wide prime. It didn't sound like you'd have much use for an ultra-wide lens beyond taking these interior shots -- so I wouldn't recommend buying the lens.

Posted on Apr 5, 2012 9:41:34 AM PDT
If I can offer another thought. Is this a one-time task? Are you wanting to produce promo materials for your business that you will use for a while? If so, I would suggest you hire a professional. Camera, lens, lighting, tripod, and your time can end up working out to a lot, and in the end, your results will depend on how well you figure out the things that professional has spent a career learning how to do. The professional may seem expensive, but the results they produce should blow you away, and they will be ready in less time than it will take you to pick a camera, or read one photography book.

Posted on Apr 8, 2012 2:02:23 PM PDT
Yes, a point I have much considered Paul. Well, yesterday I went to BestBuy and purchased a T3i (they were out of T2i's), brought it home, played a little, and then woke up at 4am regretting it. Too much camera for she who knows so little. So, my gameplan now is to go with something cheaper but that I can advance myself on and, if I really get into it, I can always upgrade down the road. Am now currently trying to decide between Lumix DMC G3, Olympus PEN EPM1, and Sony Nex C3. I'm veering towards Olympus but welcome any thoughts. I would still like to at least try taking some wide angle indoor shots by renting a lens, and I read that this one might be good to try: Olympus M.Zuiko ED 9-18mm f/4-5.6

Thank you all for your help!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2012 3:10:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 8, 2012 3:55:06 PM PDT
Tom Martin says:
I agree with the something cheaper concept. But, keeping the thought of wanting to advance I would avoid the cameras you listed. They don't really offer a good growth path towards more advanced cameras. The T3i is probably more than you need right now, but, the Canon EOS Rebel T3 (no i) or the Nikon 3100 would be better choices. They both offer upgrade paths to more advanced cameras, are less expensive to start. Either one purchased with the 18-55 kit lens and paired with a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX Digital Zoom Lens (there is both a Canon and Nikon version and currently there is a $40 rebate on this lens) would take care of your needs for a (long) while.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2012 9:07:44 PM PDT
Les Schmader says:
With the Panasonic G3, just turn it on. Press the IA button, half-press the shutter button. Hold the camera steady and go "click".

If the image is too dark, turn the scroll wheel to the right. If too light, turn left.

If the image seems too blue/green or red/orange, press the right button on the 4-way control. Scroll across the white balance settings until you see a setting you like. Half-press the shutter and take the shot.

I don't care for that model, but that's about how it works.

With the aspect ratios to work with, you might not need the wide angle lens. And what you see in the viewfinder is the same as the lcd, which sounds like what you want. If you can't get good shots at the wide end of the kit lens, they're not gonna' be better if they're wider.

Your profile gives me the impression that you are an outdoor type, where the m4/3 excels.

Posted on Apr 9, 2012 2:48:55 AM PDT
Tom Martin says:
Les Schmader says: With the Panasonic G3, just turn it on. Press the IA button, half-press the shutter button. Hold the camera steady and go "click". If the image is too dark, turn the scroll wheel to the right. If too light, turn left. If the image seems too blue/green or red/orange, press the right button on the 4-way control. Scroll across the white balance settings until you see a setting you like. Half-press the shutter and take the shot.

It's not any harder in a dSLR.
In all cameras (including the G3) it is knowing which buttons to push/scroll.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2012 4:34:15 AM PDT
Les Schmader says:
I almost forgot, the G3 has a touch screen. You might not even have to use the buttons. Just tap the screen and pick what you want.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2012 7:12:38 AM PDT
The T3i is great for learning, it's not 'too much'. When it doubt, turn the dial on top to the green box and let the camera pick, just like any simpler camera. Get a book and figure out the rest at your own pace. Don't overthink the gear, get to work on learning to use it. You have the T3i, it's a great camera, it's not too complicated. Worrying about gear is a way of avoiding doing the work of learning to use the gear, and actually taking the pictures. You don't learn to take pictures by shopping.

But, if you want pictures for your business, hire someone to get those done for you, and get that out of the way. Don't mix wanting to learn photography because you want to learn, with needing images for your business now.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2012 8:53:30 AM PDT
Its price that's really an issue now. I can't really justify spending $1000 on the camera plus bits AND a photographer. So now my plan is to get a decent camera that will allow me to learn without breaking the bank (e.g: <$500) while hiring a photographer to take the indoor pics which I'll need sometime around July. Starting a business, building my own website, and then leaning enough about photography to take advantage of the T3i expense was probably a bit of a lofty idea of mine!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2012 8:58:49 AM PDT
Tom/Les: are you both describing ISO and that on the G3 you can play with lighting after the pic and, I'm assuming, on a dSLR you set the ISO beforehand?

General (dumb) question: the Olympus has a 14-42mm lens. The dSLR's mentioned have 18-55mm. Is that difference quite significant for wide angle use? (meaning 14mm will give me quite a wider angle)?

Posted on Apr 9, 2012 9:22:17 AM PDT
Tom Martin says:
What Les was describing was exposure compensation and white balance.
The Olympus uses a 4/3s sensor which is smaller than the APS-C sensor in the Canon T3/T2i/T3i.
So they have different 'crop factors', these crop factors are normally converted to 35mm film lens equivalents so that there is an equal reference.
The 4/3s sensor uses a 2X crop factor so the 14-42 lens is equivalent to a 28-84 lens on a 35mm camera.
The Canon APS-C sensor uses a 1.6 crop factor so the 18-55 lens is equivalent to a 28.8-88 lens on a 35mm camera.
Given that the 4/3s sensor is more square, and the APS-C is more rectangular the actual wide angle coverage is likely to be identical.

Posted on Apr 9, 2012 1:04:51 PM PDT
Canon t3i and a 16-35L lens would do the trick. The lens here is pretty expensive... I would just look up a camera gear rental company and just rent what you need for a week or two. That would be the cheapest route.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2012 2:58:23 PM PDT
T. Campbell says:
The ISO is always set before the shot (either you decide what to use... or you let the camera decide.)

The Canon T3 is the entry-level body. It costs just about $500 with a kit lens.

Hiring a photographer can be a mixed bag. There are no regulations that require photographers to be licensed -- nor even to have had any training. So you find everything from seasoned pros to wannabes. Hiring a seasoned pro can get VERY expensive... but usually nets good results. Hiring a wannabe can be cheap... but you may be extremely disappointed with the results (or you may get lucky.)

A friend of mine is a chef/owner of a fairly high-end restaurant. He shared his experience in working with other photographers. I'll sum up just go give you an idea: (1) He hired a web-hosting company to create a web page for him. The hosting provider insisted that they use "their" photographer. That photographer seemed to be pretty green -- or at least lacked experience when dealing with food photography (he could probably take photos for the menu for a diner... but not for a nice restaurant where a customer's expectations are higher.) None of the shots were usable. (2) He hired another photographer who wanted $150/image. For that fee, there were no restrictions on what he could do with the images. Photos were "better", but still not great. My guess is this was a green / non-pro who was hoping to grow their experience by being cheap... but ultimately you get what you pay for. (3) He hired another photographer who charged $1000/image AND had a restriction that for that $1000, the image could only be used one time (if he wanted to re-use any images, he'd have to pay additional fees for the use. e.g. having the image show up in a magazine was considered a "single use"). That photographer was the best, but I expected higher quality considering his prices. He made a few errors -- but mostly the stuff that other photographers notice and not the sort of thing that your average person would notice.

All this to make the point that hiring someone may not necessarily be cheaper and/or you may not be happy with the results. But the flip-side is that if you buy your own camera and try to shoot things yourself, and you're new/inexperienced at it, then you might not be happy with your own results either.

Even photographers have specialities. Hiring a photographer who lacks experience dealing with the sorts of shots they need to do could end up badly EVEN if the photographer is experienced in other areas. There are photographers who specialize in commercial architecture (both inside and out), but they'd be pretty expensive.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2012 3:05:14 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 9, 2012 3:08:56 PM PDT
Tom Martin says:
I agree the rental of a camera and lens would be the cheapest, but, probably not the best idea for someone who doesn't know much about cameras.

I do NOT recommend the 16-35 L lens for your needs. It is not really wide enough on an APS-C sensor (25.6-56mm - 35mm equivalent), and the kit lens is actually pretty good from 18-35mm. You are spending a lot of money and not gaining much.

Getting the T3 camera with the 18-55 kit lens and the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX Digital Zoom Lens gives you very good image quality in a true wide angle lens (17-25.6mm - 35mm equivalent). If you are going to purchase this will give you the widest angle and best quality for your money.

Posted on Apr 9, 2012 4:38:51 PM PDT
Yikes re: hiring a photographer. There is NO WAY I can afford $1000 a shot! What do you guys think about hiring a graduate from photography school? There's one I could approach.... she's gotta be able to produce something better than I can...

There's also a class I'm considering:

No decision no camera as yet.

Posted on Apr 9, 2012 4:40:46 PM PDT
Tom - thank you for the info re: lenses - very helpful

Posted on Apr 9, 2012 5:11:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 9, 2012 5:32:53 PM PDT
Tom Martin says:
When I'm considering purchasing a lens, in addition to reading reviews, I also go to flickr and see what 'real people' are doing with the lens. Here's the flickr pool for the Tokina 11-16mm

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2012 6:04:06 PM PDT
T. Campbell says:
I'm not saying it "will" cost $1000/shot. I was mostly offering the experiences of a friend who went through three photographers and the rates were all over the place (as was the quality).

As the customer, you should expect to see samples of their work. Be up front about what you intend to do with these images (e.g. use them on a web-site, in brochures, in advertisements, etc.) Rates in small towns are likely less than rates in large cities.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2012 7:23:33 PM PDT
Les Schmader says:
Why don't you just hire the guy who's classes you're taking? If he can teach you to do it, he must know how.

His course is for dslr's only, so your decision's been made. No m4/3, no NEX.
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Discussion in:  Digital SLR forum
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Initial post:  Apr 3, 2012
Latest post:  May 11, 2012

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