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Best I Can Get On A $400 Budget? Help

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 Posted 12/01/2018  09:38 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Live View on-screen is not a DSLR thing, nor is it antique. It is just a super-convenient way to do most of your work while looking at your computer screen, rather than having to go to the camera, press buttons, etc. Actually, it seems quite a bit more advanced than the old-fashioned requirement to be at the camera to do the work. Personally, if I did not have that feature, I'd pop up and down out of my chair 50 more times per day. Might be better for my health, though! But I'd rather work with a camera that doesn't require me to exercise in order to do my work.

Note that Sony agrees with this and has included computer screen Live View in their latest Mirrorless offerings. Their Imaging Edge software offers Live View for the A7M2 and M3, A7S and A7SM2, the A7RM2 and M3, and the A9. I am hoping they offer an APS-C camera soon which has Live View via Imaging Edge, as I would love to move to Mirrorless, but I am not interested in having to go FF to do it with Sony.

I expect the Nikon V6 will also support Live View, but I am not sure if any software is available yet for it. It took a long time for the D850 software to become available.

So I will stick with my conclusion that for coin photography, the Rebel XS is still the best choice for low cost coin photography. A few folks have been asking me about upgrades, since the XS is indeed ~10 years old, and I've been recommending the T6i. It is newer, and can be bought with a warranty, but even though it has 24MP vs the 10MP of the XS, that only equates to a 50% improvement in XY resolution. It's a lot more to pay to get 50% bigger images.

It is a sad state of affairs that I can continue to make that statement more than 5 years after I made it the first time, but it just shows that studio macro photography is not a priority for the camera manufacturers. Luckily, Canon got it right 10 years ago and continues to make cameras with these useful features.

Edited to add: something I missed earlier was your statement that for DSLRs you must tether in order to do critical focusing. This is of course incorrect, since you can view the Live View image on the rear screen, zoom in, and critically focus just like you would do with a mirrorless, no tethering required.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
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Edited by rmpsrpms
12/01/2018 9:59 pm
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 Posted 12/02/2018  03:33 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
MY post was in context to a sub $400.00 set up. Affordable computer screens ( appropriate to a sub $400.00 set up) have a much lower resolution than the cameras screens. Even when I use tethering, with a 4K screen, I am always going back to the camera to confirm that the focus is correct. It is really annoying!

Heres the advantages of using the Oly OMD_EM 10 II in the sub $400 set up( in no particular order).

1. No AA filter.

2. Choice of EFCS or silent shooting. Sensor shock is less of a problem. Even if you didn't activate these options the smaller mechanical shutter size means shutter shock is diminished.

3. M4/3 sensor size means you use lower magnification. So DOF is greater this compensates for the lower diffraction limit of the sensor, which is roughly ( not exactly) the same as the Sony A7RII and III. A US 1 cent is approx. 20mm in diameter, The hight of an MFT sensor is just over 13mm. So even with a US penny, you will be using less than 1-1( actual magnification would be 0.65X at the most).

4. Control by smartphone( automatically transfers pictures to the phone)

5. Even without using smartphone control of the camera, you can transfer photos directly to the phone and then to the internet( for those who produce pictures for online posting).

6. The small size of the camera. It is great for Travel. As much as I prefer my full frame Camera the MFT often ends up in my bag simply because of the reduced size. This factor may not seem to be in the context of discussing a sub $400.00 set up for coins. The small size of an MFT Camera would, in my mind, fit the macro stand systems that you( Ray) have designed and sell, better than APS-C DSLRs. I can really see the Olympus OMD E_M10 II excelling on this rig of yours http://www.macrocoins.com/example-system-7.html or any of the others you sell.

{From what I understand of your macro stand systems, they really work best with a working distance obtained with a 75-80mm lens. That will change when you put an MFT camera on one of your rigs. you will be looking at lenses in the range of 30mm through to 80mm, with (my guessed) optimum lens size of 50mm. This does allow MFT to use less popular but better performing( in the context of MFT) enlarger lenses while spending, potentially, less than FF and APS-C equivalents}

7. Future proofing( stacking). Now, this is a little weird to say regarding a second-hand camera. I am specifically sticking to context. With a $400.00 set up, I would expect with experience the user will want to add functionality. When I started to learn more I wanted to add stacking to my skills. I ended up with a stackshot ( current price $549.00) that also entailed buying the software, the current discount rate for a full license). With the camera being discussed here, to add in stacking you only have to buy the Olympus AF 60mm macro lens that is native to the camera. I would also recommend the separate software. Second hand you could expect to pay around US$300.00 for the lens... but looked after if you sell it you should get your money back. Which is a considerable saving over using the stack shot? Don't misunderstand me... in an expensive system the stackshot, or equivalent, is best.

8. Focus peaking ( really useful when using not native lenses and Enlarger lenses) For full explanation
Z4cAasJ9DRs


9. Zebra ( also becoming available on DSLRs but generally outside of the sub $400 range) see here
qSOkVKYLvyU




There are issues with this camera but if you get one in the $250-$300 price range (That will take hunting but it's not impossible) you are getting more for your money than you would find with an APS-C DSLR.

Now as for antique... it is a general attitude I have to DSLRs.... that mirror in those cameras causes more issues for macro work than I like. Now with second-hand mirrorless offerings starting to match the prices of APSC (Second-hand DSLRs) I really think people need to think hard before they reach for the DSLR. And for tethering... yep its used in high-quality systems. I am thinking of Medium format cameras and Technical cameras with Medium format digital backs. Yet even with those systems, people are only getting the best out of their tethering when they use high-end HD monitors Obviously when someone spends the good part of US$100,000( or more) they are not going to be using an off the shelf cheap laptop.

Edit: when looking at this particular camera there is one version that shouldn't be purchased. The silver causes unwanted reflections. Just checking on eBay US and I see you can get the black version for under US$300.00. I suspect in a few months sub $250 will be possible. As an example only https://www.ebay.com/itm/Olympus-OM...id=219966429

Edited by austrokiwi
12/02/2018 06:08 am
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 Posted 12/02/2018  10:42 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Even when I use tethering, with a 4K screen, I am always going back to the camera to confirm that the focus is correct. It is really annoying!


I have never had a problem critically-focusing with my standard screen, and I expect I'd be able to do just as well with an old VGA monitor. Have you considered that there may be something wrong with your camera that is messing with the tethering and causing it to appear unfocused for some reason? With the Canon software (and other LV tethering software) you can view at 100% pixel view, or you can zoom in to 200%, and the image is exactly what you see when you take the shot. This allows perfect critical focusing. Now, it's true that you MUST use the zoom view, because the overall Live View image (unzoomed) is quite blurry compared with the 100% image. Could it be that you're trying to do critical focusing in the full view rather than at 100%? For sure this is a no-no.


Quote:
Heres the advantages of using the Oly OMD_EM 10 II in the sub $400 set up( in no particular order).
...
...


Yes, MILCs have advantages over DSLRs, but the disadvantage of not being able to do Live View tethering trumps them all. If the manufacturers would just make that possible, my recommendations might change.



Quote:
There are issues with this camera but if you get one in the $250-$300 price range (That will take hunting but it's not impossible) you are getting more for your money than you would find with an APS-C DSLR.


Paying $300 for the camera is a pretty big chunk of the $400 budget. I'm thinking you'll not be able to buy all the other items needed and still fit the budget, but maybe so.


Quote:
Now as for antique... it is a general attitude I have to DSLRs.... that mirror in those cameras causes more issues for macro work than I like.


I completely agree, and would be glad to replace my DSLR with an APS-C or M4/3 MILC someday when one can tether in Live View. That day may be here soon.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
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 Posted 12/02/2018  11:42 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Who said you can't tether mirrorless? You can tether some of them. The Camera I am referring to is problematic... I tried with some German code a year or so ago, it worked but it was a pain. The thing I am saying is, rhetorically, is "why bother?", particularly in the context of a sub $400 set up. Generally, those who spend much more than that find utility in tethering. Can you clarify why you think tethering is so important to someone with the sub $400.00 set up and why using a smartphone for that same control is not acceptable( again in context with a sub $400.00 set up)

When Tethering with the Sony A7rII I always resort to the camera for critical focus... the 4K computer screen just doesn't have the necessary resolution to nail the focus. It has nothing to do with the connection and everything to do with the limitations of the available monitors. As much as I would like to I just can't afford Euro 5000 for an 8k Screen
Edited by austrokiwi
12/02/2018 11:56 am
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 Posted 12/02/2018  1:23 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add pepactonius to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
When Tethering with the Sony A7rII I always resort to the camera for critical focus... the 4K computer screen just doesn't have the necessary resolution to nail the focus. It has nothing to do with the connection and everything to do with the limitations of the available monitors. As much as I would like to I just can't afford Euro 5000 for an 8k Screen


I can focus just fine with a smaller 2560x1440 monitor. The key thing is to use the 5x (or even 10x) magnify option.

Without trying it, I'd think controlling the camera with a smart phone wouldn't be as good as controlling it from desktop. When using the smart phone, do you attach a keyboard and mouse (perhaps using bluetooth) to the phone to make things more convenient?

Also, wouldn't it be more convenient to have the images end up on the desktop directly, rather than on the phone?
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 Posted 12/02/2018  3:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mcshilling to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm not into all the techy things a camera can do, I built one of the <$400 (it was a bit more than $400 - US exchange and shipping to Canada) it was the best thing I did. Every thing I need is right on the monitor in live view, then you can take a pic or just look and go to the next one. This set up works great for me and thanks to Ray for setting me up.
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 Posted 12/02/2018  11:14 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Who said you can't tether mirrorless? You can tether some of them.
I don't think any MILCs appropriate for the <$400 setup can do Live View tethering. For sure some FF Sony can do it, and probably the latest Nikon and Canon models, but not a MILC that would fit in the <$400 setup.


Quote:
The Camera I am referring to is problematic... I tried with some German code a year or so ago, it worked but it was a pain. The thing I am saying is, rhetorically, is "why bother?", particularly in the context of a sub $400 set up. Generally, those who spend much more than that find utility in tethering. Can you clarify why you think tethering is so important to someone with the sub $400.00 set up and why using a smartphone for that same control is not acceptable( again in context with a sub $400.00 set up)


The point of the setup was to give a high level of functionality (with tethered Live View as the single most important functional element) at a low cost.


Quote:
When Tethering with the Sony A7rII I always resort to the camera for critical focus... the 4K computer screen just doesn't have the necessary resolution to nail the focus. It has nothing to do with the connection and everything to do with the limitations of the available monitors. As much as I would like to I just can't afford Euro 5000 for an 8k Screen.


Again, it seems there is simply something wrong with your camera-monitor interface if you can't critically-focus on your 4k monitor.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
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 Posted 12/03/2018  03:10 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Again, it seems there is simply something wrong with your camera-monitor interface if you can't critically-focus on your 4k monitor.


You're repeating yourself, without advancing the conversation. To be much more specific. I can get critical focus on the 4 K monitor but even the Oly OMD-E M10II viewfinder is of higher resolution than the 4k monitor and as a result of its easier to get critical focus using the viewfinder. A rhetorical question if I have a high-resolution viewfinder, that exceeds the resolution of my computer monitor, why would I not use the high-resolution viewfinder to assist me focusing? I note my set up is different to yours as while sitting I can easily check the viewfinder.


Quote:

The point of the setup was to give a high level of functionality (with tethered Live view as the single most important functional element) at a low cost.


Unfortunately, that is not an answer, it is, as it stands, a yet to be justified assertion. Let me rephrase the question. what are the reasons you think tethered live view is the single most important functional unit?


I great difficulty believing that tethering, in a low cost set up trumps image quality. It really comes down to the customer's needs. If someone wants higher resolution images then Tethering may not be so important to them. Certainly, Tethering is way down on my list of requirements. That doesn't mean I am wrong it is just that I have different needs and objectives.

Edited by austrokiwi
12/03/2018 03:23 am
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 Posted 12/03/2018  10:42 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I can get critical focus on the 4 K monitor but even the Oly OMD-E M10II viewfinder is of higher resolution than the 4k monitor and as a result of its easier to get critical focus using the viewfinder. A rhetorical question if I have a high-resolution viewfinder, that exceeds the resolution of my computer monitor, why would I not use the high-resolution viewfinder to assist me focusing? I note my set up is different to yours as while sitting I can easily check the viewfinder.


What is needed for critical focusing is a clear view of the area of the coin you want to ensure is in focus. This area can be quite small. For instance on Lincoln Cents I use a small area between the jaw and bowtie, on Lincoln's throat. This area is halfway between the lowest and highest portions of the relief. I usually use either 100% or sometimes 200% pixel view on my WQHD/2560P monitor to focus. If I was using a HD/720P monitor, which is 1/2 the linear resolution of my current monitor, I'd probably only use 100% pixel view since the image would be similar size to 200% on my current monitor. If I had a UHD2/8k monitor, which is 3x the linear resolution of my current monitor, I'd need to do a 300-600% zoom in order to see the same view, assuming similar monitor size. This does not seem to be an advantage at all from clarity perspective, and indeed is a detriment since the Live View software only provides a 200% max view.


Quote:
... what are the reasons you think tethered live view is the single most important functional unit?


Live View tethering gives you the ability to frame the shot, do critical focusing, adjust white balance, change camera settings such as exposure parameters / Picture Style / etc, and snap the shot, all on your computer monitor. What function could be more important than this?


Quote:
I great difficulty believing that tethering, in a low cost set up trumps image quality. It really comes down to the customer's needs. If someone wants higher resolution images then Tethering may not be so important to them. Certainly, Tethering is way down on my list of requirements. That doesn't mean I am wrong it is just that I have different needs and objectives.


I never said tethering trumps image quality, but I'm curious which camera do you believe has higher image quality than the Rebel XS for similar price? The camera you are recommending costs 2-3x.

Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
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 Posted 12/04/2018  07:28 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Rmpsrmps, nothing in your reply actually recommends tethering to me.
I had some years back listened to your advice and set up my system for tethering I have even gone so far as to build a mini ITX computer ( 6 core 16gb ram) to tether my sony. It was fun building the mini ITX system but other than that it was a waste of time tethering.



Your comments( for all of my responses I am sticking just to the Oly OMD-EM10II):


Quote:

What is needed for critical focusing is a clear view of the area of the coin you want to ensure is in focus.


Couldn't agree more. But tethering isn't necessary( ( to avoid the nitpicking of the past let's be clear I am not saying Tethering can' assist) for this. What I do is, after moving the coin so it is properly framed, is push the Function one button( the one I have programmed to activate focus magnification). I move the framing guide to the point of the coin I want to focus on push the FN1 button again and the area is magnified 7 times. { note the effective magnification on compared to Canon APS-C is 8X) I adjust the focus then I confirm critical focus by pressing the FN3 button( this is the button I have programmed to activate focus peaking. Focus peaking then allows me to further adjust the focus.

Quote:
Live View tethering gives you the ability to frame the shot, do critical focusing, adjust white balance, change camera settings such as exposure parameters / Picture Style / etc, and snap the shot, all on your computer monitor. What function could be more important than this?


Not one of the functions, you list here is exclusive to tethering.

1. I have covered critical focus already

2. White balance: I don't readjust white balance every time I start a coin Photographic session MY system is set up in a designated area. For each of the three main lighting methods, I use I have the white balance programmed in. I just simply activate that particular White balance profile needed. On the odd occasion, I use a non-standard ( for me) lighting profile I use the FN2 button on the camera. I programmed that button to access the white balance options.

When I tried tethering I just found having the access to these options by MOuse click was little different to a button click. There was no time advantage or even ergonomic advantage.

the same applies to all of the factors you raise in the quote
The only advantage in tethering that I see as unique to tethering is being able to have the files transferred to your computer automatically.

I believe Tethering is a must for Dealers and Auction houses who are photographing tens through to a few thousands of coins in a session( a session might occur over a number of days. At the same time, I would expect those uses to be using a much more expensive camera than one for a sub $400 system.

This comes to my viewpoint. I don't believe Tethering ( I personally dislike it) is necessary and certainly, for some, it might be a nice to have. For the collector who might photography a handful of coins once every two works or so Tethering would not be a must-have.

When I think sub $400.00 system I immediately think of the hobbyist who wants to photographically document their coins. There might be an initial intense period of photography, but then I expect the use of the system would drop to the frequency with which coins were acquired. For this particular camera user, I think the Oly might be well worth considering.


Quote:
I'm curious which camera do you believe has higher image quality than the Rebel XS for a similar price? The camera you are recommending costs 2-3x.


Never used a rebel have no idea what it is capable of. All I know is it is a system that was introduced around 2008. The Oly has only introduced only 3-5 years ago probably closer to five. I do have to point out challenging my suggestion( not a recommendation as you state) by comparing a 10-year-old camera with a much more modern camera that I had made it clear was just starting to enter the realms of a $400.00 system was most disingenuous of you.

I don't make sweeping recommendations for any Camera. My favourite Camera is certainly way outside the realms of a sub $400.00 system. I won't speak for others just myself. When someone tries to recommend a product to me without finding out what my specific needs and preferences are I stop listening. There are faults with the camera I have suggested may be worth looking at. However, there are other factors that really make it stand out as a good buy. You will never convince me that simply because a Camera can't tether it's not fit for coin photography. I can happily accept you won't use a camera if it can't tether but don't tell me my preference for not tethering doesn't suit my interest in Coin Photography.




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 Posted 12/04/2018  08:59 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmc to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
austrokiwi.I made this post for a setup on a budget of $400.00! Ray has done that for me and many others. If you are looking to debate something other than this, I don't think this is the thread it should be done in....just my opinion.
Edited by rmc
12/04/2018 08:59 am
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 Posted 12/04/2018  11:55 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Over the last 5 years since this thread was started, prices for most of the items have dropped, some significantly. Below is the latest shopping list with prices I pulled from eBay active and sold listings:

Canon XS camera, body only: $175 ( NOW $110)
EOS-M42 Adapter: $5 (NOW $2)
M42 focusing helicoid, 17-31mm: $30 (we now recommend 35-90mm, cost $27)
M42 extensions, 2 sets 7/14/28mm: $15 (NOW $13)
M42-M39 adapter: $3 (NOW $1)
M42-RMS Adapter: $15 (NOW $7)
Nikon 75mm EL-Nikkor Lens: $40 (NOW $25)
Nikon M5 or Plan4 objective: $30 (Plan 4 selling for $20)
Tripod: $30 (Same)
IKEA Jansjo LED lights, two: $20 (Same)

Total $363 (NOW $255)

That is quite a big drop in price! Of course, functionality has not changed, except that in the last 5 years we've learned that the 35mm-90mm M42 helicoid is a better choice than the 17-31mm version originally recommended. This still represents the best budget coin photography system available.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
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 Posted 12/04/2018  5:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ngs428 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
We can also not buy the M42 extension sets listed above when you get the 35-90mm helicoid. You mentioned it Ray, but just trying to make sure it is clear what you don't need to buy. This is assuming you aren't buying the Plan4 or M5, not sure if you use the extensions with those lenses, as I don't use them.
Edited by ngs428
12/04/2018 5:26 pm
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 Posted 12/04/2018  9:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For sure if you are only doing full-coin imaging, you would only need the helicoid, but for the objective you need more extension. So if you only plan to do full-coin imaging, you wouldn't buy the objective, extensions, or adapter, and the total cost of the system would be $215 (!)
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
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 Posted 12/05/2018  09:42 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add pepactonius to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For $400, it looks like you can now go first class and get a bellows and microscope focusing stage instead of the focusing helicoids. Of course, you'd need various adapters and other hardware bits to hook everything together. Depending on circumstances, you might also need a lens longer than 75mm.
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