Due to popular (or at least one) demand on tips for better figurine pictures, I shall start a series of posts explaining the basics of the art of figurine photo-taking. This is the start of the guide for the complete n00b, written by a semi-n00b, so the real experts please stand up and add on.

For starters, let us first examine the equipment. I personally use:

Fujifinepix Z-2 - A point n’ shoot camera with 3x zoom, a cool metallic red finish, about 5 cm macro distance and a gigantic LCD screen with no viewfinder. This is my first digicam and beyond this, I’ve only used a Nikon D100 and D70 albeit poorly.

Hands - You may find these products of evolution rather helpful. They are useless when watching anime though!

Nature and its hellspawn, the urban landscape - Mother Nature, give us your blessings and your beauty!

Photoshop CS - For resizing, renaming and occasional shopping (such as the ughhhh Lain figurine).

Large HLJ Cardboard box - To avoid having to walk around with girly figurines in public places.

That is all. More interesting is what I do NOT equip:

Tripod - Not required most of the time. We aren’t shooting animals or in low light.

Sense of shame - You are the king of this world. Use your world wisely and without fear.

Paper - Some like clean, white backgrounds a la promo pictures. I don’t.

Indoor lighting - I have no money and need for this.

As you can see, all you need is one digicam (film is out) plus the figurine. So there is no reason to continue taking blurred, grainy or just unawesome pictures!

Today being just Part 1, we shall compare the differences between a simple camera and a pro-ish dSLR and rid ourselves of the mental block that comes with a small willy. I mean, an inexpensive camera.

Of course, the real experts use dSLRs (digital Single Lens Reflex aka the big ass cameras that Saiga uses in Speed Grapher)and macro lenses for figurine shooting. Possibly the most prominent English-speaking figurine photographer online would be Danny Choo. He uses a Canon EOS-350D, which is an entry-level dSLR. Most of his shots are taken with the EF-S60mm F2.8 macro USM. Such a combo would easily set you back almost two thousand SGD. Here are some examples of pictures, unabashedly taken from Danny’s fine galleries.

Wendy from Gun x Sword, Max Factory version.

Burst Angel’s Meg, Alter version.

Now these are good pictures but why? There are a few reasons but what we need to know are mainly the two most basic ones - the clarity and the background. But think about it, are clarity and background quality not achievable with a newbie digicam?

We want our figurine pictures to be totally-blur free, the picture’s focus on the figurine and not on the background, and the background all nicely blurred out to augment the clarity of the figure. This prevents clutter. That is essentially all there is to figurine shooting, at least on the very basic level. Think about it this way - level 1 is a clear picture; level 2 is a clear picture with a clean/uncluttered background; level 3 is a clear picture with a clean background that adds a diorama feel, improving the aesthetics of the figurine; level 4 is a figurine with semen on it, at least according to jpmeyer.

Look at this and the picture below it.

Mizuki Maia from Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, Alter version.

Same but this is my own picture.

When viewed comparatively, it’s obvious the second one is poorer no thanks to less skill and to a smaller extent, inferior equipment. But the point is, the bigger factor is application and not equipment. Just look at the following picture, by me as well. The Maia picture gallery was one of my first few ones after I abandoned the indoor setup so it still isn’t that nice. So c’mon, let’s not buy into the myth that you need a pro or semi-pro camera to produce decent pictures!

With that, lesson 1 is over! This was a brief psyche-up introduction post. Stay tuned for more to come, the next episode is "Bad Pictures ni Youkoso".

This has all the elements of a bad figurine picture but sadly, my first 3-4 reviews were like that. Find out how to not get pictures like these next time!

8 Responses to “Figurine Science: n00b’s Guide to Figurine Photo-Taking Part 1! Psyche Up!”  

  1. 1 LianYL

    Not much help there. Just smuggle out your office DSLR.

  2. 2 tj_han

    Does the school teacher teach all her content on the first day of school?

  3. 3 Waterfall

    I imagine tj_han going up to a shy figurine saying, ” Don’t worry, I’m a professional figurine photographer”
    And tricks figurines into upskirt shots. XD

    Have you no shame?

  4. 4 shiachan

    i quote tj_han

    That is all. More interesting is what I do NOT equip:

    Sense of shame - You are the king of this world. Use your world wisely and without fear.

    he doesnt equip it :X

  5. 5 Tsubaki

    You don’t have a sense of shame. But your digicam is better. Mine hardly focus on anything.
    And plus the LCD screen is so small.

  6. 6 jpmeyer

    Then the sobbing figure runs up to you and says “But, but, he said that he’d make me a star!”

  7. 7 Erwin

    I’ve taken a lot of pictures with my old Canon Powershot A60 (2MP). Mainly Gundam plamos, recently figurines as well. The basics mentioned (focus, lighting) are very difficult to obtain. I use a mini-tripod (which I got with some crappy webcam) or an object that aids me locking the camera whilst shooting.

    Luckily, certain point ‘n shoot cameras have many manual controls, like aperture, focal length, exposure, manual focus. From what I’ve read, the Fujifilm Z-2 lacks these more advanced features. It also lacks a tripod thread. The slick design also has as a drawback, being that you can’t hold it as well as the bulkier dSLRs or bigger consumer cameras like the Canon A620 (the latter at a very low price to boot). Holding a camera with one hand fully gripped around it or squeezing it between the fingers is a huge difference.

    The best way to get great macros is to keep toying with the controls, get reasonably priced equipment that allows you to do so and a lot of patience ^_^

    Anyway, I love the way you pay attention to details, keep it up! And Dannychoo really is one of the best around. Then again, he paid over 2000 bucks for his photo-equipment. (http://www.dannychoo.com/blogg_post/eng/224/)

  8. 8 tj_han

    You are right about the limited controls! Probably only 3-4 variables to toy with. The worst part is that it needs the stupid docking station to use its tripod and it isnt secure at all because the dockin station is connected to the camera via only a jack.

    But next post will explain how everything works out!

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