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Digital SLR Cameras for Photographing Clothing - Help Needed


Distinguished Member
Mar 26, 2005
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I don't know whether this thread really belongs here, but j and/or the moderators can decide. I'm looking for an upgrade to my current digital camera, a Canon 4 MP point-and-shoot (basically) automatic camera. It just doesn't take good enough pictures to put them up on this forum, for example (something I wanted to do with a recent antiquing project), or to include in an eBay listing of clothing or shoes for sale.

I'm thinking of going to a digital SLR model and wanted to stay with Canon unless there were strong reasons for going to Nikon or another brand. In particular, I'm considering the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi 400D model (10.1 MP), which I can get these days on eBay for around $750, with one lens, the 18-55.

Will this camera give excellent image quality--good enough for all posting of clothing and shoe pictures that I'd want for selling on eBay or other applications in which sharp images with really true color are needed? Or is it, in fact, necessary to go up to a better camera (like the Canon 30D, at about $500 more)? Or would the Nikon competing camera at about the same price be better? Also, if I go with this camera, what lenses are best for the kind of shots of shoes and clothing that I'm contemplating.

All suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, guys.


Stylish Dinosaur
Mar 31, 2006
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Dpreview's forums are great. The Rebel Xti will do everything you want, and the kit lens is probably adequate, although you may find yourself wanting a flash, etc... Once you get to that level, dpreview is your huckleberry indeed.

I believe Nikon just came out with the D40, which is even cheaper. But if you like Canon's, it's hard to go wrong with one of theirs.

Don Goldstein

Senior Member
Oct 4, 2006
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Good lighting is almost as important as the camera you use. Good lighting isn't easy. Do you have that down? If not, I would focus on that before you spend the money on a new camera. Also, a decent tripod and head is extremely helpful and makes a significant difference also.


Distinguished Member
Feb 26, 2003
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If you want to get serious about this, invest in a set of good professional photographic lighting, and accessories like a lightbox, variety of backgrounds (you can use cotton sheets, or even craft paper from an art store), and maybe a pinnable apparel form if you want to sell suits and sport coats.

Lighting is important though. My pics went from this:


To this:



Distinguished Member
Mar 12, 2006
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Originally Posted by Don Goldstein
Good lighting is almost as important as the camera you use. Good lighting isn't easy.

+1. With good lighting and a decent tripod, you can take good pictures with a decent point-and-shoot digicam (eg. one of the Canon G series). For web images, sharpness and color accuracy of a P&S are more than good enough.


Artisan Fan

Jul 17, 2006
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I would go for the Nikon D80 which is getting universal raves and there are many kit deals to be found now. The medium level Nikon DSLR lenses are much better than most point and shoots in my experience. I noticed this after buying a Canon A620 which doesn't have a sharp lens.

Gordon Freeman

Well-Known Member
Dec 17, 2006
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I wouldn't recommend dpreview, lot's of bickering going on from people who mainly shoot cats and birds.
Start reading here for the basics:

Excellent tutorial about digital imaging and editing are at Lynda.com
$25 per month and you can cancel anytime, lots of step by step photoshop that you will need for editing.

The Canon Rebel will definately do fine for your purpose. I have one of the earlier models and it produces wonderful results, but not with the terrible zoom lens it comes with. The glass is more important than the body, a Canon50mm F1.8 lens will give you tack sharp images for around $ 60.
I also shoot with a $5000 Nikon D2x at work and can't really tell if it produces better images. It just has more features that must be learned.
Its all in your hands how much you make use of it.
I would recommend Nikon also but can't justify the higher prices of the bodies and the assortment of lenses they offer.
A decent basic two light set up (main and fill) will set you back ~$500, depending if stands, powersupply, softbox, cables etc are included.

Have fun


Senior Member
Jun 13, 2005
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Second the recommendation for the 50mm f/1.8, do some more reading into the canon lense range and you will constantly be told to consider this lense for its price and quality of pics.


Senior Member
Mar 9, 2006
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I just moved up to my first DSLR, after having a digital Point and Shoot for a while, and a 35mm film SLR for many years. I narrowed my choices to Canon or Nikon, since they had the best systems (camera body, flash system, and quantity/quality of lenses).

Both brands are great, both have lots of fanboys that will argue endlessly for their brand, but in the end, Nikon and Canon both make great cameras that work well for people.

The XTi is a good choice for a beginner camera, but please try one out at a store before buying. The size of the grip can be a real love/hate affair. Many people don't like the grip, saying it is too small, and is very uncomfortable to hold. (I tend to agree, I didn't like it) Others think it's fine. The Nikon D50 (or the newer D40) are also great cameras, and to me, they fit better in my hand while holding it.

Whatever you decide, try both (or all) cameras you are considering, and see how the feel, how easy they are to hold, and how easy it is to see through the viewfinder (with glasses on, it can be hard to see the entire viewfinder image). Whatever camera "feels" best, get that one.

Some miscellaneous thoughts:

1. Get a real flash, for indoor shots, and get a diffuser or bouncer with the flash to create a "softer" image

2. For clothing shots, I would think a tripod is mandatory to really get crisp, sharp pictures.

3. Ignore the difference in Megapixels between all these cameras. Anything over 6 Mpixels is fine for most pictures, including all web pictures.

4. Lenses mean more then camera bodies, so get a good lens. Average lens+ great camera = average picture. Great lens + average camera = good/great picture. Plus, lenses last for many years without becoming obsolete, cameras will be outdated in 2-3 years. So whatever camera+lens you buy now, in 3-5 years, if you wish to get a new camera, the lens will most likely work fine on whatever new camera you get (assuming it's the same company, of course)

OK, I'm done, didn't mean to ramble so much.


Senior Member
Oct 17, 2003
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Originally Posted by phaedrus
Second the recommendation for the 50mm f/1.8, do some more reading into the canon lense range and you will constantly be told to consider this lense for its price and quality of pics.

Third.. er Thirded?

Definitely, RUN do not walk to get this lens. That being said, with the xti it might make it annoying to do indoor photos, its not much of a macro lens, but it can pick up incredible detail.
http://www.pbase.com/scot/image/1626353/original Thats a photo I took a number of years ago with my d60 and my 50 1.5.

Try the sigma 28 if you want something wider, otherwise you have to get a bit of a distance away from your subjects.


I wouldn't use the stock lens though, it is "ok" at best, and frustrating at worst when you know a photo should have come out better.

Another nice thing is a 500w(equiv) 5000k 95+%cri softlight. I found one for my about 180 bucks. It uses a single 75w flourescent bulb and does a great job lighting up the subject. This one uses one bulb, but a bunch use 3 25w bulbs for similar effect.


Stylish Dinosaur
Jul 24, 2006
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Originally Posted by Don Goldstein
Good lighting is almost as important as the camera you use. Good lighting isn't easy. Do you have that down? If not, I would focus on that before you spend the money on a new camera. Also, a decent tripod and head is extremely helpful and makes a significant difference also.

I once asked Chuck Franke of Sartorial Solutions about how he gets his pictures to look so well. Take a look at his pictures in his Ebay listings at Sartorial Solutions.

I don't think he would mind, so I'll share what he wrote to me:

Hi Arnold,

I left Jersey at 15 but still prefer the dumpster method.

Pictures are the easy part - lighting is the hard part!!! We used a Sony Mavica on everything until 2 months ago when someone stole it and now I am using a Nikon D-50. It is a fabulous device but a pain ********** to learn. The real trick in taking good pictures is your lighting though. I built a frame around the dummy and shoot lights in through a diffusion screen (ie, nylon sheet) and then light from the front with one purchased and two homemade soft box lights. I use fluorescent so as not to get baked in the studio on August Dallas afternoons.

Let me know what your setup is like and how you have it lit and I will be glad to offer some tips if I can.

My project right now is figuring out how to take better pics of our ties (www.carlofranco.com)

Generally the two things you have to learn are

Double or triple the light in the room
Make sure all of that light is of the same color temperature and then set the white balance on your camera to match.

I'm running about 800 Watts of fluorescent lighting spread across 11 bulbs at daylight temps - 5000-5500K.

Here's a cool lightbulb for photography or if you just really want to attract every moth in Houston to your window to get eaten by the geckos:


That one puts out more light than a 1000W tungsten bulb and it is white, white, white light. Just note the dimensions, it ain't going into a small fixture. If you are a real geek like me you can take two of those, two of the clamp reflector lights at home depot, two large lampshades and a little white nylon fabric and build two softboxes to diffuse your light. Whatchya do is spraypaint the interior of the lampshades in white or reflective silver then epoxy the shade into a 15" aluminum reflector and cover the wide end with the sheer white fabric. Two of those, each 45 degrees left and right of your subject and you will get a smoother light that "˜wraps' around your subject without harsh shadows. Two softboxes for around $100 or less with that setup. Then I have the extra large softbox from Amvona (often can be had for $150 on ebay rather than $800. The bulb in it sucks so I replaced it with another one of the big compact fluorescents and now all is well.

Aren't you sorry you asked?


BTW: I haven't duplicated Chuck's method yet. But if someone were to consider selling on Ebay, I think it would be extremely important to use the best pictures possible in their listings.

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