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Image Editing, Photographing Art, and Camera Recommendations



When photographing art, the goal is to be able to manually control the camera functions so that you can take non-blurry images in low-light situations, as tripods and flash are often prohibited in museums. There are a variety of ways to do this with both small point and shoot and large DSLR cameras.

Find a camera that has a wide ISO range (light sensitivity), ie. up to 1600 or 3200. High ISO is needed in low light situations, but can create a noisy/grainy image that reflects the quality of the camera and sensor size, so you still want to use as low an ISO as possible when shooting. Study the manual thoroughly and understand how to adjust exposure with Shutter speed, which should not be slower than 60 (1/60th of a second to avoid hand shake) and aperture (depth of field). White balance (color temperature) is another setting to change frequently as you move from tungsten to daylight to fluorescent to mixed lighting. Other added camera functions to look for are image stabilization, which will help keep the image steady and a macro focus/lens, which will allow you to shoot at a close range. Additional information can be found here: Baldwin Guide to Art Photography in Museums Oct 6 2014 (1)

Other tips:

  • Always turn off flash.
  • ‘Become a tripod’ while photographing by keeping arms tucked, hold your breadth, or find a near by structure to help stabilize you or set the camera on.
  • Never shoot on AUTO, but use P instead as this is fully automatic yet still allows you to control ISO, White Balance, and Exposure.
  • 3D objects should always be shot at an aperture of f8 or higher.
  • If shooting a framed work, shoot at a side angle to avoid any reflections. The perspective can be corrected in Photoshop later, where as its almost impossible to remove reflections.
  • Acknowledge that a lot of image editing can be done in Photoshop later if you are unable to take ideal shots onsite.

When photography documents in archives or study rooms, we recommend using an Ipevo Document Camera.


Here is a list from Robert Baldwin, an Art History Professor at Connecticut College whose top picks are in bold. Excerpt from: Baldwin Guide to Digital Cameras Oct 8 2014

Small with full manual controls & good low light shooting: *Sony RX100 ($520) *Sony RX100 ii ($650), *Sony RX100 Mark III; *Canon G7X (the four best cameras of their class all share a 1” sensor )

Mid-size point and shoot with full manual controls: Canon G16 ($500); Nikon Coolpix P7800 ($550); Sony RX10 ($1,300); Canon G1X Mark II ($800)

Mid-size with giant sensors: Sony RX-1 ($2,400) / Fuji FinePix X100 ($2,000) / Leica X-2 ($2,000) /

Four/Thirds and Mirrorless Cameras: Olympus PEN E-P5; ($1,000); Olympus E-M5 ($1,300); Olympus E-M 1 ($1,350); Fuji X-T1 ($1,300)

Small DSLR: Sony Alpha 7 ($1,700); Sony Alpha 7R ($2,000); Sony Alpha 7S ($2,500); Nikon D5100 ($370) / Nikon D5300 ($650 / Canon Rebel T3i ($380) / Canon 60D ($570); Canon 70D ($1,100); Canon 7D Mark II ($1,800) Canon Rebel SL1 ($600)

Large DSLR: / Nikon D7100 ($920) / Nikon D300 ($1,800, body only) / Canon 70D ($1,300)

Full Frame DSLRS: Canon 5D Mark III ($2,700); Nikon D800 ($2,800); Canon 6D ($1,500); Nikon D610 ($1,580); Canon 1 DX ($6,800) and Nikon D4 ($6,000)

Full Frame Mirrorless Camera: Sony a7 ($1,200)