View Full Version : Digital Cameras & Matte Painting

03 March 2006, 05:44 PM
Are Digital Cameras a Must Have in the Creation of Matte Painting?

Other than taking images off the net, IYO is it neccesary to have a digital camera if one is going to succeed at Digital Matte Painting? I don't like to take images that are not my own off the net, plus I want my images to be my own, so how many of you own digital cameras and how important are they in your work?

Megapixel Size

I understand the higher the megapixel the better, but what IYO is the minimum megapixel size you would use for capturing imagery for your paintings? I'm looking for a general guideline.

Any Tips or other Thoughts you'd like to share on Digital Cameras?

03 March 2006, 06:21 PM
I can't comment on the need for a digital camera in matte painting as I have only just started my first matte painting recently. I can see, however, that one would be quite handy. As far as type of camera goes then I would suggest one that is able to take wide angle photos/ allow wide angle lenses (digital slr) as IMO a wide angle lens gets you more impressive lanscape and architecture shots.

A digital camera review site


03 March 2006, 06:35 PM
having your own digital camera is like your wacom tablet , I mean it is so necesary ,you have complete control if you want a specific texture, lighting or effects in exposure, as a matte painter sometimes I can't find a especific photo , architecture or details I need, that's why I look for them via internet, or via friends from other countries, megapixels are of course important as you are painting in high resolutions a digital camera with more than 4 megapixels is really excelent with pixel resolution ,

a digital camera is definitly a must have ,

03 March 2006, 07:25 PM
I didn't have one when I started matte painting a few years ago... It quickly became a necessity for texture / reference gathering.

It's now part of my kit... along with my sketch pad, I carry it around everywhere and snapshot everything I think might become usefull someday. My only suggestion when it come to choosing a camera to carry around all the time is to choose one wich is small enough not to become a bother to have with you..

03 March 2006, 08:19 PM
definately helps, if you have a nice area to take, or go on vacation. But there are tons of free sites to use or trade highrez pics, so you'll never be at a loss for subject matter.

I think a resource section of photo links, would be a good addition to the matte forums.

I have a bunch of pics and know of others that have posted their pics.

Dylan Cole when working on LOR, buzzed around New Zealand when he wasnt working taking ref shots for the movie. He said you dont really need an expensive cam (maybe it was christain scherurer?)

I have an 8 MP Canon XT350, and a small finpix Z1 5.0 MP.

Crazzy Legs
03 March 2006, 08:51 PM
First the mean part: If your using images from someone elses site without their permission you might consider stopping. If you have a matte painting you like that you have already have, you should contact the artist and ask for permission on using the photo.
I know you said you didn't like using someone elses photos, so its not like I'm scolding you, I've just got to get the legal thing out there. If it isn't stated that you can take the image and do whatever you want with it, then you need to respect the artists work as such.

The Fun part: Just to start off the top of my head, I know matte painters from Lord of the Rings used plenty of photo elements. There isn't a thing wrong with it at all.

As for a camera. I purchased a point and shoot awhile ago 8.1 MegaPixels. Big downer. Its nice, has an amazing lens and battery life. There are a lot of limits to it that you won't reach with a dSLR nearly as quick. The CCD (the sensor that captures the light) is about 4 times larger on a dSLR. That means much less grain, much better low light conditions and better depth of field. Oh ya, a DSLR also takes a picture when you push the button, where as a point and shoot doesn't.

Autofocus and camera zoom are worlds apart on 99% of the DSLR and Point and shoots. I used one point and shoot that had a reel focus ring, the others have buttons. Speed is incredible on cameras such as the Digital Rebel, which you should be able to pick up on ebay. My $1000 point and shoot is much slower then the Digital rebel that is a year or two older then my point and shoot. If I wanted just photos I'd rather have a 6.1 MP DSLR with a great lens than a current 8.1 MP point and shoot. Point and shoots offer video features and swivel viewfinders though.

DSLRs and point and shoots/compact cameras are designed by two seperate groups of people. You can tell once you've

03 March 2006, 12:42 PM
As Jaime said....Tablet + Digital camera , are MUST HAVE.

once you have can not live without them....hehe :)

03 March 2006, 01:52 PM
In a production environment speed and believability of the painting are the most important thing. By keeping a vast resource library you can accomplish your job that much faster. The nice thing about shooting your own images is that you can shoot specifically for the project your working on rather then spend endless hours searching for an image or fussing with something that isn't quite right. There is also a little more satisfaction to using images you have shot your self and often the images a better quality and much higher resolution then anything you will find on line. That said there are always times when you need an image that you don't have and can't shoot. The web is your only option at that point especially if its 1AM the night before a deadline.

03 March 2006, 07:45 PM
When I decided to focus my career goals to digital matte painting I did the research on a good camera. I found that Digital SLR's are the way to go. DSLRs take pictures as close to the funtionality of a real film camera and have certain crispness to the image that compact cameras don't have. I personally bought a Nikon D50, granted it's a little expensive at $600-700, but it takes awesome pictures in JPG or RAW (Nikon NEF) and is very versitile. Also it has been know to have less grain at longer exposures than it's big brother the D70s as well as uses the cheap SD cards instead of more expensive.

Also a camera that has RAW format (which is = to the information captured by the CCD) can editied in PS to the point where you can change white balance and other camera functions after you have taken the picture. Though RAW are large files my last shooting expedition I shot 180 pictures one 1 GIG card, I have three that I purchased two of which for $40. (Just a note you don't need a high speed memory card unless you shooting like sports and need high speed response by default the Nikon shoots 4 shots on RAW before writing to disk and about 50 on the lowest JPG which works for contious shoting.)

The image size is 6.1 MP which translates to about 3k at 300dpi which is perfect if I want to start with a full image as a plate.

There are similar cameras but I went with Nikon and it's Nikkor lenses which are known to be quality but the others I looked at which cheaper but in the ballgame are:

Pentax *IST
Olypmus Evolt
Canon Digital Rebel

They all have the same MP, and shoot excellent shots, I almost bought the Pentax beacuse it could use my lenses from my pentax Z-XM film SLR but I decided the Nikon was little better in contrast and funtionality as well as an onboard flash when I need it.

Hope this helps, by the way offers royalty free, free reference photographs though limited.

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