Photographing Miniatures


Program Mode vs Manual Control


The Digital Advantage

Film Photography




Film photography

Essentially this means SLR film photography as most compact cameras lack the degree of control necessary to take good photographs of miniatures and suffer badly from parallax as discussed previously (See The Digital Advantage). Most, however, are quite adequate for taking snapshots of a whole wargames table.

Over the years I have had a fair amount of success with the setup shown on the left - an SLR film camera connected to a dedicated flashgun bounced off a flash umbrella. Examples of pictures taken using this setup include the FARTZ faction pictures on this site.

The camera I use is a Pentax MZ-7, which I use in Macro program mode. This mode automatically uses a small aperture to improve the depth of field, though it does not always use the smallest possible aperture.

The flashgun is a Centon FH95 equipped with a dedicated module for Pentax autofocus cameras. The flash is mounted on a tripod pointing at a white flash umbrella and linked to the camera by an off-camera cord. The use of a flash umbrella gives a nice diffuse light.

The use of a dedicated flash like this means that the exposure is usually just about right first time, though I usually do three exposures for each shot, one at the settings determined by the camera, one slightly overexposed and one slightly underexposed.

When I take pictures at the wargames club I leave the umbrella reflector behind and used the Lumiquest Promax Pocket Bouncer as shown on the Digital Advantage page

For close up shots I used an extension tube (13mm or 21mm).

To get the film images into a suitable format for putting on the the web I scan my prints using an Agfa Snapscan 1212p


The advantages of film cameras over digital ones for photographing miniatures are few.

The capital cost of the equipment is usually lower than a digital setup with similar features - or like me you may already own a film camera. You can blow up your pictures into very large prints without losing image quality as when you enlarge pictures taken on affordable digital cameras. Usually all this will do is show up the faults in your painting technique as there are very few people whose painting will stand up to being shown off at five plus times real size. The high image quality available with film is is completely irrelevant if you're taking pictures for the web, but if you're taking pictures for magazine front covers you should definitely consider using a film camera.

Film cameras have several disadvantages over digital - you have to wait while your film gets developed and printed before you can see how your pictures have come out and the running cost of films, developing and printing can be quite high. If you're doing shots for the web you have to scan your pictures, a process that takes time and which inevitably leads to a loss of image quality.


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