So I need a camera!!

C Craft

Well-Known Member
What are you using for a camera to do your knife photos, if you don't mind me asking??

I need to look into something reasonably priced, in the digital world!! Unfortunately digital and reasonably priced does not always go together!

One thing about digital you can pretty much, tell right away if you got the shot or not!! Also in today's world, it is "wham bam thank you mam" and the photo is posted to the net for all to see!!

Here is a review of the top 5 picks for 2018!
When I was making the same decision several years back I did a lot of research ahead of time and since I always had good luck with Canon I focused on that line. At the time the new intro DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) that was getting all the best reviews was the Canon EOS Rebel T2I. It was about half the price of the professional Cannon line and had idiot settings so that the camera could do the work that I didn't understand at the time. I bought one and have never regretted it.

It takes the best pictures I have ever been able to do, and all have been published. But it also is capable of video that can rival just about any non professional video camera. I got some advice from my photographer, who also does videography work, who told me a saying to always remember- "It's all in the glass" in other words the digital camera just needs to record the image that the lens gives it, but it is the lens that determines the real quality.

Fast forward to today- I am still using the T2i but I have also purchased the newer T6i version of the EOS. Still taking the best pictures I have ever done, but I am now producing DVD's, and all my video work, with those two cameras. In many of my videos I will shoot two camera angles using both cameras for B roll material and I have gotten compliments from professionals on the quality of those shots. I have also seen television commercials shot with the EOS Rebels.

These cameras will run around $700, but will take care of all of you photography AND video needs. If you know nothing about photography they have a wide selection of auto settings so the camera will figure it out, as well as the full range of manual setting for when you get confident in your abilities. There is a very good interface software that will allow you to tether the camera to a computer and shoot remotely with your mouse while you compose the shot on a large screen. This, by the way, is the setup that I use, with the camera mounted to my microscope, to do my metallography work.

The Canon point and shoots, or any point and shoot for that matter, are cheaper but limited and nowhere near as future proof as the DSLR cameras.

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Good suggestions above.

A DSLR will give you the control you need. Used ones are dirt cheap. Save money on the camera and buy the best lenses you can.

Lenses and lighting are vastly more important than the camera. Using a tripod is the greatest improvement anyone can make for the least amount of money.
... The camera I started using again is 15 yr old Canon 20D...
Another good one from Canon. There are so many low end point and shoots to choose from, but 15 years later that DLSR is still working well for you. It can be so tough when folks are starting out, I remember it well, all the people telling me to buy the quality tools and equipment that I just couldn't afford. I eventually stopped talking about a lot of my tool decisions because of the shaming I would get for not buying the latest trends in "the best". But once you actually survive long enough to approach it like a business, everything becomes a business expense and you see the cost vs. productivity aspect and it all takes on a new perspective. If you don't have the cash, you don't have the cash and people should understand that, we are all knifemakers after all. But if it is just buyers remorse that keeps us from pulling the trigger, I have found that when you buy real quality that you only feel that pain once, and for a short time until the joy of working with good stuff makes it go away. With cheaper equipment you get to feel the pain of purchase again, and again, and again, until you actually spend more than you would have on the best.

I just felt this the most with engraving equipment, I had opportunities to buy mid-range scopes, like Meiji at reasonable prices used, but I knew I would only be initiating a series of constant upgrades that would cost me three times as much over the years. I asked the best professional engravers I encountered what they would buy and went ahead and pulled the trigger on a Leica. My work changed over-night and I know I will never have to buy another microscope, much cheaper in the long run. It was the same with the engraving vise, I was working with a used cheapy but when I saw a used GRS positioning vise for $700 I didn't blink- SOLD! Night and day in something as basic as work holding, and I will never need to look for another vise for the rest of my life, it is a great feeling that takes all the sting out of buyers remorse.
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John Wilson

Well-Known Member
I have an obscene amount of photography equipment, but if I had to start over I’d buy a Canon or Nikon DSLR because each system is supported everywhere. You can find any lens you dream of.

For taking knife pictures I would choose a model with a flip out, swiveling display screen.

Then I’d buy a good tripod (Manfrotto or the like) with a ball head mount and one very good lens like a 28-75mm f/2.8 and a remote shutter release.

That setup will get you going until you master natural lighting. A quick and easy step up is a light tent and a couple strobes.

Once you grow out of that setup you will know what you need.
The little Canon 18-55 mm lens is a knockout. I just bought another at the pawn shop for 30$...this allows me to leave the macro attachment on one lense as it seems to work well on knives. It came with image stabilization which my other lens does not have.


You are getting plenty of good advice. I can’t add much more except to say, I like photography and got more than I need and I got it used on eBay. I got the camera body from one seller, three lenses from separate sellers, and a tripod from someone else. I’ve had no problems and only bought from highly rated sellers. I know some don’t like eBay but it has served me well so far.

Casey Brown

Well-Known Member
I agree with utilizing Ebay to get a used camera. While I agree with Kevin that you cannot beat the quality of a Canon, Pentax makes the best bang for the buck camera (my opinion only). I did a lot of research before pulling the trigger on a camera, but I bought a Pentax K20D, which does everything that I need in an SLR camera. I picked up a 50-200mm lens to go with the 18-55mm lens that came with the body, and I can take sports shots of the kids, or closeups of the knives. I have always loved photograpy, and started out taking photos with a Pentax K1000 back around 1985 or so. It's pretty easy nowadays to do research on the internet to find what will work for you. Oh, one other thing. Once you get one and start using it, take all of your knife pictures totally in manual mode. It will force you to learn what will give you the best photograph.

C Craft

Well-Known Member
Thanks everyone. A lot to sift through. I have a 35mm that was one of the sweetest camera I ever used. I powered it off one day after taking a few pics at a football game. I had it on a shoulder belt. Reached down to take another pic and it never powered up again. I have done everything I know how and it never worked! Don't know of any place around here to get it checked out so it sits in my drawer!!
Anyway I want to upgrade to digital. Will have to sit down tomorrow and go thru all the info!!

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Casey, I’m a Pentax guy myself. Inhave the K20D and the K3. Both are awesome cameras.

The reason I said that if I had to do it all over again I’d go Nikon or Canon is because Pentax lens support is moving in the wrong direction. Now I’m seeing Sigma and Tamron lenses not offered with a K mount.

Quality wise, I’m Pentax all day long. But it’s a niche system.
I had a bunch of 35mm equipment back in the day...some medium format sheet and roll film stuff also...and a complete b/w darkroom....I swore I'd never make the jump to digital...then two things happened....I went on a photo trip to San Francisco with my wife and in laws....and my wife had just bought a Sony Cybershot....some how I had cracked the area where the mirror was on ol' faithful (Minolta XE-7) and light was bathing every roll of film I shot all wife got beautiful pics with that lil Sony....I got eight rolls of blackness.

I sold EVERYTHING....never looked back. Bought a is good.

Then I moved to Montana and quit taking pictures....the scenery here is so amazing I didn't want to capture it...just wanted to be in it. Don't know if this makes sense....?


Forum Owner - Moderator
Regardless of your favored brand/type of camera, my honest opinion when it comes to knife photography is the LIGHTING. I've tried many different lighting setups over the years, but am currently using what the call a "PhotoCube"...... basically a whitebox that will stand on it's own (Mine is a 24" cube). For lighting I I have "lightboxes" on three sides as well as the top of the cube. Each lightbox is equipped with 4, 100watt equivalent LED bulbs in 6500K color, and each lightbox is hooked to it's own fully adjustable dimmer switch.

There are times when I will spend far more time adjusting lighting, then taking photos...... I believe it's that important.
Another thing to think about is backgrounds, and their color(s)...... certain colors work better with knives then others...... I have found that the color blue tends to work best for me, and I keep a number of different shade of blue background. I pick up most of my background mats at a local framing shop..... the crush velvet type matting (use when framing pictures) eliminates glare, and most shadows...... it's just a matter of finding the right shade that accentuates the knife.


Forum Owner - Moderator
Something I neglected to mention...... I personally think the lens of a given camera makes a huge difference when it comes to knife photography....namely what the lens is made of. I've had mostly bad experiences with plastic lens cameras (check closely, you'll be surprised to find which brands/models use plastic lenses).
That being said, I'm not so loyal to a camera brand, as I am a lens type/brand...... Cameras with Ziess lenses are my favorites...... it just so happens that those tend to be Sony brand cameras.