04/ Stepping up the quality

I have been shooting these chai photos with my Android phones for a long time. Some of these photos were also taken by Canon 1300D. I love the quality difference that I get by using the DSLR. The current generation smartphones are much more capable of taking good shots. But when it comes to quality and fine details, a smartphone can never win over a DSLR at least in current time.

The Canon 1300D is one of the entry level camera from canon which costs around ₹25,000 along with the 18-55mm lens. My Sister got this combo at ₹25,000 and one of my friend got it for ₹20,000 during 2017 Durga Puja offer. Phones these days cost more than that, if you’re looking for a good camera phone. This camera is light weight, the 18-55mm lens is also wide enough for a flatlay photo.

I have also used my Nikon D750 which is a Full-Frame DSLR with the Tamron 24-70mm (Total cost of the setup = ₹2,11,000). The total weight of the setup is over 2kg. 24mm is a good wide range to shoot a table top flatlay, but the weight is way too much for me and I didn’t get any good result. Am not saying that it’s the fault of the camera or this is not a good camera. During shooting in bird eye view, the center of gravity of the camera changes. So one can notice some extra weight (not sure about this point, but I feel that).

The settings I’m using currently are as following:

  1. Focal length: Varies between 20-45 mm. I don’t shoot at the extreme ends like 18mm or 55mm.
  2. Shutter speed: 1/320 – This is a good speed for handheld shot for this range of focal length.
  3. Aperture: 5.6 is a good aperture to get good texture on the subjects and the background.
  4. ISO: I’m using ISO 1600 for adding actual digital noise to this photos so that I don’t have to add noise in post production. But basically I prefer ISO upto 800 for all kind of shots.

Editing workflow:

  1. The workflow starts with transferring the photos from the camera to the phone. I use NFC to pair the camera to my phone and then download the photos to my phone via “Camera Connect” app by Canon.
  2. Then I select the best shot and import it to Snapseed app by Google and crop it to 4:5 aspect ratio for Instagram and make basic changes such as selective editing, saturation, contrast, structure etc.
  3. Then I import the photo to VSCO for color grading. I am using the paid VSCOx subscription which has lot more filters. I have made a new recipe with U3 filter and currently am using this.

Other factors:

  1. Lighting: I use ambient light so the timing of the shoot matters. I basically shoot at 8am near a window.
  2. Shadows: For proper shadow on tea, I fill the cup with tea up to ⅔rd of the cup.
  3. Arrangement: I prefer random arrangement. So I put the other things like book, camera or other food item on the background in random or in diagonal composition.
  4. Empty space: I keep empty space on the top or bottom left of the photo so that I can add extra text on the photo while using the photo on Instagram Story.

So that’s it. Let me know if you like these photos and if you can see the difference in quality. Also let me tell you quality is not important for me. At some point people think of stepping up the quality. But I love the process of doing the same thing everyday in different way and keep doing it. Visit @zuvamart on Instagram for more tea flatlay photos.

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