Read some of the old questions. I figure that due to my wants you may be able to help me. Let me be clear about what I am doing, what I want to do, and see where we can go from there.
I help run Clivia USA, a small start up that sells a specific type of plant called a clivia. http://www.cliviausa.com if you want to see the kind of work I usually do. I use a Panasonic Lumix for most of our photography. Some of the Flower shots are mine, a bunch are the original breeders, but the header is a good representation of shots with the Lumix. when I am completely unable to get a permanent shot beg my photophile brother to come over with his D5 and his remote flashes, his Lenses etc etc. Mostly I got him to help me with setting up the Lumix for the conditions I am in more than using his equiptment.
We take a lot of pictures that are unique to a single plant that will only be used for a short time. Like this for instance: clivia seedling photo Apparently I cant post the photo but there it is as a link.
The problem is that as you can see my focusing area is really small. Just either the tag if I cant get the leaves or the leaf. Sometimes I am shooting just one leaf. I have considered bringing the backdrop closer, and that is actually part of a lightbox I was to lazy to put totally together as it doesnt seem to help the overall issue of photo clarity. I have some LED lights I diffuse through a sheet when its all put together. The Lumix can go all the way up to an ISO of 1600. All shots are photo stills on a tripod. Usually I have the ISO locked down at max 400, and am going to try some shots with it at max 1600 to see if the issue is user error or "I R need better camera". Because it was on a tripod and I usually set it to 2 second delay so it can take all the time in the world to get exposed without me shaking it. I figured 400 ISO max was good but maybe that was an error. Thanks to your stack for that advice. Cant really manual focus with the Lumix.
I get awesome shots outside, but the inside shots are very hit and miss, sometimes better than this sometimes much worse. I am thinking that if I were to invest in a better camera, even an older model where I could work with offset flashes and other things I could get better pictures. The Panasonic actually has a really decent lens on it but its still a compact DSLR.
I dont have a lot to spend. I was thinking of trying to spend 300-500.00 on a camera body and then build up my accessories from there.
I consider this question valid for the site because I am looking for discarded toys or advice on how to get more out of my current toy, not the newest greatest toy. I was thinking something like a Canon D40 or D50 might be good for my purposes. Am I looking at the right types of camera or am I way off base? Size matters not.
Oops yes its the TZ10 sorry about that.
My brother played with it and set the original settings for me vis a vis aperture ISO etc and gave me a crash course on what the terms mean and what each thing does.
Peng thanks for the idea with the flash. I have played with offset flashes before but did not think it possible to do that with the TZ10. Its one of the big reasons I was considering upgrading.
Jim: yes that's exactly it. I can increase the size of that background all the way out to about 7 feet wide so that's not a problem. I can already set up some diffuse lighting too as that was my first try at solving this for myself by increasing the lighting and getting it spotted on the plant w/o glare. Can definitely play with the aperture. The camera definitely allows that.
Thanks folks will see if I can tweak more out of the Lumix. With these plants small details such as veining can be important to the customer so the more I can show even on a product photo like the above that will be utilized for a week and discarded the better.
Also I don't want anyone thinking I was bashing the camera I use because its really good for what it is. Just wasnt sure what it is was what I should be using :)