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:
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 too lazy to put totally together as it doesn't 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 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. Can't 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 don't 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 without 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 wasn't sure what it is was what I should be using :)