I'd need a suggestion about camera to take pics of building roofs, my father's company installs domestic solar power plants and would like to take some pics of them to put in his website.

He tried with a Sony DSC-W300 and of course the results weren't great as it's not very easy to get a whole picture of the plant being too close to it (or sometimes on it).

What should I be looking for in camera/lens datasheet?
And please don't be vague with things like "you need a low xyz" as I'm a total newbie and I don't know what high and low may be: numbers please :)

Can you also suggest what model can I get with a moderate (like <<$700 ) budget? A compact would be great because of the size but you're the experts so I'll wait for your suggestions.

  • 2
    What sort of budget were you thinking? – Rowland Shaw Dec 4 '10 at 12:32
  • As Rowland said, we need a bit of info about your budget. This is one scenario where you're likely to get best results with some really expensive gear, but if that's not an option then that's not an option. – ahockley Dec 4 '10 at 16:48
  • Sorry, there was an error on the rendering of my post, I edited it. – Andrea Ambu Dec 4 '10 at 23:26
  • If you just need some photos for a web site, what about hiring a photographer? – Jukka Suomela Dec 4 '10 at 23:49
  • @Jukka Suomela: Well it could be an idea, but why not start to learn something? I get that a professional photographer would take better pics but why not start to learn something? Considering also that the plants are geographically distant hiring a photographer would cost much more than having the pics taken right after the plant is installed if you want to take pics of several plants. – Andrea Ambu Dec 5 '10 at 11:32

Principally you need a wide angle lens, this means you can get a lot of roof in, even if you're very close!

Wideness is determined by the focal length of a lens (which is to do with the optics and not necessarily the physical length of the lens). If you want numbers I'd say 28mm equivalent is a minimum (you'll be unlikely to find anything much wider than that in a compact). The word equivalent is important here, since the relationship between focal length and wideness depends on how big the camera sensor or film is. Equivalent focal length means the number is adjusted to match 35mm film/sensor.

If you get a DSLR (of which the entry level models such as the Canon 1000D or Nikon D3000 will do the job well enough for you) then you can go wider. There are other options I'm sure owners of other brands will chime in and offer you their opinions.

To get the equivalent focal length with these cameras you have to multiply by 1.5 (Nikon) or 1.6 (Canon) so to get the 28mm equivalent focal length figure you need around a 17mm. The lens that comes bundled with these cameras should be about that length.

As I stated getting a DSLR lets you go wider, Canon offer a very good 10-22mm zoom lens (16-35 equivalent) and Nikon offer a 10-24 which is a similar range.

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  • This seems a great answer! Thank you! I think I will go for the Canon, I've saw only fixed 28mm and 10-22mm seems too expensive. Is there a list of the default sizes? In many stores it comes bundle with a 18-55mm, how can I tell when they are talking about the equivalent or not? Because 28 seems to be between 18 and 55 :P – Andrea Ambu Dec 7 '10 at 23:15
  • With DSLRs the lenses are specified with the actual and not equivalent focal length, so you need to multiply by about 1.5, unless you get a very expensive 35mm DSLR (Canon 5D, 1Ds, Nikon D3). So, if it's a DSLR look for 17/18mm or lower, if it's a compact or bridge camera, look for 28mm equivalent or lower – Matt Grum Dec 7 '10 at 23:25
  • I was unclear in the previous comment: I think I'll buy the Canon 1000D - The bundled 18-55 is good enough? What would be the "one step further" lens? – Andrea Ambu Dec 7 '10 at 23:53

You might also get decent results if you try stitching your photos together to make a larger panoramic photograph. Be careful when you are on the roof. It might be safer to be on a ladder or scaffolding and taking photo slices while sliding over for each overlapping photo.

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  • 1
    If you change where you take the photos from when shooting a panorama (by sliding along as you suggest) then the photos may not line up properly when you assemble the panorama. Even if the roof lines up, the background wont and you'll be left with a weird looking photo. It's far better to stay still and rotate the camera. – Matt Grum Dec 5 '10 at 0:57
  • +1 for suggesting stitching, however the key is to keep the entry point of light into the lens in the same place for each shot - this is especially important when you have the subject close to you. – Justin Dec 5 '10 at 8:36

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