BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: To Be Categorized

Photography Question 
Kim Bigger

Photographing tattoos

Hi! My husband is a tattoo artist, and we're having no luck taking pictures of his tattoos. All the pics are coming out blurry. Can you give me basic instructions for taking up-close, detailed, indoor photographs? I will buy new equipment if necessary, but would prefer to keep it as simple and inexpensive as possible without sacrificing too much of my image quality. Thanks a bunch!

To love this question, log in above
2/12/2001 10:18:04 AM

Mark A. Braxton   Hi Kim and husband,
There are several routes you can take depending on your budget and the importance of the clarity and sharpness of the images. The cheapest way to go would be to buy a good macro capability zoom with a ratio of at least 1:2. But if clarity is an issue you might wanna buy a fully macro or micro lens. These will allow you to get fairly close along with making the tattoo's fill the frame of your film.
One small suggest also is to use manual focus. The skin tone for some tattoo's might be lighter than the tattoo itself throwing your autofocus off. Your autofocus is based on light. You might wanna try the manual focus with the lens you have before you buy a lens. You could also go to a camera shop with your camera and test different lenses with your camera a person with a tattoo. Then wait 'til the film is developed to make your conclusion.

To love this comment, log in above
2/15/2001 8:38:35 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001

If you go for a zoom with "macro" capability, check its specifications first. Some will go 1:2 (1/2 life-size on the film), but many should really be called "close focus" and not "macro." I recommend testing any you consider at the store to see if it will allow focusing closely enough before buying it.

One other method for macros is to use an extension tube with a modest telephoto in the 85mm to 135mm range. Extension tube are not nearly as much as a true macro lens, and work well. Check whether your camera manufacturer makes extension tubes for your SLR system and the prices of them. They can be even less used. Check out any extension tube you might consider with the lens(es) you would be using them with. Tubes come in different lengths (sometimes in sets of three different lengths). You will want to see if it allows the lens to get close enough.

-- John

To love this comment, log in above
2/15/2001 11:04:14 PM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.