Can you guys share your best practices when taking photos of television screens?
I have a DVR, so the assumption is that the image is stationary. I'm not looking to capture a pic of a live motion shot. Also, my television is LCD
I have a consumer grade digital camera (Panasonic Lumix).
I'm taking pics with the flash turned off, on a stationary tripod, with no zoom and with my camera set to a 16x9 frame.
But beyond that, are there some settings you would suggest in order to get the best representation of the screen as possible?
To give a bit more perspective, here's a couple of pics I took yesterday with the setup I described above (Although these were taken without a tripod. Click the images for higher resolution)
I'm pretty happy with how these turned out, but I'm sure there's room for improvement to get the best representation of what I'm seeing with my eyes, vs what the camera is capturing (this is real close, btw)
Seriously though, and I'm not trying to be snarky, what is the purpose?
No snark taken. I'll play
The purpose is to attempt, within the limitations of the display medium (aka, avsforum.com), to visually convey to others (aka, avsforum.com members) what you are seeing with your own eyes.
With respect, I get the point you are making. And I cannot argue with it. I believe that you are not getting mine. Or perhaps you don't agree with the premise, which is perfectly fine and acceptable to me.
The idea of establishing best practices is precipitated on the fact that there exist a challenge or set of challenges that cannot be overcome.
The goal then, is to establish a set of fundamentals that, when followed, seek to minimize those challenges.
I'm not trying to propose that its possible for anyone to convey with a photograph, with a degree of accuracy suitable for replacing the original, what they are able to see with their eyes in a physical medium.
The best practices would be to fix everything on the camera, white balance, fstop, iso, ect.. That should make the images consistent so as to describe the differences between setups.
But if one looked bluer and one looked redder, you still would have no idea as to which is more correct.
CalMAN Lead Developer
Of course, the use case that airscapes mentions, showing obvious problems with a display, is a very valid one. For that it's whatever works; if the picture shows the problem well enough for others to recognize, it's good enough.
You might want to try daylight if you haven't already.
I don't have a setting called "color balance". However, I do have settings for "white balance" and "color mode". Here are those settings:
Color Mode: Standard, Natural, Vivid, B/W, Sepia, Cool, Warm
White Balance: Auto, Daylight, Manual
BTW, camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5
Try that and see if it's a bit more accurate.
Let's say you take a photo of an apple with 100 consumer digital cameras (or even pro cameras mixed in). You will get 100 different results even if the cameras are PRECISELY positioned in exactly the same location.
There's variable #1.
You then post the photo on AVS and it is viewed by 100 people on 100 different computer displays. Every computer display looks different (for reasons mentioned in another post... the display itself, the video subsystem, etc.).
That's variable #2.
So now you have posted 100 photos of the same apple that all look different to 100 people viewing the iages, so you now have 10,000 variations of that original apple that all look different. Obviously, you can eliminate huge and obvious errors, but you can't get around the fact that nobody is seeing exactly what you see.
There is some sort of cult fascination on AVS with people posting screen shots... very useful if there is an obvious problem they are looking for help with. But when the photos are posted to show how great some TV looks, all I can do is shake my head. It's like posting photos of a car and expecting people to know how it feels behind the wheel just from seeing a photo. You CANNOT replicate the "in room" viewing of a TV via a photo, no matter how hard you try. I've seen cases where posted photos were intended to show the difference before and after calibration, and frankly, the "before" photo looked better on a calibrated video monitor. So I couldn't tell from the photos if the photos were bad or whether the calibration was bad or whether the calibration was good.
FURTHERMORE... pause on a DVR shows a degrade version of pre-degraded images. It is one of the worst possible sources. Pause on a Blu-ray is FAR better, but still doesn't represent fully what the images really look like while the movie is playing. Frame-to-frame variations in TV and Blu-ray become part of the viewing experience and typically, images will look sharper over a few seconds of a movie than any single frame will look. For cable or satellite, the difference is even more pronounced because the huge amount of compression in the images creates block and edge artifacts you can't remove. Processing in cameras tends to make the artifacts in TV images, especially the edge artifacts, even more visible in the photo than they are in person.
Screen shots are really an exercise in futility and the time spent doing it, could be better used doing something else.