A large part of preserving the longevity of your artwork is photographing and storing it away on a memory card or a hard drive.
It is also essential if you want to put up your prints for sale.
While one would be inclined to just go with a smartphone, there is still a marked difference in the image quality, especially when specific scenarios such as artwork photography is concerned.
Hence, from the umpteen numbers of cameras on sale, choosing the one which levels up with your expectations of quality and your budget can become arduous due to the time investment.
Hence, we present ten of the best cameras for photographing artwork, covering various price points and technologies so you can know the major differences between various cameras and make the call on which one is best for you.
Without further ado, let’s begin with the product reviews!
Best Cameras for Photographing Artwork
- Best Cameras for Photographing Artwork
- Panasonic LUMIX GX7 16.0 MP DSLM Camera
- Olympus OM-D EM-5 Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera
- Samsung NX30 20.3MP CMOS Mirrorless Camera
- Canon EOS 600D DSLR
- Sony SLT-A65 DSLR Camera
- Pentax K5-II DSLR Camera
- Sony DSC-HX50 Digital Camera
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ57EB-K
- Canon Powershot S110
- Olympus Stylus 1
These represent a fine middle ground between the portability and ease of use that point and shoot cameras offer, but also come with the flexibility of lenses that DSLR cameras allow. These come with smaller sensors than DSLRs, so the image quality is often lower than what you’d expect out of a DSLR. (The gap is reducing by the day, however).
However, these often come with the same features and at a lower price than the equivalent DSLR. So if you’re shopping for a camera which is better than a run of the mill point and shoot, but don’t quite have the patience for the learning curve of a DSLR, mirrorless cameras offer the best compromise.
This camera is a wonderful new mirrorless camera, which means it has the portability and sleekness of a point and shoot digital camera, while offering the flexibility and image quality you’d expect of a DSLR. It comes with a 14-42 mm lens as standard, and a tilt-live viewfinder. The resolution is rated at 16MP.
- Lumix GX7 with 16MP Micro 4/3, Live MOS Sensor
- Kit pair with Lumix 20mm F1.7 ASPH
This camera comes with a whole host of features designed to make your photography experience as intuitive and effective as possible. You can send images over to the computer via WiFi and can remotely click photos as well. Picture in picture zooming allows you to manually focus and capture the most intricate details with ease.
Further, you can also use the touchscreen as a touchpad to move the focus point around when you’re focussing through the eyepiece. It also has 5 custom setting slots for storing presets for your conditions.The image quality from the stock lenses is remarkable, but swapping the lenses out for higher-end stuff can up your print game radically.
This one comes with a number of laurels to boot. It comes with one of the world’s fastest autofocus systems, beating out those of even the fastest and most expensive DSLRs when launched. The display has incredibly low lag, and comes with a 1.44 million dot high resolution viewfinder.
- Built-in 5-Axis image stabilization for sharper...
- 2.3 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder with...
Once coupled with the requisite accessories such as a tripod stand and an electronic flash, this camera becomes a force to be reckoned with. As a mirrorless camera, it is very compact but delivers quite a punch when it comes to taking artisanal shots. The lense that ships with the camera is capable enough of handling all sorts of art shots for your prints.
At a price point which doesn’t break the bank, it gets a lot of bang for your buck. The five-axis image stabilisation, the autofocus speed, the magnesium alloy construction and the 11 art filter modes tailored specifically for artists make this the camera to go to, keeping in mind that the detail suffices only for A4 prints. For larger art, we would recommend going the DSLR way.
This mirrorless camera from Samsung promises brilliant image quality and quick, crisp shots. The shutter speed of 1/8000 of a second allows you to click incredible shots. It can easily share pictures over WiFi and NFC using the Photo Beam technology. Further, if you connect it to your smartphone, you can control the viewfinder of the camera from the phone!
- 20.3MP CMOS Sensor for high-quality images and...
- The NX AF System II boasts fast and accurate auto...
The Samsung NX30 delivered a wonderful all-round experience, starting from the crisp and easy to understand user interfaces which took us less than five minutes to get a hang of. You can use the i-Function button to adjust shutter speed, EV, ISO and aperture with a single button and a value ring.
It is much lighter than your garden-variety DSLR, so much so that you can carry multiple lenses and the camera body and it has the same heft as that of a single DSLR and lens combination. The menu is incredibly intuitive, and explains each difference that your setting changes make – perfect for those new to photography.
Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) Cameras
These are the standard, de-facto professional imaging cameras. You absolutely cannot go wrong with their image quality when you want to get prints done. Although there is a learning curve to get to the pinnacle of DSLR photography for artwork photography, it is well worth the time. Further, they are bulky, so we’d recommend using these on a tripod stand.
If you don’t have the budget to go in for a new DSLR and lens system, you can easily find used DSLRs in electronics markets worldwide and on Amazon. Older DSLRs may lack some of the connectivity and stabilisation features, but on a tripod, they are still very relevant to use for artwork photography.
The Canon EOS 600D is the new entry-tier camera in Canon’s EOS lineup. Though the name might suggest a lot of compromises, it offers a number of features from the more premium single-number EOS range, and delivers a solid photography experience. It comes with a wireless trigger and a fully articulated screen.
- Canon EOS 600D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera in...
- Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM Telephoto Zoom...
The camera offers a number of features which make it desirable for the artwork photographer – it has a 1 million dot viewfinder and an ability to apply filters which enhance the quality radically. Further, if you’re using external lighting, the pop-up flash can wirelessly trigger external flashes as well. This is the first time this feature has been seen on an entry-level DSLR.
The images come out crisp, clear, with no signs of underexposure or unnatural colors. Further, the metering was found to be incredibly accurate in all situations except those that required very high contrast. The JPEGs are generally sharper than the RAW images, but RAW images can be enhanced and sharpened to a greater extent than JPEGs.
This DSLR is a mid-range offering from Sony. It comes with a 24.3 MP lens and can shoot at up to 10 frames per second, almost thrice as much as the previously reviewed Canon. The radical new Translucent Mirror Design allows you to shoot and focus at the same time, and the A65 comes with the world’s first OLED viewfinder with 2.3 million dots.
- 2nd Generation Translucent Mirror Technology...
- 24.3 MP for superb detail and amazing enlargements
The SLT-A65 comes with a 15 point autofocus, which is much better than the generically offered 9 point autofocus. It has the shortest release time lag of any camera tested when it was launched, and fares incredibly to date. The BIONZ processor works its magic by taking 6 frames in a fraction of a second and combines them to produce the best possible image.
You can also take 3 dimensional panorama shots of your work. The maximum ISO is a wonderfully usable 16000, with 25600 on particular modes being available. The UI is incredibly usable and intuitive, and is not much different from a point and shoot or even your smartphone. Further, operating the screen is a joy in itself.
The Pentax K5-II is a stunner of a DSLR, which comes bundled up with a number of features to make your artwork photography experience easier and the results are absolutely immaculate. It is designed to work in low light conditions better than its immediate competition.
- 16.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor, no anti-aliasing filter
- 7 frames per second continuous shooting
The Pentax K5-II comes with only an 18-135 mm lens, so you’ll have to get the other lenses as extras. The image quality is classic Pentax, meaning you’ll have no issues with clicking artwork photographs. However, the menus and UI could be a little more intuitive and easy to use. There are 9 white balance presets on offer.
The viewfinder is fixed, but comes with a handy 900,000 viewpoints. It is fully dust and waterproof, and can click at between 30 seconds and 1/8000th of a second. Color reproduction and contrast is preserved wonderfully, while shake reduction is good enough to skip the use of a tripod most of the time. Optical aberrations are removed skillfully by the software.
Point and Shoot [Compact] Cameras
These cameras are the cheapest of the bunch – and most of them are not very good for photographing the details one expects from digital reproductions of artwork. Some of them don’t have much to offer over your smartphone camera. Why, then, are they a part of this review in the first place?
The answer is while there are many cameras that would be bettered by a smartphone, there are many point and shoot cameras which come with advanced features that would give even DSLRs stiff competition in certain cases. They are incredibly compact and light, and come in at a reasonable enough price point for all artwork photographers.
These can further be categorised into two categories based on prices and features, namely digital compacts and advanced compacts. Digital compacts don’t have a lot of features, but you can find one that does enough to get good quality prints. Advanced compacts have much more on offer, and border DSLRs in features, but are sometimes hefty and not nimble.
The Sony DSCHX50 comes in as a budget competitor in the digital camera segment. It brings a number of features to the table, such as 30x optical and 60x digital zoom with low losses and a high resolution 3” OLED display borrowed from the higher end Alpha DSLR series with 900,000 dots. It can hit up to 10 fps while shooting.
- 30x optical zoom plus 60x Clear Image Digital Zoom...
- Full HD 1080/60p with dual record of stills and...
The 20.4 MP digital camera from Sony comes with much of the DNA that was in the seminal CyberShot series the world has come to know and love. It comes with Optical SteadyShot which allows you to click photographs without the fear of shakiness ruining the shot. The multi function shoe can help you attach flash, an electronic viewfinder, a mic, and many more accessories.
Further, coming to the image quality, it delivers far better shots than any camera in its immediate competition. The pixel-level image quality retention is far better than you’d think a camera in this price range would deliver. Further, the supreme build quality and the pop up flash are highly appreciated – and so is the WiFi image transfer feature.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ57EB-K
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ35EB-K comes with a Leica lens, which have been known as one of the finest single-lenses in the world. The 16.1 MP camera delivers solid photographs regardless of outside lighting conditions, with strong flash, image stabilisation and 10 fps shooting. It also comes with 14 different artistic filters for you to choose from.
- 16 Megapixel 1/2 33" High Sensitivity MOS Sensor
- 20x Optical Zoom Lens (24-480mm) with 40x...
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ35EB-K compact is one of the few all-rounder products on the market in the digital compact camera space. The 24mm ultrawide lens bests the performance you’d expect out of a GoPro [and their lenses are some of the widest on the market]. You can control parameters such as shutter speed, exposure value and ISO as per your need.
Coming to the image quality, you can expect crisp, clear shots most of the time, with a few aberrations here and there. The Automatic scene detection works very well for most shots, with some tinkering required at times. Otherwise, at the price point, it delivers a solid shooting experience and your prints won’t face any problems.
The Canon Powershot S110 comes with a DIGIC 5 specialised image processor, which bumps the processing speed and image quality to near-mirrorless levels. It gives up to 12800 ISO, which is better than many mirrorless and entry level DSLRs and also gives you high speed autofocus and image processing borrowed from their EOS DSLR series.
- Built-in WiFi for Image Transfer to Social Sites,...
- 5x Optical Zoom with 24mm Wide-Angle Lens
The Canon Powershot S110 has a number of features you’d expect out of a much more expensive camera. First up, the control ring, which is a DSLR staple. Then come an umpteen number of shooting modes for all scenarios you can think of. The intelligent IS image stabilisation gives you six different settings for autofocus, which is a segment first.
The 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor gives you precise, vivid, neutral and shoots in RAW, which is a new feature for the compact camera space. The WiFi transfer of photos is a nice touch, and the low light photography is flagship smartphone-rivalling. For the price, there isn’t any direct rival in sight, and the Canon Powershot S110 ticks all the right boxes.
The Olympus Stylus 1 is actually a mixture of what you’d expect from a point and shoot, a mirrorless camera and a DSLR. The weight and heft are similar to a mirrorless camera, and it’s priced in the highest-end point and shoot territory. The lens is lifted right off of a DSLR, and so is the viewfinder and the display. No other point and shoot can compare with its image quality.
- Image quality and control comparable to pro...
- f2.8 fixed aperature i.ZUIKO lens with a focal...
The adjustable focal length gives you best of both a wide angle lens as well as a telephoto lens. The fixed aperture of f/2.8 gives you enough flexibility to capture most detail. The viewfinder has 1.4 million dots, something which is only bested by the highest end DSLRs on offer today. The touchscreen offers tilt and the optical zoom goes up to 10.7x.
The touchscreen also offers autofocus, and the camera can be fully remotely controlled via the official camera link app. The ring around the lens can be twisted to shuffle between the different presets, which is incredibly easy and intuitive to get a hang of. You can also instantaneously mirror all your photos and videos to your smartphone or computer over WiFi.
Now that we’re done with the product reviews, we hope you’ve gained enough insight as to the various products on offer on the market today, the key differences, and what you need to consider while making the purchase. Artwork has a different set of rules for cameras to abide, so make sure you test out the camera thoroughly before making the purchase.
Some Key Terms to Keep in Mind
The few terms which you should keep in mind while considering the cameras are outlined below:
- Shutter Speed: This tells you how quickly the image is captured. You don’t need super fast shutter speeds for artwork, since it’s mostly still and photography is done using a tripod.
- Sensor Size: This is a very big deal. As a rule of thumb, larger the sensor size, the better the image produced. However, larger lenses are more expensive and less ergonomic.
- Resolution (in megapixels): This tells you how many pixels there are in each image that is captured. Pixels are nothing but dots which can only have one color. Higher resolution equals more dots, and hence higher quality of print or reproduction – but not better image quality. A megapixel represents one million pixels.
- Image Stabilisation: Image stabilisation refers to removal or prevention of shakiness or blurriness that comes with an unstable hand or vibration. To forego this problem altogether, artwork should be photographed on a tripod.
- RAW Files: These are images that are not compressed in any way by the camera. While JPEG images look better, these have infinitely more flexibility when it comes to post-shoot editing, and hence generally result in a better picture.
- EVF (Electronic Viewfinder): While you may be used to clicking photos from the display, the truth is that the small viewfinder on top of the camera is generally much more crisp and has more dots (in some cases up to 3x as much as the display).
That’s it for today, folks! You’re all primed and ready to get the camera of your choice. Happy hunting!
On Architecture Lab we have also reviewed other pieces of gear for extraordinary photography, you can find in our Reviews category the top tripods for macro photography, best tripods for real estate photography, best printers for giclee printers, best cameras for architecture photography, best drones for architecture and architects and many others!