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Need some feedback on test photos

Since I deal with a lot of laptops, I really need to set up a workstation just for laptop photos. In this example I used my laptop and booted into the BIOS for test images.

This setup is composed of 2 boxes I cut up (one was used for the final build while the other was cut for support structures as the box I used needed it) and 97¢ poster board from Walmart (not permanently installed). The camera I used for these test photos is a Sony a5000 with the kit lens.

In order to support my backdrop since it has a tendency to fall without support, I use my TV (monitor) as a support.

I am looking for an LED light I can use for lighting. However I found a few at Walmart I liked at the same time, but I want to weigh out my options first before I buy anything.

To provide a frame of reference for how bad my laptop photos tend to be, I present this from the Toshiba L755 hard drive replacement guide:

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I am going to provide 2 sets of images:

  • Raw (Unedited)
  • Edited (brightness adjustment)

Anyway, here's the image sets:

Raw

Dell laptop boot image (I am aware of the ghosting; that's caused by my UV filter used to protect the lens)

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Brightness and color temperature changed manually

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Full auto

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Edited

The only change made here is I added some brightness manually using the curves option in paint.net

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Full auto

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It looks like you're on the right path to taking some awesome photos! Is the LED light you're looking for to brighten up the photo space? If so, I would suggest going with 6500k fluorescent bulbs inside of an aluminum reflector (the kind used for reptile heat lamps).

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@blakeklein I'm used to working with 5000-5500k LED's. I have found it's easier to work with them since I don't have to compensate for the 6000-6500k blue tint. That being said I can learn if they offer a significant benefit.

I'm not disregarding your advice, but things have changed a lot. I'd rather educate you on how much things have changed.

My history with CFL bulbs:

I grew up with CFL's when they were a new thing (not the early ones; later ones that didn't take a while to warm up). The ones I remember have 2 serious drawbacks:

* The first bulbs were darker then incandescent bulbs (Later bulbs are on par with incandescent).

* Mercury. It can't be eliminated. (Later bulbs reduced it but early ones have a fair amount.) The mercury makes them hazardous waste.

The benefits:

The main benefits CFL offered are:

* Color temp options

* Power consumption

The downsides don't justify the benefits, at least for me. LED is a million times better anyway.

Current issues:

The current issue is availability. Since LED's became good (and cheap), CFL's are becoming increasingly unpopular. Some retailers still sell CFL's, but not many.

The issue for me largely breaks down to inconsistent blue removal and potentially inexperience. I had a problem with this in this SSD photo and I've edited a lot out but it's impossible to clean up 100% without a retake :(.

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Unless you get large constant lighting with a big diffuser, you won't get enough light to compensate for the brighness of the screen. Either you'll get a an underexposed PC and background, or an overexposed screen.

These are what I use for my photos:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1...

Those might be a bit expensive, but you should be able to get close with 12 or so high wattage LEDs spilt between to lights. You'll need umbrella diffusers too.

Personally, I go for daylight color temperature and don't touch it in Photoshop.

I also suggest investigating in a proper background. You can either use paper on a roll and keep pulling down and cutting every time it gets a black scuff (which is all the time) or you can get a cheap PVC background like I've started using. Only issue with the PVC is I can't find it in any decently large sizes. When it gets dirty you can just wipe it off with a wet rag.

It's kind of small, but can't find it much larger: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015GSZIZM/ref...

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I'm not going for pro quality. I just need my photos to look good.

Unless I'm getting the device for free because it was in a scrap pile (these are a serious gamble, btw. Don't touch these unless you know what to look for) OR I am receiving a functional device from a hardware upgrade, I need to pay for hardware. It makes more sense to buy something like an LED worklight that matches what I need/want so I can buy better quality hardware for my guides.

Because I need to pay most of the time, I will avoid devices with major failures (unless it's priced accordingly and I can eat the cost). Cheap failures (Ex: RAM, HDD, ODD and keyboard primarily) are different, but I still expect AS-IS pricing and honesty. I consider BIOS passwords a hard no unless I can verify the machine isn't stolen quickly (you usually can't). I also need to be able to clear it if I know it's legally clear.

When it comes to cheap repairs one of the ways I reduce the cost is to hold onto broken systems so I have parts on hand (it also impacts my purchasing decisions). Depending on the failure it may make more sense to use the machine I purchased to fix the parts system and consider the parts system repaired and label the purchased system a parts system.

My tolerance for annoying failures like WLAN and WWAN cards is much lower. I need to understand what I am dealing with (primarily if the system has a WL or not). If it does, I need to make sure the cards are cheap and I have a working drop in replacement available. WWAN cards can usually be removed, so that's an easy one to overlook.

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@nick Then I'd snag a pack or two of these LED bulbs: https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Equi...

And maybe some soft boxes/reflectors with bulb sockets in them if you want to go all the way. They're not too bad on Amazon or B&H.

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I'm considering a LED worklight with the right color temp specs or A19 socket desk lamps/clamp lights. Lifetime LED desk lamps are out, since I can't (easily) convert them to high quality bulbs if I ever need to.

I can tell the approximate color temp from the color of the COB (Chip On Board) LED or LED chips. Dark yellow is usually 3000-3500k (soft white) while light yellow is usually 4000-4500k. White is usually 5000-5500k. I need to find a 6000-6500k COB LED to see what those look like next.

As to why I use poster board... It's cheap. ~$2 or so for a 5 pack at Walmart and 97¢ for a single sheet. It isn't the best as you can see but it's cheap. That being said I understand why you recommended I use a roll like that - it works but the necessitated cut looks bad.

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Nick will be eternally grateful.
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