What's new
Pinball info

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Basic Pinball Photography


Staff member
Oct 5, 2012
South Wales
Section 1 - General Tips, Tricks and Suggestions for Better Photos with Any Type Camera

Remove the Playfield Glass - and replace the lockbar. Do this every time you shoot a pinball. It is the best way to get a good quality shot, sharp and clear, without reflections.

Tripod - This is the best tool for good photos and very economical. A descent one costs about $25.00 US.

Lighting - Depends on the film or digital camera setting you use. Outdoors with daylight type film (ordinary print film) use open shade - a shaded area lit by open blue sky, not direct sunlight. White cardboard reflectors or fill-in flash can help with shadows. Indoors - Photoflood lamps (expensive) or Halogen worklights (cheap) pointed at a white diffuser above the game will light it evenly, without shadows. Use a white ceiling or white bedsheets for a diffuser. DANGER – Risk of fire – keep lights well away from flammable surfaces, turn off lights when you are not in the room. Halogen work lights require a special camera filter to work with daylight type film, or use Tungsten type slide film. Many digital cameras have a “white balance†adjustment to compensate for different light types. Try to avoid fluorescent lights for photography – everything will be green.

Flash - If you have to use flash, avoid “straight-on†angles that will reflect the flash directly back into the lens.

Background - Make it non-distracting. Use sheets, photographic background paper or plain, light colored walls.

Framing- Center the game or other subject, avoid extreme angles that distort the shape of the game. Look carefully though the viewfinder or digital display to look for “hotspots†of light, dim areas, reflections and distracting background items. Look through the viewfinder and have an assistant rock the lights back-and-forth a little bit- this will make lighting problems like hotspots and reflections show up.

Playfield Shots- For an easy set-up, take off the front legs and set the front of the game on the ground.

Polarizing Filter- If your camera can use filters, ALWAYS use a polarizing filter, indoors or out. It will reduce reflections and glare, and intensify colors- especially outdoors.

Cable Release or Self Timer- Use these, especially on long exposures, to minimize camera vibration.

Depth of Field- For dramatic close-ups of playfields, use a small aperture (f-stop number) setting to get near and far objects in sharp focus. This will require lots of light, a long exposure (slow shutter speed) and a tripod.

Section 2 – Film Camera Types: the SLR and the Automatic

SLR – 35 mm Single Lens Reflex. Advantages: Interchangeable lenses (wide angle lenses, about 30mm, are best for pinball photos, use macro lenses for close-ups); can use filters; complete control of aperture and shutter; wide choice of films. Disadvantages: Expensive and complex; cover the viewfinder when using a tripod and the internal meter, light coming in the viewfinder disrupts the exposure.

Automatic Cameras – “Point and Shoot†(NOTE: these cameras can have widely varying features and quality – get a good one with some exposure controls, if possible.) Advantages: Inexpensive and widely available; take most types of 35mm film; zoom lens built-in; flash built-in. Disadvantages: Autofocus can be fooled by shooting through glass; autoexposure makes it difficult to do shots requiring great depth of field; most can’t use a cable release; flash can cause reflections; viewfinder may not exactly represent the frame.

Section 3 – Digital Cameras

Method of photography – the same general rules and methods for shooting a picture still hold true for digital photography. Digital photograph allows the image to be highly modified and displayed in numerous ways. Resolution is one of the most important features to use properly in a digital photography. The higher the resolution the better the image, however this will make the file size larger, requiring more storage space. While this is excellent for making prints, file transfer and display on the internet will be slower.

Here is the general rule of thumb for resolution:

1280 X 960 pixels (1.32Mb) has the film quality of a 4 X 6 film picture

1600 X 1200 pixels (1.9Mb) has the film quality of an 8 X 10 film picture

1920 X 1600 pixels (3Mb) has much greater film quality than that of an

8 X 10 film picture

Remember that sending images over the Internet for

Ads, information, etc. require that the images be taken at very low resolution and that the file be saved in a compressed file format such as JPEG (*.JPG). This will assure speed of transmission over the internet in email or even on web pages. Some people take low resolution images 640 X 480 (307K) or less and then when saved as a JPEG will create a file that reduces to approximately 35K to 75K for transmission.
Top Bottom