Nowadays, no party is complete without a photo booth. A photo booth will provide your guests with hours of entertainment and laughter – even the camera shy come alive once they draw the curtain on themselves in the booth!
Speaking of camera, it is arguably the most important element of a photo booth since it is the device that captures a person’s photos. There are basically three types of cameras which are commonly utilized by photo booth today, the DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex), Prosumer-Grade Point and Shoot ( these are cameras that are somewhere in the middle between professional grade and consumer grade quality) and the last Webcam (cameras that are connected to computer primarily used for video chat or online gaming.
Don’t be lured into that high megapixel camera because of its promise of higher quality, most photo booth strips have an individual image size measured in the mid hundreds not thousands so an image size of 5200×3500 has to be downsized to 500×425 before printing. For a photo booth you will also want to choose a camera that has an AC power adapter. With constant use an SLR can burn through batteries fast causing delays and lines while you change batteries every 30 minutes.
There are four basic camera settings which need to be set to get the best results from the camera:
Setting the camera’s white balance correctly makes a big difference to the quality and consistency of the colors in the photos e.g. if the photo booth is used at a wedding reception it is vital that colors like the white of the bride’s dress is rendered accurately. Relying the camera’s auto white balance setting probably isn’t enough to get consistent results because the white balance will be affected by the predominant colors in the photo. You should get more consistent results by using one of the camera’s preset white balance settings, particularly if you are using external photo flood or strobe lighting.
The simplest option is to set the camera to program exposure mode and let it choose the shutter speed and aperture. This may not produce the best results if the ambient lighting is dim and external strobes are used as the main light source. A better choice may be to select aperture priority exposure so that a smaller aperture can be used to increase the depth of field to ensure the subject is in focus. For complete control you can use manual exposure and set both the shutter speed and aperture. For a DSLR an aperture of f/8 is probably a good compromise as it gives a wide depth of field and the best optical performance from most lenses.
Lens focal length and focus
Usually there is limited space available for the photo booth and it is necessary to use the wider angle setting of the zoom lens in order be able to capture groups of people. A 35mm focal length equivalent of between 28mm and 35mm should give good results with reasonable depth of field without excessive distortion. With a DSLR the lens should be set to manual focus and pre-focused to where people are most likely to stand (or slightly closer since the depth of field extends approximately 1/3 closer than the focus and 2/3 farther away). Auto-focus with a DSLR is disabled when shooting with live view and is not normally an issue. However if you are using a DSLR for a photo booth without live view auto-focus should be avoided because if the camera is unable to lock the focus it may not take the picture.
The ISO setting controls the sensitivity of the image sensor which can affect the image quality. The higher the ISO setting the more gain is applied to the sensor (effectively making it more sensitive) and the more digital noise there will be in the pictures. Therefore for the best results you should use the lowest ISO setting that is practical for the lighting conditions.
In practice a modern DSLR should have little or no apparent noise for ISO 400 or lower and will still give very good results up to ISO 1600. Canon PowerShot cameras have much smaller sensors and suffer more from noise at higher ISO settings. Ideally PowerShot cameras should be used at ISO 80 or 100.
Photo Booth Software
There are three important reasons to consider in choosing your software; simplicity, cost and versatility.
- Simplicity is important to consider especially if you will not be the one to operate your booth. By having simple and less complicated software would prevent any issues.
- Photo Booth industry is rapidly changing and it is not practical to spend large amount of money on a software that may not suit your business in a few years.
- Versatility. Some software allows you to select a layout and customize it to fit your customer’s preferences.
Photo booth software programs are a great investment. It will build your reputation, improve brand image, and eventually grow your business. It is important to make sure that the camera you purchase is compatible with your computer and photo booth software. Most photo booth software vendors provide list of supported cameras. You can also do a quick search on the internet on the specific camera model and software application.
Tip: Check forums to see if anyone has reported bugs or performance problems with a given combination.
It really depends on how tall the people are in your area and also on what occasions. Another thing also to consider is if your booth is strictly stand up photo booth or your guest can sit down. If it is a kids’ party, then it should be just enough for kids to be able to capture their whole bodies. You can put your camera on a tripod and use it to adjust to proper height.
Three things to consider when weighing your printer options –speed, reliability, capacity and build. All of these things add up to a professional grade dye sub printer. These printers are fast, compact, durable and can go all night on a single roll of paper/ink ribbon. Most models now can output 2 2×6 photo strips in seconds. The cost per print is low and these printers can run for years without any problem.
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