Gather Round The The Tabletop
The tabletop photo can be easy to define but hard to do. It is anything that you can make as an artificial scene - and surprisingly may not be on a table top in a studio. Some of the best of them are photographed on portable sets out in the sunlight.
They have traditionally been seen as an activity that filled the long winter months for northern hemisphere photographers who could not travel to exotic climes. As it is, these days everyone seems to be travelling either too or from exotic climes so there must be another charm to the genre. There is - when you create your own world you can sometimes be more than a mentor, superstar, or ambassador - you can be a deity. If you are a good deity you get good pictures.
As with all close-range subjects, your chief bugbear is going to be gaining sufficient depth of field to make things look real. Of course you will have some images that benefit from bokeh - believe me as soon as you relax your vigilance in this game the bokeh will run out from under the couch and bite you.
The best way to get the depth of field you need is to use as short a focal lenght as you can consistent with the angle of view that you want. If you are using a camera with a big sensor, you will need a longer focal length so consider deliberately choosing an APSC or micro 4/3 camera. You really will gain an advantage.
Consider getting a camera that will display what you do on a clear screen as you do it - peering into a small optical finder or through a dusty ground glass and hoping for the best is not only inconvenient but unnecessary. I know - I did just this for years and now revel in the clear view that the digital screen delivers. If you can find a camera that has a swivelling LCD screen so much the better.
You definitely need a camera that will allow manual focus - there is very little need for AF in tabletop work. There are times when you need to create layers in the picture with manual focussing onto each layer - get a lens that focusses easily.
Cable or wire remote release is mandatory and a synch socket or at least a hot shoe to let you use studio lights is perfect.
Which leads me to the pictures of the panasonic GH3 camera - Micro 4/3, and all the other necessary attributes right there on the body. Chose a lens to suit your point of view -I favour the 12-50 or the 14-42 - and away you go.
Quite what you choose to put on your table top is your own affair - I do toy cars and buildings and then combine them with live models. I've seen marvellous model seascapes on acrylic sheets. One worker makes paintings using food...
And DO check out Paul Michael Smith on the net.
Note - we've got the Panasonic and a shelf of great lenses for it in shop right now. Come see.