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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone give me advice on model railway photography with todays digital cameras. So far I have been using a digital Fujifilm Finepix A303 and it has been great for general use round the layout, for construction pics and the like, but totally inadequate for close up work. I have been reading about the big zoom cameras, X12, (roughly 28mm to 390mm) and from what I read on the internet it appears that they may well fill my needs. I can't possibly afford an SLR with the zoom lenses I would need, even though they are much cheaper now that they are being discontinued and I don't want to go second hand. If anyone has experience of the big digital zoom cameras I would appreciate hearing from them before I go spending my pennies.
 

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The Fuji Finepix A303 already has a macro mode that lets you take pictures from 100mm. There you see. Model Rail Forum has just saved you £200!


Thats good enough for 99.9% of modellers but thats not good enough for me!


I use a Finepix E510 with a super macro and it is brilliant for close up work as close as 25mm. A good photo editor such as Paint Shop Pro is also a must:-







Happy modelling
Gary
 

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A macro lens will allow you to take close-up photos with much greater detail and definition than with a standard optical zoom.

Getting closer with a macro will result in better color saturation, better clarity and greater enunciation of detail.

Remember that when taking macro shots, depth of field is important. Look at Gary's shots above: A section on each shot is in focus ant the rest is not - that is because the camera is set to a very wide apperture or low f/stop (say f/2.8) and thus it has a narrow depth of field.

To increase the depth of field, one needs to decrease the aperture to a high f/stop (small aperture, say f/22). This cuts out the available light and it could ruin the shot. Thats why you need plenty of light when taking macro shots.

When selecting a camera, you should check to see if the values for 'minimum focusing distance' are the same throughout the whole of the zoom range, as a camera that has a minimum focusing distance at its longest focal length will usually get you closer than one whose macro function works with the wideangle portion of the zoom.
 

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Thanks for all the information fellas. I can see that I have a little more studying to do about f stops and closeup camera work and what is needed to get the best results. I'll let you know how I get on and when I buy a camera I'll try and get some photographs on here.
Thanks again.
 

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Im kind of new at using my digital camera but after reading the posts here i tried taking a photo of one my models and i was suprised at how well and how close i could get the detail.
The camera is an Olympus C-370 don't much about it stat wise but it's a good camera.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Have been playing about with my existing Fuji camera and this is about the best it will do for close up work. The three wagons shown are staggered so the photograph is actually three wagons deep and I focused roughly on the middle one so the depth of field is quite good and for most purposes this suits me fine. Unfortunately as the layout progresses so the chance of getting the camera onto the layout to take closeups like this get less and less, buildings, trees, telegraph lines, etc, etc getting in the way. This is where the digital super zoom comes in, I hope.

 

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I am not sure that a digital super zoom means that you can take close up shots like that from a distance of say 1m. They are designed to zoom in to subjects that are distant, not close and this means a long focal length. Only macro lense are capable of close up work and that means getting close to the subject and a very short focal length.

But I may be wrong.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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Gary is correct though in theory you can add extension tubes or a closeup lens to allow you to focus closer. Normal macro lenses are between 35-100mm. The one I have is 100mm though I do not find it all that usable unless I want to count the nose hairs on my engineer!

Plus telephoto lenses have smaller depth of fields and you normally want just the opposite. If you can set the f-stop use the highest number (smallest openning) possible f16-32. This will give you the greatest depth of field. When I get home I'll try to take some pictures from a new "lens" that I have with an effective f-stop of f144! No idea how those will turn out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The photo I have put up was taken with a three times zoom and the super zoom is a twelve times job. If that means I can get four times further away with the 12 times, with the same results, then I would be quite happy. Or am I just dreaming and it doesn't work like that?
 

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Not necessarily. The 3X or 4X is in relationship to the smallest focal length of the zoom lens and not a magnification measurement. If a zoom lens is 20 - 100mm in length then that would mean 5X. Normally fixed lens cameras have both lens and digital zoom. it may have 6X lens zoom and another 6X digital zoom that is done electronically and usually of a lower quality.

Find out the actual focal length of the various lenses and compare apples with apples.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This maybe asking a lot but you obviously know about photography so could I ask you to look at the camera I am thinking of buying and perhaps you could give me your opinion as to its suitability for my purposes.
I would be very much obliged if you could.
I don't know what time it is in your part of the world but I will be here for the next hour.

Super Zoom Camera
 

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It's unreliable to generalise but my experience is that even quite cheap cameras from Olympus really excel at macro pictures, though a great deal of the success is often to do with adequate lighting as mentioned in previous posts above.

I actually use a Panasonic FMZ20 12X Zoom model and have by no means got the hang of it!
Without the slightest pretence of decent lighting, I popped off some quick pics of my N Gauge Rheingold coaches when they arrived, still in the box. The following series of pics are all versions of exactly the SAME shot taken at about 12 inches range with NO zoom employed. This camera takes 5 Mpixels shots which enables severe cropping while maintaining high resolution - a different way to get up close. The only treatment utilised was to shrink the first two to 25% of original resolution to fit onto the page here, the third one shrunk to 50% and the fourth is actual size as taken. Please excuse the filaments of white fluff, so obvious in the pics but which were not actually visible to my naked eye before taking them!

1. Original image - no manipulation. Although 'shrunk' to 25% of original file size, this is still around 4 times bigger than the actual model.


2. Same pic cropped a bit


3. Same pic, cropped a bit more


4. Same pic cropped right down to approximately 40mm from side to side
Remember, this is N Gauge - the subject is tiny and normal eyesight cannot read that print! If anyone disbelieves me, try to read the same print in the first picture and remember that even that one is around 4 times bigger than the actual subject.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
That's the same type of camera I am thinking of buying. My present camera has no problems with closeups providing I can get the camera to the model but as I said earlier this is becoming more and more difficult as the layout progresses. I also like to take all my photographs from rail level as this is the natural viewing angle. Could you take a couple of closeups using the zoom to let us see the results, this would be better than all the theorising about what will and what won't happen with this particular type of camera.
 
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