The Compact Camera Contest - Part 2

on August 14, 2017
The whole idea of taking pictures of toy cars - or silverware, jewellery, football fields, etc. - for illustration is to show all of the subject in focus. And to show some part of the surroundings in focus as well. Oh, it is fashionable to have one eye on a bride and groom in focus and everything else fuzzy - the same applies to kittens - and it is easy to get things fuzzy on kittens. But when you are selling something people want to see how good it is rather than how arty you are, and they want to see it all over. Thus the fight on the tabletop for every millimetre of sharpness. The optical facts of life say depth of field is greater with a shorter focal length and this applies to little lenses as well as big ones. The rules that smaller apertures produce more DOF and that moving closer reduces the DOF also stay. It is a balancing act. So far, I have found that, for my purposes, the act balances better with an APS-C sensor. Now I'll try 1” and 1/2.33 “ sensor cameras. The studio flash lights proved useless for flash performance here; no hot-shoe synch with either camera. And precious little synch even using the cameras’ flash tubes to trigger the bigger units. There is a pre flash that jiggers up the studio triggering. Fortunately the Elinchrom El units have a standard modelling light that can be varied - once a white balance was found for these, the cameras could be used. But here comes more balancing. a. The cameras do go up to decent ISO figures - both could be run at about 1600 ISO. Unfortunately their sensor sizes, and processors have a good deal more colour noise in the files than the APS-C or full-frame I tried. b. The lenses focus quite closely…macro is a word that is bandied freely about in their menus…but their smallest apertures are not very small compared to the APS-C. I can get an f:22 with some Fujifilm lenses - these Panasonic and Leica ones only give me f:8. DOFmaster is depressing when you look at the figures for close-up at f:8. c. Manual focusing is tough on the TZ110 and not there at all on the FT30. They do have good autofocus and the TZ110 has a post-focus trick as well, but nailing it is time consuming. All that having been said, the FT30 can do something that nothing else I have got can do - it can peep into the windows of the trailers at the McConnell Beach caravan park diorama and see what the interior looks like. The lens is small and set forward on the upper portion of the body - you can press it close to the subject. If there had not been any glazing on the caravan window you would not even have had to look through a reflection. Upon balance, I think that while one might be able to get a useful tabletop shot in the open air using natural light - as Michael Paul Smith did in his book “ Elgin Park “ with a small compact camera - the lighting constraints of the studio are better served by the larger mirror-less or DSLR - the APS-C or micro 4/3 size. Their lenses are longer and of a larger diameter, but the increased DOF with the smaller aperture plus the improved resolution in the processing wins the day. You can still use the Panasonic brand to great effect - just choose a different model. Save these compacts for your holiday adventures.