Can anyone suggest a cheap camera suitable for photographing railway models? (Digital of course). A secondary use will be taking pictures of period buildings. I'm looking for the *cheapest* camera which will do the job as opposed to the "best". TIA
"kim" wrote in news: firstname.lastname@example.org:
Mrs W and I have recently bought a Kodak C603, perhaps not the most inexpensive but pretty cheap and very good value for money, when you get your camera make sure you also buy an SD card or two, we have 2 2GB ones. Hundreds upon hundreds of photos at the highest resolution - which is bloody good. 1,000s at the lowest resolution. I'm pretty lucky in that my computer has a SD card reader built in so to transfer photos from the machine to the computer it's just a matter of moving the card from one to the other.
The only issue is that at high zoom levels "handshake" does cause problems, but rest it on something and Bobs your uncle. More expensive cameras have anti-shake doofers and so forth but we're very happy with what we got.
Your biggest problem will be lighting on railway models. the flash will be too direct. But some form of light tent and or diffuser and some IQ table lamps will work instead of flash. Best buys are models that are being replaced with a new Version. Avoid Vivitar Praktica Lidel deals
Hmm. Well, IMO the biggest problem for good model railway photography is lighting vs depth of field.
And, IMHO, cheap cameras won't hack it, period. You can't get close with fixed focal length lenses, so you're going to need something with either removable lenses (think consumer level SLR like the Canon EOS 350D or 400D), or good quality permanently mounted zoom lens (not sure which models are best though, I'll have to leave that to others to comment on).
In any case, lighting is going to be the thing - and lots of it, and if you use flash, it'll need to be a good sized one - the small built in flashes can't get the light far enough (even on my EOS 350D)
If you use flash at exhibitions though, be aware it can be very blinding to the operators, and often setting up lights round a layout at an exhibition is both impractical, and annoying for other viewers of the layout.
Are you looking to use the camera for photos at exhibitions, or to photograph layouts at home and the like, where you have more time and control for lighting?
Individual models, at home. Anything better than a 240x240 pixel webcam will do. I've had enormous problems in the past with changing light bulbs and setting-up table lamps on an ironing board (always wondered what that was used for) so would prefer to use a built-in flash.
I think you're going to need a model that has macro capability if you're using it to effectively shoot the models that close. Most cheap cameras don't do that very well, having said that for between £50-100 you should be able to get something more like a snapshot camera that would do.
We like Canon Powershots. We have two of them, and they both do a very good job. My daughter's family have Fuji Finepix - they are also excellent cameras. These cameras cost $300 to $400 new a year or more ago. Equivalent quality nowadays costs about half that.
A camera for your purposes will be in the 3 to 6 megapixel range, have a variety of features (see below), and should cost in the 100 to 200 GBP range. Look for older, discontinued models - they should be discounted
20-50% for the same quality. The current models will have things like folding viewscreens to justify their higher price. You will have to decide whether such features are worth it. BTW, they will come with small memory cards. Buy a card of at least 1GB capacity to start. A few months from now, you'll be able to buy a 2GB card for the same price. Buy one then. It's amazing how fast you eat up memory when shooting at the best resolution (which you should do as a matter of course.)
Oh yeah, buy a camera that takes a standard battery (AA or AAA.)
But IMO you're asking the wrong question. What you should be asking is
1) What features should I look for in a camera?
2) How do you take good railway model pictures?
Answer 1) (assuming you know a camera dealer you can trust):
a) The most important feature of _any_ camera is the lens. A good lens is expensive, since it consists of precision ground chunks of glass carried on a precision focusing framework. That is a lot more expensive than electronics. _There is no such thing as a cheap, good lens._
b) The second most important is the image sensor. Lots of megapixels are not necessarily a good thing. Pixel density is what matters if you want clear, sharp pictures. A 4 MP high density sensor will give you better pictures than a 6 MP low-density sensor. Pixel density is more expensive than sensor size.
a) and b) taken together mean that you are looking at 100GBP and up for the camera.
c) as many different settings as possible, including manual settings of every aspect, especially aperture, shutter speed, ISO (light sensitivity) and flash (on/off/auto). Miscellaneous picture programs (portrait, scenery, etc) are surprisingly versatile in unexpected ways, so the camera should have several of those, too.
d) macro (closeup) capability
e) 3x or better _optical_ zoom.
f) ability to use the digital zoom to examine details in the picture _after_ you've taken it.
g) a large view screen (easier for older eyes).
Test shoot several models right there in the camera shop, using all the features of each camera - have the salesperson show you how. Do _not_ buy from a box-mover shop unless you know exactly what you're looking for.
a) take a course in digital photography. I'm not kidding - even point'n'shoot cameras have a lot of settings you can control for better pictures. Nor do they work the same as the settings on a film camera.
And, in case you haven't learned the following from your film-camera experience:
b) use lots of lights
c) use a tripod
d) take a variety of shots of the same subject with different settings.
e) practice, practice, practice.
Extended Answer 2)
f) buy a good image processing program.
**** Warning: digital photography is addictive! ****
Actually, you need at least 800x640 for decent viewing on your monitor and if you intend to print any of your pictures, you need at least
1600x1200. Not to worry, Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus point'n'shoot cameras all do 1600x1200 or better. (Don't buy funny brands. Stick with the established camera makers.)
The built-in flash alone is too harsh and direct, it will cast strong shadows and bleach out the parts of the model that are closer to the camera. You really do need at least one flood lamp of some sort. A flood lamp bulb in a desk lamp will do nicely for a fill light in conjunction with the flash.
Very true. Nothing worse than just getting the link over the hook and some bastard sets off a flashbulb in your face. Please, please, please ask first.
The best time is the last half hour on the Saturday of a two day show. Not the Sunday, by then we shall be thinning the stock hoping for a quick get away.
Incidentally layout operators are happy for punters to take a few snaps for personal use. But on one occasion the punter was semi-professional and was selling copies of his "snaps".
However, far worse are the video recorders. They never ask permission and before you know it they are leaning right over the layout to get a shot "down the line". Meanwhile their strap is hooking your stock and their anorak sleeve (they always wear an anorak) is flattening the scenery. When challenged, the response is always "I've paid my money to get in".
It must be forty years since I saw Bushampton and Borchester and I have a clear mental picture of both layouts.
If it helps, I'm using a Fuji Finepix 6900 zoom and its done everything I've asked of it, both real and model.
I know its out of date now and uses the smartmedia cards which are like rocking horse poo to get hold of, but it takes great photo's even in low light up to 6 megapixels. the colours in the pictures are great and you have to pop up the flash to use it, which stops you blinding anyone who is watching..
a good secondhand one might be an idea
The new models look good, SWMBO knows I want the 9600!
Assuming they're still around. "Shares in Jessops plunged after the retailer issued its second profit warning in two months following a further decline in the digital camera sales."
"Chief executive Chris Langley said: "We had previously indicated that we expected the digital compact camera market to peak in 2007 and confirmed in January that it had continued to be soft over Christmas. What has surprised us from this latest data is the speed with which this market appears to have deteriorated." "
Look out for some bargains as competition hots up in a declining market.