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Thread: All that jazz: sensors, focal length, lens size, control placement.

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    Default All that jazz: sensors, focal length, lens size, control placement.

    I know what I want but I'm having trouble finding it:

    A small-sensor (1/2.3) camera, with a close-focusing (1") wide angle (24mm effective focal length), with adjustable ISO and aperture, with a tiny lens off in a bottom corner.

    Here's how I arrived at these specs:
    1. Small sensor will have the greatest depth of field at a given aperture and field-of-view (and I don't anticipate viewing larger than 8x10 images).
    2. Close focusing is necessary to place the camera close to the model train. An observer standing at the head end of a prototype passenger train will see a locomotive dominating the scene, with the cars tapering toward a perspective vanishing point as one looks to the rear. To achieve a similar view of a model, the camera has to be placed much closer to the train than the size of the train itself, and achieve close focus at that distance. (Helicon focus stacking can incorporate distant objects). And if you get this close to the model, you'll need a wide angle view to see the whole thing.
    3. For realism, the lens location should be at about the height of a scale person, and a corner lens is nice because you can find some way of intruding it into interesting places, like a station platform, or at the bend of a curve (where close placement will give a strongly-tapered view of the rails as they recede from the camera). (A stick-shaped camera would be ideal).

    I do NOT want any camera with a large lens, nor with a large sensor, not because of the extra expense, but because they're technically inferior for shooting small models realistically. The geometry of a smaller sensor and lens is more conducive to getting realistic perspective, and gives better field depth as well.

    I DO want to be able to shoot at low ISO, to keep digital image noise down. And closing down to a small aperture will give best depth-of-field. These conditions will probably require either bright lighting, and/or very long shutter speeds.

    I've taken some experimental photos, using a Pentax K10d/50mm macro SLR, a Panasonic FX-01 sub-compact, and a Rugby phone camera. The SLR is hopeless, providing an unnatural perspective and having no depth of field, not to mention being impossible to place in a realistic position. The Panasonic at the wide setting almost works with a 30 sec shutter opening. But lens position and size are cumbersome, and it's still too big. The Rugby lens is tiny and in a corner at the outer end of the flap, which gives great perspective, but no aperture or ISO control, so no field depth control, unfortunately.

    Of other cameras I've not tried, the Sony TX series looks possible, but controls are in the wrong places.

    Has someone seen a controllable micro-camera module with the above specs that does stills instead of video?

    Thanks.

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    I sure haven't... that's a pretty specific list of a wide variety of specs.
    I wonder if you can find a camera that does some of it, and then maybe some post-op software to complete the rest? Focus stacking depth of field software comes to mind....

    The small corner lens is interesting. Having that feature in and of itself would give you some realistic views that the other cameras frequently wouldn't get.

    Good luck! Paul

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    I've been out of the non-professional camera game for a while, but what I can say is that both Canon and Panasonic compacts have really amazing macro (close focus) capabilities. I don't know if they'd have the lens placement you're looking for or if they're even like they were a few years ago, but maybe it's a place to start.

    Personally, I've been pleasantly surprised by my cellphone on a few occasions - Turn it upside down, and it's about a tall railfan's height off the ground. I mention this out of interest, not advice, as it's still useless for taking photos that actually look professional, as well as having accurate enough focus to use Helicon!
    N scale CPR Kootenay Division, started May 2011!
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    I don't know how it stacks up against your other specs, but I do know that if you put an iPhone 4s or 5s on its side (landscape orientation) with the camera down, the center of the lens is almost exactly 6 scale feet above the edge of the phone body. The lens is apparently equivalent to a 29.7mm focal length in 35mm equivalent. Aperture a fixed f2.2 but the shutter and ISO are adjustable (in iOS 8), and a minimum focus distance a little over 2 inches.

    So it's close... but the lack of Aperture control is a bit of a bummer.

    (And FTR, from what I read, at least the Samsung lenses are similar/competitive in spec, though not in lens placement).

    It's just my hunch but I would expect an adjustable aperture to be difficult to execute in a small lens...
    Never mistake a guy who talks a lot for a guy who has something to say...

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    Don't have an iPhone, but I did something similar to that with my Rugby cell phone. I shot a photo of the front of a Bachmann ten-wheeler with the lense down on the layout just to one side of the track. In the image, there was a huge steam loco looming down, smokebox in front, with the boiler, cab and tender tapering gracefully off into the background. A marvelously intimidating perspective even from such a small engine. Unfortunately, only the front of the boiler was in focus . So you really need shutter adjustment, or at least focus control to do focus stacking. But I'm trying to avoid the latter if at all possible. If you haven't shot a photo with the lens held low, I think you'll be impressed with the view if you do.

    I've taken a closer look at Sony's XF9, which does have a corner lens and a pretty good sensor (12MP BSI CMOS) with a 25mm wide zoom lens that focuses to 1 cm, if that's to be believed. I actually just ordered two of these on ebay. Both are heavily used; one is supposed to work, and the other is broken. $53 for both: last of the big spenders. I'm planning to cut open the non-working one to see if I there's a lens/sensor module I can non-destructively separate from the body and rewire for remote operation. For the intact one, I'll play with it first to see how that does overall before attempting to cut it open for a control unit. The camera has touchscreen controls; that could be very good, or very bad.

    I'm only a little surprised that a digital version of the old Minox camera doesn't seem to exist!

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    Quote Originally Posted by steamroller View Post
    I know what I want but I'm having trouble finding it:

    A small-sensor (1/2.3) camera, with a close-focusing (1") wide angle (24mm effective focal length), with adjustable ISO and aperture, with a tiny lens off in a bottom corner.

    Here's how I arrived at these specs:
    1. Small sensor will have the greatest depth of field at a given aperture and field-of-view (and I don't anticipate viewing larger than 8x10 images).
    2. Close focusing is necessary to place the camera close to the model train. An observer standing at the head end of a prototype passenger train will see a locomotive dominating the scene, with the cars tapering toward a perspective vanishing point as one looks to the rear. To achieve a similar view of a model, the camera has to be placed much closer to the train than the size of the train itself, and achieve close focus at that distance. (Helicon focus stacking can incorporate distant objects). And if you get this close to the model, you'll need a wide angle view to see the whole thing.
    3. For realism, the lens location should be at about the height of a scale person, and a corner lens is nice because you can find some way of intruding it into interesting places, like a station platform, or at the bend of a curve (where close placement will give a strongly-tapered view of the rails as they recede from the camera). (A stick-shaped camera would be ideal).

    I do NOT want any camera with a large lens, nor with a large sensor, not because of the extra expense, but because they're technically inferior for shooting small models realistically. The geometry of a smaller sensor and lens is more conducive to getting realistic perspective, and gives better field depth as well.

    I DO want to be able to shoot at low ISO, to keep digital image noise down. And closing down to a small aperture will give best depth-of-field. These conditions will probably require either bright lighting, and/or very long shutter speeds.

    I've taken some experimental photos, using a Pentax K10d/50mm macro SLR, a Panasonic FX-01 sub-compact, and a Rugby phone camera. The SLR is hopeless, providing an unnatural perspective and having no depth of field, not to mention being impossible to place in a realistic position. The Panasonic at the wide setting almost works with a 30 sec shutter opening. But lens position and size are cumbersome, and it's still too big. The Rugby lens is tiny and in a corner at the outer end of the flap, which gives great perspective, but no aperture or ISO control, so no field depth control, unfortunately.

    Of other cameras I've not tried, the Sony TX series looks possible, but controls are in the wrong places.

    Has someone seen a controllable micro-camera module with the above specs that does stills instead of video?

    Thanks.
    I'm not sure I completely understand what you are trying to say, but I feel you have a misunderstanding about perspective and what it takes to capture such images. An SLR is not hopeless, what it comes down to is the knowledge of how to use your SLR properly to archive the affects you desire.

    There's all kinds of things to consider, and there are also limitations, we have to be realist.

    At any aperture there is about twice the depth of field behind the point of focus as there is in front of it.
    The shorter the focal length of a lens, the greater the depth of field at any setting.
    The longer the focal length, the less depth of field at any setting.
    The further away you focus the greater the depth of field.
    Close focusing offers less depth of field.
    Zone focusing
    Hyperfocal

    I'm not sure what you are trying to capture, but you have to be a realist.
    C:\Users\debby\Documents\MILW_PCELogo new.jpg

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    I believe I understand the complaint. The centre of the lens on an SLR is simply too high to achieve the 'usual' 6-feet-off-the-ground railfan height.
    N scale CPR Kootenay Division, started May 2011!
    Youtube channel: (MRR, Vlogs, Railway vids!) http://www.youtube.com/user/KootenayDivision
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    Quote Originally Posted by trainboyh16-44 View Post
    I believe I understand the complaint. The centre of the lens on an SLR is simply too high to achieve the 'usual' 6-feet-off-the-ground railfan height.
    I wasn't so sure about the complaint, but you can make things work with a bit of experimentation. If the OP is truly looking for what I think he wants, then Nano-technology would be the only thing that could truly capture what he wants. As far as I know, there is nothing that small available, which leads me back to being a realist. I guess a few sample photos of what the OP is trying to achieve would be of great help.
    C:\Users\debby\Documents\MILW_PCELogo new.jpg

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    Correct me if I am making an assumption, but are you looking for close up model photographing ability, particularly N scale?

    I am sure many of have been through this but not necessarily through the specs end first. I have "generically" looked for a close up macro lens camera system or some sort of lens attachment / snorkel type add-on. I did pick up an old "modelscope" attachment for a camera ( https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...ght=modelscope ) to experiment with.

    My only 2 cents, other than a failure to find an answer, is that several photographers here on nSn and out in the modeling world have had great success with DSLRs and software to focus stack. I have not taken the time personally.

    Added 2 more cents. Adequate lighting will always be an issue....

    Hate to say but with such a small niche market, I doubt a commercial option is available but there are a lot of guys ale to hack tech and perhaps help create something...?

    Please let us know if you find anything that fits your bill.

    And if you are a N scale modeler, introduce yourself and your work.
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    Tried it with a Nikon Coolpix aw110 that I use when kayaking, not what you are looking for - no manual focus. Lens is in the upper corner but the shutter is on top; I had to hold it up higher to get my finger under it to hit the shutter, and for some reason the autofocus seems to dislike upsidedownedness.

    I don't see any ability to set shutter speed, f stop or film speed, but there is "exposure compensation" that mucks with something. jpeg properties shows 4608 X 3456 pixels (I had to reduce the size to get it on this site), bit depth 24, f/7.8 and ISO-200. FL 5 mm, 35mm equivalent is 28 mm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by trainboyh16-44 View Post
    I believe I understand the complaint. The centre of the lens on an SLR is simply too high to achieve the 'usual' 6-feet-off-the-ground railfan height.
    I guess it's all about perspective. I would like the OP to post a photo that he likes and would like to try to recreate. The picture I posted here could easily be reproduced in N-scale using a SLR.

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    What about building a pinhole camera? I know that Ken Patterson has used pinhole camera

    I did a Quick Google search for "Pinhole Camera Macro"

    I also found a PDF on Optimum Pinhole Camera Design from http://www.apug.org/forums/forum62/1...y-pinhole.html see post #3
    It is a little Techy, but an interesting read.
    Jerry

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    I recently spent quite a while investigating compact cameras and came to the conclusion that most were insufficiently flexible in the manual mode to deliver what I needed in model photography. Probably the best thing I came across was certain models of phones from Apple or Samsung and others have indicated some of the issues with these.

    The camera perspective issue is interesting, and my thinking on this is that the layout has to be designed with these photo opportunities in mind. A photo diorama is another approach to maximize this opportunity. Track that is raised above the general surface of the layout will offer the ability to position almost any kind of camera to get the perspective the OP seems to want.

    Having said that, my recent experience suggests that a DSLR with a fixed prime lens and some serious lighting is both cost effective and the best solution for quality photos. The ability to take shots with full exposure control, RAW format for processing, and the potential to utilize focus stacking for DOF is hard to match with any of the point and shoots until you are getting up to the top of the lists, and then you are paying a lot of money anyway.

    Macro focusing is actually not very helpful for model photography in my mind, as it usually is accompanied by a very narrow DOF.

    Opinions will vary, of course, just my 2 cents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottL View Post
    and my thinking on this is that the layout has to be designed with these photo opportunities in mind.
    I'm probably a little off topic (I think the OP has disappeared anyway, so he won't mind) but for all my lack of planning, I do have a spot in my background where I will have a removable panel to allow the camera to shoot through the view that would normally be impeded for a camera by the background plywood itself. It will actually give some neat views that a live viewer wouldn't see, unless he pressed his face up to the camera peephole and looked through it.
    When not in use, just slide the small panel back into place and it should disappear into the background.

    Paul

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