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 Post subject: FZ150 Macro Photography
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:12 am 
I guess the title of my request will both show my ignorance and perhaps seem something of an oxymoron -- guilty as charged. I tried to formulate my request on the Flowers and Close Up Photography topic where it elicited no replies, so I am rephrasing / retrying here..

I have a limited budget, I need to travel light, I will be driving taking pictures back and forth across America --9.000 miles in April and May. So, I, of course want to take good stills, some good movie clips, lots of landscape, some panoramas and as many portrait opportunities as present themselves. To that wish list, I have just been told that I will very likely need to take close-up photos of the manuscripts I will be researching in libraries along the way. So, the basic question is whether any of you have an experiences -- good or bad -- in using the wide-angle adapter and lens for this travel super-zoom to try to shoot at distances in the range of 12-18 inches -- most likely just using available indoor lights without flash.

If the answer is that "there ain't no way", I think you will have tilted my choice back to an interchangeable lens solution for which members of the forum have already helped me understand the price/performance tradeoffs of the best mirrorless alternatives. Since this is a Pany forum, I would appreciate any lens recommendations to meet the above needs -- including macro photography -- working off of a GF3 as the base.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:31 pm 
Tcorbet - You could download a PDF of the FZ150 Manual to study the details of what it actually does.

See Manual, Page 87, for the "Close-Up" mode, which would apply to your need for images of documents.

With any of the current bridge-zoom cameras, shooting in the 12-18" range doesn't require an add-on wide lens. That would be in the Standard Macro - not Super Macro, where offered - focusing range, in most.

The FZ150 calls this range "Close-Up", and the Canon SX40 combines Super and Std Macro into one function, range 0 inches - 1.6ft, which covers your 12-18" range.

For accurately imaging documents, particularly where they include diagrams, etc, being able to keep the camera at 90-degrees to the document is required. You could obtain a table tripod at modest cost. Do ensure that the legs spread widely enough to put the document between them, while stably holding the rotated-over camera.

Once set-up, you might use 'line-up' objects on the table, so you can just rapidly change pages in the document series. At that range, Manual Focus can be a help to ensure accuracy of fine detail. Use the Timer for shots, to avoid even the slight movements pressing the shutter when on a small light tripod can cause.

Most of the better current bridge-zooms can do these things without add-on lenses - but you can download Manuals to ensure that the functions do exactly suit your needs.

If you're doing scenes or portraits at the extreme wide-end of bridge-zooms, some lens distortion is expectable. They can over-correct in JPEG mode, and RAWs will usually need correcting in PP. The FZ150 has RAW ability - the SX40 will, with the CHDK 'hack'.

However, if you want fast-continuous, the SX40 does 2.4fps in standard mode, and 10.3fps in HQ mode, JPEGs.

The FZ150 does up to 12fps in full resolution, also 5.5fps with the AF focusing each shot, and does RAW, RAW+JPEG.

In RAW+JPEG it will do 11 shots at 5.5fps with AF per shot - or 11 shots at 12.5fps - focus on first frame only.

Certainly, folk will say that a bridge-zoom can't hold a candle to even a basic DSLR for image quality - and they're right. But for what you say you need to do - you couldn't do it - unless "very second-hand" - for even twice the price of a bridge-zoom. Body - close-up prime, 'std' prime for portraits and scenes - and a zoom for general-purpose.

Then you need to carry body and lenses around, change lenses, and maintain that equipment - all at maybe 3+ times the cost of a good bridge-zoom.... So the wallet - and what you need to do, and how - will tell you which way you need to go...

Regards, Dave.

 Post subject: Close Up May Be Enough
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:17 pm 

Thanks for the helpful suggestions. You've encouraged me enough to go ahead and purchase the FZ150 without the adapter and wide-angle lens.

The tripod was what I wanted to use, but I have been advised that I probably will not usually be permitted to make that much of an intrusion into 'quiet room' environments. Indeed, I am sometimes going to have to live with shooting hand-held through protective display cases.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:52 pm 
Tcorbet - I had a similar 'no-tripods' rule when wanting to get images of "Ancestry" records at a cemetery. Only what could be taken in a small soft carry-bag. So took a firm styrofoam slab, 4" x 2" x 14".... On end, that served as a forearm rest, and couldn't scratch the polished table, or make noises handling it - so, no objections.

I used a Fuji HS10 in Std Macro mode - with the LCD tilted, and "eying" the lens barrel vertical. You can see in the LCD if the document nearly fills the LCD - the barrel is 'vertical' if the document edges are aligned with the sides of the LCD. I selected the 3:2 aspect ratio, once I saw the shape of the pages, not the 4:3 AR.

The slab ensured "same height" so image distances were consistent.

I used the HS10's very good on-barrel MF mode, and the results - I did each of 7 documents twice - were, if not DSLR-and-tripod IQ - quite pleasing to the friends who wanted the records of their ancestor for a family-book they were making.

The small foam-block would fit easily into a corner in a well-packed car on a long trip.

Regards, Dave.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:45 am 
01. As my Reply Subject should show, it's always nice to talk to "someone who's been there".
02. Since I have to live out of my car from St. Paddy's Day til Memorial Day, I'm trying to leave some place for the sleeping bag, but your suggestion nicely addresses tight spaces.
03. As the facilities will include stuffy old folks at the LoC and NARA as well as local library Special Collection Departments across the midwest which often reduce you to a #2 pencil, a lined pad and plastic gloves, I am sure to be disappointed some places along the way, but c'est la guerre.
04. The main way to cope will come from just what you described. Whereas I would like the best possible clear text so that down-stream OCR would have a much higher success rate for ultimate 'string searches', in reality, the absence of getting a nice 'orthogonol shot' means that I will not get good OCR results. That said, the best thing to do is to try to preserve good photos for those who may never get the opportunity to view the originals.
Thanks very much.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:30 am 
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PS - it's best to post any Qs or comments about the FZ150 in our sticky thread about the camera, as it'll remain at the top of the page for much lonmger than a single thread, and will also be useful to (and seen by) more people!



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