Compact/Portable cameras

Discussion about cameras, microscopes, stains, and gadgets, along with useful tips for preparation of fungi samples
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adampembs
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Compact/Portable cameras

Post by adampembs » Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:57 pm

I know the best setups are SLRs, but I thought it might be interesting to ask what people are using for taking photos on forays for taking quick photos.

I asked a similar question a few years ago on Wild About Britain and one camera that stood out was the Panasonic Lumix LX5 (and its replacement the LX7) because it has a big lens and can focus to 1cm of the object. It led to me buying an LX5 on Ebay which has lasted me for 3 years, but has now packed in. Last year, I bought a Lumix TMC-DZ35, mainly for a holiday trip. Although the LX5 was better for macros, it only has a x3 optical zoom, while the TZ35 has a x20 optical zoom, and can still focus to 3cm, which is good enough for most fungi. It also has a smaller lens, so cannot take naturally lit shots in such low light conditions such as under conifer canopy.

What are people's experiences with compact/bridge cameras? Have any hot favourites emerged in the last year or two?
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Re: Compact/Portable cameras

Post by Flaxton » Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:32 pm

Adam
One to look at might be the Olympus TG4. Designed for the kind of abuse that could be dished out on a foray. Can be dropped from 7' and is water and dust proof. One feature that could be a great boon for small fungi is its ability to quickly take a number of photos at very close range but with slightly different point of focus and then stack to give the final image. An example here of a hand held photo (borrowed from the web)
TG4 photo.jpg

It also has the ability to record photos in the RAW format.
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Re: Compact/Portable cameras

Post by Lancashire Lad » Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:38 pm

In answer to the same/similar questions, I've posted several times in the past on WAB, and short of a DSLR with dedicated macro lens, I'd still contend that one of the best combinations available is the Fuji Finepix HS10, (with the addition,when required, of Raynox 150/250 supplementary lenses).

I regularly use my HS10 in preference to carrying the Nikon kit, and have been doing so for about five years now.

It does the job, and it does it well! - Focus down to 1cm in supermacro, full manual/auto/program/aperture-shutter priority control,rotating barrel ring for zoom, 30x optical zoom, rechargeable AA batteries for power, tilting LCD screen, etc. etc.
Review here: - http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews/ ... 10_review/

Combined with a suitable small tripod, and the Raynox's for when extreme macro is required there's not much fungi-wise that it can't handle.

Unfortunately no longer available new, but good second hand ones can still be found.

All the pics below were taken with the HS10. (The Leocarpus fragilis with the addition of Raynox 150 supplementary lens).
All my HS10 photos are taken with the camera set on a small tripod, and always using 2 seconds self-timer delay.
My photos are always taken by available light - I never use flash, but sometimes use Lastolite reflectors.

Regards,
Mike.
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Agaricus augustus - The Prince.jpg
Agaricus augustus
Cudoniella clavus - Spring Pin.jpg
Cudoniella clavus
Phaeolus schweinitzii - Dyer's Mazegill.jpg
Phaeolus schweinitzii
Puccinia sessilis on Allium ursinum.jpg
Puccinia sessilis
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Re: Compact/Portable cameras

Post by Pitufo » Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:26 pm

Wonderful photos with the HS10. Looks like a good option.

We bought the aforementioned Olympus TG4 for a family holiday and it was a pleasant surprise to find it had a macro+stacking option built in.

While clearly not as good as a dedicated SLR, it seems to work quite well and is very easy to use. You set it up on a mini-tripod and click the button with timer set (or trigger using a free smartphone app) and it fires off 10 shots in a couple of seconds and then stacks them there and then for you! It saves a copy of the first and stacked photo. Alternatively you can use another setting to store all 10 shots and stack them on a PC afterwards.

There is an LED "light guide" available which gives reasonable illumination for very close subjects.Attached are a couple of test shots I have taken. The Myxo is Craterium minutum. Sporangia are approx 0.5mm tall. No post-shot modificaton.
craterium minutum_600.jpg
Craterium minutum. Test shot Olympus TG4 with LED lgiht guide. Scaled to 600 x 800
slime mould sp 600.jpg
Another test shot. Daylight.
Last edited by Pitufo on Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Compact/Portable cameras

Post by Lancashire Lad » Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:47 pm

Pitufo wrote:Wonderful photos with the HS10. Looks like a good option. . . .
I much prefer the HS10 to any of its successors, and mine gets a great deal of use and abuse (I've lost count of the times that the tripod has been knocked over, or the camera bag has rolled down a slope etc. etc. - and it still keeps soldiering on. But one day, it will inevitably succumb to these rigours, and fail.

With that in mind, I took my own advice, and earlier this week I bought a another (mint condition - second hand) HS10 as a back-up.
Purchased with all originally supplied accessories, and 6-month full guarantee, from my local camera shop - for the princely sum of £99.00.

That stacking facility on the Olympus TG4 does look useful, and seems to do quite a reasonable job.
When I do any stacking, I almost always use the Nikon D80/Sigma 180mm Macro - but if I did not have that equipment and didn't want to spend the sort of cash to get it, the TG4 would be quite a tempting option.

This was a two shot stack (manually focussed) using the HS10 and Raynox supplementary lens: -

Click on image to view at full size.
Physarum album (1).jpg
Physarum album
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Re: Compact/Portable cameras

Post by Pitufo » Fri Sep 18, 2015 5:05 pm

Yes, there is definitely more detail on your images. Your lighting looks better too. I don't have much experience in this area.

What size images are you uploading? 1250 x 833. I've just figured it out.

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Re: Compact/Portable cameras

Post by Lancashire Lad » Fri Sep 18, 2015 5:12 pm

Pitufo wrote:Yes, there is definitely more detail on your images. Your lighting looks better too. I don't have much experience in this area.

What size images are you uploading?
The HS10 has various image capture options, but I keep mine set at the largest and finest jpeg settings, and with the aspect ratio set at 3 - 2 to emulate 35mm (36 x 24mm) film format.

With those settings, images are 3412 x 2274 pixels straight out of the camera.

I reduce them to 1250 x 833 pixels for uploading here. (using Paintshop Pro).

Re the lighting - The Physarum just happened to be situated in a nicely lit spot at the time. ;)

Regards,
Mike.
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Re: Compact/Portable cameras

Post by adampembs » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:28 pm

Just ordered an HS10 from Amazon for £100. Seem a good price! The Canon was at least double this!
What tripod would you use with this? I've tried a little flexible tripod - with legs about 4" long which worked well for those close to the ground jobs, but don't think it would cope with a heavier camera like this one.
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Re: Compact/Portable cameras

Post by Lancashire Lad » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:03 pm

adampembs wrote:Just ordered an HS10 from Amazon for £100. Seem a good price! The Canon was at least double this!
What tripod would you use with this? I've tried a little flexible tripod - with legs about 4" long which worked well for those close to the ground jobs, but don't think it would cope with a heavier camera like this one.
Hi Adam,

If the HS10 you've ordered is in good condition, I'm sure you won't regret the purchase - it's a superb carry anywhere camera for fungi.

As for tripods, the one I use was originally purchased as a Manfrotto "785SHB Mini Modo". It's a very compact lightweight tripod, the legs of which splay out almost horizontally, allowing the camera to go extremely low down.
It has five section legs, and at full height puts the camera at about 4ft above ground level. fully closed up it is just over 13 inches in length.
When new it came with a trigger action ball/socket head, but that eventually wore out, so I replaced it with a slightly more substantial Velbon head from an old tripod that was at that point not being used.
The modification was very straight forward, requiring just a long 1/4" setscrew, cut to the right length to attach the new head.
With the HS10, I've been using that combination, (shown below), ever since.
I wouldn't recommend the 785 tripods for DSLR kit, as the camera/lens combinations would almost certainly be too heavy. However, for Bridge/Superzoom or compact cameras, they are easily strong enough.
Manfrotto 785SHB Tripod with Velbon PH175Q Head.jpg
Manfrotto 785SHB Tripod modified with Velbon PH175Q Pan/Tilt head.
NB: As the photo above was taken with the other HS10 (at full wide-angle setting), the tripod looks quite large. but with the leg sections closed, as in the above shot, the length from end of leg to centre column is just 10 inches.

Unfortunately, the 785SHB (the SH stands for short), is long out of production, and as seems to be the way, the legs on the current models don't go anywhere near as close to the ground. Progress? - I think not!

Manfrotto did make an almost identical model, the only difference being that it was slightly less compact when fully closed up. That Model was the 785B and as far as I was aware, that also was out of production.

However, I've just done a quick websearch, and it is still being advertised for sale here, although there is no confirmation/otherwise as to whether they actually have any in stock.: -
http://www.sheffphotoctre.com/tripods/m ... ripod.html

I also saw a couple currently for sale on Ebay.

Size, weight, and feature-wise, the 785 models would be hard to beat. But whatever you decide to get at the end of the day - make sure it can go very low to the ground.

Regards,
Mike.
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Re: Compact/Portable cameras

Post by adampembs » Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:09 am

Got one of the bendy ones - although cheap this looks well made and you can bend it around tree branches etc. The down side is that it's not extendable so it might be short for some things.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/iGadgitz-Lightw ... =sr_1_11_m
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