With the enormous concentration that the digital industry makes upon larger and larger formats – climbing from the APS-C to the APS-H and thence to full-frame – and into the rubbery advertising realms of medium format – we sometimes forget that good that is to be had with the compact cameras.
We can be mesmerised by the mirrorless or DSLR with the myriad of interchangeable lenses. Part of this is the desire to have ” the best” and part of it is the desire to just have more stuff. Compact cameras can be unrewarding in this – they are a design that does the deed in one packet, and all you can really add is a tripod and a snazzy case. Of course, if you are a Leica user, that case can be very snazzy indeed, but there is also quite a lot to be said for the cameras that live in the public bar, and not the saloon lounge. They occasionally surprise and delight.
Case in point – I shoot studio tabletops of my car collection. This is close-up stuff, well-lit, and clawing for all the depth of field that can be had. I have avoided the use of medium format digital for this because I am not John Dillinger and I do not know how to rob banks to get enough money for the camera and lenses. Likewise I do not use a full-frame camera because I want the increased depth of field that the half-frame sensor of the APS-C camera affords. My main equipment revolves around mirrorless Fujifilm cameras.
But look what I could do when I used the compact Fujifilm camera – the X-10. The sensor size there was 8,8mm x 6.6mm vs the 24mm x 18mm of the APS-C Fujifilms. The X-10 had a blooming problem with specular highlights – since cured in the X-20 and X-30 – and of course there was not the dynamic range available that you might find for larger sensors. Still…
The focal length of the lens in real terms was 7.1mm up to 28.4 mm and that meant massive depth of field advantages in macro work. If I cranked the lens to f11 and focussed at 10 cm I could get over 9 cm of sharp picture – a boon for any car shots.
And it got better – the lens of the X-10 was tiny in physical form as well, and could be poked into scenery where other large macro lenses would not go. As the camera was fully manual on command and synched with the studio lights, it was a small workhorse. The only thing that killed it was the specular blobs – an anomaly that bothered Fujifilm into making a fresh model.
Now in Part two we will explore what another manufacturer has to offer in this line. Take courage – it is an inexpensive journey to take.