Well, time goes on and cameras get ever bigger and more complex, and the older compact ones fall out of fashion. Indeed, in some instances the companies who made them for the entry-level market are hurting something chronic because their basic customers got a similar device in an overpriced mobile phone. If you ignored that fact that you had to pay out many more times the cost of the camera and enter into ever more complex contracts with telephone salesmen…well it almost sounded good.
So now the little compact may have passed into the shade, but as they are available at a very inexpensive price – and there are even refurbished and trade sample cameras available on the market – it is time to see what they can do.
And what they can do is magic.
I took a refurb Olympus compact zoom to the studio, charged the battery, and tried it out. It is limited in that it has no synch shoe and no provision for manual settings, but as the studio provides pretty good modelling lights as well as strobe tubes, and there is provision to change the WB to tungsten, it all worked out well.
The basic car shot was done on a 1:18 scale Mercedes 300 – the old gull wing car of the 50’s. A cheap model version of this but charming nevertheless. And as close as I am ever likely to get to owning one…Well, the basic shot is good. and the interior shot is as good as could be achieved with the APS-C macro rig. It is the short focal length that does the trick.
But look what happens when you poke into the special menu that Japanese camera makers provide for bored enthusiasts and school kids…these images are jpegs straight out of the camera. They are derived, and you would get tired of some of them in a hurry, but the basic change of image is there if only you can find a subject to fit it. I had a great deal of fun.
I would recommend these to all macro workers in the field. They cost zip nothing to buy and run, and they can do things that giant rigs cannot do. If you rig up a remote trigger for them you can thrust them into places you would not go, and get pictures you would otherwise miss.