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Author Topic: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography  (Read 14527 times)

biker

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Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« on: January 31, 2016, 07:49:36 am »

Hi,
many years ago, I used to take a 37mm equiv. compact camera (my only camera at that time) to my landscape explorations with me.
Now I'm using zoom lenses (24 - 120mm is my favourite range that suits me for most situations) for about 10 years.
My objects of interests are trees, plants, lakes, lakes with swans, old bridges, rails, little castle ruins, sunsets... taken mostly for joy.

I'm thinking of getting a fixed lens compact camera (28mm or 35mm ?) because of its size and weight and the great image quality at the same time. Something like Fujifilm X70 might be a choice for me.
But... is there a way back after so many years with zoom lenses? Does anybody have a similar experience with such a camera or using only one prime lens with a DSLR for landscape photography? Thanks.
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luxborealis

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2016, 08:51:53 am »

It's all a matter of approach and mindset. Yes, quitting your zoom lens "cold turkey" in favour of a fixed lens will cause you some "missed-shot" anxiety in the beginning. However, if you are a thinking photographer (as opposed to one who just reacts), you will quickly become more keenly aware of how best to approach a scene given the constraints of a fixed lens. You begin to see the world as your lens sees it and compositions become more natural.

There is something about imposed constraints that brings out the best in us. You should have a read of A Lesser Photographer by CJ Chilvers. Parts of it are quite good (other parts are pithy aphorisms with a sprinkling of what sounds like disgruntled wanna-be talk, although he doesn't seem to be a wanna-be).

As he points out through a quote of Orson Welles, "The enemy of art is absence of limitations."

The book is available through craftandvision.com or you can read Chilvers blog at alesserphotographer.com. And, no, I do not get kick backs from this.
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HSakols

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2016, 08:56:31 am »

You might want to consider a micro 4/3 body with a prime lens.  Something like an Olympus EPL7 and a 17 mm lens would cost only little bit more than what you are looking at at.
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Ranger Rick

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2016, 09:32:26 am »

You might take a look at the Panasonic LX100, which I find an excellent tool for such work.  It has a zoom (24-75-ish IIRC), m43 sensor, very compact.
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biker

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2016, 10:48:12 am »

@luxborealis: I like your tips, thanks! I think the Orson Welles quotation hits the nail on the head.
I might try to "lock" my zoom lens with a duct tape first to find out if I manage or not. And whether 28mm or 35mm.

@HSakols: Thanks but I'm afraid there is no value added in doing so. There are fixed lens compact cameras with an APS-C sensor (or even full-frame ones such as Sony RX1/R/II or Leicas but these are too expensive for me). That mirrorless would be a choice if I wanted to change lenses. Otherwise, it's just an annoyance with dust on the sensor.
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petermfiore

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2016, 10:58:45 am »

You should look at the canon G1x II. it has an ASP sensor and I believe a 24-105 lens. I have the first version, G1X, and Love it for landscape. Hand held I have gotten wonderful results down to 1/5 second. Very compact and portability never a issue...

Peter

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2016, 11:35:12 am »

You should look at the canon G1x II. it has an ASP sensor and I believe a 24-105 lens. I have the first version, G1X, and Love it for landscape. Hand held I have gotten wonderful results down to 1/5 second. Very compact and portability never a issue...

Peter
Yeah, I was considering this one for some time. It's 1.9x crop factor (so almost APS-C) and it's pretty soft on low apertures. At f=8 it's acceptably sharp. It lacks a viewfinder but you can optionally buy external one (not very cheap IIRC).
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sdwilsonsct

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2016, 12:21:12 pm »

Does anybody have a similar experience with such a camera or using only one prime lens with a DSLR for landscape photography? Thanks.

In the 70s and 80s I shot entirely at 50 mm because that was all I could afford. I don't think it hurt my photography too much. The X70 looks good, and you can always stitch if you need wider.

Isaac

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2016, 12:57:06 pm »

I'm thinking of getting a fixed lens compact camera (28mm or 35mm ?)

Maybe look back at your favourite photos from the last year or two, and count them into focal-length buckets: say <50mm, 50<85mm, >85mm. Then check if there's been a focal length you've used much more than the others.

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biker

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2016, 04:35:13 pm »

In the 70s and 80s I shot entirely at 50 mm because that was all I could afford. I don't think it hurt my photography too much. The X70 looks good, and you can always stitch if you need wider.
Thanks for encouraging! Yeah, I've looked at sample shots and was quite impressed. I'd almost be satisfied with a 1:1 crop displayed at an 100dpi screen, so here goes the "zoom". :) But I'm not decided yet. As for stitching - yes, I've stitched literally hundreds of panoramas in Hugin (a few in MS Composite Editor or another software) but I often run into problem with choosing the proper projection. The "Equirectangular" one isn't the right choice for all cases.

Maybe look back at your favourite photos from the last year or two, and count them into focal-length buckets: say <50mm, 50<85mm, >85mm. Then check if there's been a focal length you've used much more than the others.
Is there a software to help me with that task? Might not be big such a problem to write one as .NET/WPF has got API for reading EXIF info.
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Isaac

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2016, 05:54:00 pm »

Is there a software to help me with that task?

That is an interesting question.

My suggestion would be ExifTool and I just stumbled over a helpful blog post.
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biker

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2016, 02:15:38 pm »

My suggestion would be ExifTool and I just stumbled over a helpful blog post.
That's a perfect answer! Thanks a lot.
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Isaac

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2016, 03:29:33 pm »

It'll be interesting to hear what you find out.
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biker

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2016, 03:31:47 pm »

Interesting statistics. It shows (for my 18-55mm lens x1.5) the same phenomenon that Ivan - from the discussion below the second link (and others) discovered: Most of shots are either on the min. or max. position of the zoom lens (see the attachment).
The same results for my 28-112mm and 24-120mm lenses.
So it's not a big help for deciding whether 28mm or 35mm. :(
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luxborealis

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2016, 07:13:54 pm »

Is there a software to help me with that task?

I can see you've already found a way, but for others who may not be aware, it is built into Lightroom (Library > Filter by Metadata). I use it at the end of each year as a useful way of evaluating my shooting habits. What focal lengths am I frequently using (comfort zone)? Where could I be working to expand my vision outside of my comfort zone?
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NancyP

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2016, 07:28:45 pm »

Do you have a favored focal length range for landscape photography? The exiftools program counts all sorts of photographs, portraits, landscapes, street, etc.

I tend to like the 35mm to 40mm range for the landscape subjects that I shoot - I get great mileage from the little Canon 40mm pancake lens, even though it is a PITA to manually focus, being focus by wire. The lens that is with you is better than the lens at home, and when I might be shooting primarily macro or telephoto, the Shorty Forty fits in a pants pocket and weighs less than my energy bar snack.

Different landscape subjects may call for different FLs.
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luxborealis

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2016, 10:44:28 pm »

Interesting statistics. It shows (for my 18-55mm lens x1.5) the same phenomenon that Ivan - from the discussion below the second link (and others) discovered: Most of shots are either on the min. or max. position of the zoom lens (see the attachment).
The same results for my 28-112mm and 24-120mm lenses.
So it's not a big help for deciding whether 28mm or 35mm. :(

Actually it is... You can't go wrong with a 28mm or 24mm (equivalent.). Often, if you are shooting a lot at your widest focal length, it is indicating you are ready for even wider (or stitching 2 or 3 28mm shots together to get that wide perspective when you need it).

And, if, as Nancy points out, you can determine which focal lengths you use most for landscapes only, then you're golden.
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Nelsonretreat

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2016, 12:20:10 am »

I'm curious to know why you have decided to ditch the zooms? It seems from the EXIF data that you will find difficulty not having that flexibility.

I would counsel you to pay less attention to the size of the sensor than the quality of the image it produces. I have no experience with the Fujifilm camera you are considering but I know that the Fujifilm S3Pro sensor has a very different characteristic than the Nikon sensor. I use it for the extraordinary delicacy of the colours you can get which, to date, I have not been able to match on a Nikon sensor. Might be my technique of course!
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AndyS

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2016, 07:46:11 am »

Hi,

For about the past year I've been using exclusively the Fuji X100T. I've cheated a little by purchasing the WCL and TCL adaptors, so have ended up with 35mm equivalent focal lengths of 28mm, 35mm and 50mm.

I don't tend to swap them when I'm out about very much - just pick one for the day and go with it.

Rather than finding this restrictive, I've actually found that using just 1 focal length for the day is strangely liberating, and helps me think a little more creatively to get the shot. Once you've used a focal length for a while your brain also knows what's going to be in/out of your composition before you even put the camera to your eye.

I'm happy with the current 16Mp XTrans sensor. Out put up to certainly 24"x16" is fantastic. Lightroom isn't the best at processing the raw files, but does OK with careful sharpening settings. I use Capture One now and am delighted with the IQ it provides.

If you look at my blog (link in signature), then the recent images have been shot with this combination. The images in the 'Latest Images' gallery on my website are also with the X100T.

I do sometimes miss being able to go wider for some landscapes. I think the X70 starts at 28mm equiv, and there are noises about there being a wide-angle adaptor.

Hope this helps, happy to answer any other queries about using this system.

Regards,
Andrew.
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Isaac

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Re: Fixed Lens Compact Camera for Landscape Photography
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2016, 12:38:53 pm »

Often, if you are shooting a lot at your widest focal length…

biker is also shooting a lot at the narrowest focal length, and biker is also shooting a lot in-between ;-)
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