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Scouting a location with a compact?

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by rd6743, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. rd6743

    rd6743 Well-Known Member


    I have trouble looking at something and visualising it as a 24mm photo or 50mm etc. Was thinking about buying a cheap little compact camera that is the equivalent of 24-100mm. I could then take this out with me, take photos and use them as reference for that the shot would look like when I went back with my dslr and 24-120 f4 for sunrise / sunset.

    Question is, how close would the framing be of the compact equivalent 24-100 be to the photo with my full frame body and 24-120 lens be (ignoring the the extra 20mm on lens).

    It'll be a lot easier / nicer to go for a hike with a little compact so I know where and when to go later with all the kit. Instead of taking it all with me everytime?

    Does anyone do this?
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    The framing is the same. Assuming that the compact has a smaller sensor then you'd have a greater depth of field than the full frame camera at the same (effective) focal length.

    There is a case for carrying lighter cameras. I have a Fuji mirrorless for when it is inconvenient to carry my Canon. I can't say I'd go somewhere deliberately with one camera with the intent of going back with another - if I wanted to use my Canon specifically then that's what I'd take.

    A lot of people carry a compact so as to always have a camera on hand, but that is a different motivation. I did for a while when travelling on business when something very small was the only practical option. I stopped because using a compact (canon G10) after a DSLR drove me absolutely potty. It was a good enough little camera (although possibly the worst of the latter G series for image quality) but using it was horrid.

    A 1" sensor camera with a 24-100 mm equivalent lens and a decent electronic viewfinder will give very decent results. I doubt it will be truly compact though.
  3. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I always carry a pocket camera. You just never know what will show up and the phone can't always meet the need. Here's an example taken on a Sony HX90 at an equivalent focal length of 720mm...

    Bae 146 jet airliner over Exeter DSC00405.JPG
    NickM likes this.
  4. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    I don't believe that many of us could easily visualise what a subject would look like taken with a 20 mm or 200 mm lens until we tried and learned by looked at the results (once upon a time any basic photography book would have example pictures too). Also, can you set up your compact camera to record a 35 mm (full frame) equivalent focal length it the EXIF data of its images so that you will know this when you look at them later? If not, try to work out the factor required to calculate this yourself from the actual focal length used by the compact camera. For example, if it is sold as a 24-200 'equivalent', but is marked as 4-33 on the lens, the factor is 6X and the sensor is very small.

    Also, the depth of field on a compact camera with a small sensor will (for a given aperture) be much greater than on a full-frame camera, an effect which will be more obvious at the long end of the zoom.

    And when you return later with your camera and decent lens, the weather will probably have changed and you'll wish you had taken it with you on the first visit...
    RogerMac likes this.
  5. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    You're presuming that the weather would be ideal on the first visit.
    You're also misunderstanding the purpose of location scouting. The idea is to scour an area for potential locations with the specific intention to return at a later date so you look to cover as wide an area as possible. Travelling light aids this.

    Location scouting should be a routine activity for any serious landscape or environmental portrait photographer. With the exception of familiar well worn and overshot locations, you can't expect to just tip up, find a great location at the right time and under the right conditions to get a great shot. Even after location scouting, landscape photographers should expect to have to return to a spot time and time again before getting a truly great shot.
    Benchista likes this.
  6. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    This is the default on every pocket camera I've used so far.
    I use cameras with sensors from 23.5 sqmm to 864 sqmm and they all take pictures good enough for my needs. The differences I find between smaller and bigger cameras lie in the ease of use and the range of lenses.
  7. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    That's why I've never taken a great shot :)
    beatnik69, Barney and EightBitTony like this.
  8. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    I do understand what you men by 'location scouting', but I've found that returning to a favoured site to take more shots sometimes results in ones no better than those I took when I first went to the place. Also, these favourite sites (mountains and coast) are usually a long way from where I live, so a return visit may not be simple. My compromise it to walk with my camera body and one lens only, and force myself to do the best I can with that lens. For me, with my half-frame (APS-C) DSLR, it's usually a Sigma 10-20, 17-70 or a Tamton 18-250 if I think I'll need the longer focal lengths. These lenses are listed in order or decreasing optical quality, although I have had decent 40 x 60 cm prints done from images taken with the 18-250 at 18-150 mm.

    I have found that careful examination of Ordnance Survey maps is a useful way of 'location scouting', expecially if I'm 100 miles from the place at the time. I look at contour lines, types of land cover and the location of paths. If I have the chance to return to a place I have visited before, I might choose to take a different lens this time or try to go at a different time of day. I have met people who spend every day of a one or two week holiday trying to get the perfect shot of one location. I assume they are all single, or have very understanding partners.
  9. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    The OP is clearly not of your thinking as they specifically spoke about location scouting with the intention to return at an optimal time. You can use OS maps etc. beforehand, but there use is limited and nothing compares with actually visiting a location.
  10. cliveva

    cliveva Well-Known Member

    Hi, as I have followed this idea myself over the years using a D lux3, I notice that I can fit more of the view in for the same focal length (equivalent) on FF compared to the compact. I just.checked this with two shots in the kitchen !! My thoughts came about as I had been trying to fit a tree in to the frame, but could not get far enough away to do it, yet with my FF and 24mm I can.
    Anyone any idea as to why?
  11. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    First thing that google came up with - today is in 2006 but it says that it is 28-112 not 24 mm equivalent. There is a big difference in field of view between 24 and 28 mm.

    "Leica has today announced the ultra-compact D-LUX 3. This new camera (based on the Panasonic LX-2) has a ten megapixel 16:9 ratio CCD, Leica 4x wide angle optical zoom lens (28 to 112 mm equiv.) with optical image stabilization and a 2.8" 16:9 ratio LCD monitor."
  12. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    If the aspect ratio is the same, the framing will be the same. If not, well, it won't be.
  13. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    If that's what you intend to do, I would take a superzoom-type camera, and take shots at different focal lengths to see what field of view you get - I wouldn't take a fixed-length unless I was intending to use the same focal length in the future (I think that's what you are proposing, in fact)..

    I use a Canon G10 still for matching old postcards shots to modern views and the zoom is invaluable - I can match the apparent focal length for shots ranging from 35mm slides all the way up to some cards which turn out to have been taken on half-frame glass plates (I know because I have the plates!). The 4/3 sensor is a bit squarer generally, but a bit of cropping never hurt anyone.

    Where you will find a difference is that the compact will have a smaller sensor so you'll have much less control over depth of field - if you are looking at landscapes this is unlikely to be much of an issue as you'lll find the DoF is much deeper at smaller apertures for the compact, but you'll need to remember the difference when you return with your snazzier kit.
  14. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    The travelzoom style cameras from Panasonic and Sony can match most superzoom style units in performance yet fit in a pocket; so there's no reason to ever be without. I captured the following shot just this morning because I had the little Sony in my pocket when I saw it...

    Crows on chimney Clyst St Mary DSC00026.JPG
  15. Barney

    Barney Well-Known Member

    There's no advantage in taking the added weight of a zoom provided the fixed lens is wide enough. The field of view would be the same in a cropped image from the fixed lens as it would in the taken by the telephoto end of the zoom. The idea of a location scout is to find suitable views and spots to maximise that view. You can do so with a wide angle lens safe in the knowledge that you can crop the image at home to decide the best focal length for that shooting position.
  16. cliveva

    cliveva Well-Known Member

    It was sold to me as having a 24-70mm equivalent lens, was that incorrect?
  17. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I imagine it says on the lens. It is normal to mark them. I had never heard of the camera. Google said it was launched in 2006. Possibly there is a later camera with the same name.

    Edit: All there is to know at http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.en/index.php/D-Lux_3. It was replaced by the Dlux-4 in 2008. So it looks as if you were incorrectly informed. Which would explain why you can’t reproduce the full frame 24mm results.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
  18. cliveva

    cliveva Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that, bought it 2nd hand in a shop marked 6-25 meant nothing to me, live and learn!!!
  19. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    6-25 will be the actual focal length range of the camera's zoom. Converting this to a 35 mm full-frame 'equivalent' cannot be done without knowing the size of the camera's sensor and comparing this to 35 mm full frame. If you cannot do this, you don't know if it is 'equivalent' to 24-100, or some other range.

    This sums up part of the problem perfectly - using a compact camera with (probably) a 1:1.33 sensor and trying to compare its field of view with another camera with a 1:1.5 sensor, and also the fact that the compact camera will have a much smaller sensor (in square millimeteres, not in pixels) so that the depth of field effect will be different, makes this exercise difficult.

    Perhaps a meaningful comparison would be if both cameras had the same ratio sensors, which suggests a half-frame (APS-C) 1:1.5 ratio sensor on the 'compact' camera body. A quick look at the Park Cameras website shows small Canon or Fuji APS-C bodies from £300, so perhaps one of these with a 17-70 lens would be what is needed (looking for secondhand older models would be better value). But would these be sufficiently 'compact' for the purpose?

    With care, images from an APS-C 'compact' body with (for example) a 17-70 lens could be compared to a full-frame body with a 24-105, but you would still have depth of field differences. My APS-C DSLR records the actual lens focl length in its EXIF data, but also records the 'equivalent' 35mm focal length too. As long as your APS-C compact did this (confirm before purchase), comparisons with 35 mm full frame images should be easier.
  20. Jimbo57

    Jimbo57 Well-Known Member

    Much of what has been written above is, of course, correct but I am not sure how it helps the OP.

    In landscape photography there are so many factors that influence the final result and field of view (which is the only thing affected by the focal length of the lens) is only one of them. Light (obviously), season, perspective, camera position (essentially the same as perspective), weather, time of day......... we could go on, almost endlessly.

    Probably the most useful accessory for a landscape photographer are the boots on her/his feet as getting about and exploring is the way to find the memorable shots. By all means use phone apps such as What3Words, TPE, etc., to record locations and suss out light directions, etc., but, having decided upon the view that you wish to capture, get there at the right time, in the right conditions and with the right (as you so determine) camera, lenses and filters..... and then experiment.

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