When last we wrote of our camera for Z scale saga I had just purchased a used Nikon 8800 bridge camera and was waiting on its arrival. The Nikon 8800 was built to be a bit more than a standard point-and-shoot but short of a DSLR, a bridge between the two.
The 8800 arrived and though it was a very nice camera there was one glaring problem with it as it relates to Z scale photography, the macro mode. Unfortunately the macro mode sweet spot on this camera was at the wide angle portion of the zoom and this had the effect of making all my macro shots look like they were shot with a fisheye lens. Not so good for taking accurate macros in Z scale.
What followed was a sort of mini-musical chairs version of point-and-shoot cameras. I tried out several of the newer P&S models and just found too many shortcomings to be satisfied. I had considered going to a full DSLR but frankly didn’t want to take that financial and learning curve plunge just now.
What I finally did was to purchase a Nikon 8700, a predecessor model to my fisheye 8800. Very similar cameras with one major difference, the macro sweet spot on the 8700 is very much is the middle of the lens zoom range on this model, this has the effect of being positioned nicely between a fisheye and a pincushion effect.
This Nikon 8700 also has some of the manual control needed to achieve slightly better depth of field shots than a typical P&S, though not as much as a true DSLR. On balance for me, I find this a reasonable compromise for the time being.
The photo above, taken of the Z-Panzer railgun, was a good test for depth of field. This Z scale model is just a bit over 6″ from coupler to coupler in length. The photo was taken in macro mode and about 10″ from the front of the lens to the front of the model. I placed the camera in the aperture priority mode and set the f-stop and its maximum setting of 7.8. Most of the model is in reasonably good focus and the rear edge of the white board the model is sitting on is relatively straight, no objectionable barrel distortion.
Beyond reading spec sheets and repeating the little bit of technical jargon I’ve recently learned, I simply like the quality of the image this camera produces. It has good detail and a certain smoothness without being too soft on the details in my opinion. As I just received this camera I haven’t had time to play with it much, this shot was on a piece of white foamcore with a couple of 60W fluorescent bulbs overhead. White balance was set manually in the camera.
Not a DSLR but a bit more than a standard P&S, overall I think this Nikon 8700 will work for us here at Ztrains until we move to a true DSLR.