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 Post subject: Railfan with a cell phone camera or a regular camera?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:00 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:30 pm
Posts: 209
I recently wrote a short article about railfanning with a cell phone camera vs. a regular camera:

http://www.bubblews.com/news/1947060-trying-to-railfan-using-my-cell-phone

In it I included three photos of mine taken with my cell as well as posted this question:

"What do you say about using cell phone cameras vs. actual cameras for railfanning, fellow railfans?"

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Tony Held


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 Post subject: Re: Railfan with a cell phone camera or a regular camera?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:42 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:31 pm
Posts: 27
Location: people's republic of Md
I use both but end up using the cell more now because that's one less thing I have to carry because the twins are with me most of the time.


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 Post subject: Re: Railfan with a cell phone camera or a regular camera?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:05 pm
Posts: 329
Location: Philadelphia, Pa
I'm an old fashioned guy. Pentax K1000 camera with film!


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 Post subject: Re: Railfan with a cell phone camera or a regular camera?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:45 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
Posts: 2164
Location: Thomaston & White Plains
As for quality of image, it's not simply a numbers game of megapixel counts. The sensor size has a great deal to do with it; a larger sensor as found in a DSLR or even a "compact" digi-cam is far better than most cellphone cams.

If it's just snapshots or recording of details ("photographic notepad" stuff), I think a cellcam is OK. For anything remotely serious as to quality of image, use a decent camera, not a cellcam.

Howard P.

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"I'm a railroad man, not a prophet."


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 Post subject: Re: Railfan with a cell phone camera or a regular camera?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:30 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:42 am
Posts: 1676
Location: Seattle, WA - Land of Coffee
Currently for still photography (since 2012) I use a DSLR Nikon Coolpix P510. 42x zoom, 16.1 megapixels (CMOS), 4608x3456 (1:2.3), f3.5-5.9 aperture, 1080p video, 3 inch LCD screen, GPS.

Currently for video (since 2011) I use a Sony Handycam HDR-CX260V. 55x digital zoom (30x optical zoom), AVCHD progressive, 29.8mm wide angle.

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Ted Brumberg


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 Post subject: Re: Railfan with a cell phone camera or a regular camera?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:30 pm
Posts: 209
Thanks for the feedback, folks. :-)

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 Post subject: Re: Railfan with a cell phone camera or a regular camera?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:54 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
A lot depends on your goal for the images. Are you planning to post the photo to Facebook, or are you submitting it to Trains for consideration as a cover photo?

Print publications have much higher standards obviously, and the first thing most editors will says is "Send me the high resolution file.".

If you're only using them for social media, a cell phone should work just fine. If it's for documentation purposes or artistic purposes, you'll often be better served with a DSLR. That's true even if they both have the same amount of megapixels.

Why is that? Well, you can't change the laws of physics. The size of the lens determines how much light the camera gathers and the size of the sensor is directly related to how well it captures that light and how much noise the image will have.

Consider this: Would major magazines and newspapers spend the many thousands of dollars on pro gear if they could do just as well with cell phone photos? (Granted, some do use them, especially when it's the only photo available.) They prefer pro grade gear since it provides better quality images.

The question you really need to answer is what purpose(s) will the image serve, what quality does it need to be, and what type of an image am I trying to create? For example, in some cases a cell phone or small point and shoot can give you much larger depth of field, which may be an advantage if you're documenting something, or as disadvantage if you're trying to isolate the subject and/or downplay background elements.


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 Post subject: Re: Railfan with a cell phone camera or a regular camera?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:58 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2447
Location: S.F. Bay Area
It's more a question of access. If you're going out specifically to chase trains, then of course you will take the rig. But any other time, it is a shot you would not get, because you did not bring the rig. And before, you just said "oh well." Now, you get the shot.


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