I was recently contacted about the best way to shoot n-scale scenes. I thought this information might be useful to some more of you and decided to share. I know my info is a little convoluted, so if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask:
For my initial work with n-scale miniatures I simply reverse-mounted a 50mm lens. Reverse mounts can be bought relatively cheaply ($6) on amazon or through photo supply sites. However, this method provides very limited depth of field. You lose all focus control and have to simply move the camera back and forth until the image comes into focus through the view finder.
Lately I have been using a 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. I use as small of an aperture as possible, while still maintaining a fast enough shutter speed for my lighting situations (most of the time I can’t use a tripod because of where my scenes are set up, and so I am left to sit the camera on the ground or on as stable of a surface as I can find).
I will admit, that since I don’t own a tilt lens, I am not as familiar with the best ways to shoot with them. I will say that if you are aiming to shoot at eye level a tilt lens will be more difficult for this small of figures, since the depth of field lies greatly in the way you tilt the lens. At eye level you will only be able to tilt to the right or left, rather than up or down.
The wider you want your scene to be, the more difficult it is with train layouts (when aiming to get all the small details in). The best way to fix this is to make a 180 degree panorama. If you have any experience with photoshop this isn’t too hard, but if you haven’t used many photo editing tools I would be willing to make a quick tutorial for the simplest way to do so.
This is a great site on reverse mounting: http://www.dpchallenge.com/tutorial.php?TUTORIAL_ID=81
For examples of reverse mounted images of my work: http://tourmalinenow.com/tag/wwii/
For macro examples (these have a smaller DOF than I believe you’re looking for, but I’ll send you ones with a higher DOF if you would like): http://tourmalinenow.com/tag/woodland/
Also, something that might work would be a pinhole adapter for your lens. With pinhole, everything within range is in focus, no matter how close to the lens. This method would be a good bet if you want unlimited depth of field, that you can always edit a bit here and there on the computer after the fact.
I hope some of this helps. If I have failed to answer anything let me know.