PAS (not M) - Which do you use and why?

Started Sep 26, 2012 | Discussions thread
Kent_SF
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Re: PAS (not M) - Which do you use and why?
In reply to superstar905, Oct 21, 2012

I believe the most critical hurdle to an acceptable photograph is to first achieve sharp focus (assuming the lighting is satisfactory).  This is more difficult with the RX-100 when it is used as a pocket camera without any stabilization (tripod, monopod, etc.).

The RX-100 is so small and light weight that just triggering the shutter seems to cause some camera shake, assuming the shutter speed is less than 1/125th second or so.

My other camera remains the Nikon F5 (film), which is massive by comparison to the RX-100. Camera shake from triggering the shutter is much less of an issue with the F5 (but I use the 2-second shutter delay on the F5 when shooting single frames unless there is a critical moment I am trying to capture).

I quickly realized that the 2-second timer is an ideal tool for minimizing camera shake when shooting hand-held with the RX-100.  In fact, I challenge anyone to shoot with the RX-100 at say a 1/2 second shutter speed to confirm that the 2 second shutter will always provide a sharper image (all other settings being equal).  Try shooting an image of text and this result should be pretty clear.  The 2 seconds gives the photographer just enough time to minimize camera movement after pressing the shutter to capture the photo with the 2 second delay.

Rather than bouncing back and forth between the mode dial and menu system of the RX-100, why not use the 3 memory banks in combination with the 7 function button and the other customization options on the rear of the camera (and the front dial) to minimize the need for changing settings?  That is my approach.

The second key element of a photograph is not whether it was shot with P, A, S, or M mode, but rather the light.  The RX-100 can deal with near-field light through appropriate use of the on-camera flash (including the bounce option, another great feature of this camera).

So after focus issues, I decide whether the photograph requires the use of on camera flash (either as a primary light source or for fill or for rear-curtain sync).

Generally, the post processing of photos can be simplified if dark shadows are illuminated a little with fill-flash (people shots within range of the RX-100 flash).  So my Memory 1 setting is aperture priority, 2 second delay, fill flash.  Because the subject is lit with flash, I generally restrict the auto ISO range from 125 to 1600 or so.

My Memory 2 settings is Program (use rear dial for flexible program mode to fine tune the shutter speed / aperture combination to address light and camera shake, bokeh, and the sharpest aperture of all lenses being more of the middle range of the F stops - say 4.0 to 5.6.).  The setting is with flash turned off (say in an environment where flash is not permitted or subject to far from camera for flash to make any difference in the light). This setting also uses the 2-second shutter delay in single shot mode.  I do not restrict the high end of the Auto ISO range (so 125 to 6400) because I may have no control over the light.  However, if the lighting is marginal, I may increase the low end of the Auto ISO to 400 or even 800 (top stays at 6400) so the camera does not always select wide open for the aperture.

I reserve the third memory bank for "critical moment" photography.  The 2 second timer is turned off and I use single shot mode mostly.  For this type of photography, the shutter speed is critical to avoid most photographer camera shake and subject movement.  So I use Shutter priority mode with an initial stored shutter speed of 1/250th second (slower if indoors, faster if in bright light).  Flash is set to Rear Sync.  This type of photography would normally not require bounce flash.  The Auto ISO range is set from about 200 to 3200 (easily adjustable if ISO is either in the function settings or the front dial default - see below).

To give quick access to the Memory banks, it is critical that you set the "menu start" option to "previous" (see top tool item at screen 1).  Then, the number of buttons presses to access Memory Bank 1, 2 or 3 is minimized.  Also, to retrieve the stored settings, just temporarily switch to one of the other 2 memory settings in the memory bank and switch back again.  Then, you don't have to go to other screens to undo temporary setting changes for experimental shots, etc.

I realize I am in the minority, but I use the front dial to quickly override Auto ISO (for any of the three Memory Banks).  Others use the front dial for manual focusing or for silent and slow  zooming (say for video, which really makes sense).  I rarely use manual focus or even DMF focusing because the auto focus on the RX-100 is so good.  Manual focus may be best when shooting still subjects with a tripod though (I have not tested this yet).

One item I learned from the Gary Friedman e-book on the RX-100 is that there are actually 4 screens for setting each of the 3 memory banks (same for viewing the 3 memory banks settings - 4 screens for each).  Use the down arrow to access all 4 screens!

For other memory settings that are the same for each of my 3 memory banks, I use:

Raw and 3 x 2

Spot metering (center rear button also set for AEL toggle for quick spot metering)

Auto ISO (RX-100 is the first digital camera I have owned where this seems to work OK.  My other 2 digitals have been the Minolta Dimage 7 and the Sigma DP1).

-1.0 flash compensation (acessible by function button to change quickly)

Auto white balance (color tweaked in all white balance settings to slightly warm the default)

Standard crative setting (contrast -2, saturation -1, focus 0)

Steady shot on (except for tripod mount)

sRGB (after reading Gary's e-book)

Defaults for rear dial, except center button used for AEL toggle (to avoid blown out whites or black shadows or otherwise deal with difficult histograms, etc.).

Function buttons - my choices (impacts the above for quick access):

Metering mode

Focus mode

Autofocus area

Flash compensation

White balance (rarely change)

Creative style

DRO / Auto HDR (rarely use)

For exposure compensation, I use the default of -1/3rd for all memory banks and use the rocker down arrow for tweaking exposure as required.  The RX-100 bracketing interval is only 2/3rds stop which is not really enough so I bracket critical photos by trial and error with exposure compensation (paying close attention to the histogram).

I never use M but it could make sense when shooting on a tripod when you are working slow and light is constant.  If light is varying from shot to shot, M requires you to think too much and it is easy to end up with badly exposed images from photograher error.  The same shots taken in A, P or S are generally fixable in post with Lightroom (especially if shot in raw).

I edit every good shot in Lightroom 4.2, which I have mostly used since the original Beta of Lightroom several years ago.

I have not shot much video - I have a heavy fluid head tripod for testing video when I find the time.

Hope this helps (including why I have set up the camera for A, P and S and the interplay with the memory banks and all of the buttons, dials and the rocker switch on the exterior of the camera).

Kent

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