In love with the FZ200 right out of the box

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Discussions thread
SirLataxe
Senior MemberPosts: 1,426
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Re: Something you might like to try
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Apr 1, 2013

Ruth Lipnick wrote:

A lot of good information, Mike. I will have to test the settings for jpg. And, yes, I always err on the side of underexposure because I can bring up a dark image as long as the information is there.

So...when I next have hobby time, I will try raw and I will try jpg at your settings.

Thanks.

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SirDigit's (Mike's) advice about setting & using jpegs from the FZ200 (in preference to RAW) is probably the "state of the art" advice for FZ200 jpegs.  It does beg this question though:  If those camera values (NR = -2, Sh = -1, etc.) are always best, with only the odd tweak to saturation needed, why does Panasonic include the -2 to +2 range for all these controls?  It appears that most of them are redundant, as they degrade the image in one way or another.

That other critical matter for the FZ200, as you have seen in many of replies to your post, concerns exposure and the camera's tendency to blow highlights.  It does have a restricted DR, probably because of the small sensor, so that highlight blowing is always a possibility, especially in outdoor photography or any other with an inherent wide variance in light levels.

If you use jpegs, your underexposure will restrict the amount of information in the image file.  You can get away with -0.6 EV; lower than that risks degradation of the jpeg when you subsequently lift the shadows and midtones back to how you saw the scene with your human eyes&brain.  The degradation consists of posterisation in plain-tone skies or similar; and colour-bleach in any areas you lift signficantly in brightness. Noise also becomes more evident.

If you use RAW, you can drop the EV down to -2.0 and still get back reasonable shadows and midtones when you lift the brightness of the under exposed image.  You may have to de-noise a bit more than with a 0.0 EV image but the various NR tools in RAW development software and in dedicated plugins can do wonders.

Finally, as another poster noted, there is nothing inherently quicker in using & developing camera jpegs than is the case when using & developing RAWs.  This "RAW takes more time & effort than jpegs" is a pernicious myth.

I've been trying out jpegs from the FZ200 as they are very good (no significant smudging, can be well-sharpened) compared to many other P&S or bridge camera jpegs.  Because those ideal settings, mentioned by SirDigit, keep the camera jpeg engine NR and sharpening low, and the contrast/colour saturation neutral, these jpegs always need PPing.  See this thread:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/50947927

Using Silkypix & RAWs instead, the controls can be set to automatically bake a 16bit TIFF in exactly the same way that the FZ200 jpeg engine's controls are set to bake an 8bit jpeg.  But with Silkypix (or any other RAW development software) you can vary the recipe for baking as much as you like after the fact of taking the photo - not possible with a camera jpeg.

Once you have that auto-rendered 16bit TIFF, you can do your normal PPing (tone, colour, NR, sharpening changes) in exactly the same way as you would do with a camera 8bit jpeg - except that your edits can be much more extensive (should you need to extend them) without the image degrading in the way a jpeg is likely to do when the photo editor's sliders are whizzed about with abandon.

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Judging when the FZ200 is going to blow highlights is not always straightforward.  I find it a nuisance that the blinkies only show after the picture is taken.  I have a Sony R1 that shows similar zebra stripes in blown highlights - but it does so before you press the shutter button.  This is useful.

Your best guide is experience.  You learn the sort of conditions where the FZ200 is likely to blow the highlights and turn down the EV in anticipation.  With RAW you can reduce the EV a little more than necessary and still get away with a decent image.  If you do this with jpegs you will have a dull image that is difficult to lift back up without something looking wrong.

Another alternative is to use a ND-grad filter on the FZ200, if there is distinct line that differentiates the bright (potential to blow) areas from the rest of the pic - landscapes with horizons, for example.  See this thread:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/50848989

SirLataxe, now deprived of the FZ200 as the ladywife has snatched it back.  (It is hers, I suppose).

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