In love with the FZ200 right out of the box

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Discussions
Ruth Lipnick
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In love with the FZ200 right out of the box
Mar 31, 2013

Love the FZ200 right out of the box!

I'm a real beginner with the camera and have been taking pictures for a few days to get the feel of it. I have not changed any of the default settings. Can't believe how lovely and natural the colors are.

Eventually would like to learn about ires, izoom, batching, etc., how to get closer w/o losing quality. Expect I will switch to raw but I'm first trying to figure out the basics like what focus mode to use and how to make a larger "frame" for the focus. I read about this on the forum but can't seem to do it.

Meanwhile, here's a downy woodpecker of the female variety. I think it's lovely. Except when I blow it up to 100%, it isn't a sharp as I'd like. No PP at all. Will raw and silkypix make a difference? I also have Photoshop and Lightroom. Since I'm lucky enough to have all this at my disposal (for my work), what are the best tools.

Eventually I may use a tripod but for now, I just like walking in the woods with the camera.

You guys have been inspirational.

P.S. I hate not having a manual to keep in my bag.

Ruth
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eagle_I
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Re: In love with the FZ200 right out of the box
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Mar 31, 2013

NICE shot!

The "button" you're looking for is the left side of the "arrow" ring.  It'll bring up the AF mode menu. Select the "1-area" then the upper thumb dial adjusts size while the "arrows" adjust position.

Did you say you started a thread requesting info on teleconverter for the FZ200?

Oh ... I PREFER to shoot and edit JPGs.  Photoshop CS6 does well for me enhancing the already great output from the FZ200.

Mark

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Ruth Lipnick
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Re: In love with the FZ200 right out of the box
In reply to eagle_I, Mar 31, 2013

eagle_I wrote:

NICE shot!

Thanks.

The "button" you're looking for is the left side of the "arrow" ring.  It'll bring up the AF mode menu. Select the "1-area" then the upper thumb dial adjusts size while the "arrows" adjust position.

Thanks. Will try again.

Did you say you started a thread requesting info on teleconverter for the FZ200?

Perhaps that was my intention but I started reading everything on the forum re TCs and got rather confused. Nikon and Olympus seem to have light weight possibilities but then there's the school that says don't put one on the lens. Will want to do something but first things first.

Oh ... I PREFER to shoot and edit JPGs.  Photoshop CS6 does well for me enhancing the already great output from the FZ200.

Mark

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morepix
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Handling overexposure
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Mar 31, 2013

Ruth Lipnick wrote:

Love the FZ200 right out of the box!

Meanwhile, here's a downy woodpecker of the female variety. I think it's lovely. Except when I blow it up to 100%, it isn't a sharp as I'd like. No PP at all. Will raw and silkypix make a difference? I also have Photoshop and Lightroom. Since I'm lucky enough to have all this at my disposal (for my work), what are the best tools.

Ruth,

It's nice to read that you're enthusiastic about your purchase. I'm certainly fond of mine. One starts to push it's envelope when the light's poor beyond what the bright lens can easily handle.

Your woodpecker is actually pretty sharp. You may have trouble seeing its sharpness because some of the white feathers are real close to being blown out. If you haven't already done it, you can reduce that tendency by setting 1/3 to 2/3 EV negative exposure compensation, particularly when you have some white areas of interest in a scene that's generally somewhat darker than those areas. I can see that you didn't use any negative exposure comp in this particular photo. Many FZ200 users make -1/3 EV part of their default setting, adjusting it up or down if time allows and if the histogram suggests it.

You can also recover some of an overexposed area in post-processing if you start with a raw image instead of JPG. I see you're thinking of trying it out. I use Lightroom, and have never experimented with Silkypix, although some say it's made for the FZ200. Lightroom does a very good job too, and since you already have Lightroom (ver. 4, I hope), you can try it out without acquiring anything new.

Some people think raw imaging is a waste of time and effort; others think it's the best way to go for most of their work. You'll find out for yourself which of those types you are.

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windmillgolfer
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Re: In love with the FZ200 right out of the box
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Mar 31, 2013

Good start Ruth, for a 1/125th second at 600mm the image is pretty clear.  So, you did well.  Photoshop would certainly help because the blurring/loss of detail is not that bad, try a little sharpening.  RAW you could process with Silkypix but I'd expect Lightroom to do likewise. Silkypix as a free tool with the camera is quite capable but not always intuitive.  The big advantage of Photoshop and Lightroom is that you can use them with many cameras and to a large degree they are de facto standards and commonly referenced tools.-

Given the bird is predominently white, you could probably have got away with tweaking the exposure by -2/3EV, which would have you a shutter sped of circa 1/200th second and that would almost certainly have reduced the small amount of blur. It is quite common to default to -2/3EV, especially if not using spot metering.

RAW can help push the envelope on exposure, again usually based on a slight negative EV. You can always try recording both JPEG and RAW and experimenting. Note, however, that the file sizes for RAW are circa 3 times those of the best JPEG and, consequently, write times to the memory card will be longer and this will impact the fps rate /duration and the number of shots on the card (though cards are cheap and this shouldn't be an issue as long the card is appropriately sized).

If you search the forum, you'll find best settings for the FZ200, with tweaks to Saturation, Nosie Reduction and Sharpening.

God Luck

Stuart
Also at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dieselgolfer/

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Ruth Lipnick
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Re: In love with the FZ200 right out of the box
In reply to windmillgolfer, Mar 31, 2013

Thank you morepix and windmill golfer. I certainly should have dropped the EV. I almost always do it on my DSLR.

By the way, how to I see blown highlights before I take the picture? I presume there is a way on this camera. I know what to look at after the fact.

And yes, I'll try RAW next time and take images into Lightroom. I've been busy with work (a good thing) and I'm just pleased to get some shooting in.

Now if I could only get closer to the birds.

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SwatOx
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Re: In love with the FZ200 right out of the box
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Mar 31, 2013

Ruth, if you turn on the histogram, that will give you a clue to where the image is likely to be blown out: namely, if too much is piled at the right edge! Also, you can turn on "blinkies" in "Review" which (once you take a photo) will show you where the photo is overexposed -- and (supposing it is a 'repeatable' event) you can adjust and take another photo.

I myself prefer RAW and using both Lightroom and Photoshop Elements for any further PP. There are some excellent tutorials on Lightroom in "lynda.com", BTW.

Enjoy your FZ200: I love mine!

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Ruth Lipnick
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Re: In love with the FZ200 right out of the box
In reply to SwatOx, Mar 31, 2013

Exactly what I was looking for but I didn't know what to call them. "Blinkies" it is. I know they are very helpful on my Nikon.

I will learn/use Lightroom (I'm on the Adobe Cloud so I can download whatever I want -- as long as I keep shelling out the bucks). And, yes, lynda.com is an excellent source for a whole lot of things.

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Mikedigi
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Something you might like to try
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Mar 31, 2013

Several of us who do not want the hassle of RAW or a lot of PP have done a lot of carefully compared tests and from all this I personally would recommend the following, which can be used under all conditions I have met so far. The aim is to produce JPEGs needing no or minimal PP. There is little evidence that RAW-derived results are necessarily better than JPEGs, it all depends on how well the JPEGs are taken. Suggested are:

Program or Aperture Priority mode, iResolution On, Standard Photo Style, Contrast 0, Saturation 0, Sharpness -1, Noise Reduction -2, AWB Adjust 3 clicks left.

Sounds complicated but isn't, and once set you can leave them.

In drab light with drab colours, I switch to Vivid Photo Style for a less boring result, leaving all other settings the same.

Aperture in the f2.8-f4 area for lowest possible ISO, smaller only if needed for very bright light,  depth of field, e.g. with close-up Macro.

One-area central focus area (adjustable for size).

Good exposure is a very narrow range (less than +/- 0.33 EV), i.e. the FZ200 is unforgiving of Over or Under exposure, but best to be a bit on the Under side if anything, and any correction can be done quickly in Picasa or other simple program.  Mostly I find I can use -0.33 EV and, if I like, bracket +/- 0.33 EV.  The look of the colours in the EVF or LCD is a good guide pre-shooting, I find the Histogram far less useful for this and I leave it switched off.

I view/compare/crop/resize in FastStone Image Viewer, I edit in Picasa (only if necessary), I denoise in Noiseware Community (rarely necessary), and I can check camera settings in Photome or Exiftool. All these programs are free - no need for any fancy software. There's lots of info on these programs if you search on this Forum.

Note: Re i-Resolution, I use the "On" setting at present as I have not thoroughly tested the effects of its "iZoom" setting in terms of IQ.

Telemacro is brilliant - with Macro switched on, and zoom at anywhere from 6x to 24x, you can shoot from as close as 1 metre/40" (or further of course), and at 24x/600mm EFL you have the closest "stand back" macro, ideal for butterflies, flowers, craft items, jewellery, etc, etc.

Telemacro is lovely. I find close-up wide-angle Macro far less fun.

I could go on, but I hope that this may help a bit.

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Ruth Lipnick
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Re: Something you might like to try
In reply to Mikedigi, Mar 31, 2013

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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sherman_levine
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Re: In love with the FZ200 right out of the box
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Mar 31, 2013

Ruth Lipnick wrote:

Exactly what I was looking for but I didn't know what to call them. "Blinkies" it is. I know they are very helpful on my Nikon.

I will learn/use Lightroom (I'm on the Adobe Cloud so I can download whatever I want -- as long as I keep shelling out the bucks). And, yes, lynda.com is an excellent source for a whole lot of things.

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Blinkies and the histogram are useful, but not perfect. They represent a total brightness, so if you have a bright primary (RGB, I think) color, it can saturate without the histogram reaching the right edge or causing blinkies.  Practice with male cardinals.

Sherm

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capnblinski
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Re: In love with the FZ200 right out of the box
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Apr 1, 2013

Ruth Lipnick wrote:

Love the FZ200 right out of the box!

I'm a real beginner with the camera and have been taking pictures for a few days to get the feel of it. I have not changed any of the default settings. Can't believe how lovely and natural the colors are.

Eventually would like to learn about ires, izoom, batching, etc., how to get closer w/o losing quality. Expect I will switch to raw but I'm first trying to figure out the basics like what focus mode to use and how to make a larger "frame" for the focus. I read about this on the forum but can't seem to do it.

Meanwhile, here's a downy woodpecker of the female variety. I think it's lovely. Except when I blow it up to 100%, it isn't a sharp as I'd like. No PP at all. Will raw and silkypix make a difference? I also have Photoshop and Lightroom. Since I'm lucky enough to have all this at my disposal (for my work), what are the best tools.

Eventually I may use a tripod but for now, I just like walking in the woods with the camera.

You guys have been inspirational.

P.S. I hate not having a manual to keep in my bag.

Ruth

Thanks Ruth - You have shown here another example of that Leica lens resolving power! 
A favourite tip of mine has nothing to do with stabilizers or constant AF or the big bugaboo - the FZ200's SH and NR slider settings -- rather with ergonomics. I like to sometimes carry the camera with the lens hood reversed, and held in my left palm, lens facing mostly to the left. To me like a made-to-fit, and from there I can bring the camera quickly to a shooting position. I've taken most of my shots while carrying that way with the hood reversed. lol!

Flicker

- Dave C.

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eagle_I
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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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I like Mike's comments too.  And, as you see from ALL the helpful thoughts and opinions there's a LOT to learn.  A lot to consider.  Maybe too much as when you're twiddling with interpretation of histograms and blinkies that illusive bird flits off.

Yes, exposure is very important so learn to evaluate it in the EVF while you focus and compose.  Check it by quick review if you have time.  The +/- exposure compensation is my most used control.  I usually like, like you, to have it a bit darker.

Your photo got a comment about "blown" highlights and I believe mention of a little soft focus.  It is a bit on the bright side, but not by too much as you see from my CS6 enhancement I was able to find some tones in the white chest area.  Most of my effort was done with the eight sliders in Shadows/Highlights adjustment with "Show More Options."  A little play with Selective Color sliders was done next.  I'll often bring back a pure black that work in S/H has muted.  Work on other colors depend on the image.  Oh, on yours while in "Black" I removed a bit of blue I saw in the cheek area by adding a little yellow with the slider.  For sharpening I used a technique I learned here in the Retouch Forum.  I use "Smart Sharpening" BUT FIRST changing the image mode to 16 bits per channel.  Then is the Smart Sharpen window I use "Basic" remove Lens Blur, and check More Accurate.  Don't ask me how or why it works ... I just like the way it does.  The two sliders can vary quite a bit depending on the image.  I went a titch heavier on sharpening your woodpecker than I'd have done on my own ... actually if it were not for a "sliders only" example here I'd have used the brush to selectively soften a bit of over sharpened areas.  That's nit picking though.  Sharpening FZ200 has been a new ballgame so to speak for me.  The JPGs I get (if I focus right and hold steady) are GREAT to start with.  Anyway too much "blabber" ... SHOWING is better.  Hope you don't mind me messing with your image.

Ruth's woodpecker enhanced with sliders in Photoshop CS6

Mark

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ADSinger
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A Couple of Thoughts
In reply to eagle_I, Apr 1, 2013

First the manual. If you miss having it in your pocket, put it on your phone. Download the pdf version off Panasonic's web site. There are a number of free apps that will allow you to transfer the pdf to your smartphone. I use Files Lite on my iphone. Now I have the manual with me all the time.

In terms of post processing, you might want to try Lightroom, it is far easier to pick up than CS6. If you like LR you might as well shoot RAW since the photo finishing is the same for both it and jpgs. RAW files are edited with the same tools but have more flexibility. For the moment consider RAW and jpg together, play with the RAW images and see if you can improve on the result.

Meanwhile enjoy the camera, shoot lots, try all the settings, and have fun.

Alan.

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Rodger1943
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Re: In love with the FZ200 right out of the box
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Apr 1, 2013

Hi Ruth, Good to see you finally took the plunge and got the FZ200. Despite what you think, I thought your image was excellent, even at 100% it looked pretty good. You have to remember that it is a small sensor and blowing up the images too much will reveal its heritage. My rule of thumb is that if the image looks good at full screen on my 15" laptop, then I'm a happy camper. Whenever I blow up the image its never all that great. The fact that you are coming from a DSLR, may cause you some anguish in this area, but I have had very few images that look good magnified up to 100%. I can also see the difference between my camera and others in a bird photography group I belong to. At a smaller size, my images look as good as theirs, but once we start blowing them up, mine fall away in quality, whereas theirs still look pretty good. All this means in practical terms is that you can't re-produce as bigger prints off your shots as you can from a bigger sensor, but bearing in mind that most people either never print their images, or only print up to a A3 size, then you won't see any significant difference. Of course, there are other advantages of having a bigger sensor, but there are also advantages of having such a small package as the FZ200, that makes it worth using and using a lot. As you become more familiar with the camera, you'll find you can get better with its operation and use it to full advantage. There are lots of thoughts here on what settings are the best. Most seem to settle on Noise Reduction -2 and Sharpness -1. I have tried those and found that for birding, that the feathers seem a bit blurred to me. You may find different and I advise you to try those settings and see, but I tend to use NR-1 and Sharpness +1. There does seem to be some differences between individual cameras and may be the reason I can't reproduce the results that others are getting using the -2 -1 setting. Only testing by you will determine what's best, however those settings offer you a starting point.

To get a larger or smaller focus square, have the camera set to autofocus, push the one touch focus button on the lens barrel and the focus square will turn yellow. Once that is achieved rotate the little wheel on the back top right of the camera and you can make it one size smaller, or two sizes larger. Unfortunately, every time you turn the camera off, the focus square will return to the default setting. There is no way you can get around this. Many have tried, all have failed. HA!

Hope this helps and doesn't confuse you too much, as you have a bit of a learning curve ahead, but its an enjoyable one.

Regards

Rodger

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Mikedigi
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Re: A Couple of Thoughts
In reply to ADSinger, Apr 1, 2013

ADSinger wrote:

First the manual. If you miss having it in your pocket, put it on your phone. Download the pdf version off Panasonic's web site. There are a number of free apps that will allow you to transfer the pdf to your smartphone. I use Files Lite on my iphone. Now I have the manual with me all the time.

That's useful to me Alan, as I am scratching my head over a new 7" Android 4.1.1. tablet. It's hard to find the most appropriate Apps. Thanks

MikeThanks

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Re: Something you might like to try
In reply to eagle_I, Apr 1, 2013

eagle_I wrote:

. . . . Yes, exposure is very important so learn to evaluate it in the EVF while you focus and compose.  Check it by quick review if you have time.  . . .

Could you please explain Quick Review?  I have tried to find it in the pdf Manual via "Find" but it didn't. Happens very often.

Mike

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Rodger1943
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Re: Something you might like to try
In reply to Mikedigi, Apr 1, 2013

Mike, Eagle might be referring to Auto Review. Page 64 of the manual. I have it turned off, but you can't turn it off under all circumstances, which is what I would prefer.

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SirLataxe
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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.

*********

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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sherman_levine
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Re: Something you might like to try
In reply to Mikedigi, Apr 1, 2013

Mikedigi wrote:

eagle_I wrote:

. . . . Yes, exposure is very important so learn to evaluate it in the EVF while you focus and compose.  Check it by quick review if you have time.  . . .

Could you please explain Quick Review?  I have tried to find it in the pdf Manual via "Find" but it didn't. Happens very often.

Mike

I think that might be the Auto Review function which is on page 64 of the advanced manual.

(start rant)

They used to have an additional choice called "Zoom" which let you review the magnified center of the image for 1 sec. It was wonderful for checking focus, but alas is now gone.

(/end rant>

Sherm

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