FZ 300 contrast - does yours do this?

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
gardenersassistant Veteran Member • Posts: 8,962
Your "safe" shutter speeds

One of the things you are concerned about is the sharpness of your images when you are using long focal lengths. To help you understand what is going on here is an exercise you might benefit from. It is to do with what shutter speed you need in order to get a sharp image when hand-holding a shot at full zoom.

Set up a target that you can get far enough away from to gain focus. Here is the one I just used.

EDIT. Let's try that last paragraph again. This sort of test can conveniently be done indoors. You want to test what happens with full zoom. In order to gain focus when at full zoom you will need to set up the target so you can get the FZ300 at least 7 feet away from it. Here is the target that I just used, photographing it from the other side of the room.

Use aperture priority mode (A on the mode dial).

Make sure image stabilisation is on.

Set the ISO to 1600.

Set the f-number and leave it there. (I used f/2.8. You may need to experiment with f-number and ISOs to get results that fall into a useful range of shutter speeds for the sort of comparisons illustrated below.)

Use single area autofocus with the smallest focus area.

Go to full zoom.

Stand in the posture you usually use when taking photos of distant subjects.

Take 5 shots. Reduce the ISO to 800, take 5 more shots, and the same for ISO 400, 200 and 100. The shutter speed will get slower as you lower the ISO.

Using a photo viewer (I used FastStone Image Viewer), go through each lot of 5 shots and pick the best one. Compare these 5 best shots. To illustrate this, I can only show 4 at a time with FastStone, so here are the best ISO 100, 200, 400 and 800 shots showing the centre of the frame at 100%, top left at 1/6 sec, top right at 1/10 sec, bottom left at 1/25 sec, bottom right at 1/50 sec.

Nor surprisingly, the slower shutter speeds give fuzzier images.

However, there is something else you should look at. For each set of five using a particular ISO and shutter speed, compare those five images. See how much variation there is between them. For example, here are four of my five shots at 1/25 sec. They vary a lot. This is why, when working at shutter speeds that give you variable results, it is a good idea to take more than one shot.

There will be a shutter speed that will generally give you decent results most of the time (and faster shutter speeds too). It pays to know what that shutter speed is so that when you get close to it you can start to take more photos of the scene (if possible), and take more and more shots as the shutter speed gets more and more lower than your "safe" shutter speed.

The "safe" shutter speed will vary with the focal length. As the focal length gets shorter you will be able to use slower and slower shutter speeds. Again, it pays to have some idea of what your "safe" shutter speeds are at several focal lengths.

Everyone has their own "safe" shutter speeds. Whether it is raining, snowing or whatever, this is something you can experiment with and get an idea of what your "safe" shutter speeds are, and when to start taking more photos to increase the chances of getting a sharp one.

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