ZS20 / TZ30 Users: Any tips on 'best' setting for shooting pictures?

Started Dec 30, 2012 | Questions
bloodfire1004 Junior Member • Posts: 33
ZS20 / TZ30 Users: Any tips on 'best' setting for shooting pictures?

Hello!

Any other ZS20 / TZ30 users mind sharing what settings they use to achieve optimal / best results when shooting in Daylight / Low-light or Indoors / Full-Zoom?

Currently, what I use is:

Daylight: P Mode ; Auto-ISO ; 14MP ; Center AF ; Center Metering ; iZoom on (just for the heck of extra zoom) ; iResolution and iHDR off ; Flash Off

Low-Light or Indoors / Zoom : Normally, I just use the above setting and set Flash to Auto or switch to iAuto mode.

Any thing that you might share what settings can be used? I want to save into a Custom Mode so I can just switch easily without needing to always change the settings to get the best shot (I know sometimes this can't be helped).

For just additional info, mainly I just plan on taking pictures of family / friends posing or groupshots. Although settings for subjects in motion (e.g. kids) are also welcome as well as tips on shooting low-light video.

Thank you!

tree11b
tree11b Contributing Member • Posts: 567
Re: ZS20 / TZ30 Users: Any tips on 'best' setting for shooting pictures?

I have a Zs15 so I can't speak directly to your questions, I use the same settings as you do but in addition I have the EV set at -1/3 (0.33). Although in extremely bright light will set it at -2/3 (0.66). the EV settings, -0.66, were recommendations from Dan Sonklin and Eric Olson. I memorized the settings as C1 for easy reference.

Jim

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tree11b
tree11b Contributing Member • Posts: 567
Re: ZS20 / TZ30 Users: Any tips on 'best' setting for shooting pictures?

Oops! One thing I forgot: I set the ISO at 100. (for other occasions, you can temporarily change it higher using the Q menu button.

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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,925
Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV
1

I used to shoot "P" Mode, also.

Then there were a good many discussions on this forum about diffraction effects, particularly some posts by Ron Tolmie.

Diffraction is a phenomenon where light waves "catch" or "drag" on the edges of the lens opening, as illustrated by these water waves dragging on an opening:

and this becomes very obvious as the opening is reduced to - and beyond (smaller than) 3mm, or 1/8 inch, this occures no matter what the aperture value is, it's the 3mm diameter which is critical and that is just about "wide open" on our small-sensor (and therefore small size lens) cameras.

So, I have been shooting almost exclusively in "A" (Aperture) Mode, 'wide open' at ƒ3.3 and I have been pleased with the results, but I wanted more objective reasons so I did some tests last week with my ZS19 (ZS20 without GPS). Here are 2 photos which show the results of diffraction pretty dramatically. These are crops from the middle of a full wide angle scene:

ƒ3.3:

You will immediately see that the ƒ8 shot shows a lot of blurring of fine detail - and "P" Mode might choose ƒ8 !

Better to use Aperture Mode and let the camera do it's adjustments by changing shutter speed.

A link to my tests for a few more examples:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3358615

SO, long story short: Always shoot at "Wide Open" by setting your aperture value at ƒ3.3. As you zoom, the numerical aperture value will get higher, but the actual opening will remain the same - as wide as possible = (the numerical value is the RATIO of the lens opening divided into the focal length.)

As Jim has mentioned, above, it is also a good idea to shoot at -1/3 or -2/3 EV. I do this to avoid overexposing highlight areas (the dreaded "blown highlights") since once the brightest areas are overexposed there is really no way to get any detail there in PP, but it is easy enough to recover some detail in the shadows with a "lighten shadows" in most PP software.

Hope this helps.

-Erik

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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,925
Understanding Aperture values with small sensor cameras.

This is purposely added after the above, which is already too long 

What I've said above flies in the face of "conventional wisdom" from older, bigger "sensor" days, particularly film, where 6CM (2-1/4") wide or even larger 4x5 inch was common. To a lesser extent, even "full frame" 24x36mm digital sensors.

Even to this day, otherwise knowlegeable people like the DP Review reviewers seem to only mention smaller apertures in terms of "Stopping down to increase DOF" (Depth of Field) and failing to mention that on small sensor cameras we already have as much or more DOF than we need or want.

This is why blurred backgrounds or "Bokeh" has come to be valued. In film days we always wanted more DOF if only to save us if our focus was not spot on. 

So, the laws of physics have turned the tables on us, and "stopping down for more DOF" has become counter-productive.

The somewhat wider aperture LX series cameras and the slightly wider ƒ2.8 FZ 200 have a little bit of wiggle room before crossing the 3mm 'barrier', but diffraction should be kept in mind for those cameras, too.

-Erik

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tree11b
tree11b Contributing Member • Posts: 567
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

Eric,

Thanks for this bit of information. I have just changed the settings on my ZS15 in "C1" to your

recommendations regarding aperture.

Jim.

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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,925
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

tree11b wrote:

Eric,

Thanks for this bit of information. I have just changed the settings on my ZS15 in "C1" to your

recommendations regarding aperture.

Jim.

I'll bet that you will like it.

Of course this applies to ZS15, as well as all previous TZ/ZS and all theother pocket cameras of whatever brand.

Physics is not brand-concious!

-Erik

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tree11b
tree11b Contributing Member • Posts: 567
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

Eric,

(and any others browsing around this thread. I followed your advice. Late this afternoon, towards sunset, there as a great sky with the sun behind the clouds. Below are two pictures of it. There was some minor pp done:

All that was done was some lightening of the too dark original.



This was just cropped slightly.

Although I don't know why, both pictures are darker than the ones I have in the files on my computer. Oh well.

The camera did pick up detail well though and there is very little noise.

Jim

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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,925
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

Jim,

Those lovely transparent sunset clouds deserved a bit of time, so I took a couple of moments to lighten the shadows 25% and darken the highlights by 18%in PSE which IMHO, helps a bit:

And - have you read Tony's method?

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3360011

I haven't had time to check this out, but it looks good, and I don't recall if you do PP or not.

-Erik

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saudidave Senior Member • Posts: 1,133
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

I can vouch for Erik's advice.

I'm a long term TZ/ZS fanboy (old bloke!) who despaired at the poor IQ (sharpness) I was achieving with my TZ30/ZS20 until I took his advice and started shooting AV, wide open. In the meantime, my complaints about poor ZS IQ it prompted my wife to buy me a Canon S100 for Xmas, so now I have a double result! -  A nice enthusiast walkabout and a long zoom for wildlife.

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tree11b
tree11b Contributing Member • Posts: 567
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

Eric,

I don't do much post processing, but I have and do use both Picassa and Faststone Image Viewer to do some adjustments and cropping. I have Photoscape also but have not used it as it does not seem to be as flexible as Faststone.

Jim

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tree11b
tree11b Contributing Member • Posts: 567
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

Eric,

I have read Tony's thread with interest (it's bookmarked. I read with interest hte comments about Snapseed for enhancing images. I downloaded the trial version and here are the same two pictures I posted previously. Snapseed looks very interesting.

What do you think? Although maybe I could just be more aggressive  in my lightening.

Jim

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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,925
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

I like them - they look just fine maybe I'll check out Snapseed just to see how other systems work.

I really liked your orchid on another post & I wonder how the Snapseed version does the job.

You wrote: "maybe I could just be more aggressive in my lightening." I usually find that in the long run I wind up taking things a bit too far & then backing off on the theory that too little beats too much: If the changes are too obvious, people see the PP, not the photo.

-Erik

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OP bloodfire1004 Junior Member • Posts: 33
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

Wow very useful information! Thanks very much to all of you! Learned a lot! Can't wait to try it out!

Any tips though for low-light shooting or should I stick to iAuto mode?

Ron_43 Senior Member • Posts: 1,414
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

Thanks for the info Erik.

tree11b
tree11b Contributing Member • Posts: 567
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

I can't give much advice about low-light photography, but the few times I've used iAuto in those conditions, it has tended to either run up the ISO to 1600 or higher or switched to hand-held night shots. I have noticed that the high ISO's  tend to be quite noisy. The best seems to be to use a tripod, monopod, or a mini-tripod such as the Ultra-pod strapped to a pillar or post to hold the camera steady. I've used the Ultra-pod a few times, and if I do use it I'll set a 2-second delay to take the picture.

Jim

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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,925
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

bloodfire1004 wrote:

Wow very useful information! Thanks very much to all of you! Learned a lot! Can't wait to try it out!

Any tips though for low-light shooting or should I stick to iAuto mode?

I rarely do any "low light" shooting, and when I do i'm fully prepared for the result to look like "Low Light", which is how the human eye perceives low light levels. The 'rod' cells work better in dim light and the cone cells - responsible for color vision - do not work as well in dim light.

As a result, in dim light we see a more or less colorless, grainy image - just as our cameras tend to do. So we can't reasonably expect bright, colorful results, although at least our camera's sensors don't have color & non-color sensitive areas, all areas of the sensor see basically the same colors in all light conditions.

OK. We are shooting in Aperture mode, wide open already - a good start; the lens is admitting maximum light, so we leave that alone, and the camera will compensate for dimmer light by slowing the shutter. Good, still on track.We help the camera by shifting to + EV. Should help.

If our pictures are still dark, more +EV and start thinking about a higher ISO, which will increase graininess ("Noise") but still get a picture.

With the really amazing O.I.S. of these cameras, most of us can hand-hold down to one, or at least 1/2 or 1/4 second. Bracing your elbows on your sides and using the self-timer so you yourself are not moving the camera by pressing the button, can really help. This is another case where a Clearviewer helps a lot since the camera & hands are all together wit the eye and head - a more stable unit. So can making sure your thumb is on the bottom of the camera so you are squeezing the camera & shutter against the thumb.

The dimmer the light, the grainier the picture, just like a real life

IAuto will supposedly do all of the above although I've read complaints that it jumps to ISO 1600/3200 pretty early. I find that if one has time, actually thinking it through step by step will get better results if only because you are more 'engaged' with the process.

And, don't forget good De-Noising software, such a s Topaz or Ximagic - these can work wonders.

I think that about covers it and there is always flash, although I don't personally like flash, it does work and I use it when I have to.

-Erik

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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 18,925
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

tree11b wrote:

I can't give much advice about low-light photography, but the few times I've used iAuto in those conditions, it has tended to either run up the ISO to 1600 or higher or switched to hand-held night shots. I have noticed that the high ISO's tend to be quite noisy. The best seems to be to use a tripod, monopod, or a mini-tripod such as the Ultra-pod strapped to a pillar or post to hold the camera steady. I've used the Ultra-pod a few times, and if I do use it I'll set a 2-second delay to take the picture.

Jim

Spot-on.

And I forgot handheld night shot - great for inside buildings but a no-go for people, who move as the rapid burst of shots are taken.

-Erik

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OP bloodfire1004 Junior Member • Posts: 33
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

Tree and Erik, I'm really thankful that we have people such as you always willing to help out and share their wide knowledge to people like me. Its been really insightful as I was just expecting simple answers such as the specific settings when instead I got much much more

Thank you very much for sharing and your time! I've learned a lot and can't wait to try it out. Hope you all have a great new year ahead of you!

danielsonkin
danielsonkin Forum Pro • Posts: 11,711
Re: Shoot WIDE OPEN, and at -EV

What a great thread.  Thanks for all the wonderful information, Erik.

BTW, I have been using Snapseed on my iPad since it first came out several years ago.  There is now a mac and windows desktop version of it as well. If I am going to work on my mac, it's going to be in Lightroom which is loaded with Nik's suite of plugins.

Snapseed's got some really good adjustments for color and lighting; and lots of cool effects.  Although it is not as comprehensive as Nik's plugins (Color Efx  and Silver Efx Pro), you can approximate some of their wonderful effects with Snapseed.  For fast and easy processing of photos, you can't really beat it.  That and Photogene are my go-to photo processing apps on my iPad.

Thanks for starting the great thread bloodfire.

Happy New Year!

Daniel

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