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Old Jun 5, 2006, 4:02 PM   #1
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I have a problem that has been bugging me with my Kodak Z700. if i put it on Auto indoors where there is tons of light the flash still goes off and the resulting picture is dark and shady. if i turn off the flash manually then i need a tripod for whaever reason and the little symbol pops up that means "steady camera".

Putting it in sports mode hels a fraction. but its starting to get annoying... the picture looks purfect on the screen, well lit and just as i would like it with no flash, but then the above happens.

ps i tried to trick the camera by leaving it on auto and covering the flash with my finger, however this results in an almost pitch black picture.


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Old Jun 5, 2006, 5:09 PM   #2
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What you think is "tons of light" is very dim to a camera.

Taking photos indoors without a flash or tripod is tough without going to a model with higher available ISO speeds, coupled with a bright lens. Your model goes up to ISO 400 (but, unless you set it higher, the Auto ISO will only try to go as high as ISO 160).

Three things control how long the shutter needs to stay open for proper exposure:

Lighting - a typical "well lit" home interior at night will have an EV (Exposure Value, which is one way light is measured) of around 6, which is quite dim to a camera. Some interiors may have even lower light than this.

Aperture - This is how bright your lens is. Think of the aperture as being like a pupil in your eye. In dim light, the lens aperture opens up wider to let in more light. But, it can only go so wide.

The wider the aperture, the faster the camera can expose the image. Aperture, as expressed in f/stop, is a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the aperture iris opening. Smaller f/stop numbers are larger apertures (letting in more light to the film or sensor).

ISO speed - This represents how sensitive the film or sensor is to light. Each time you double the ISO speed, the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast for the same aperture and lighting. This is the same thing as the old ASA ratings for film.

The lens in your Kodak has a largest available aperture of f/2.8 on it's wide end (least apparent magnification). This is typical for most compact cameras.

If you zoom in to it's longest focal length (most apparent magnifcation), the largest available aperture drops down to f/4.8. f/2.8 (wide zoom position) is approximately 3 times as bright as f/4.8 (where you'd be at zoomed in much). So, staying on the wide end of the lens (don't zoom in any more than needed), will help in low light. Also, camera shake is magnified as you zoom in more. So, staying on the wide end of the lens helps out with blur from camera shake, too.

Your camera has an Auto ISO speed range of 80-160. That's also typical of most compact cameras. You can set it manually to ISO 400 if desired (which will give you shutter speeds more than twice as fast). But, that will add noise/grain to your images.

Basically, in a typical home lighting, shutter speeds are going to be too slow for shooting a non-stationary subject without a flash with this type of camera using it's default settings.

If you stayed on the wide end of the lens (don't zoom in any), and set your ISO speed to 400 (which will have more noise/grain), you might be able to get shutter speeds up to around 1/30 second in a well lit interior at night.

If your subjects are relatively still, you might be able to get some keepers that way. But, if they're moving, you'll get motion blur.

That's why the camera has a flash. ;-)

Using a flash is your best bet for a moving subject indoors.

Zooming in will also impact your flash range. Your camera's maximum flash range is rated at 12.5 feet on the wide end of the zoom range (least apparent magnification), and drops down to only 7 feet when you're zoomed in all the way with it (as you zoom in more, less light reaches the sensor through the lens).

So, make sure you stay within the rated flash range to avoid underexposed images.

Note that the flash range is quoted from Kodak at ISO 140. If you set ISO speed higher, flash range will also increase some (each time you double the ISO speed, flash range increases by 1.4x). But, increasing ISO speed will increase noise/grain.

BTW, there are some pretty good tools like like Neat Image, Noiseware or Noise Ninja that can be used to help reduce the appearance of noise when higher ISO speeds are needed (and all 3 products have free and/or trial versions available).

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Old Jun 5, 2006, 10:17 PM   #3
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Excellant stuff Jim!!

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Old Jun 6, 2006, 2:17 PM   #4
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A very good explanation, Jim!

Jason, you might want to consider getting a slave flash, a small unit. Many can be bought pretty reasonable, use their own aa batteries, and are triggeredby sensing the cameras onboard flash. Some can be connected with a ps synch cord( not sure if your camera has this capability)They can make quite a difference indoors.


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Old Jun 6, 2006, 2:53 PM   #5
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Ok thanx for all your replies.

regarding the extra flash, the lack of light was never the problem, just the curious side effect of a dim picture when there was plenty of light available.

A bit of history: the situation that prompted me to finally write the question was as follows: im travelling around the world, and at the moment i find myself in Stockholm. i was trying to take a picture within the central train station, that has sort of a glass ceiling that allows light in as well as huge halogen lamps. the picture on the screen looked great but as soon as i clicked it went dim.

but now im in a sticky situation PLEASE HELP!

My camera has died! 3 months ago my camera started to get an "e44" error message, and turn off. reading the manual advises that you pull out the batteries and card then pop em back in and hey presto its fixed.

that worked, in fact i used to just turn on the camera after it had turned offand keep going. this e44 message would appear about 2-3 times a month. my camera has had heavy duty use since i bought it 2 weeks b4 i left OZ (28 dec), and here i am still travelling.

I get concerned about the message, and emailed the kodak "technical support" section. my question was basic: what does the e44 message mean. if it was an error message leading up to the camera self destructing then i needed to know in advance.

I was given the usual "we are concerned etc etc etc" response but nil about the error message, they said "we have no access the the error message information"

i was a bit peeved off to say the least, i responded saying that if technical support didnt know what their own camera error messages were then who does?? i also explained my travel situation.

They then responded saying that its more of a general error message, with several possible problems, but they also said that my options were to just keep popping the batteries and card in and out, or sending it away to get it fixed. i was spending only a few days in each country so i just lived with the problem.

But sad to say she is well and truly dead. wont turn on, just as if there were no batteries in it. i swapped batteries, made sure the terminals were clean etc etc. im certain its a hardware problem.

tomorrow im leaving for copenhagen. how does the process of repair work?? i will be there for only 3 days. if i take it to a kodak repair center will they then need to "send it off" or is there a possibility that all will be well in a day or 3?? i have my recipt as a scanned jpg image so i hope that enough for them.

my next email / internet search is the repair center in copenhagen. if there is any help or advice your collective minds can offer i would be greatly thankful. in the end i need to know if im just better off going to a few camera shops and just buying another camera.


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Old Jun 6, 2006, 6:29 PM   #6
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Jas from OZ wrote:
regarding the extra flash, the lack of light was never the problem, just the curious side effect of a dim picture when there was plenty of light available.
You were most likely exceeding the flash range. It drops down to a maximum range of around 7 feet with your model using Auto ISO when you zoom in much with your lens (since it loses a lot of light as you zoom in to longer focal lengths).

That's where a slave flash can help out. What you think is "plenty of light' is dim to a camera. If light is low enough that you're using a flash, then you will need to stay within the flash range.

For one thing, the camera's exposure algorithms are going to use a faster shutter speed when you're using a flash in low light. So, you won't get the exposure that you get from ambient light without the flash in low light (the flash will become the primary light source).

So, basically, you choose between the lesser of evils with most cameras... Motion blur and blur from camera shake without a flash in low light because shutter speeds will be slower; or you shoot with a flash and stay within the rated flash range. ;-) If you don't stay within the flash range, you'll get underexposed (darker) photos.

As for your service problems, I don't know the answers.

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