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rokky May 15, 2011 7:00 PM

need help with outdoor photos - Fz-40
Hi all. I've been lurking for a bit taking in the wonderful photos and advice. Thanks to all.

I am very happy with indoor shots and movies set at intelligent auto. The stills are quite clear in a wide range of lighting with good colour and detail. The movies are excellent as I found out after my granddaughter's first birthday.

My outdoor shots are dismal. Even the IA shots are poor. Colour, detail, and clarity is just not there. I'm comparing my fz-40 to my wife's dmc-tz1, olympus stylus, and a kodak pocket cam. My wife's dmc-tz1 takes an amazing picture for an older camera and is one of the reasons I chose Panasonic again. Even the outdoor stills with the cheapo kodak playsport are quite stunning.

I've tried a variety of settings on "P". Played with iso, exposure, saturation, etc. to no avail. My stills continue to be worse than those with IA and they are no heck. My photos always seem too dark with shadows and lackluster colour. I was out to a rocky beach yesterday and took 76 shots and nothing turned out great.

I would really appreciate any advice to get the kind of outdoor shots this camera is capable of.

Square one May 15, 2011 7:11 PM


I think just about everyone on here said the same when they first tried their 'new' fz40/45. One main requirement is sunlight, dull weather will almost certainly give poor results.

Mtclimer wrote a quick guide to help us, and I re-post here as they are unable to do this at the moment.

Hope this helps you get to grips with with your fz40.

Panasonic FZ40/45 Beginner’s Guide-

The easiest way to get started is to first read completely through the Owner’s Manual and charge the battery and format your card or chip in the new FZ40/45, so that your FZ40/45 recognizes the camera. Go to the Set-up Menu and scroll down to format, to complete the format. When you are ready to take your first photos, do this:

(1) Set “P” on the Mode Selector. “P” stands for Programmed Auto Mode. It is an Automatic Mode that allows the user to make adjustments to the ISO/Sensitivity, to the Exposure Compensation, the Flash Compensation, the WB or White Balance, the Burst Mode, the Scene Modes, and the Focusing Options.

(2) Set to ISO to “Auto ISO. You probably want to consider limiting how far the camera can increase the ISO/Sensitivity setting by itself. I would recommend that for outdoor photos that you limit the ISO/Sensitivity increase to ISO 400. For indoor without flash use limit the ISO increase to ISO 800. Please keep in mind that the sharpest and most detailed photos are captured at ISO 80.

(3) Set the WB to White Balance to “Auto WB” when shooting out doors. If you are shooting with flash indoors, use the Flash WB. If you are shooting indoors without flash, use tungsten or incandescent WB, it is indicated by the small logo symbol of a light bulb. Set the Flash mode selector to the Auto Flash position. This is not a perfect mode and there are two instances where the camera can be confused on when to deploy the flash.

(4) Set the focus point initially to center point focus, using the AF Mode menu selection on page 2 of the record menu. . This allows you to select
exactly where the camera will focus. Focus is attained by gently pressing the
shutter release to the half way point. When the camera locks focus, it will signal
that focus lock to you. Now, while holding the shutter release at the half way
point, re-frame your photo as necessary, using the EVF, or Electronic View

(5) When you at pleased with the photo framing, gently depress the shutter to its full length. The emphasis here is on the word gently. Some users refer to the action as squeezing the shutter slowly. The main thing you want to avoid is jabbing at the shutter, as this will cause sudden camera movement overpowering the IS or image stabilization system and blurring the photo. Sharp focus is dependent on two things (1) properly focusing the camera, as described above

(6) After the photo has been recorded, check how the exposure looks on the camera’s LCD screen. If it is to light, it is over exposed. If it is too dark, it is under exposed. You are looking for the midway point where the properly exposed photo looks like are properly tuned TV set. A photo that is too light can be corrected by using Minus Exposure Compensation, found at the 12 o’clock position on the 4 way controller on the back of the camera with the +/- logo. Make the initial Minus Exposure Compensation setting EV-0.7, take the photo, and check the result on the camera’s LCD screen. Then increase or decrease the Exposure Compensation to attain the proper LCD screen appearance. If the photo is too dark, you will have to apply Positive Exposure Compensation. Begin with a setting of EV+0.7, and then again adjust the Exposure compensation again, as required to attain the proper LCD screen appearance.

(7) After the photo is taken, you will notice that a flashing red icon will blink in the upper right hand corner of the LCD screen on the back of the camera. This is an indication that the camera is recording the image to the camera’s flash memory card.

(8) If you are indoors and desire to take a flash photo using the camera’s built-in flash unit (a) deploy the built-in flash unit, by depressing the push button on the left hand side of the camera’s viewfinder on the back of the camera. (b) check that the Flash Selector is still selected to the Auto Flash mode. (b) recheck that the WB is still set to Flash WB. (c) Keep the camera to subject distance at 11.5 feet or less to achieve the proper exposure. If you are photographing a group and you must increase the amount of light projected from the camera’s built-in flash unit so that the Flash Range can be increased from the normal maximum Flash Range of 11.5 feet, to a greater value. The adjustment on the Flash Compensation scale works in the same way as Exposure Compensation does. Positive Flash Compensation increases the flash output and the Flash Range. Negative Flash Compensation reduces the flash output and the Flash Range. The Flash Compensation menu is found by first pressing the Exposure Compensation button at the 12 o’clock position of the 4 way controller on the back of the camera. The first push of that btoon brings up Exposure Compensation, the second push brings up the Auto Bracket feature and the third push of that button brings up the Flash Compensation menu.

(9) If you want to take a close up photo, where the camera to subject distance is 30 cm (.99 feet) or less, you will have to select the Macro or Close-up Mode whose symbol is a small Tulip logo. Look to the right hand side of the LCD screen. The Focus Adjustment button is the top button, and the Tulip icon is to the right of the button, right between AF or Auto Focus, and MF or Manual Focus. Pushing that Focus Adjustment button bring up a menu offering you AF or Auto Focus, AF Macro complete with the Tulip icon, Macro Zoom, and MF for Manual Focus. It appears a bit confusing. Of the two Marcro selections, you want the AF Macro, NOT the Macro Zoom which utilizes Digital Zoom.

Be sure to select the appropriate WB. You can use the Quick Menu by pushing the last button to the right hand side of the LCD screen, its fast. Again the same photo taking procedure will apply. Gently depress the shutter release to the half way point, the camera locks the focus and gives you the focus locked signal. Re-frame your focus as necessary after allowing the camera to focus on the exact point desired. If the photo environment’s lighting is low, select the flash, Flash WB , and Auto ISO, as previously described. The built-in flash unit will reduce the light output of the flash due to the reduced Flash Range between camera and subject in this Macro or Close-up mode. After taking your close-up photo check the camera’s LCD screen for proper exposure. If the exposure is too light or too dark you will use the Exposure Compensation procedures outlined above. If you are taking the Macro or Close-up photo while employing flash, once again check the LCD screen for proper exposure and any harsh shadows. If the result is too light or too dark, you will use the Flash Compensation feature as described previously. Another option: when you have low light levels in the photo environment us the High Sensitivity Scene Mode. You will get a 3mp image, but it is useful when you are in a situation where you have to get the photo.

(10)As lighting conditions change you will have to adjust your camera’s WB to get
the correct color in your photo. There are fixed WB settings for bright sunshine,
cloudy or foggy conditions, tungsten or incandescent lighting, and for fluorescent
lighting (several varieties).

(11)Keep in mind that there are indeed minimum focus distances for each lens
position. In the Macro or Close up mode, the minimum focus distance about 1
inch. But please remember the closer you get to the object you are
photographing, you will begin to block the light that you need to take the photo.
In the normal focus mode, without any zooming, the minimum focus
distance is 36 inches, or 3 feet. As the camera zooms out further, expect the
minimum focus to also increase. So, if the camera will not lock focus, the
problem is most probably that you are at less than the minimum focus distance
for that particular lens setting.

(12) The better the light, the better your photos will be. As the light level decreases
measurably you will find the photo quality will fall and the camera will have a
harder time recording your photo. So good light is essential to good photos.

(13) Photographers are like concert pianists: the more you practice and learn, the
better your photos will be.

(14) Take your time and learn how the changes that you make to your camera,
directly affect how your camera records your photo.

(15) Here is a quick review of the options on your Mode Selector:

IA= Intelligent Auto. Keep in mind that the ISO/Sensitivity range can be selected in the camera menu as well. However, photo quality sometimes suffers due to the automatic ISO escalation, is the camera is left in Auto ISO.

P=Programed Auto. This works just like Full Automatic only it allows you to make some changes to ISO/Sensitivity, flash options, Exposure Compensation, Flash Compensation, White Balance etc.
S=Shutter Priority. You select the shutter speed and the camera adjusts for the proper exposure by adjusting the aperture.
A=Aperture Priority. You select the aperture and the camera automatically sets the proper exposure by adjust the shutter speed.
M=Manual Mode. You select the shutter speed and aperture and the camera reports if your selection will produce the produce the proper exposure, by displaying the wrong exposure in red color and the correct exposure in green color. So understand that using the Manual Mode will require some manual adjustments on your part.

Note: This is only intended to be a quick start guide to get you going quickly with a new camera, it does not substitute for the FZ40/45 Operating Instructions.

jjdog2 May 15, 2011 7:33 PM

Rokky, post a few so we can take a look.


rokky May 15, 2011 7:48 PM

Thanks for posting the guide again. I used it when I set the camera up.
I also have the user manual which is fairly easy to follow.

I have not had a lot of time with the camera as it rains here most of the time. Raining today darn it.

rokky May 15, 2011 8:17 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Here are a few samples. The whale shot was full optical zoom from a tripod.

Chris0383 May 15, 2011 8:48 PM

Whales from the shore is a nice experience.

What time of day was it ?

rokky May 15, 2011 9:33 PM

It was early afternoon. There was high, thin cloud cover and a little haze in the distance.
We were pleased to see the whales. This was off the north west coast of Vancouver Island. Quite remote. No people.

saly May 15, 2011 10:04 PM

Your EXIF data is blocked and I can't see it. Do you remember the various camera settings for each, such as ISO, shutter speed, mode, focus setting, meter setting, etc??

rokky May 16, 2011 12:04 AM

I did not remember to take pen/paper. Going to have to do that if I'm going to succeed.
I did find a screw up in going over the settings again. Iso was set to 400 and not auto. It was supposed to be on auto with 400 set as limit.
Most of my settings were taken from the guide for "P".


saly May 16, 2011 1:23 AM

If you right click on the photo and select properties, there is a way to get all that data. I think it's it may be Advanced/Summary (not positive).

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