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Old Aug 3, 2007, 4:56 PM   #1
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Hi there,

I've been a silent member round here for a while, trying to learn from all you great photographers, but finally decided I needed to post a request for help.

I've had an FZ30 since the start of the year and am really struggling with it. So many of my photos come out blurry (indoor and outdoor, flash or not) and I'm getting really frustrated. I mainly take photos of the kids and can honestly say I've only had a handful of decent ones sice I got the camera.

I began by using Auto everything but wasn't happy with the results, so have moved to the P mode and manual focus etc, but the results have not been very successful.

I've uploaded a few to show you what I mean, and am really looking for advice on how best to set the camera up to be able to take quick shots of the kids. As you'll all know, they don't stay still for long!!

The photos can be found here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

Comments, tips and suggestions appreciated.

Many thanks,

Keith
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Old Aug 3, 2007, 6:09 PM   #2
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I've had similar problems. I found that Panasonic wired the continuous focus backward from everyone else – at least in the newer models. With most cameras if you have a continuous focus mode you can half-press and the camera continues to update the focus. That way you can wait for the moment and get almost instant response. The newer Panasonics stop focusing when you half-press and it is a bear to catch a rugrat with one.

It appears you would do better turning the flash on in a lot of instances. It might not be ideal but it is often better than a blurred noisy photo. If you are only shooting for small prints and screen displays you might crank the ISO up. There is no EXIF with your linked photos so I have no idea what you are actually doing. If you want to use the high ISO (like ISO400) you might download the free demo of Neat Image to improve any shots you really like. The demo doesn't expire and is considered freeware.

And if you have a raw converter other than the one that came with the camera use raw – especially for high ISO. You avoid the in-camera noise reduction using raw. You can do a better job with Neat Image and a much better job with a noise plug-in for a good image editor.

You get a lot nicer flash shots with a flash attachment and a diffuser. I don't know what they smoke at Panasonic but flash shots in dim environments are almost impossible due to a "feature" that makes the screen and/or LCD almost black in dim light when using an auto flash unit in manual or aperture priority. I've read lots of workarounds, but none of them actually work. You can't see what you are shooting if you have the camera set right for the flash unit. If you set a low enough shutter to see the screen you get ghosts.

I gave up trying to get toddler and dynamic group shots with the FZ. My small camera doesn't have continuous focus that focuses during a half-press either. I took an interesting step backward and bought an old Sony V1 on Ebay with a couple Pro sticks and a couple of batteries really cheap. Combined with a TTL flash and diffuser the flash shots are very pleasing. It also has a properly designed continuous focus that lets me nail the rugrats. I'll probably regret having only 5Mp if I ever get a shot I want larger than 11 X 14, but it makes a very handy little portrait unit. I also wish it had raw.


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Old Aug 3, 2007, 6:16 PM   #3
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Did it again!
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Old Aug 3, 2007, 6:51 PM   #4
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Thanks Slipe - how do I upload EXIF data?
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Old Aug 3, 2007, 7:07 PM   #5
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KeithHx wrote:
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how do I upload EXIF data?
I have no idea whether Flickr will even include it. You can try.

When you resize your images don't "save for web" if you have an editor that has that choice. That automatically strips the EXIF.

I use Photoshop for any editing I do, but Irfanview is great for things like determining what is saved with an image. After you crop and size your image you want to "Save as" so you don't overwrite the original. In Irfanview if you choose JPG as your file type you get a menu with what you want to stay with the image. One of the choices is the EXIF. Downsize one in Irfanview and save with the EXIF checked and send it to Flickr. I use a little freeware Opanda utility called iEXIF that lets you right click on any image and read the EXIF if it is there. If you send one you know has the EXIF you can check whether Flickr is stripping it. Someone posted that iEXIF doesn't work with Vista – I use XP so I can't comment on that.

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Old Aug 3, 2007, 7:28 PM   #6
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Actually the Exif data is uploaded to Flickr. On the Flickr photo page click on "More Properties" On the lower right side of the page and it will take you to a page that shows all of the Exif data. http://www.flickr.com/photo_exif.gne?id=999795285
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Old Aug 3, 2007, 8:01 PM   #7
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Hi Keith...

It looks to me though that most of these are shot in fairly low light and you probably have a shutter speed that is way too slow for any movement in either the subject or your hands. The rule of thumb is that if you wish to freeze basic human movement you need a shutter speed of 1/focal lenght with a minimum of 1/60. So lets say you have the camera at the small telephoto end (focal lenght of 100 in 35MM equivalent) you would need a shutter speed of 1/100 to get a reasonable motion free shot. the OIS in the camera will help for your hand motion but it will not help if your kids move. If you go to full telephoto (ie 420mm) then you need a shutter speed better than 1/400. If people are running or zipping past your camera at close range then your probably need an extra stop or two. By the looks of these photos you are not getting those sorts of speeds.

Looking at the EXIF on the first shot (Suzanna) you got 1/20, is she is moving which I believe she seems to be you would need 1/60 at least, so you are seeing her movement. You already have an ISO of 200 and going to 400 will probably introduce noise. This is really a flash shot.

Shot 2 (Morag) you have used the flash, I think the blur is a focus problem, the mirror and backgroung appear at this size to be sharp.

Shot 4 (Matthew - Jenny's) is again too slow a shutter speed, you have 1/30 and have gone to about 200MM (the EXIF shows a focal lenght of 44.2 which is 209 in 35mm equivalen). so you need a shutter speed of 1/200 for basic movement and he looks like he may be moving a little faster so again your shutter speed is too low. The flash fired but I suspect it was too far away to make a difference.

Matthew in the garden does have some blown highlights and a negative exposure compensation would have helped perhaps -1/3 to -2/3. Your shutter speed on this is 1/80 which is just enough to freeze motion. Pannys quite often like a negative ev to get the highlights not blowing.

I don't tend to shoot kids and do very little indoors but I love the camera, but then I am generally getting faster shutter speeds, or my subjects are still. If you want to look I have dozens of FZ30 photos at rafael.zenfolio.com and if you hover over the "i" in the top right of them you can get a look at exif details. Hope this discussion helps you work out what is happening. The basic problem is the light seems pretty dim.
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Old Aug 4, 2007, 10:21 AM   #8
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rafinmelb did a lot of work to analyze your photos and came to what sounds like accurate conclusions. You can't beat numbers for figuring out what's going on.

I've had fair luck with the built-in flash on the FZ30 but try hard to not use it; I just don't like the looks of flash shots for the most part.

One scheme is to take multiple no-flash exposures, try to pan moving subjects; one of the shots might be ok.

As you zoom the FZ30, the aperture closes; therefore shoot at lower zoom and crop the photo on your computer to get the magnification you need. Shoot at ISO 400 & denoise the result later.


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Old Aug 4, 2007, 4:18 PM   #9
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rafinmelb has taken some time to analize your photos ......and I totally agree with his comments.

If I could just add a couple more, if you are using 3 or 9 pt focus change to one area High speed focus and if you have CAF turned on ,turn it off.

It looks to me the focus pt changed on a couple of those photos....my suggestions should stop that from happening......but the slow SS is your biggest problem.

And if you are using a filter remove it for a while (some people use the wrong type of filter)..... and you seem to be changing from spot meter to Pattern.......may I suggest you stay on one style and stay with it untill you are very familiar with it.......My favorite method is CW but you may not like that at all.

If you are experimenting with the scene modes....they take liberties with how you meter and focus which I believe is not a good Idea......Set up some preferences iin program mode and stick with those until you find a reason to change.

while I do not think everyone will like my settings, but they work for my wife and I.

CAF...............off metering ......CW AF..................1 area high speed

NR and contrast set on low

the other settings ......normal

ISO......Auto

andI am not a fan of a minus exposure, you can control that by being careful how you meter


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Old Aug 7, 2007, 5:49 PM   #10
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Many thanks to everyone for their comments and tips - I'll try some of them out and report back shortly.

One thing that annoys me about the camera is that often the pics look great on the viewfinder, but once loaded onto the PC they look poor - is there anything to look out for when previewing?

Thanks

Keith
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