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Old Mar 19, 2010, 11:48 AM   #11
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I use a program called ExifTool to look at the EXIF data of my images. This is probably the most thorough EXIF program I've come across. Although the program was originally written for Olympus cameras, it works with just about any camera brand/model. However, for non-Olympus cameras, the program does not provide some of the internal information because the layout of the EXIF fields vary (in some respects) from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The reason I wrote this is because when I bought my first Oly digital camera (E510), the ExifTool allowed me to see the internal camera settings for modes and pict adj parameters as well as the adjustments I had made to saturation, contrast, sharpness, noise reduction, etc. So, say I chose Vivid mode and decreased saturation by -1. I could see that internally the camera was setting Sat to +2 (corresponding to Sat 0 in the menu) compared to Normal mode (Sat 0 internally and corresponding to Sat 0 in the menu). Consequently, by setting Vivid to -1 in the menu, I was actually setting it to +1 since internally it was set to +2 to begin with. As a result, images in Vivid mode would be more saturated that in Normal mode by a difference of +2. I'd have to set Sat to -2 in the menu to bring the internal setting down to zero.

Now, with that in mind, let's cover the bullets...

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Originally Posted by chillgreg View Post
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  • There is no way to know what parameters are being adjusted. Particularly as high ISO values are used in many scene modes, I find myself always going into the menus to try and establish what functions are changed or disabled. If Panasonic included a table showing what the processor was actually doing to create each scene mode, I would find that comforting
I don't really think that knowing the parameters that the camera is choosing matter that much. What matters is whether you like the output of a particular setting or not. The whole idea of the scene modes is to have the camera behave in a particular way w/o you "the photographer" having to make 4-5 different adjustments every time the scene/subject changes.

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  • Do some or any scene modes adjust parameters more than the available range you can set in P?
If I understood the question correctly, the answer is YES. For instance, in Portrait mode the camera could be setting noise reduction to higher levels than available through the menu option in order to give a smoother look of people's face, or increase the green and red tones in Landscape mode to accentuate folliage/grass/trees, etc.. Then again, let's say you do know what the settings are, what difference does it make? once you start tweaking the values, might as well set it to P and make the adjustments that will give you an IQ close to your liking from there.

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  • Some scene modes, Sports in particular, function worse than using P.
The modes are not perfect, that's for sure. They serve a purpose but it does not mean that by using them you'll always obtain the best results on that particular condition.

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  • The in-camera explanations are badly worded and sometimes don't make much sense. It would help if they got a skilled English speaker to re-write them.
I agree. Adding to that, some times the explanation is vague or important pieces are missing. Here's a good example. I have a Pana G1. If you set the ISO to say 100, you expect it to be at 100, right? Well, this is true only if iContrast is set to OFF. If not, then the ISO may change. This could be a bug but if not, then it should be spelled out in the manual but it isn't.

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  • There are way too many scene modes, with many that overlap. Examples:
I agree about the number of scene modes available but then again, it's up to each individual to either make use of them or not. I use only two: beach/snow and sunset and ignore the rest.

Quote:
  • Use Party or Indoor Portrait? At a party, muck around changing between these modes? (potentially missing moments)
For indoor I have saved my settings into one of the Custom modes. Basically I have flash set to force (not auto because some times the camera detects enough light and chooses not to fire the flash and as a result, people may be in the dark), ISO set to 400 (it gives you more depth), flash output set to +0.3 and WB set to flash (that will take care of any indoor light type). I can easily retrieve these settings by selecting Custom mode C1 (where I have saved them).

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  • Taking a photo of a vista eg mountain range. Use Scenery-Normal or Scenery-Nature mode? Or iA?
I never use iA. Either Landscape mode (Nature) or P mode is fine. Nature mode will produce more saturated colors and the camera will try to use a small aperture for a deeper Depth of Field. Basically, when you shoot landscape you want just about everything to be in focus. If you use P, then you need to make sure the camera is choosing a small aperture (you can change that by using the Program Shift feature). Another option is to shoot in A mode choosing f5.6 or smaller (higher number).

Quote:
  • Use iA or P (with program shift) or Portrait-Normal or Portrait Soft Skin or Portrait Outdoor or Portrait-Creative. So that's 6 different choices. But wait, I'm at the beach!
Well, have you tried them to see how they differ from each other? I'd start with that. Some of these Portrait modes produce results that you like and some that you dislike. The only way to find out is by trying each and every one of them and then analyze the images and the EXIF data. As for being at the beach shooting portrait, there is not much that can be done. Pick one or use P mode. The beach mode will help you maintain the sand tones and control exposure (sand and snow absorb too much light) while portrait will soften the image. I'd choose beach mode.
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Old Mar 19, 2010, 12:20 PM   #12
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I use a free program called Exposureplot.
ExposurePlot collects the following data: Focal lens length, (35mm equivalent), ISO values, aperture and shutter speed data from the EXIF headers of the JPG files.

http://www.cpr.demon.nl/prog_plotf.html

Last edited by dbnnet; Mar 19, 2010 at 12:30 PM. Reason: Added url
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Old Mar 19, 2010, 12:28 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by chillgreg View Post
They posed arm-in-arm for some photos, it was a wonderful moment and very picturesque. At the time my FZ18 was only a few weeks old. I did eventually get the shot, but they (and I) wondered why instead of just pointing and shooting, I was mucking around in menus and making excuses while they waited. Precisely cause I was stressing over which mode to use, whether to use fill-flash etc, because I didn't want to miss the shot or this special memory.
There is a very simple explanation. The computer inside a camera is not as capable as the photographer's brain is. As much as we want things to be different - there are times when "point and shoot" simply doesn't work. It just doesn't. This is why my advice is and always will be: if you want better results then learn PHOTOGRAPHY. That is NOT the same as how to operate your camera. Scene modes may have gotten a bit better over the last few years, but they will never be good enough to rely on blindly. But if you spend a little time learning PHOTOGRAPHY and you practice a bit you can spend a few quick seconds making the proper settings and capture that wonderful memory.

They are there for people to serve as a crutch (and I don't mean that in a bad way) until they learn photography. It's a trade-off. You'll always miss important shots if you can't do the thinking because no camera is smart enough. But learning photography takes time and effort. For some it's worth missing some shots because they don't value those shots enough to make it worth the time. Either approach is OK - you just have to realize the cost/benefit of each approach and decide which is best for you.
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Old Mar 19, 2010, 1:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tullio View Post
Although the program was originally written for Olympus cameras [...]
If you're talking about ExifTool by Phil Harvey, the initial release (1.00) had support for Canon, FujiFilm and Pentax. Olympus support was added in version 2.00.
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Old Mar 20, 2010, 12:25 PM   #15
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That's the one. Even though the first release was focused on the Canon and Fuji, I think the program explores the EXIF data of Oly cameras much more deeply. Last year I asked Phil to add some fields related to the Sony A200 and recently some for the EP1, which were there but not accurate. He was extremely responsive and in both occasions a new version with the additions/fixes was released in a matter of days. So, it's work in progress.
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Old Mar 21, 2010, 5:02 AM   #16
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Thanks, Sarah, dbbnet, JohnG and especially Tullio for your responses, very helpful!
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Old Mar 21, 2010, 11:17 AM   #17
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You're welcome. Enjoy your camera and share your images when you have a chance.
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Old Mar 21, 2010, 11:37 AM   #18
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You're welcome. Enjoy your camera and share your images when you have a chance.
Great suggestion on using a C mode for setting forced flash, etc. I have been somewhat frustrated several times with both the FZ28 and FZ35 when trying to shoot flash pictures. The camera often senses a tad too much light and the flash doesn't fire or, other times,.....I have left the burst mode on and that prevents the flash from firing also.

Thanks for the great idea, Tullio! What a forum this is!

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Old Mar 21, 2010, 11:45 AM   #19
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NP, Jack. The FZ28/FZ35 come packed with useful features. Dig into them!
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Old Mar 21, 2010, 12:08 PM   #20
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NP, Jack. The FZ28/FZ35 come packed with useful features. Dig into them!
You are so right, Tullio. I think the "features" make this camera more fun than anything I remember. I've grown to appreciate the new video programs that shoot the video in whatever mode your dial is in. The custom video is also special.

So far, I am very, very impressed with the image stabilization. It borders on amazing.

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