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Old May 8, 2010, 10:51 AM   #1
LEK
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Default queston about using flash on outside portraits

Hello again. I'm pretty much a newbie when it comes to anything but just taking pictures on auto with a point and shoot, but I've been reading and trying to learn more. I am practicing with the Panasonic ZS3 I just purchased and reading the manual, and I have a question about lighting in outdoor portraits. When on vacation we often have a picture taken with our camera of ourselves with a beautiful scene in the background. And often the sun is high and we are lit so that the scene looks great but our faces are in partial or complete shadow. I have been reading that a way to remedy this is to have the flash on when the photo is taken. But it looks like the flash cannot be forced on in the intelligent auto mode on this camera. And if I go to the scenery mode, it doesn't look like the flash can be turned on there either. So how do I prevent the darkened faces? Is there another way of avoiding this? The only other mode that I can think of is portrait, but would that make the background blurry? There are no true manual settings on this camera, just the scene modes.

Also, I'm a bit confused about the intelligent ISO mode. When should that be used and what are the best settings. I will be taking some shots of animals in motion but if the pictures are not clear at high ISO why bother? Mostly I'll be taking still landscapes and snapshots. What should I have it set to?
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Old May 8, 2010, 11:19 AM   #2
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The manual seems to imply that you can Force Flash in iA mode, as long as you're just using Force Flash (versus Force Flash with Redeye Reduction). See page 43:

http://service.us.panasonic.com/OPERMANPDF/DMCZS1.PDF

If that doesn't work, I'd try Portrait Scene mode and see what happens.

Or, just use one of the My Scene positions on the mode dial and set it up that way (so you'll have Portrait Mode with Flash forced on when you use that Mode dial position).

I'll move this thread down to our Panasonic Forum where you'll probably get more responses on questions about your specific camera model and how it's intelligent ISO features, work. The main key to setting ISO speed is making sure your shutter speeds are fast enough to stop movement (which will vary, depending on how much light you have). IOW, in very bright light, you may be fine at lower ISO speeds. But, in dimmer light, you may need higher ISO speeds. You'll usually want to keep shutter speeds at 1/500 second or faster for rapid movement. But, for slower movement (depending on how much of the frame the subject fills and direction of movement), you may be able to get by with a bit slower speeds.

ISO speed is a matter of balance... if your shutter speeds are too slow because you need higher ISO speeds, you'll see motion blur from subject movement. If your ISO speed is too high because you need faster shutter speeds, you'll see noise and loss of detail from noise reduction. So, you'll want to find the best compromise for the lighting you're shooting in, balancing the need for faster shutter speeds to prevent motion blur, keeping image degradation from higher ISO speeds in mind. A bit of noise can be better than motion blur.
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Old May 8, 2010, 11:56 AM   #3
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LEK-

JimC has provided a perfect explanation. Now it time for a photo sample from the ZS3. Here is a photo taken in a well lighted room, but I wanted to smooth out the lighting. So, I added a Forced Flash, and the result is quite acceptable.

Sarah Joyce
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Old May 8, 2010, 12:22 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses. You know, i re-read those 2 pages of the manual, and there is a dash not a circle by the iA with forced flash, so I don't think I can use it in iA, BUT, it does look like I can keep the flash on in scenery mode, I read that wrong. So I'll do what you said and set it up in a "my scene" for those situations. Thanks. Do you think for the situation I'm describing (us standing in front of grand landscape) that a scenery mode or portrait mode would take the best photo?

I'm still confused about whether the intelligent ISO is something I should have on or not. If I turn if off, then the camera selects ISO based on the scene setting that either I chose or it chooses(if in iA), correct? So if it is off and there is movement, the ISO setting may not be correct to capture the movement without blur? But if I leave it on, will it only effect the ISO if there is movement or will it potentially change the ISO settings even if there is no movement and create more noise in my pictures in general?
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Old May 8, 2010, 1:54 PM   #5
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I'd probably try Portrait Scene Mode instead since you're shooting people, since it looks like that probably activates Face Detection (and if it's designed to detect your subject's faces, they're more likely to be properly exposed and in focus).

As for the ISO, try it and see how it works. ;-)

That's the best way to figure out what those kinds of settings do. Many cameras just use Auto ISO to make sure you've got a fast enough shutter speed to prevent blur from camera shake versus blur from subject movement. But, it may be smart enough to do something else instead.
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Old May 9, 2010, 12:25 AM   #6
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You always have a fall back position: you can use the "P" for Programed Auto Mode. Fill flash would also be very effective for a back lighted situation, as well.

Sarah Joyce
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Old May 9, 2010, 3:50 AM   #7
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Hi LEK

Your camera doe not have a "P" Programmed Auto Mode. However it's closest equivalent is the Normal Picture Mode. See Page 34 of the manual. Quote "We recommend using the ‘Face detection’ function when taking pictures of people."

In this mode you have a greater degree of control over the cameras various settings and operations. In particular the flash can be set to the Forced-On mode,'great for outdoor portrait use; and you can set the focus mode to Face Detection. It will confirm it has recognized the faces and you can then have confidence that the exposure will be set accordingly. If it can't identify the faces for whatever reason, you can try Exposure Compensation (P. 47). Also see page 42 for a chart of flash range vs ISO, handy for calculating the nest ISO to use. In most bright outdoor conditions, you want the lowest ISO possible.

Using the Auto Bracket function (page 46) is another handy way of ensuring the best exposure, whereby the camera will take 3 pictures at different exposure values (without flash) This is a fun way to experiment.

Be wary of the scene modes. For example, in Portrait Mode, the camera will use the Face Detection focus mode and flash automatically, but also has a tendency to raise the ISO unnecessarily, causing lower quality pictures.

As Sarah has recommended, using the Normal ("P") mode is usually the best for this camera.

Cheers
Greg

Last edited by chillgreg; May 9, 2010 at 3:53 AM.
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Old May 9, 2010, 9:56 AM   #8
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Thank you. So if I'm understanding correctly, I should have the camera set to normal mode with forced flash and face detection, but NOT on the portrait mode. Interesting that portrait mode raises ISO, I wonder if that's becasue most portraits are indoors? I tried and tried and there just isn't a way of setting a forced flash in landscape mode no matter what the manual says, so this advice will be helpful. I took some sample shots yesterday with bad lighting that would create shadows on faces. Just on iA and then on portrait with forced flash. The forced flash definitely helped brighten the subject which was too dark in iA but the background lost detail, I assume due to the portrait mode. I'll try your suggestions.
Do you have any feedback on Intelligent ISO vs auto ISO? It's difficult to understand the difference. If I have it on intelligent ISO should I limit the ISO and if so to what, 400, 800, or just leave it on 1600? And if I have it on auto ISO is there a preferred setting? Again, I take mostly outdoor photography, mostly landscapes, sometimes of animals.
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Old May 9, 2010, 10:01 AM   #9
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Also, in my first use of the fully charged battery, I only got 71 photos, and I wasn't using video. I'm thinking(hoping) that all the playing with settings and reading the manual with the LCD screen on drained the battery? It's not even close to the 300 the manufacturer talks about, but I'd like to get maybe 150 out of the battery, is that realistic?
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Old May 9, 2010, 4:45 PM   #10
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The battery has to be charged and discharged at least 4 times to come up to it full specifications.

Regarding the fill flash situation, I personally think that attempting to use Scene Modes is shooting you in the foot. Use the "P" for Programed Auto mode and that way the Scene Modes are not messing with the aperture settings. That is how I do it and I have used it hundreds of times with the FZ-35's built-in flash and with a slave flash.

Sarah Joyce
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