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Old May 14, 2010, 12:59 PM   #1
LEK
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Default Help with settings and usage on Panasonic ZS3

Hello. I've been reading the manual on my ZS3 and calling Panasonic(one helpful phone call last week, today was a waste of time, I think I knew more about the camera than she did and I know nothing). I apologize if some of my questions are pretty ignorant, I am starting from a pretty limited understanding of photography, but am trying to learn as fast as I can. I see all these posts about using the shutter and exposure and different setting on this camera and it is bringing up lots of questions for me, and also I'm getting stumped in the basic usage of some of the features. So here it goes, my questions are:


1 - I still am unclear on the difference between intelligent ISO and auto ISO, and which is better to use. I THINK that what the manual is saying is that the iintelligent ISO also adjusts shutter speed, while Auto ISO just adjusts the ISO automatically but not the shuuter speed? Or maybe I'm wrong, I can't figure out the difference. Also, if it's in intelligent ISO, is it a good idea to limit the ISO to maximum 800 or to something else? If I leave it on auto ISO and not intelligent ISO, am I supposed to set the ISO each time(I don't think so, it isn't an automatic camera), or if not, what AM I supposed to be setting?


2 - I don't understand minimum shutter speed. I'm sure this is one of the things I will be learning about as I learn photography. For now do I need to do anything about this? I think the default on the camera is 1/8, and I'm not even sure when that comes into play, I think it's just in certain situations. While shooting in iA and normal modes, playing with scene modes, should I have it set for anything in particular or just leave it the way it came?


3 Not understanding ratio settings. I have it set to 4/3. I want the best setting for prints. Should I have it on something else?


4- I've run down the battery twice and have only gotten about 70 photos each time. From what I understand as the battery breaks in this will improve, but I'm not sure why it is so VERY low. I'd like to get at least 150 shots on a battery, it this unrealistic?


5 How long do these batteries live? 1 year, 5 years, how often should I replace them?


6 - I am for the most part liking the pictures with all the settings set to i. But I did notice that on my computer screen iauto exposure looked better for sunny days, and in normal mode on cloudy days the exposure was better. However when I printed the pictures, I really couldn't tell the difference. Not sure why?


7 I guess my underlying confusion is this: right now I have the camera set to iAuto, iexposure and iISO. I'm not sure what happens if I take them off the intelligent settings, the camera is still pretty automatic isn't it? What should I be setting if it's not in the intelligent settings?


Thanks so much for your assistance, I would like to get the most out of this camera.
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Old May 15, 2010, 11:56 AM   #2
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Even though I don't have the ZS3, I can still answer your questions since they apply to any camera.

1. Usually, when set to AUTO ISO, the camera will choose between the standard ISO values (80/100, 200. 400, 800, etc.) but in iISO, the camera may choose ISO values in between (i.e. 120, 160, 320, 610, etc.). This will obviously optimize the ISO selection, not going beyond what the camera think it needs to keep the shutter speed at reasonable values (thus preventing blur due to extreme low speeds) and noise under control (to a certain extent). This leads to your second question...

2. Min shutter speed determines how long the diaphragm will stay open allowing light to reach the sensor. The shutter speed works in conjunction with the aperture and ISO. Cameras use a combination of the three settings to determine exposure. In P mode, the camera will choose the S and A values by itself based on the amount of light available and the ISO setting. It also uses FL to select the aperture but we're opening a can of worms here, so let's leave it at that. So, in bright daylight with ISO set to AUTO and you are shooting a landscape, the camera may select aperture f4.0 or f5.6, shutter speed of 1/800 and ISO 100. This settings will guarantee that just about everything on the scene is in focus, there will be no blurriness caused by camera shake and no ISO noise. Now, suppose you are going to photograph a waterfall and you wish to create the cotton effect on the water. You'd accomplish that by reducing the shutter speed to very low levels. By doing that, the diaphragm will stay open for a long time creating the effect. The thing is, as you slow down the shutter (1/8 or below), the needs for a tripod increase significantly because any camera movement during the time the diaphragm is open will cause blurriness. Also, the aperture value must increase (smaller opening) or you will get over exposed images. Most P&S will give you a hard time accomplishing this effect because the min aperture is usually f8.0, which may not be enough to cut down the light when the shutter speed is blow 1/8. In this case, you need an ND filter as well.

On the other hand, if you are photographing sports, you want to increase the shutter speed (over 1/1000 at least) to freeze the action. Again, light will become an issue because as you increase the speed, you must open the aperture (smaller values). Why? Well, the faster the diaphragm opens and closes, the less light will go in. So, you need to open up the aperture to guarantee that the correct amount of light will pass through during that short period of time or your image will be under exposed. In this case, ISO becomes an important factor. The less light you have, the more difficult it is to use high shutter speeds because many cameras will start at an aperture of f3.5 and if you use long zoom, then the min aperture is f5.6, which is not wide enough for a shutter speed of 1/1000+. So, you need to increase the ISO (sensitivity), which leads to noise.

Obviously to have control of DoF and effects created by shutter speeds, you should always set the camera to either A or S modes depending on the circumstances. Otherwise, you will not be able to control the settings.

3. The ratio setting determines how the image will look like (i.e. wider or longer). A 16:9 will make the image look more like a panorama while the 3:2 it will look wider, more squared. Most P&S these days use 4:3 as the standard ratio.

4. Battery utilization has to do with many different factors. In the very beginning, the user tends to browse through the menus much more often looking for the various settings, changing them, etc. This will certainly increase battery usage. Then there is all the fancy stuff cameras can do, such as in-camera panorama stitch, HDR processing, APS, etc. This will also cause the battery power to run down quicker. The usage of flash can affect battery consumption significantly as well. And finally, there is also the possibility of a faulty battery (particularly 3rd party batts). So, I suggest you set the camera to P mode, turn off LCD (if the camera has an EVF), turn off in-camera fancy editing and try not to use any flash for one full charge cycle. See what difference it makes. If you are still getting much less images than you should based on specs, then contact the manufacturer. They will very likely replace the unit for free.

5. The lifetime of batteries very significantly from batt to batt. Some brands are better than others. Nikon DSLR batteries are excellent. Not only you can get a very high number of images but they will last for years. But then again, it depends on usage. If you are a high shooter, you most likely will have to charge up the battery very often, which will in turn reduce its lifetime. The bottom line here, there is no exact answer to your question.

6. One of the biggest problems with digital photography is called "monitor". Each computer monitor is different and most are poorly calibrated for color accuracy. Therefore, what you see is most likely not what you get. Then comes the printer. Are you printing your pictures at home or sending out for professional printing. Doing at home can cause the problem you are describing because chances are your printer does not have the ability/capability of reproducing a large spectrum of colors. As a result, you loose color tones that may be differentiating one image from another. My suggestion is to take the two pictures to a place like Costco and have them printed professionally. Then you should be able to see the difference. You might also look into a software to calibrate your monitor, specially if you are printing the images yourself.

7. In iAUTO you are relying on the camera's ability to make determinations as to how the various settings must be adjusted. IMO, iAUTO is usually good for outdoor in bright daylight. The next step would be P mode in which the camera is still choosing the aperture and shutter speed values but you have some saying on other settings. If the camera offers A and S modes, then you might want to play with them. A mode will affect the DoF (depth of field), while the shutter will affect motion.

The beauty of digital photography is that you can shoot till you heart's content at virtually no cost. The other great thing is that you don't have to keep notes of all the setting changes you make (like in the old film days). The EXIF data gives you all that information. So, you shoot shoot shoot, then you upload the pictures to your PC and look at them. Then check the EXIF data of the ones you like to see how the camera was set and make notes of those settings that appeal more to you. My only suggestion doing this exercise is not to involve anyone else, unless they are willing to model for you. It's a boring process for those who are with you because you shoot, you change a setting and shoot again, then change another setting and shoot again, so on and so forth. Just take your time.
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Old May 15, 2010, 3:55 PM   #3
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Thank you very very much. that was a very helpful explanation of terms I really need to understand. I was beginning to feel pretty overwhelmed, like I had enough knowledge to use the terms but not enough to really know what I'm saying. You made the connections for me much more clear. I'm really not looking to do any fancy effects with this camera, I just want to take pictures of beautiful landscapes and wildlife when we travel and have them come out clear enough to be able to enlarge a really good one to 8 x 10. I'm thinking that iAuto is probably the best for that, unless there is a real advantage to having it on auto ISO instead? would the iAuto/iISO be more of an advantage to capture wildlife which may be moving at a walk?

In terms of minimum shutter speed settings, alot of people on another forum have their Zs3 set to 1/3 minimum setting when in the normal mode, not of course in i Auto. I think the default on the camera is 1/8. Any reason to change it to 1/3 if I do use the normal modes?

The iAuto default ratio is 4/3, but I did find a way to change it on iAuto to 3/2, but the pixels are then at 9.5 instead of 10. Any advantage or disadvantage to either setting? I do print out my photos and put them in albumns and display the really good ones, so I want what is best for prints.

FYI i did have the photos printed at a photo shop, and their prints didn't show the exposure difference I could see on my monitor. So perhaps it's a monitor problem, I'll keep taking prints on sunny and cloudy days and try to figure that one out.

I think that I am overfocusing on the technology(not my forte) and getting overwhelmed. When I originally bought the camera I wanted to put it on auto setting and then work on my photography techniques, understanding how to frame and use light and choose good shots, rather than the insides of the camera. I understand more now how that is connected to the settings, but I do think my interest really lies in being outside with the camera. I want to get the basic settings right and then focus on taking the picture. Thanks for your help in clarifying things for me.
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Old May 15, 2010, 8:11 PM   #4
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Great stuff Tulls, you are an asset to Steve's!

I'd like to help you clarify Point 1 please:

1. Usually, when set to AUTO ISO, the camera will choose between the standard ISO values (80/100, 200. 400, 800, etc.) but in iISO, the camera may choose ISO values in between (i.e. 120, 160, 320, 610, etc.).

Intelligent ISO was introduced on the FZ18, which I owned at the time. Unfortunately in that iteration of the Venus processor, it wasn't particularly successful, bumping up the ISO far too often. Subsequent models were much better, Panasonic all but admitting as much.

So in addition to Tullio's answer, the primary difference between the 2 modes is:

ISO Auto varies the ISO from base to 400 depending on light conditions only, and up to ISO1000 if using the flash. This is for the ZS3, I think the upper limit may vary slightly between different models.

Intelligent ISO takes both light conditions and subject movement into account. The objective being, clean low ISO shots of say a static smiling child, then the child moves and the ISO increases to keep the shutter speed high enough to prevent motion blur. Auto ISO will not do this.

In current model Panasonics, there is a third setting in the recording menu that affects both ISO settings. This is upper ISO Limit. So you can set this to say 200 or 400, preventing too much image noise. Or if at night, you can leave it at 800 or 1600 so you can at least get the shot if the conditions are difficult.

Hope that all helps!

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Old May 15, 2010, 8:22 PM   #5
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Okay, thanks, that does clarify even more. So let's consider the conditions I was in today, walking along the river near our house, I see a rattlesnake 6 feet away from me on the path. Quickly raise the camera, get one shot as it's slithering away. I realized that's how alot of my photos will be, the animal appears, I can get a shot or maybe a couple of shots, and it's gone, often moving as I'm taking the picture. If I'm lucky the animal sticks around for more pictures, in Glacier NP the mountain goats and bighorn sheep just stood there posing, but I'm probably not going to spend alot of time composing the photo, I'm just going to shoot the picture. So for those conditions, I'm thinking iAuto which includes iISO is best? Do you agree? I have lowered the ISO limit to 800, do you suggest lowering it to 400 during daylight, even on cloudy days?
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Old May 16, 2010, 12:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LEK View Post
Thank you very very much. that was a very helpful explanation of terms I really need to understand....
You're welcome. I'm glad I was able to clarify things a bit.

Quote:
...would the iAuto/iISO be more of an advantage to capture wildlife which may be moving at a walk?
The ISO setting only plays a role if the available light is not enough for the camera to keep its minimum shutter speed. There are two things to watch out for as far as ISO is concerned:

1. Your camera does not handle high ISO real well (noisy images at ISO 800 and above - I think it's safe to say that most cameras these days will handle ISO 400 reasonably well), and;

2. Make sure you don't under/over expose the image when shooting in S or A mode with a fixed ISO.

Capturing wild life is mostly about shutter speed. Fast moving creatures can only be photographed well if you use high shutter speeds to freeze the motion. Otherwise, you'll end up with a lot of motion blur. So, say you set the camera to S mode and select a speed of 1/1000. If light is insufficient, the camera will first knock the aperture down to its widest value. Then, if light is still not enough, it will start bumping up the ISO. So, setting the ISO to iISO is probably your best bet.

Quote:
In terms of minimum shutter speed settings, alot of people on another forum have their Zs3 set to 1/3 minimum setting when in the normal mode, not of course in i Auto. I think the default on the camera is 1/8. Any reason to change it to 1/3 if I do use the normal modes?
The slower the shutter speed, the more chances of getting out of focus images due to motion blur you have. Even though the camera has image stabilization, 1/3 is way too slow. The only reason you'd want to set the shutter to 1/3 is if you're really trying to avoid increasing the ISO. But still, it's better to get noisy images (which you can always clean up some) than blurred images (which there is nothing you can do about).

Quote:
The iAuto default ratio is 4/3, but I did find a way to change it on iAuto to 3/2, but the pixels are then at 9.5 instead of 10. Any advantage or disadvantage to either setting? I do print out my photos and put them in albumns and display the really good ones, so I want what is best for prints.
Absolutely not. Keep the default setting as it will maximize the MP.
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Old May 16, 2010, 12:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
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Great stuff Tulls, you are an asset to Steve's!

...
Thanks very much, Greg. I do appreciate the compliments. Also, thanks for clarifying my explanation further as far as auto ISO is concerned.
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Old May 16, 2010, 12:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LEK View Post
...If I'm lucky the animal sticks around for more pictures, in Glacier NP the mountain goats and bighorn sheep just stood there posing, but I'm probably not going to spend alot of time composing the photo, I'm just going to shoot the picture. So for those conditions, I'm thinking iAuto which includes iISO is best? Do you agree? I have lowered the ISO limit to 800, do you suggest lowering it to 400 during daylight, even on cloudy days?
You are too focused on ISO settings. Unless your camera produces extra noisy images at higher ISO settings (800+), you should not worry to much about it. Either have it on iISO or cap it to 800. Then, increase to 1600 if needed. Usually you should not need to go up to 1600 unless you are shooting close to night time or inside a museum with very dim lighting. In daylight (overcast, dawn, dusk), ISO 800 should suffice. No need to lower to 400 as most likely the camera will not go beyond that anyway. Unless you are forcing the shutter speed to a very high setting (1/1000+) in reasonably low light conditions.
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Old May 16, 2010, 1:18 AM   #9
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Thanks for the feedback on aspect ratio, I also read that 4/3 aspect ratio is better if I want to blow up to 8 x 10's, so I put it back to that.

Now that I'm not playing with the menu so much and have recharged the battery a couple of times, I have 53 shots on the battery and it's not even down one bar, so that looks like it's doing much better.

You're right, I think I'm overfocusing not just on ISO settings, but on settings in general. It comes from realizing how much I don't know and getting overwhelmed. I generally like what the camera does in the iAuto setting and am going to mostly leave it in that for now and just start taking lots of pictures. When I got the ZS3 what I wanted to learn was how to compose better and use light and just take better images, and that's what I really need to focus on now. I did want the camera set up correctly, and you have all helped tremendously with that, but I think I got sidetracked on all the settings, that knowledge can come over time and now I need to take pictures.

Last edited by LEK; May 16, 2010 at 1:28 AM.
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