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Old Jul 22, 2010, 12:55 PM   #1
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Default New Panasonic FZ38 User (beginner questions)

Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum and have to say that I was so impressed by all the running topics here, and the activity, that I felt like joining the club, hope to improve my knowledge of cameras, taking better photos, and of course, gain friends over here .

I recently went to Italy (holidays), and my old Nikon camera (an oldy, S200) has been ressurected after it was one day dead. It suddenly worked again, and sometimes it gave corrupted images, and the quality is nothing close to where I want it. So, I decided to buy a new camera, and received the Panasonic FZ38 yesterday. (I was choosing between the Canon SX 20 IS and this one)

I'm a very beginner when it comes to taking photos and working with anything like all the settings available. I know a few basics, read the manual, and have been reading this forum all day long, whilst trying a few things. I have a Tripod as well, and my next purchase will be a UV filter.

Another reason I joined is to ask a few questions, and hope that the readers of this topic aren't too tired yet after reading my story, to answer them, or give me advice . I just hope I'm not asking too much.

First of all, I read a lot about 'metering mode' and the 'spot focus'. Can anyone summarize what their relationship is, or explain in beginners words what the metering mode exactly is? (I read the wiki page) As for the FZ38, is 'spot focus' the option where you set the AF Mode to Spot?

Also, I read a part about putting the focus on the right of the field of view (where for instance people are), and when you half-press the capture button, you reframe it and take the photo. Could anyone explain that part to me? (I read it in a thread where one took a photo with his wife on the background, and on the right was a part of a garden). It's a bit the same as this part of Sarah Joyce's guide for beginners:

Quote:
(4) Set the focus point initially to center point focus. 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
Finder.
Finally, my first aim is to make nice photos with a subject focused on the front, with a nice blurry background (bokeh(?)). I tried several things and settings, also from things I read on the forum, but I simply can't accomplish it. A friend of mine with a camera tried it with my camera as well, but didn't manage either, but with her own camera, all goes smoothly, like for instance the right part of this website banner: http://aldgillis.nl/Aldgillis.png

If anything is not clear, please let me know, as my main language isn't English . Above that, thank you for any help in advance already and putting time in it.

Regards,

Honnes

Last edited by Honnes; Jul 22, 2010 at 1:47 PM.
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 1:56 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Honnes View Post
Hello everyone,


First of all, I read a lot about 'metering mode' and the 'spot focus'. Can anyone summarize what their relationship is, or explain in beginners words what the metering mode exactly is? (I read the wiki page) As for the FZ38, is 'spot focus' the option where you set the AF Mode to Spot?

Also, I read a part about putting the focus on the right of the field of view (where for instance people are), and when you half-press the capture button, you reframe it and take the photo. Could anyone explain that part to me? (I read it in a thread where one took a photo with his wife on the background, and on the right was a part of a garden).

Finally, my first aim is to make nice photos with a subject focused on the front, with a nice blurry background (bokeh(?)). I tried several things and settings, also from things I read on the forum, but I simply can't accomplish it. A friend of mine with a camera tried it with my camera as well, but didn't manage either, but with her own camera, all goes smoothly, like for instance the right part of this website banner: http://aldgillis.nl/Aldgillis.png


Honnes
Welcome to the forum!!
My understanding of the metering mode is measuring the amount of light available. Depending on the setting, the camera will adjust to give the proper exposure.

The spot focus is measuring a very small selected area and adjusting the focus more precisely on that one spot.

Making a background blurry and the subject focused has to do with the depth of field. So if I want a wide DOF (depth of field) or area of focus, I would want a large or "wide" DOF such as F8.0 If I want a very select or small area of focus I would want a smaller F stop - like F2.8.

Good examples here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh

That's where the P mode comes in. On the FZ38 in the iA mode you can't change many settings. It's all automatic. In the P mode you can change the focus to "spot" which gives you a precise area to focus on. And you can change the F stop to a higher or lower number. (Which will also change the shutter speed). The higher the F stop number the more light you need.

The wife and garden shot - I assume he was focusing on one part of the picture (pressing half way down) then moving to another part (while still pressing half way down) which "selects" the focus-metering-etc to that area.

Another good example here

http://toothwalker.org/optics/bokeh.html
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 2:26 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply, and your welcome!

I think I got it now what is meant with the metering mode, and I already had an idea what spot focus is, but not sure which option it is on the camera, but looking through the available options, I think I'm on spot focus when I put the "AF Mode" on 'Spot'.

However, I wasn't able to get anything near the bokeh shown on the photos from the links you posted. Those are just the kind of images I'd love to achieve. Earlier this afternoon, even a photo of a sandwich with a blur background was too hard for me, however, I had the F-stop on F 2.8, but I think it's just me, as I saw stunning photos on the forum already made with this camera.

I'm going for a small walk tonight I guess, and will try to take some photos. Also, I never know how far or close I should get to the subject. I made a small photo of a spider preparing it's dinner, and I was rather close I have to say, but sometimes the spider was too blurry to even recognize it, which forced me to zoom out a bit, but as they say, keep on trying ;-).

So, if I'm not wrong, what is meant by reframing, is that you put the focus on the object you want by pressing the capture button half way down, and then move the camera a bit to get, hopefully, a better photo

I'll post some photos here later tonight, or tomorrow, and hope I didn't mess up too much . Is it best to use the P mode or the A mode when trying to get images with a nice bokeh / blur effect on the background?

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Old Jul 22, 2010, 3:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Honnes View Post
Thanks for your reply, and your welcome!


I'll post some photos here later tonight, or tomorrow, and hope I didn't mess up too much . Is it best to use the P mode or the A mode when trying to get images with a nice bokeh / blur effect on the background?

Not sure which is the best - you can do the same in either mode. I usuall stay in the P mode. Try stepping back and using a "zoomed" in subject. To get an unfocused background use a small f stop (2.8) which will give you a higher shutter speed (too slow a shutter speed is hard to hold steady and may blur the subject). The further the background is from your subject the more "bokeh" you should get.

Here's an example - very small f stop or aperture opening f4.0 - shutter was 1/200 of a second and the back ground was a couple of feet away from the dragonfly. If you notice the wings are focused but his eyes are out of focus - a narrow depth of field. If I had used an F8.0 his wings and eyes probably would be in focus but that requires more light so the camera would drop the shutter speed down (I'm guessing to around 1/60 or 1/30) which I probably could not hold steady unless I used a tripod.

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Old Jul 22, 2010, 3:22 PM   #5
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Just a quick point of note which is worth understanding so there isn't confusion in the future, bokeh is not a measure of how much something is out of focus but actually the quality of out of focus area, some lenses produce better bokeh than others. So you are actually interested in how far out of focus you can get a background rather than the bokeh as you can't change lenses to affect that.

There are 3 main things in getting a shallow depth of field (DOF), or in other words a small amount in focus and the rest out of focus.

Get closer to the subject, use a long lens (more focal lenth), use a wider aperture (small f number). The last thing in getting the background soft is to have the subject as far away from the background as possible.

So you can do a head shot of someone by getting a long way away, using a lot of zoom on the camera and have them away from the background then you will get a part of the effect you desire but it is very had with small sensor cameras to create this effect with large subjects as the focal length of the lens you are using is really short, even when zoomed to the maximum.

For macro subjects where you can get much closer and use a long lens then it is easy to get the great results we see.
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 6:51 PM   #6
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It's hard for me to believe it's possible to create such a nice photo of a dragonfly with the FZ38, I think it's amazing ! .

I will try some things out for sure, as I'm just at the very start of creating photos which I was not able to before. As for my walk I'd take this evening, it turned into a visit of family who are camping. I tried to take a photo at night with the P mode of some sort of fly I don't know the name of in English, only that it's a simple one lol. I'll post the shot tomorrow. I think it's way overexposered, but you'll see it tomorrow.

I both want to thank you for your information and help, and I'll try to take some shots tomorrow.

If the quality of bokeh or the amount of it, or the blur, whatever it is being called most, has a lot of impact on the subject and the distance of the background, how would I be able to, for instance, take a photo of a bottle of milk on a table, in which the end of the table is blurred / bokeh-ed ? I tried the AF Mode on Spot (spot focus I guess) and F 2.8 on some packages, but didn't get the result I'd expect.

Anyway, I should get some sleep and give it a new try tomorrow, taking the information of both of you in account .

Goodnight.
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Old Nov 28, 2010, 10:38 AM   #7
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Honnes, good post. I too am a newbie like you so i learnt from this thread too as others will.
Clint won't a macro lens help too? If not why not? Lovely photo as always.
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Old Nov 28, 2010, 10:50 AM   #8
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Yes - a "faster" macro lens could achieve a better picture. Faster meaning it's a higher quality lens which uses the light better. The FZ35/38 has limited choices (mainly the LC55 and Raynox). You can't use a "dedicated" macro lens on the FZ35/38.

That's generally why people move up to a DSLR camera - much more expensive equipment.
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Old Nov 28, 2010, 2:25 PM   #9
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Might be getting the LC55 and adapter for Christmas, i hope, lol. Would like a DSLR but too expensive for all the bits and bobs i would want to go with it - lenses.
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Old Dec 2, 2010, 5:12 PM   #10
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[QUOTE=Honnes;1121140]It's hard for me to believe it's possible to create such a nice photo of a dragonfly with the FZ38, I think it's amazing ! ...

I've attached three photos that I took with either the FZ28 or FZ38 (very similar cameras in terms of settings, etc.)

To achieve the bokeh in each, I set the camera to "A" mode (aperture) and then adjusted the aperture (by pressing the button right under "Q Menu") until I reached the smallest number I could. This gives the largest camera opening and creates the most "blur" or bokeh. (The camera's aperture can be adjusted to 2.8, if there is sufficient light. Just keeping pressing that button until the number won't go down any more.) Bokeh is not always desirable, but it works well when you really want the viewer's eye to be drawn to the flower, bird, person etc. that is the focal point. Don't forget, though, that as you open the lense (have a smaller number) it's easy to overexpose the picture, so look at the histogram, and make sure the white "graph" is somewhat in the middle. If it's too far to the right, your picture may have great bokeh, but it's also going to be overexposed. (Lots of things to consider.) Hope that helps and didn't muddy the waters, so to speak.

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