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Old Jan 15, 2005, 8:49 PM   #1
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Hi everyone,



I am new to digital photography. I just got my new FZ 3 in the mail this week and there is snow on the ground so I haven't been out taking more than a few photo's here and there. I have also taken a few indoors and they seem fine.

My question is this. I am going on vacation to New Zealand in a couple of months and want to take the best photo's I can take. I won't have a device with me to look over photo's in any detail (only the camera's LCD and that only tells you so much) until I get back after 2 and 1/2 weeks. I plan on taking a 1 gig memory card and another 512 mg card with extra battery.

I have read the manual and fooled around with different settings and even used "neat image" software to reduce noise. What I would like to know from experienced users is on sunny to moderately cloudy days; is the auto mode (P) generally the mode that will give me best results for scenic shots or at least as good as manual results? I know that if I want everything in the photo to be sharp (no matter the distances between them) that I need to use a higher aperature. I know that if there is too much light or not enough light then generally speaking one should go to a manual mode for apurature and shutter speed as well as ISO control.

I imagine that my lens hood is good on very sunny days.

After reading these posts and looking at photo galleries online, I feel that I am cheating or lazy if I am notbeing more creative byusing manual control for the best photo's.

Thanks in advance.

greyguy


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Old Jan 15, 2005, 10:23 PM   #2
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First off, you aren't 'cheating' or being lazy by using the camera's program mode. It'sdesigned for people like yourself who are new to digital photography, so you can get good photos even if you haven't yet mastered all the intricacies of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc. While the FZ cameras are capable of some amazing images in the hands of an experienced user, even a novice can get very good results by letting the camera select the best settings. Panasonic did their homework, and especiallyfor general photography, scenery, landscapes, etc., the "P" mode will produce very pleasing images. Frankly, if you're a novice photographer, and especially for pictures you don't want to miss (or mess up!), you'd be just as well off using the auto mode. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are not the time to be experimenting with settings, etc., you aren't familiar with. If you like to try different settings, go right ahead - that's how you learn! - but take one shot using "P" mode first, so that even if your experiments don't work, you'll have at leastone good image.

In general, you're correct about focusing over distance. Larger f-numbers (smaller aperture) will provide greated depth of field and a sharper background. And in bright light, the camera will automatically select a smaller aperture, and a faster shutter speed, to provide a correct (if not necessarily artistically perfect) exposure. If you'll be shooting primarily landscapes, that shouldn't be a problem; at landscape photo distances, the lens is focused on infinity, and you'll have maximum depth of field. There's no need to assume you have to use manual settings for very bright or low-light situations. The camera can handle bright light without a problem, as long as you avoid things like lens flare (reflections of the sun in the lens), and in dim light, you compensate by using a tripod, or bracing the camera on something immobile, and letting the camera use a longer shutter speed. If you don't plan on taking a tripod because of weight or bulk, I'd recommend at least a monopod; that will give you more stability, and telescopes into a very compact size for packing.

One morerecommendation - for 2 weeks + in NZ, I'd recommend more than one spare battery. The FZ3 is supposed to get about 240-260 shots percharge, depending on how much zooming you do and how often you use the flash, and a 1-gig cardshould hold about 800 pics at full 3MP resolution, so two batteries won't even be enough for you to fill your 1-gig memory card, much less get started on your 512MB spare. There'd be few things worse than finding yourself with a lovely, never-to-be-seen-again shot, only to find yourself with two dead batteries. Batteries aren't that expensive, far less costly than missing that perfect shot for want of some juice, so don't scrimp on spares. It's far better to have three or four and need only two, than the other way around!

Enjoy your trip (I envy you - NZ is a beautiful country!), and take lots of photos, and don't worry about using "P" mode... :G
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Old Jan 16, 2005, 3:58 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for your insights and recommendations. I will go on my trip with confidence that I am on the right track with taking photo's with my new camera. I am glad to hear that the "P" (automatic) modewill work just fine for most of my scenic type shots. Great suggestion about taking the first one in auto and then experiment if I want. Also, I didn't think about taking two extra batteries but now I will.

Thanks again for taking the time to give such a comprehensive answer.

Greyguy

ps.. It has been suggested for me to get familiar with panoramic photo shots for my trip. Do you have any ideas on the best way for me to learn that process?
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Old Jan 16, 2005, 4:03 PM   #4
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unfortunately, i'm still learning the ins and outs of the FZ'z myself, and haven't tried panoramic shots yet... sorry!!


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