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Old Feb 21, 2006, 4:40 PM   #1
fmf
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Alright guys/gals, I'm struggling with my camera. I have an FZ5 and I like it alright, but man am I having a rough time figuring out how to take decent pictures. Heart mode pics come out great most of the time, but anytime I change any setting for any other mode I screw things up so bad that I have to reset the camera to get it back to factory specs :roll:. I have read, and re-read, and re-read, and then some more, the manual to try to get a feel for whats going on. I have a problem with focus for sure. I took some incredibly composed (for me anyway) shots a few weeks ago. about 250 in all and I got 5 pictures that were in focus. WHAT GIVES? I know its got to be me, something I don't know or understand. I just got divorced and my ex wife got my little girl so I take a lot of pictures of her when I have her and I would really like for more of them to turn out at least decent. Is there a book that might help? Any type of class is out of the question unless its free, the ex gets all of my money, but I could probably swing a book. Any suggestions? Any practice techniques or tips? One good thing about it is that I can practice as much as I want and it doesn't cost a penny! I do love digital for that! I am getting frustrated to the point of wanting to smash my camera into the wall though
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Old Feb 21, 2006, 4:44 PM   #2
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oh yeah, and no matter what setting I have it on, the red eye reduction doesn't really do squat. is that common? I know that I can edit them, but it would be nice if I didn't need to edit every single indoor low light picture.
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Old Feb 21, 2006, 6:01 PM   #3
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Remember the AF is searching for a verticle line to focus on. Focus on a collar or sleeve, half press and hold the button to lock and recompose, take shot.

I've found the M mode and histogram help me alot.

practice practice.
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Old Feb 21, 2006, 6:31 PM   #4
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if you're using "P" mode, make sure to focus on an area of relatively high contrast. doesn't have to be vertical but it does need contrast for a good focus. also make sure you're half-pressing the shutter and allowing the camera time to focus. when the little green dot lights up steady, it's locked on. if the light blinks, it hasn't got a good focus. make sure you're not too close; at 12x zoom, for instance, it needs at least 6 feet from the subject to focus properly. set your AF mode to 1-area, rather than spot mode... that will give the camera more to "look at", and should help it find a suitable contrasting part of the image to focus on. Do you have OIS turned on?

if you're already doing all those things and it still won't focus properly, there may be a problem with the AF mechanism. it'd be helpful if you could post some of the out-of-focus pictures (resize, please, to 800x600 so we can see them properly) here. it's a lot easier to evaluate possible causes if we have examples to look at...
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Old Feb 21, 2006, 7:42 PM   #5
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Sounds like the majority of your shots are indoors using the flash.Those conditionsis not the FZ5's strength. This may not be the time of year to be going out in the sunlight, but that's where your going to get your best lighting conditions. And that's where the FZ5 really shines. In the meantime, if you're stuck indoors, keep the zoom to a minimum (1-3x) and the distance to 6-8ft and get as much light as you possibly can. Fool around with the flash intensity to optimize that. Maybe go to a well lit mall or a museum and take some shots there. The FZ5 is an excellent outdoor camera but it struggles indoors in low light.
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Old Feb 22, 2006, 12:36 PM   #6
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First, thank all of you for taking the time to try and help me out. Your effort is very much appreciated.

I am going to try and cover all points mentioned.



squirl033 and brinyK9 - I wasn't aware that I needed to focus on anything in particular. So a face is not good to focus on? That would be a lot of my problem right there. Do you have any advice on the histogram? I've shyed away from it because it sounds too technical for me. I do have OIS turned on. I will try and make sure to set AF to 1-area.......I'm pretty sure thats what I'm shooting now, and sometimes when my subject is out of focus something else in the picture will be in focus and I don't understand how it grabbed that thing to focus on. Unfortunately, I scrapped all the bad pictures, but I do have some decent ones that might help me explain things and I will attach them at the end of this post.



fmoore - well, the weather has kept me in a little lately, but I've had just as many problems outside as I have inside. Again, I'm sure its just me being totally inept at photography. I'm not blaming the camera, although I wonder if I shouldn't have gone with something geared more towards a beginner. I would LIKE to grow into the camera though. Maybe when I have a pretty day, I will feel a little better about things.



Here are a few pics: don't mind her hair, daddy fixed it :-)



I'm pleased with these three, but I bet I took 40+ shots of her around and on this swing and maybe 5 were OK.









This one I bet I took over 75 shots and got this one............out of focus. BUT, I was taking them on scene mode, sports because she was swinging. I don't know if that works for subjects moving toward and away from you though, the more I think about it the more I think that sounds silly that I even tried. ???





On this one, doesn't the flower pot and grass in front of it seem more in focus than her?




On this one, why did everything turn out so dark? Not just her face, everything? It was taken during the same time as the previous ones.














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Old Feb 22, 2006, 1:02 PM   #7
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The first three look okay. The swing oof shot is difficult. I prefer the 1 area H focus though that isnt going to help alot with the contantly changing focus. Try locking focus/exposure with a shutter half press at a distance and exposure egual to the oint where you want to take the shot. Then reframe and wait for her and the swingto reach that spot. Takes some practice. The flower potdoesn't look to be in better focus. Focus may be onthe fence. Hard to tell. The last shot is metered on the sky thus the underexposure. You should have been abel to see this with a 1 sec auto review and corrected it on the second (or third)try. Once again, lock focus/exposure with a half press a little lower on her body and reframe to her face before completing the shot. All of this takes a bit of practice. You'll get it.
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Old Feb 22, 2006, 2:15 PM   #8
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Thanks for the advice! I'm feeling a little more confident already.

I have my 1 second review turned off, partly because I don't want to miss a follow up shot, and partly because I don't know how to correct problems when I see them. You say the shot is metered on the sky thus underexposed. Sounds good, but means nothing to me. :? Is there a photography for dummies book? One thing that I have a lot of is time, and if there is something that I can read just to get some of the basics down I would love to know about it.
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Old Feb 22, 2006, 2:54 PM   #9
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fmf wrote:
Quote:
You say the shot is metered on the sky thus underexposed.
The camera's exposure meter is telling it that this is a bright picture due to the bright sky and therefore the shutter speed should be faster (here 1/500 sec) so that the shot isn't overexposed with too much light. You need to aim the camera a bit lower so that it's exposure or light meter will tell the camera that it isn't such a bright shot and that a slower shutter speed of say 1/400 sec is needed for correct exposure. Google search camera for beginneres and see what comes up.
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Old Feb 22, 2006, 2:55 PM   #10
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the shots you posted look like they were taken in pretty poor light, which never helps. the FZ's all want good light for best results. at lower light levels, even with OIS, the images can come out a bit soft because most lenses aren't as sharp wide open as they are at smaller apertures.

shooting at something moving straight toward or away from you is VERY difficult, and the closer the subject, the harder it is. the AF usually won't keep up, and the only way to do it is like Fred suggested - focus on something close to the distance where you want to take the shot, and hold the shutter half pressed to lock the exposure while you wait for the subject to get to that spot (this is where manual focus comes in handy...). looking at the light in these pics, you were probably shooting at f2.8, maximum aperture, so your depth of field will be pretty shallow. in bright light, at a smaller aperture, this kind of shot is a little easier, due to deeper DOF, but even then it's difficult.

the 1-area focus is probably best for the kind of shooting you do. it covers a wide enough zone to ensure it picks something valid to lock onto, but it doesn't look at so much of the scene that it focuses on something you don't want. you can tell by looking at the green box in the viewfinder when you're focusing... it will outline the area it's looking at, and you can make sure that's what you want to focus on.

metering is a trickier proposition without manual control. if you half-press the shutter on a camera in "P" mode, it will focus on whatever you're aiming at. it will also meter the light on that spot. if you hold the shutter half pressed andmove the spot you're aiming at, it will lock the focus distance, but will re-meter on the newspot, even if your focus distance stays the same. unfortunately, you can't do it the other way around, and lock the metering then move to re-focus. with manual controls you can do that by noting the exposure settings for the area you want to meter on, then setting the aperture and shutter accordingly. then you can focus on anything you want and the exposure will be metered based on what you set. it takes practice, but it's a useful technique.

also, learn to use exposure bracketing. when you select this, the camera will take 3 shots - one shot underexposed (-1EV), one at optimum, and one overexposed (+1EV)-and you can select the one that came out best. this would have helped with the last shot you posted.
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