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Tips & Tricks
Tips & Tricks give you the inside track on how to get the best out of your Lumix G camera.
We all love photographing family a friends, but we don’t always manage to get the results we’re looking for. It could be that your loved one is shrouded in darkness – because you photographed them with a bright light source behind them. Or, maybe they are out of focus – due to the camera’s auto focus system locking on to a more prominent subject.
Don’t worry; LUMIX G models have a couple of tricks that can help to avoid these problems.
- The first thing you should consider when shooting people and faces, is to set the camera’s focus mode to ‘Face Detection’. The camera software is programmed to pick out facial features and optimises focus and exposure settings, in the camera, so that faces are always in sharp focus and correctly exposed.
- But, even better is ‘Face Recognition’. By programming up to six faces in the camera memory, the camera will prioritise a recognised face – especially useful when taking a group shot.
- Focus and exposure are optimised for recognised faces meaning your chosen friends and family members will no longer be lost amongst the crowd or left in the dark.
- Names and birthdate can also be added during registration of faces and can be displayed during playback of images.
- Names will also be displayed before a picture is taken to confirm the face has been recognised.
The camera phone ‘Selfie’ is fun and quirky, but if you really want to capture a good picture of yourself, on your own or with friends, in a great location there’s nothing better than a camera, a wide angle lens and the Self-Timer.
Most cameras have at least two options 2 seconds and 10 seconds
Use the 10-seconds option for photographs on location where you want to be in the picture yourself.
- Set the camera up on a tripod or place it on a firm structure like a wall or table.
- Frame your shot with the object or landscape that you want to be in the shot with, allowing space for you to take your position, (this is easier if you have a friend or partner to stand next to).
- Half-press the shutter button to auto focus on the subject, and then set the camera to Manual Focus.
- Finally, fully press the shutter button to activate the timer and quickly take your place in the scene.
The 2-seconds mode is ideal for long exposure shots when you don’t have a remote shutter cable available. Using the timer function, to delay the shutter action, stops camera shake that might otherwise spoil the shot.
Of course the ‘selfie’ is the must do photo trend of 2015, but if you are put off by the poor results posted by most people, you might well ask – how do you get a decent selfie shot? Well, put away your selfie sticks and smartphones and grab yourself a GF7.
With three great hands-free selfie features included on the GF7, you (and anybody else who wants to be in the picture with you) can now concentrate on correctly framing and capturing those fun moments.
1. Face Shutter – flip the screen though 180-degrees so that you can clearly see the monitor with the lens facing towards you. Place the camera somewhere firm and level and compose your shot. Raise your hand, obscuring your face for about a second and the picture will be taken.
2. Buddy Shutter – set up as above but this time select ‘Buddy Shutter’. Frame the shot with two or more faces in the frame. Bring your heads close together and the shot will be taken.
3. Jump Snap – fun for the more adventurous, requires a smartphone. Switch on the camera’s Wi-Fi and pair the smartphone to the camera. Launch the Panasonic Image App and select ‘Jump Snap’. Set the camera up for a selfie as before and put the phone in your pocket. Compose yourself in the frame and JUMP! Try it with friends, but most of all have great fun with a new style of selfie!
Shooting macro (extreme close-up) can be very satisfying and enlightening, opening up a new way of observing objects – from an ant’s perspective.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most from Macro photography:
- Start by practicing your technique indoors on inanimate objects like a watch, a feather, a flower or even food items (spices and curry powder for example), this allows for better control of lighting and camera position.
- The Lumix H-HS030E is ideal for shooting inanimate objects and has a closest focusing distance of just 105mm.
- Use a tripod and timer or remote shutter release, as otherwise accurately selecting and holding a focus point becomes difficult due to the, usually, shallow depth of field created when working close up.
- When shooting outdoors, choose a still day without wind, as any movement of your subject in a breeze will spoil the shot.
- Be aware of casting a shadow on your subject. Use a reflector to help illuminate an object in shadow, never use on-board flash.
- Capturing flying insects can be tricky as they never stay in the same place for long.
- Fix the camera on a tripod and frame a subject where the insect may land, move away and wait. A remote shutter release or Wi-Fi remote will help you keep your distance.
- Dragonflies may settle for longer periods, but usually fly off if you get too near. For such insects, use a longer focal length macro lens like the Leica H-ES045 which enables macro shooting from a greater distance
The amazingly fast LUMIX G Contrast AF system offers five auto focus modes in order that you can match the best focus performance to whichever scene you are shooting.
Follow these examples for the best results.
1. Face Detection AF – Set this mode when photographing individuals or groups of people. Camera software detects facial features from within a scene and sets exposure, focus and contrast in order that faces become the focal point. (Hats and Scarves Photo by LUMIX G Experience member Eddy)
2. AF Tracking – Set this mode when photographing subjects that are likely to move around the frame. Place the cross-hair target point over your subject and half-press the shutter button. The locked focus point will track the subject as it moves. (The River Gap Photo by LUMIX G Experience member Stewart.a.reid)
3. Multi-area AF – Set this mode to split your shooting frame in to 23 focus zones (49 zones – GH4). Multiple points of focus make this mode ideal for shooting scenery, architecture or whenever you want multiple subjects to be in focus. (German Morning Photo by LUMIX G Experience member PMD)
4. 1-area AF – Suitable for most shooting situations where a single point of focus is required. The size and position of the focus area can be changed to suit the precise nature of the shot. ( Christmas Decoration Photo by LUMIX G Experience member Marie-ice)
5. Pinpoint AF – Set this mode for extremely precise focusing where the target area is very small, for instance: Macro shooting, Wildlife shots and close-up Portraits (pupil of an eye etc.). ( The Lone Seed Photo by LUMIX G Experience member Roy)
A little used feature of LUMIX G cameras is the Auto Exposure Lock function, although it can be very useful when taking a number of shots of the same subject.
Here are a couple of tips for when you may want to use AE Lock:
- When shooting in ‘P’ mode, the AE Lock is a quick way of ‘locking in’ an aperture or shutter speed setting that you find works well for certain shooting situations, this saves you time from switching and setting up aperture or shutter priority.
- Also, when shooting a subject with a strong light source in the background (as in this shot):
There is a risk that your subject may appear in silhouette as the camera’s metering system adjusts for the bright background (as happened here):
To prevent this from happening, point the camera to a darker part of the scene and half press the shutter button. The aperture or shutter speed (depending on the shooting mode) will be adjusted to correctly expose the shadowed part, now press the AE Lock button and the exposure settings will be locked.
You are now free to experiment with the composition, and snap away, without fear of the exposure changing.
A technique favoured by professional photographers is ‘Back-button Focusing’. It can be very useful when repeatedly shooting a subject (or a fixed point) that remains at a set distance from the camera.
It also means that the camera is not constantly re-focusing every time you press the shutter button. This is a major benefit for when your subject has other objects passing in front of it. For example: a bird in a tree may have branches or leaves blowing in to your shot. With conventional ‘half-press’ Auto Focus there is a chance that each time you go to take the shot, the AF will catch the branch instead of the bird.
Using the Back-button AF method ensures that you can lock the auto focus on the subject at any stage, and then concentrate on pressing the shutter button at exactly the right time.
Here are a few tips to help you use this feature:
1. Choose a camera that has a dedicated AF Lock button or assign one of the Fn (Function) buttons to control AF Lock.
2. Set ‘AF Lock’ or ‘AF Lock Hold’ to ‘On’ in the Custom Set-up menu.
3. You can tell when the AF Lock has successfully focused on a subject because ‘AFL’ and a green focus dot will be displayed on the monitor.
4. The focus distance will remain locked no matter how many times you release the shutter, to revert back to normal ‘half-press’ AF, press the AF Lock button again.
One of the trickiest things in photography is to keep focus on a moving subject. However, since the introduction of AF Tracking it has become a whole lot easier.
Providing lighting is good and the subject has good contrast against its background, AF Tracking will be able to lock on to the chosen subject and keep it in focus – no matter whether it moves around the frame or moves closer or further away from the camera.
Keep these tips in mind to ensure the best AF lock:
1. With a moving subject, keep the camera still or keep camera movements smooth.
2. Use the Live Viewfinder or Display Screen and keep the subject within the frame.
3. If the subject moves outside the frame for a short time, it should automatically re-acquire ‘lock’ when the subject comes back into frame, as long as the OSD target is yellow.
4. If the OSD target turns white (AF lock is lost) re-acquire by half-pressing the shutter button.
5. Set AFC (Auto Focus Continuous) mode if using ‘Burst Shooting’.
Don’t forget, even if the subject is static, it may be you (and the camera) that is moving – shooting from a moving vehicle for example. AF Tracking is easy to set and can be effective in many shooting situations.
When it comes to portraiture there are hundreds of styles to choose from. A great place to start is with the ‘Portrait mode’ (available on all LUMIX G models), as demonstrated effectively on this image below.
The traditional portrait shot includes an ‘out-of-focus’ background, and ‘Portrait’ automatically uses a wide open aperture setting to help achieve this.
To maximise the amount of de-focus, try these tips:
1. Move closer and shorten the distance between the camera and the subject.
2. Increase the distance between the subject and the background.
3. If up close, use a Wide-angle lens such as the LUMIX H-H014AE.
4. If further from your subject, use a long focal length, telephoto lens such as the LUMIX H-FS45150.
If not using the ‘Portrait mode’, be sure to set the camera to the widest aperture available for the lens you are using. The wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of focus becomes – the ultra-fast H-NS043E LEICA DG NOCTICRON 42.5mm / F1.2 lens is perfect for this.
Another tip is to select the eye of your subject as the focus point – use ‘Pinpoint’ Auto focus mode to ensure the exact position. So, with your subject in sharp focus and a nicely softened background, you now have the basics to produce great portraits.
It’s quite satisfying once you have bagged a decent shot of the moon, and doing so helps you get to grips with exposure and aperture.
Here’s what you need to try it out for yourself:
1. The longest telephoto lens you can lay your hands on.
2. A tripod.
3. A clear night and unobstructed view of the moon.
A ‘full moon’ is not always the best time to shoot. Other phases of the moon, when the sun light catches the craters on the moon face for instance, are often more dramatic and interesting – as in this moon shot, posted on the gallery by Roy.
Click here to see the image.
A telephoto lens is essential, the Lumix 100-300mm lens (as used in Roy’s shot) is ideal. Even shooting at the highest focal length, you will probably still want to crop in to your shot. The 4x digital zoom on your camera is an option, but cropping in on the computer should be better.
1. The moon is extremely bright, compared to its background, so use ‘spot metering’.
2. Set ISO to 200.
3. Use a minimum shutter speed of 1/100th sec.
This should result in a fairly narrow aperture, leaving just the focus to concentrate on. Manual focus with ‘Peaking’ selected is ideal, although ‘Touch-screen’ auto focus should do a good job on such a high contrast subject.
Use a remote shutter release or 2-second timer to avoid jolting the camera and be ready to keep re-framing the moon in the lens, as it moves quite quickly across the sky.