Intermediate Tutorial 10

If you dismiss pre-set ‘Scene’ modes such as ‘Sports’ and ‘Sunset’ as mere easy options for snappers rather than serious photographers, don’t be so hasty! Today’s modern camera systems offer a wide variety of time-saving functions – and also filters for in-camera Creative Effects, allowing polished shots to be produced immediately.


Pre-set scene modes and creative effects filters

As digital camera processors become more powerful, the number of pre-set picture-taking modes on offer increases, as does the ability to offer more functionality. It is common for system cameras to include a range of scene modes and built-in filter effects.

The advantage of so many pre-set options is that the user does not always have to think about making a combination of settings when shooting a particular scene. Instead they simply select the scenario or filter effect and the camera will make the appropriate settings automatically. This also makes it easier to quickly switch from one shooting scenario to another.

Using the Scene modes

Almost all modern digital cameras offer a shooting mode where the user chooses a pre-set option that adjusts to the best exposure and colour settings for shooting a particular scenario. The most common Scene pre-sets offered are: Sports, Portrait, Macro, Scenery, Night Scenery and Sunset – but that is to name but a few.

Access by selecting ‘SCN’ on the shooting mode dial

Access by selecting ‘SCN’ on the shooting mode dial

These are accessed by selecting ‘SCN’ on the shooting mode dial:

The reason these specific Scene modes are offered is that each requires a defined exposure set-up that can be repeated anytime you want to shoot in that way. Therefore, rather than having to remember exactly how you successfully set the camera the last time, you just select the Scene pre-set and the camera automatically changes the settings for you.




As an example, these are the settings the camera recalls when you shoot in those common Scene modes:

Shooting Scenario
Camera Icon Camera Settings Pre-set Effect
Sports Scene Mode_Sports_Icon Selects the highest shutter speed based on the available light, or increases ISO if light levels are low. Fast motion is captured without blur.
Portrait Scene Mode_Portrait_Icon Selects a wide aperture and enhances flesh tones. Portrait subject stands out from out-of-focus background.
Macro Scene Mode_Macro_Icon Enables focusing close-up to small objects, such as flowers. Small objects fill the frame, making it easier to see tiny details.
Scenery Scene Mode_Scenery_Icon Selects narrow aperture for maximum depth of field. Blue and green are enhanced. Landscape scenes are all in focus, sky and grass have rich colours.
Night Scenery Scene Mode_Night Scenery_Icon Shutter speed is set to long exposure (up to 60 secs). Image stabiliser is active. More details can be seen in night-time subjects.
Sunset Scene Mode_Sunset_Icon Red and yellow colours are enhanced. Exposure value is slightly underexposed. Captures the rich colours of the sunset.

Using the Creative Effects filters

The ‘Creative Effects’ option may well be found on the shooting mode dial

The ‘Creative Effects’ option may well be found on the shooting mode dial

There was a time when Creative Effects could only be applied by adding a special glass filter to the front of the lens (or even a silk stocking, in the case of some film directors!) or, more recently, digitally manipulating images after a shoot using software – in ‘post-production’. However, most modern cameras now offer a range of effects built-in. Some can be applied to a JPEG image after the shot has been taken, but the majority require selecting the filter from a number of pre-sets before you press the shutter button. Look for the ‘Creative Effects’ option on the shooting mode dial.

Traditional Creative Effects such as Monochrome/Black & White, Sepia-tone, Dynamic and Soft-focus remain popular options. New effects to have emerged include Pin-hole/Toy Camera, Miniature/Diorama and One-point Colour.


Here are some example shots:

Sepia effect





Soft focus

Soft focus

Toy camera

Toy camera



One Point Colour

One Point Colour

The advantage of ‘Live View’, as featured on all LUMIX G models, is that you can see your chosen effect while you are composing the shot. So, it’s sometimes a good idea to flick through a selection of different effects – you might be surprised which one looks best.

Remember, though, that once you have taken a shot with a Creative Effect applied, you cannot undo this afterwards. Here’s an example of a shot taken with and without the ‘Star Filter’ effect:

Creative Filter_Boat_Star_On

Star filter applied in-camera

Creative Filter_Boat_Star_Off

Normal early evening sun reflection

Here’s another example, this time using the high-contrast ‘Impressive Art’ effect on this ‘Balloons over Didcot Power Station’ shot:

Impressive Art On Didcot PS72

Impressive Art Off Didcot PS72

Why use such ‘in-camera’ effects?

There is a view that says any effects you want to apply to your pictures should be done in post-production, using the appropriate software. If you are the sort of person who likes to manipulate photographs after the event, that is fine and it leaves all your options open. In modern times, though, the trend is to share your pictures instantly with your social network – with more and more cameras now offering Wi-Fi or wireless transfer of images.

It is common behaviour to add filter effects before sharing images – and with immediate uploading now possible on location (for example holiday pictures) or when you get back to your hotel – the facility to add effects in-camera can save you the time of importing files into an app on your Smartphone, or having to make the adjustments when you get home on your computer. Sharing ‘finished’ shots offers instant gratification – after all, photography is supposed to be creative and fun, so why not experiment and spruce up those shots?

Remember the difference between the pre-set options:

  • Scene mode – set the camera’s exposure and colour settings to match commonly used shooting scenarios.
  • Creative Effects filters – apply digital filters in order to change and enhance the look of the scene ‘in-camera’.

The LUMIX Advantage

Creative Effects - Artistic Nightscape

One of many new Scene modes available on the LUMIX G6, ‘Artistic Nightscape’ for a creative blurred light effect

LUMIX G cameras include a wide range of Scene modes and Creative Effects for you to choose from. And Live View means you can sift through them, previewing their effect on the shot you are about to take via the LCD screen or Electronic Viewfinder, before you press the shutter.

Switch on the LUMIX ‘iA+’ feature and the camera will even suggest what type of filter effect you might want to try, based on the subject you are about to shoot. And if you are not sure how best to take a Scene mode shot, pressing ‘i’ for information brings up a pro photographer’s hints on what to do and which lens to use.

Shooting Exercise

Whichever model you have, the next time you are out and about try using all your camera’s Scene modes and experiment with the Creative Effects. Compare the results with the shots you might normally take and see if you find such ‘pre-sets’ make your photographs more interesting.

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Written by Steve Lucas for Panasonic ©