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The independent source for study and review of camera ergonomics.

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    Horizontal Waterfall, Kimberley Coast, Australia. GH4 + 14-140mm, helicopter.
     
    The Custom Menu  hosts a long list of items which don't obviously belong in the Rec or Setup Menus.
    Cust.Set.Mem  This is the place to assign a group of settings to a Custom Mode. The procedure is quite straightforward. First ensure that ALL Menu, Q menu, WB, ISO, +/- buttons  and Fn button settings are as you want them for the intended use and that the Main Mode Dial is where you want it. Set your preferred aperture if using A Mode or shutter speed if using S Mode, or both is using M Mode. Then simply follow the screen prompts to allocate all those settings to one of the Custom Modes. Once in a Custom Mode you can change all settings as usual. They will revert to the saved settings when you switch to a different mode than back to the original one.
    I actually find this feature more useful on Panasonic's intermediate models such as the G6 which does not have direct hard control access to Drive Mode and Focus Mode. Neither of these Modes can be included in a Custom Mode on the GH4 as they are accessed via labelled hard controls. In addition OIS setting on lenses with an OIS switch on the lens barrel cannot be included in a Custom Mode.


    Silent Mode  This is very useful especially for environments which demand quiet camera operation. This switches E-Shutter On and all beeps Off. Note that there are still physical functions which are not silent. These are
    * Aperture mechanism which is quite audible even with my poor hearing 2 meters from the  camera in some lenses such as the 12-35mm f2.8 when stopped down.
    * OIS mechanism and focus mechanism both of which are audible with one's ear on or very close to the lens.
    AF/AE Lock  This sets the function of the AF/AE Lock button. Individual preferences vary. The GH4 gives you plenty of choice, between AE lock, AF lock or both. I set the 4th (bottom) option, AF ON. This operates like back button focus on a pro style DSLR. In AFS it starts and locks focus. In AFC it commences and continues AFC. Note that on the GH4 setting the back button to AF On still enables AF with half press of the shutter button. So you can initiate AF either way without having to change settings.
    AF/AE Lock HoldThis determines how the lock hold function operates. With this function Off, AF or AE is locked while the AF/AE Lock button is held down. With the function On, AF or AE is locked with a single short press of the button.
    AF/AE Lock Hold is inactive if AF-ON is set for the function of the AF/AE Lock button.
    Shutter AF  This determines whether half press of the shutter button will initiate AF or not. If you want to fully separate autofocus from autoexposure, set AF/AE Lock to AF ON and Shutter AF to Off.
    I leave it On so I can initiate AF with either the shutter button or back button.
    Half Press Release  If set to On the shutter will fire with half press of the shutter release button. I am not quite sure of the purpose of this feature. Maybe it is intended to produce a super speedy shutter response. I always leave it Off as having the shutter fire on half press would confuse me no end. When time permits I like to half press, confirm focus has been achieved then full press.
    Quick AF  has AF working continuously prior to capture even when AFS is set on the Focus Mode lever. Presumably this is intended to speed up proceedings but it does use more power than standard AF. I leave it Off.
    Eye Sensor AF  This is another feature designed to speed up proceedings. AF is activated by bringing the eye to the viewfinder eyepiece. It works just fine but I leave it Off just because I prefer to have a bit more control over the camera's behaviour.
    Pinpoint AF Time  When you use Pinpoint AF the camera automatically magnifies a small section of the image at and around the focus point so you can see exactly what is in focus. The magnified frame within a frame appears for a  time. Options are Long, Mid and Short. Mid gives about one second which suits me well enough. It gives me an opportunity to check focus without slowing down the capture flow too much.
    AF Assist Lamp  Low light AF sensitivity on the GH4 is so great that I hardly ever use it. The camera will focus (slowly) without the lamp in light so low you can hardly see. The lamp does speed up AF acquisition in very low light and could be useful if flash will be the light source for capture.
    Direct Focus Area  With this On, the active AF area is highlighted and starts to move immediately when any part of the Control Dial is pressed. If  Direct Focus Area  is  Off  it is necessary to press another button (which one depends on Fn button function allocations)  to activate the AF area prior to moving it with the Control dial.
    I always set Direct Focus Area On. The camera has clearly been designed to operate this way with no other functions allocated to the Cursor Buttons (4 way controller).  This allows the user to change AF area position and size very quickly. Recenter  AF area with the Disp button.
    Focus/Release Priority  This option may be particularly relevant to AFC/continuous Drive. If Release Priority is set the camera will take the shot even if it thinks exact focus has not been achieved. If Focus Priority is set the camera will try to confirm focus before activating the shutter.  Since I have no interest in out of focus shots I always set Focus Priority.
    AF+MF  When On this allows focus to be adjusted manually (with focus assist if set) after autofocus has operated (half press the shutter button or AF/AE Lock button and hold). When combined with Peaking this allows very fine tune of focus. I always set it On.
    MF Assist   This zooms into the frame when manual focus is operating. It can be set to activate by turning the focus ring on the lens, pressing the Fn3 button , both or Off. The amount of zoom can be controlled with the front and rear dials. I set MF Assist to operate when the focus ring is turned as that seems the natural thing to do.
    MF guide  When On this brings up a horizontal analogue distance indicator in the lower part of the frame. This could assist with turning the focus ring the correct way. Unfortunately no specific focus distance is indicated, just a flower symbol on the right and a mountain symbol on the left.


    Peaking  At last peaking comes to Panasonic's top camera. On the GH4 it is well implemented with  numerous options. There are two Detect Levels, High and Low and three colors at each detect level. Page 111 of the Manual has the details. The High setting is described as being more precise than the Low setting.   I have it at High and Light Blue which seems to work well.
    Some people are sceptical  about peaking but if well implemented as is the case with the GH4 I find it effective and useful.
    Histogram  This is a real time pre capture histogram, presumably representing the JPG which the camera would produce from the scene presented to it at the current settings. When this feature became available on digital cameras a few years ago I dutifully put it on the screen. But now I leave it Off. It uses up a big chunk of the image preview area, it distracts me from making the shot and the GH4 (and all current and past Panasonic cameras in my experience) gets the exposure right pretty much every time. So for those  fussy users who want to expose to the right and want to use Exposure Compensation a lot the real time histogram may be of some use.
    Guide Line Now here is a more useful feature. You get 4 options, 2x2, Double diagonal, 1x1 and Off. I use 1x1 which presents one vertical and one horizontal line both of which can be placed anywhere. I run both of them through the frame center. In that position the vertical one is very useful for ensuring the camera is held level particularly with architectural subjects.
    Center Marker  This is a new feature for the GH4. It's a minor addition but I have it On to help locating the frame center.
    Highlight  This for some reason unknown to me is in the Custom Menu but refers to behaviour in Playback. If a part of the picture has blown out highlights those areas will flash black and white (a.k.a. "blinkies"). I find this useful so I leave it On. Note that with RAW capture useful detail can often be retrieved from blinking overexposed areas.
    Zebra Pattern  This is like a preview version of blinkies with several options for use. The details are on Page 210 of the Manual. You can have right leaning or left leaning zebra pattern and set the brightness (as a percentage) to be displayed as a zebra pattern. I have to confess I am still experimenting with zebras. I find them quite distracting so am inclined to switch them Off. However they do provide a pre capture indication of highlight overexposure which is more user friendly than the histogram. I am currently trialling a level of 100% which seems to set a reasonable balance between sensitivity and distraction.
    Monochrome Live view  If you want to see what the world looks like in monochrome this is the place. I leave it off and forgot the feature existed until I trawled through the Menus for this post. It could be a useful feature however for the photographer anticipating monochrome for final output.
    Constant Preview  This one is very useful. When On, the live view image becomes lighter or darker as Exposure Compensation is changed or as Aperture and/or Shutter speed are altered in Manual Mode. This is beneficial when photographing in ambient light. But when photographing with flash it may be best to switch this feature Off so you can see the subject properly in preview.
    Expo.Meter  This is a large display of the aperture and shutter speed combinations which would result in correct exposure,  spread out across the lower part of the preview screen.  It is only visible with some Display options (cycled with the Disp button). Panasonic cameras have had this feature as an option  for several years. I find it a complete distraction from the capture process and  always switch it off.
    LVF Disp. Style and Monitor Disp. Style  You can set the EVF  (called LVF in Panasonica land) and Monitor to either "SLR" style with key camera data beneath the preview image on a black background strip or "Monitor" style which provides a larger preview image but the key camera data is overlaid on the lower part of the image. I set both to "SLR" style which makes the camera data much more consistently easy to read. This means I can be aware of the shutter speed, aperture and ISO is use at all times while in Capture Phase of use.
    Monitor Info. Disp  When the Disp. button is pressed repeatedly the monitor display changes in data content. One of the display screens (not available on the EVF)  has no preview image, just  camera data info. This is not a live control panel, the data cannot be changed from this screen. I never use it but I can see that it provides a quick reference guide to many current settings. If set to Off, the screen does not display.
    Rec. Area The angle of view and aspect ratio for still photo may differ from that used for motion picture. This sets one or the other.
    Video-Priority Display  This appears to be self explanatory.
    Auto Review  When On,  Auto Review automatically plays back the photo last captured. It can be set to Hold or 5-1 seconds or, of course Off.
    A submenu is Playback Operation Priority. When On, this allows review functions to operate during Auto Review.
    I always switch Auto Review Off. I will review photos at a time of my choosing, which is never immediately post capture.
    Fn button Set and Q Menu will be covered in a later  post.
    Dial Set  There are three submenus
    1. In Manual Exposure Mode, the dials can be allocated as Aperture (Front) Shutter Speed (Rear) or the reverse.  Select the one which you find most comfortable, possibly in line with previous experience with another camera.
    2. Rotation direction can be as per default or the reverse. Beware messing with this, changes can be confusing.
    3. Exposure Compensation can be assigned to either dial directly.  This operates in P, A, and S Modes. It may be tempting to use this feature however I have tried it and found an unacceptable frequency of unintentional +/- activation as a result. It is safer if slightly slower to confine initiation of +/- to the +/- hard button behind the front dial.
    Video Button  If like me you have no use for video switch the video button Off. Unfortunately it cannot be otherwise assigned.
    Power Zoom Lens  This function is only available when a PZ lens is fitted.
    Lens W/O Focus Ring  Panasonic does currently supply a lens without focus ring for the GM1. It will work on other M43 cameras including the GH4 although the big body/small lens combination might be an odd match. Anyway the instructions for focussing become accessible if such a lens is mounted.
    Eye Sensor  There are 2 submenus. The first is Sensitivity. Some users have complained that Panasonic EVF proximity sensors are a bit too sensitive. I set Low.
    The second submenu selects operation of  LVF (EVF)/Monitor switching. The options are LVF/Mon. Auto, LVF and Mon(itor).
    Note that if the LVF/Fn5 button has been allocated a function other than LVF/Monitor switching (I use it to select E-Shutter /Mecha shutter)   then it is not available for LVF/Monitor switching. In this case you may want to set LVF/Mon. Auto so the proximity sensor automatically switches to the EVF when you look in it.
    Why might you want manual LVF/Monitor switching ? When the camera is held at waist level with the fully articulated monitor swung out to one side, you want to hold the camera close in to the body for stability. But if the proximity sensor is active this switches the monitor off, so you have to hold the camera out about 20cm from the body which is less stable.
    There is another way to get around this problem and it makes the proximity sensor redundant.  Set the LVF/Monitor Switch submenu to Mon(itor). Now the Monitor is always active if it is visible. However if you close the monitor facing in to the camera this will automatically activate the EVF. Simple.  I usually set up the GH4 this way as I generally turn the monitor inwards for protection when using the EVF.
    I discovered this when using the FZ200 which has no proximity sensor. Many people who criticised the camera for it's lack of proximity sensor did not realise that switching is automatic, it just requires the monitor to be turned inward.
    Touch Settings  There are 4 submenus, Touch Screen, Touch Tab, Touch AF and Touch Pad AF. The details are on page 314 of the Manual.  If Touch Screen is Off the other submenu items are disabled.
    Some users like touch screens and complain about cameras which are not so fitted. The problem with a touch screen is that it requires the user to look at the screen not at the subject and not through the viewfinder. It is thus a distraction from the capture process.
    Some users have reported a positive experience with Touch Pad AF. This allows the active focus area to be moved  around the frame by touch even when looking through the EVF. There are two versions, Exact and Offset. I have tried both and found either to be an awkward, clumsy, difficult to control  alternative to Direct Focus Area using the cursor buttons (Control Dial).
    But, give it a go.
    Touch screen operation could be viable with the camera on tripod, when you don't have to hold it and will probably use the monitor for viewing.
    I note in passing that most pro level cameras do not offer touch screen operation presumably because pro photographers do not want it.
    Touch Scroll This switches the speed for forwarding or rewinding pictures continuously. Page 314 of the Manual.
    Menu Guide  This is something of a mystery item, with a confusing name.  It displays the selection screen for the Creative Control Mode. So if you set Creative Control Mode on the Main Mode Dial and the screen does not display the items described on Page 77 of the Manual it is because this item buried in the Custom Menu is set to Off. Go figure.
    Shoot W/O Lens  Set this to On so the camera can operate without a lens mounted if required. I use it to observe operation of the 4 phase mechanical shutter.
    Next post  Recording Menu.


     


     


     


     


     


     


     


     


     


     


     


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    Perth Western Australia. GH4, 14-140mm, light tripod, Shutter Delay.

    Note that  many items from the Rec menu can usefully be assigned to the Q Menu or a Fn button for quick access without having to enter the Main Menu.
    Photo Style  This applies to JPG images. Adjustments here will not affect RAW files. There are, as usual with a recent Panasonic camera many options.
    You can select Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, etc. The list is on Page 140 of the Manual. OR
    You can adjust each image characteristic separately. These are Contrast, Sharpness, Noise Reduction, Saturation and Hue.
    My practice when shooting JPGs which I sometimes do especially for sport/action using Burst Mode is to stay with either the default which is Standard, or Natural which is very similar.
    Aspect Ratio  The GH1 and GH2 (and some other Panasonic cameras) had a multi aspect ratio sensor which was larger than standard size so the image could be configured to 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9 each with the same diagonal angle of view and closely similar pixel count.
    Unfortunately current model M43 sensors lack this feature. The native aspect ratio is 4:3, anything else is just a crop. So I always use 4:3 and crop later in Photoshop as required.
    Picture Size, Quality  Picture Size refers to the number of pixels used at the point of capture. Quality refers to the level of file compression applied.
    If the Quality setting (just below Picture Size) is RAW or RAW + JPG then Picture Size is set at 16 Mpx. If the Quality setting is one of the JPGs, Picture Size can be set to 16, 8 or 4 Mpx. 
    You are paying a lot of money for this camera so I see little point in recording at anything less than 16 Mpx and RAW or best quality JPG.
    AFS/AFF  The Focus mode lever around the AF/AE Lock button has space for only 3 positions but there are 4 Focus Modes. So you have to decide whether to assign AFS or AFF to the first position. AFS is straightforward AF single. AFF is one of those "helpful" settings which works like AFS for still subjects but if subject movement is detected transforms itself into a version of AFC. Supposedly. However when I read complaints about focus problems on Panasonic user forums they often involve the AFF setting.
    So I select AFS here. That puts me not the camera in charge of deciding which Focus Mode I will use.
    Metering Mode  There are three options, Multiple, Center Weighted or Spot. The easiest to use and the most reliable in a wide variety of situations is Multiple, which can be regarded as an advanced form of centerweighted.   Some pro photographers prefer centerweighted possibly as a result of long familiarity. Some beginners and enthusiasts get themselves in a mess trying to use Spot.
    I use Multiple. It's not perfect and exposure compensation is sometimes required but it delivers a good result most of the time.
    Burst Rate  This refers to the number of frames per second which can be recorded, subject to the buffer filling. The option set in the menu here will be applied when the Drive Mode Dial top left on the camera is set to the continuous position (second position). See Page 113 of the Menu.
    SH  Super High, 40 fps. JPG only, no live view, AF on the first frame only.  E-Shutter. This is a check your golf swing setting except the club handle will distort severely due to the rolling shutter effect of the E-Shutter.
    H  High, with AFS, 12 fps, focus on the first frame only, no live view on each frame. The mechanical shutter is enabled. This could be useful to record action at a fixed location with the framing and focus pre set. Tennis swing ?
    H with AFC  gives 7 fps but still no live view on each frame so I see little point to this setting.
    M  Medium, also gives 7 fps although this is lens dependent. The 12-35, 35-100 and 14-140mm lenses do and the 100-300mm lens does not give the full 7fps. The benefit of M is that you get live view and AF on every frame. This is the most useful setting for sport/action/wildlife/bird etc photos.  I set M.
    L  Low gives 2 fps also with AF and live view on every frame and would be very useful for slow action.
    Auto Bracket  See Page 116 of the Manual.  The setting you make here will be implemented when the Drive Mode Dial is moved to  AEB  (third position) There are 3 submenus.
    * Single/Burst settings. Single means you have to activate the shutter for each exposure of the sequence separately. Burst means you hold down the shutter button or cable release button while all the exposures are made.
    * Step.  You get lots of choice, from 3 shots at 1/3 step intervals to 7 shots at 1 step intervals.
    I use 5 shots at 1 step intervals but if it was available I would use 3 shots at 2 stop intervals.
    * Sequence. You get -/0/+, which makes the most sense to me, or 0/-/+ if desired.
    And Still  there is no facility to combine Timer Delay with AEB. Come on Panasonic, it's just another  position on the Drive Mode Dial. If this was available it would remove the present requirement to use a wired remote or smartphone to trigger the shutter release.
    Self Timer  Page 118 of the Manual. The setting made here will be implemented when the Drive Mode Dial is set to Timer (4th position). There are three options
    * 10 seconds, 1 shot
    * 10 seconds, 3 shots
    * 2 Seconds 1 shot
    The 10 second settings are generally used so the photographer can join the tour group photo. The 2 second setting is used to prevent camera shake on a tripod without having to use a remote trigger of some kind.
    Time Lapse/Animation  Page 120-124 of the Manual. After making settings in the menu here the time lapse function is accessed on the Drive mode dial (last position). The description in the manual is quite lengthy so I won't try to summarise it here.
    In this menu the submenu options are Mode (Time Lapse Shot or Stop Motion Animation), Start Time, Shooting Interval and Image Count.
    I don't have useful experience with this feature and there have been several complaints about it on user forums, possibly because it's implementation is quite complex. I have not yet succeeded in making it work properly.
    Now we come to a list of enhancement functions applicable to JPG images: I am not quite sure what these are doing on a pro standard camera but I guess they form part of Panasonic's determination to include absolutely every conceivable option in the GH4.  I find these "helpful" features confusing and exhausting so I don't  use them routinely but have tried them all in the process of learning about the camera.  
    There is some confusion, in my mind anyway, about the requirement for JPG capture with these functions. Some, such as iHDR and HDR are only selectable if capture  quality is set to JPG. Others like iDynamic and iResolution can be selected if RAW quality is set but only work properly with JPGs. Some can be set in the PASM Modes others only in iA Mode.
    Highlight/Shadow  Page 142 in the Manual. This reprises a function which first appeared on Olympus M43 cameras a couple of years ago. You can apply correction to the highlight and shadow portions of the JPG tone curve pre capture.  You can save up to 3 presets for future use.
    This might be useful if you are confronted with a subject having very low or high contrast. Note the effect is represented in the on screen playback image but this is a JPG. A RAW image file will not be affected. 
    i Dynamic  Page 144, is another JPG image correction feature which has the effect of increasing dynamic range (highlight and shadow detail). On my tests this feature actually works. The camera basically underexposes the scene then lifts shadow tones to compensate. The result is better effective DR than standard JPG images. The cost is increased shadow noise.  You can select between Auto, High, Standard Low and Off.
    i Resolution also on Page 144, is yet another JPG function which in this case tries to improve resolution by performing some kind of electronic manipulation affecting some parts of the frame in a different way from other parts. Or something like that. I have tried it with several Panasonic cameras and remain unconvinced of the benefits.   As usual there is a list of options from which to select.
    iHandheld Night Shot  Page 72, JPG only, iA Mode only. I am a bit old fashioned and still believe that a tripod is the answer for night work, however for those times when no tripod is available this might be worth a try. The camera is supposed to detect that night has fallen and will shoot a burst of handheld frames which are combined in camera.
    iHDR  iA only, JPG only. The camera detects a scene with high brightness range, quickly makes a burst of shots at different exposures and combines them in camera. I tried this, it works. I have no idea how one decides when to use iHDR and when to use iDynamic.
    HDR  This is different from iHDR. This one can be used in the PASM modes but is still JPG only. It combines 3 pictures with different levels of exposure into a single output photo with high DR.  You get to select the exposure interval (Auto, 1, 2 or 3 stops) and whether to apply auto align or not.  On my limited testing this feature actually works and produces decent results. I should try it more often and have moved it up to the Q Menu for that purpose. There have been some occasions which I have encountered recently which could have benefited from this feature.
    Multi Exposure  Maybe one day I will figure out how to make this feature work properly but today it is not to be. I have played around with this using the GH3 and GH4 and never managed to understand how it works or is intended to work. I read the instructions on Page 168 of the Manual but the events which are supposed to happen do not.
    This helicopter has perfectly straight rotor blades. This is how they are rendered by E Shutter.
     
     
    Electronic ShutterWhile the previous seven features may be of uncertain usefulness most of the time, now we come to one which is front and central essential to effective operation of Panasonic M43 cameras. All of these cameras to date (except the GM1 which has electronic first curtain) have a mechanical shutter with 4 phase (close/open/close/open) action. This causes Shutter Shock with some lenses at some focal lengths and some shutter speeds. This shock leads to blurring with double imaging. The ultimate cure for this pesky problem is the yet to materialise global shutter. But until that day the options are electronic first curtain and fully electronic shutter.
    The GH4 does not offer electronic first curtain for reasons unknown to me but it does have E Shutter. I regard this as Essential  for all general photography with certain lenses such as the very popular 14-140mm Mk2.
    As a general rule I use E-Shutter with all general handheld photography particularly in the shutter speed range 1/20 - 1/200 sec. For moving subjects/sport/action I use the  mechanical shutter (to prevent distortion of moving objects) and a shutter speed of 1/400 sec or faster.
    For shutter speeds slower than 1 second I use Shutter Delay as described below.
    E Shutter should be allocated to a Fn button for ready access.
    Shutter Delay  E Shutter has several limitations one of which is that it cannot be used for exposures longer than 1 second, I know not why. So for night tripod work some other means of minimising the effects of shutter shock is required.
    Shutter Delay to the rescue. When On this closes the shutter when the shutter release button is pressed,  then delays opening the shutter for the exposure. It appears most of the shock effect comes from the first shutter closure so delaying the first opening controls most shock problems especially with exposure longer than 2 seconds.
    For night tripod work I set 4 seconds delay to allow shake both from pressing the shutter release button and the first shutter closure to settle. Results are satisfactory as shown in the photo of Perth Western Australia at night at the top of this post. This was made on a very light tripod (0.95 Kg) with no cable release.
    Unfortunately Shutter Delay cannot be assigned to the Q menu. I am hopeful that this is just an oversight which could be rectified with a firmware update.


    Flash  Note, flash does not work with E-Shutter, so if your flash menu is greyed out in the Rec Menu, deselect E-Shutter.
    Panasonic has some very sophisticated flash functions including wireless off camera operation with some Panasonic units allowing commander control by the inbuilt unit.
    For the inbuilt unit the options are Firing Mode, Flash Mode, Flash Synchro, Flash Adjust, Auto Exposure Comp, Manual Flash Adjust, Wireless, Wireless Channel.
    See Page 183 for all the details.
    I mostly use flash to fill shadows with backlit subjects. For this I set Firing Mode TTL, Flash Mode Forced On, Flash Synchro 1st, Flash Adjust -1 EV, Red Eye Removal Off.
    ISO Limit Set  In the GH3 You can set ISO with one dial and ISO Limit Set with the other dial, both on the same screen after pressing the ISO button.  But for some reason unknown to me the GH4 is different. You can only access ISO Limit Set via the Rec Menu.  So I just set the limit at 25600 and leave it.
    ISO Increments  The camera automatically provides 1/3 step increments for aperture and shutter speed so there is no need for 1/3 stop increments of ISO as well. I just set 1 EV.
    Extended ISO  This allows an ISO of less than 200 to be set. With Extended ISO 100 can be set.  I am not clear why this is offered as an extension. I have read opinion that dynamic range may be less at ISO 100 than 200.
    Long Shtr Noise Reduction  Page 146. This works by creating a blank exposure the same duration as the initial exposure, during which noise is identified and reduced. My experiments with this show that the shutter speed and ISO level which trigger the NR function vary and are calculated by the camera. I switch it On.
    Shading Comp  This works with RAW files and reduces darkening which often appears in frame corners. The temptation would be to leave it On all the time but it could potentially slow frame rates in Burst Mode with AFC, due to the extra processing required. My tests did not indicate any such slowing but that could be to some extent lens dependent.
    I generally leave it Off just in case.
    Ex. Tele Conv. and Digital Zoom  are both JPG only digital zoom features.
    I prefer Ex.Tele Conv. for still photos because it allows normal display and operation of the active AF area. Options are Zoom, Tele Conv and Off.  With Tele Conv option,  if the Picture size is set to 8Mpx image enlargement is 1.4x linear. If Picture Size is set to 4 Mpx image enlargement is 2x linear.
    Video users appear to prefer Digital Zoom. This records in 16 mpx picture size but the active AF area is not adjustable.
    My tests show that  cropped RAW (converted to JPG),  Ex. Tele Conv and Digital Zoom each give virtually identical results when displayed at the same final output image size.
    Panasonic's claim that Ex.Tele Conv increases tele effect without degradation of image quality has to be qualified with the question 'compared to what ' ?
    Color Space  Always set this to Adobe RGB. I see no point using sRGB if  the larger Adobe color space is available.
    StabiliserSeveral lenses lack an OIS switch on the lens barrel so their stabiliser has to be controlled via a menu. This is one for the Q Menu or a Fn button.
    Face Recog  This is spooky stuff. Beyond face detect we have face recognition. Presumably you would activate this feature if you think the camera will do a better job of recognising a particular person than you will. There is a long explanation of the procedure starting on Page 173. It seems you can delete the faces of  presumably undesirable persons from your group photos.  Amazing, yes. Useful ??
    Profile Setup  allows you to record the names and birthdays of your babies and pets on images.  Wow !!
    And on that slightly bizarre note this post about the Rec Menu ends.  At least nobody can accuse Panasonic of holding back features.


    Next: Q Menu and Fn buttons 


     


     


     


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    GH4, 14-140mm
     
    The Menus of the GH4  and many other modern cameras are like a supermarket. You walk along the aisles and see a multitude of items. Some are of no interest to you but are desired by others with different preferences and practices. You can pick items from the shelves and relocate them to a more readily accessible place, such as the pantry in your kitchen,  where they are available for immediate use.
    The GH4 can be considered to function similarly. The main menus are the supermarket. You can take items from the supermarket and duplicate them in the Q Menu or the Function buttons. The items remain functional in the main menus, by the way,  and can be adjusted in either location.
    There are 35 items which can be allocated to the Q Menu and 55 which can be allocated to a Fn button. At first sight the decision making process might appear almost impossible. However there is a logical process which you can utilise to make the job manageable.
    Newcomers to the GH4 can simply leave the Q Menu and Fn buttons at their default settings, go forth and make photos without further ado. The camera will work just fine.
    There are 4 phases of camera use,
    Setup, which is what we are doing right now. That is, making various menu selections which we do not expect to alter when out and about with the camera. Setup items can stay in the main menu system.
    PreparePhase is the period of a minute or few just before a photo session. In this phase we reconfigure the camera for a new set of circumstances. It might be switching from general hand held photography to sport/action or to low light/tripod. You get the idea.
    Items for adjustment in this phase can be conveniently allocated to the Q Menu. You will notice on Page 315/6 of the Manual that items which can be allocated to the Q menu are from the Rec, Motion Picture and Custom menus. There are no items from the Playback or Setup menus.
    I suggest you go through the list of items for the Q menu and highlight those which you think might be useful in Prepare Phase of use.  Your selections will almost certainly change with experience.
    The Q Menu can accept 15 items 5 of which can be seen at any time. Lateral scrolling is required if there are more than 5. 
    You need to set the Q Menu item in the Custom Menu to Custom.
    Exit the Custom Menu then press the Fn2/Q Menu button to enter the Q Menu. The process for setting up custom Q Menu items is well described on Page 315 of the Manual.
    Each individual will have his or her own idea about which items to include. For the record I have Burst Rate, Self Timer, HDR, Stabiliser, Silent Mode, Auto Bracket, Peaking and Flash Adjust.
    Capture Phase  Refers to the process of making pictures.  Many adjustments might be required in this phase, all of them quickly,  while looking through the viewfinder and without having to change grip with either hand.  
    The Function buttons are a suitable place for adjustments required in Capture Phase.
    Some of these adjustments have already been assigned to hard controls which cannot be changed. These are the Drive Mode dial, Focus Mode lever,  WB, ISO and +/- buttons and the Video Start button.
    I suggest you look through the list on Page 318 of the Manual and think about which items you might like to adjust in Capture Phase.  Each individual will have a different idea about this. That is the point of a camera like the GH4, everybody gets to design their own personalised user interface.
    There are 5 hard Fn buttons and, if the touch screen is active 5 more soft buttons.
    For the record, my allocations are:
    Fn1, Picture Quality
    Fn2, Q Menu
    Fn3, Autofocus Mode
    Fn4, Level Gauge
    Fn5, E-Shutter
    I don't  use the touch screen.
    The 4th phase of use is Review which is not particularly relevant to Q Menu or Fn button task allocations.
    Notwithstanding the long list of tasks which can be allocated to the Q Menu or Function buttons there are still two which I use which require a trip to the main menus. These are Format (last on the Setup Menu list) and Shutter Delay which is on page 4/7 of the Rec Menu.  If I know I will be doing long exposure tripod work later in the evening I go into the Rec Menu, scroll down to highlight the Shutter Delay tab then exit by pressing Fn4.  This camera has Menu Resume which means that when I do want to access Shutter Delay I just need to press the Menu/Set button once and the menu system will open at the Shutter Delay tab.


    Next,  some thoughts about setup switching for different subject scenarios.


     


     


     


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    Picture Gardens,  Broome, Western Australia

    One of the advantages  of a highly configurable camera like the GH4 is that it can be quickly transformed from a deliberative low light landscape recorder into a high speed sport/action shooter. The challenge is to make the switch from one setup to the next with the least number of actions and a high degree of reliability, so that one does not forget some vital setting in the heat of the moment.
    Every photographer will have his or her favourite subject types and therefore different requirements for camera setups.
    In this post I provide by way of example the way I set up my GH4 for the capture scenarios which I usually encounter. These are General hand held photography, Hand held sport/action, Tripod-good light and Tripod low light.
    The most efficient way to switch the camera from settings optimal for one circumstance to those which best suit a different circumstance is to use the Custom Modes.
    The GH4 also has hard, labelled controls for OIS (on lenses with an OIS switch on the barrel), Drive Mode (dial) and Focus Mode (lever).  These cannot be included in a Custom Mode, but everything else can.
    The procedure for setting a Custom Mode is described on Page 321 of the Manual. It is quite straightforward. You do need to be careful that every Menu, Q Menu and Button is set exactly as you want it before committing to a Custom Mode AND just before capture, remember to set the Drive Mode and Focus Mode to the positions required for the new circumstance.

    Lumix GH4 Custom Mode Settings (Example)


     

     

    Standard

    Hand--held

    General photography

    C-1 Hand-held Sport/action

    C-2 Tripod

    Good Light

    SS < 1 sec

    C-3-1 Tripod Low Light

    SS > 1 sec

    Labelled Hard Controls

    Main Mode Dial

    A

    S>C1

    SS-- 1/1600

    A>C2

    Apert--f5.6

    A>C3

    Apert--f5.6

     

    Drive Mode Dial

    Single

    Burst

    Timer 2 sec

    Single

     

    Focus Mode lever

    AFS

    AFC

    AFS

    AFS

     

    Lens OIS lever

    On

    On

    Off

    Off

    Top Buttons

    WB

    Auto

    Auto

    Auto

    Auto

     

    ISO

    Auto

    Auto

    200

    200

     

    Exp.Comp

    Nil

    Nil

    Nil

    Nil

    Q Menu/Fn2

    OIS

    OIS-Normal

    OIS-Normal

    OIS-Off

    OIS-Off

    Fn buttons

    Fn1

    RAW

    RAW or JPG

    RAW

    RAW

     

    Fn3/AF Mode

    1-Area

    1-Area

    1-Area

    1-Area

     

    Fn4/Level

    Off

    Off

    On

    On

     

    Fn5/E-Shutter

    On

    Off

    On

    Off

    Rec Menu

    Shutter Delay 4s

    Off

    Off

    Off

    On


     

    The table above  summarises essential details of the Custom Menus which I have set for the GH4.  This stuff is inclined to be a strain on the brain at first but once mastered enables very streamlined use of the camera.  I have this printed out as a small card which lives in my camera bag to remind me of the settings.


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    GH4 with 14-140mm lens

     

    July 2014


    I read today  on Thom Hogan's dslrbodies website a report of Canon's latest quarterly results for camera sales. Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILC) are down 19% year on year and Compacts down 38% year on year.
    At the same time I noted a high level of interest on the dpreview website for the Panasonic FZ1000,  a new "all in one" superzoom camera.
    What does this tell us ?  Two obvious things, I think. 
    First regular compact cameras are being replaced by smart phones, en masse.
    Second,  customers are increasingly opting not to buy a new ILC.
    I have been using  ILCs for almost 50 years. I find the least appealing feature of  the interchangeable lens camera is precisely that which defines it, namely the requirement to change lenses if a wide range of focal lengths is required. I am not alone.
    I understand industry data indicates the majority of ILC buyers mount a kit zoom or superzoom lens to their ILC and leave it there permanently.
    The message is: (almost) everybody hates changing lenses and most camera users avoid doing so. Even professional photographers will carry two bodies, one with a standard zoom lens mounted, the other with a tele zoom lens, so as to avoid having to change lenses.
    Aspheric lens elements Recent developments in technology have made highly accurate aspheric elements available in mass produced lenses for consumer products. Those same aspheric elements allow lenses to be made which have a longer focal length range and more compact dimensions at a lower price point than was possible in the pre-aspheric era.
    Rise of the superzoom,  "all in one" camera. This type of camera has been around for several years but has until now not managed to challenge ILC hegemony of the  quality camera market. Indeed this camera type has for years been referred to as a "bridge", presumably meaning a bridge between compact and ILC types.
    Until very recently most superzoom cameras used very small sensors with a diagonal of about 7.7mm. but the latest ones including the Sony RX10 and Panasonic FZ1000 use the larger 15.9mm sensor providing much better picture quality.  They are able to do this because of the benefits offered by lenses containing multiple aspheric elements.
    These new superzoom cameras are starting to make ILCs  look irrelevant. They are less bulky and less expensive than an ILC with superzoom lens mounted.  I would say right now the picture quality of the RX10 and FZ1000 is good enough for most photographers most of the time and that most users are probably wasting their money on larger/more expensive ILC kits.
    Better zoom lenses.   For many years after I started using cameras there was no such thing as a zoom lens for the mass market. There were a few zooms available for motion picture use but these were huge and cost as much as a house.  Now we have budget consumer zooms producing picture quality every bit as good as that of fixed focal length lenses. The argument for fixed focal length lenses is becoming weaker all the time.
    Improved performance of small imaging sensors   The imaging performance of small sensors is increasing every year. My first digital SLR was a Canon EOS 20D. This has a DXO Mark RAW performance score of 62. When I look back at my photos made with this camera I never think that they are in some way deficient.  The camera's technical capability was perfectly adequate to make a good photo in almost any circumstance. The current Sony RX10 with a considerably smaller sensor has a DXO Mark score of 69.
    So to the extent that DXO Mark scores are a valid guide to real world performance, we see a strong improvement in performance over time, such that the performance  of large sensors a few years ago is now matched or exceeded by current generation smaller sensors.
    Smaller sensorspermit the use of smaller lenses and allow the use of zooms with increased focal length range.
    Multi asphericelements permit the use of smaller lenses, with increased focal length range.
    DSLR - vs- MILC  A few years ago I thought that the DSLR as a camera type would be overtaken by the Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens type (MILC). I still think the MILC will become more popular than the DSLR but I now think they will both be overtaken by the fixed zoom lens type.
    In fact, I think  almost the entire camera/lens lineup of the major manufacturers could be replaced by just 6 products.  Here they are:
    1.  Advanced Compact This has a 15.9mm (so called "one inch") or 21.5mm ("four thirds") sensor, a compact handle, built in EVF,  and a zoom lens which covers wide to normal diagonal angle of view, say 85 degrees to 24 degrees. This corresponds to a focal length of 23-100mm on a full frame (sensor diagonal 43mm) camera.
    This camera would suit the enthusiast/expert or even professional user who wants more performance and  better ergonomics than a smartphone can offer but still maintain compact   dimensions.
    2. Superzoom, all in one camera   This already exists in the form of the Panasonic FZ1000 with 15.9mm sensor. If a smaller sensor was used, say about 10mm diagonal, an even greater zoom range could be used, covering very wide to super telephoto.
    This would suit the beginner/enthusiast/expert who wants one camera which can do just about everything with good picture quality. It is ideal for holiday/travel use.
    Now we come to four products which I think can replace all the DSLRs, MILCs and all their interchangeable lenses.  Really. All of them. 
    These are full featured  cameras each with built in zoom lens of high quality. Each has a fully articulated monitor, built in EVF in a hump, built in flash, full anatomical handle and thumb support and a full suite of controls for the enthusiast/expert user. They would have a sensor in the size range of 15.9mm ("one inch") to 21.5mm ("four thirds") diagonal.
    In my conception there are two focal length ranges, wide/normal and long/very long.
    There are two specification levels:
    The first is for the amateur/enthusiast emphasizing compact dimensions of body and lens.
    The second is for the expert/professional user, with an emphasis on higher performance, larger battery and buffer, higher burst speeds and wider lens apertures. Size, mass, performance and price are greater.
    3. Amateur/enthusiast, wide/normal  This has a diagonal angle of view in the range 90 degrees (wide) to 20 degrees (long). This is equivalent to about 22-120mm on a full frame camera or 11-60mm on a micro four thirds camera. The package is compact yet well specified. The lens has an aperture of about f3.5-5.6. The angle of view range is suitable for most photographs made by most users.
    4. Amateur/enthusiast, long/very long  This has a diagonal angle of view of about 21 degrees to 4.1 degrees, equivalent to about 130-600mm on a full frame camera or 65-300mm on a micro four thirds camera. The angle of view range is suitable for many types of sport/action/wildlife/bird photography. The lens aperture range is about f3.5-5.6.
    5. Expert/professional, wide/normal  This has the same diagonal angle of view as #3 above. The body is larger with a bigger handle holding a larger battery. There is a larger buffer, faster burst performance and more highly specified user interface with three dials. The lens has a wider aperture of about f2-2.8.
    6. Expert/professional, long/very long  The lens focal length has an extended range with a diagonal angle of view of 21 - 3.5 degrees, equivalent to 130-800mm in full frame or 65-400mm in micro four thirds. The body has the same features as that of #5 above with a high specification and performance capability, especially for sport/action. The lens has a wider aperture than that in #4, in the range f2.8-5.6.
    That's it. Six products. That's all.
    What about ultrawide lens capability ?  No problem, just mount a converter.
    What about specialty lenses  Such as tilt/shift ?  I used large format cameras then 35mm cameras with tilt shift lenses for many years. But since the advent of Photoshop I regard the tilt shifts as obsolete.
    What about single focal length lenses ?  In my view, they are not required. Their limitations exceed their benefits in my view.
    That's it really,  I think that great changes are coming to  the  market for new cameras.
    I think that the number of different makes, models and manufacturers will fall steeply to a much lower level than that which prevails now. 
    I think that ILCs will be overtaken by cameras with built in zoom lenses which will better serve the majority of buyers' requirements.
    If users can have the main advantage of  an ILC  (choice of different focal lengths) without having to change lenses and  without losing picture quality, I would say it is game over for the ILC.  
    We shall see.


     


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    GH3 at ISO  12800 Crop
     
    GH4 at ISO 12800 Crop
     

    Executive summary--No difference


    For those who want thedetails, read on. Although to be candid there is not much more to say.
    I finally got my GH3 back from repairs yesterday. It had gone in to get a new EVF eyepiece lens as the original had become finely scratched from normal and careful cleaning. The Panasonic service contractor in Sydney, Definitech, was on the case but Panasonic was very slow to supply the required part.
    Anyway the GH3 is like new now. The eyepiece optics may have been changed in mid production because the "smearing" problem initially reported on GH3 cameras is no longer evident.
    So I ran my usual  ISO test comparing the GH4 with the GH3. I simply photograph a set of bookshelves with a section of newspaper advertisements for resolution testing, at each whole stop ISO setting.  The files were viewed in Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw 8.6, final version.
    Results  I found across the ISO range that the two cameras used the same  aperture and shutter speed at each ISO setting.The GH4 files were darker with a left shifted histogram compared to the GH3. The amount I had to increase the exposure of the GH4 files to match the GH3 files with the slider in Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw was about 0.3 stops from ISO 100-12800.
    The 25600 files from the GH4 were a bit odd. I had to give them 1.2 stops extra exposure on the PsCR slider to match the GH3 files even though both cameras used the same aperture and shutter speed. Across the ISO range the GH4 files were a little more blue and those from the GH3 a little more yellow, both using AWB.


    All the files were evaluated side by side on screen at 100% after matching for exposure (brightness) and color as best I could.


    At ISO 25600 the GH3 files showed noticeable magenta color shift in the shadow areas. The GH4 files displayed  negligible color shift.
    With respect to digital luminance noise (grain) and ability to resolve detail I found no difference between the GH3 and GH4 at any ISO setting.
    There was negligible chroma noise from either camera.


    But several reviewershave reported that the GH4 provides a modest IQ improvement over the GH3.  How can this be ?


    I think the  explanation lies with PsCR.  When I started using the GH3 I found that ISO 6400 files were quite grainy with magenta color shift in dark tones. Now with an updated version of PsCR the ISO 6400 files are less noisy and have negligible color shift.
    I hypothesise that reviewers may have been comparing files from the GH3 converted with an older version of PsCR (and  saved as JPG or TIFF) with those from the GH4 converted with PsCR 8.6.  Or maybe some people just saw what they wanted to see.

    The reasons for upgrading from a GH3 to a GH4 have to do with the EVF, AFC/Burst performance and 4K video.


    The image quality/picture quality has not changed.


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    Evening scene Sydney. FZ1000, tripod. I shot the same scene last year on GH3 with 35-100mm f2.8 lens mounted. On my assessment this is the best zoom lens for the M43 system. The FZ1000 image matches it for resolution of fine detail across most of the frame except the edges and corners but even there it is very close. In the original file on screen I can read all the words on the signs on the expressway overpasses.
     
    Is this the best single module camera kit of all time ?
    Is the FZ1000 the beginning of the end for the ILC ?
    I started using cameras 60 years ago. For most of that time I have used  interchangeable lens cameras (ILC) because that has been the way to decent performance with a range of lens focal lengths. But the least appealing and least ergonomically satisfactory feature of an ILC is the process of changing lenses. I hate changing lenses. I hate having to buy and carry a bunch of lenses. The whole business is complicated, awkward and expensive. When a photo op. appears I invariably have the wrong lens mounted.
    I really want  an "all in one" camera which has a fixed zoom lens providing a wide range of focal lengths together with good enough picture quality and performance.
    Many users   want the same thing. Most DSLR buyers mount some kind of zoom lens, often a "travel zoom" type at purchase and leave it in place permanently. Camera makers have tried to meet the need for a more compact approach to the problem.  Thus we have fixed travel zoom lens cameras and fixed superzoom lens cameras in various configurations.
    But there have been  problems with each of  these interpretations of  the ideal "do everything" camera.
    Long zoom lenses on DSLRs are quite large, heavy and expensive. Similar zooms for the Micro Four Thirds system are smaller but still have limitations on focal length range if compact dimensions are to be maintained.  Long zoom lenses on compacts without an EVF look good on paper but are very difficult to hold steady at the long end of the zoom. Superzooms with an EVF have until now all had very small sensors which compromise picture quality.
    Recent advances in technology  have allowed  the use of many high quality aspheric elements in lens design. This has enabled the development of smaller lenses with a high zoom range.  Small sensors are improving every year.
    The Sony RX10  released last year utilised these new technologies to create an advanced, modern version of the "all purpose" camera with the picture quality, performance, lens focal length range and maximum aperture of a good quality ILC with two high performance interchangeable lenses.  All this came on the market in a package much smaller and less expensive than the equivalent ILC with twin f2.8 lens kit.
    As is often the case Sony was first to market with this new style camera. Unfortunately as is also often the case Sony's ergonomic design was less than optimal so I passed on the RX10 and  waited for a more coherently realised version on the same theme. In due course this appeared in the form of the..... 
    Lumix FZ1000,  the latest do everything wunderkamera from Panasonic.  This uses the same or very similar 15.86mm (diagonal dimension), back illuminated, 20Mpx sensor as the RX10, possibly the Sony IMX183CQ.
    But the FZ1000 wraps a more appealing package around the sensor at a substantially lower initial price. The FZ1000 has almost double the zoom range, better ergonomics, faster performance and 4K video.
    I found this irresistible so I bought one and am very pleased that I did so.
    The FZ1000 comes close to the camera I have been wanting for the last 60 years.
    It is the first  "one module" camera to make me think very hard about selling off all my ILC equipment, bodies and lenses. It's that good and I am fussy about picture quality and performance.
    I think the FZ1000 really does represent the beginning of the end for the ILC as a camera genre. I believe it easily meets the requirements of most camera users, including expert/enthusiast types,  in most situations most of the time. I believe that for all but professional users it makes the ILC redundant.
    Followers of this blog will be reading a lot about the FZ1000 in coming months.


     


     


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    From the right: Baldafix, Pentax Spotmatic with 55mm f1.8 lens, Canon EOS 300 with 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 lens, Panasonic  GH4 with E28-180mm f3.5-5.6 lens,  Panasonic FZ1000 with E25-400mm f2.8-4 lens.
    (Prefix E means "equivalent focal length on a full frame, 43mm diagonal sensor camera")
     
    I call it the  Vee Zee [V]iewfinder [Z]oom lens Camera

     

    A (very) brief history  of camera design in one photo.
    The photo above highlights some of the key features of hand held camera design and technology over the last 60 years. I used these particular cameras because I happen to own them and because together they illustrate my little story.
    On the right is a Baldafix 6x9cm folding rollfilm model produced in 1950. I first used this camera at age 10. It is still in the household and still works although it's lens succumbed to the ravages of fungus many years ago. There is a built in lens of fixed focal length and  a dreadfully inadequate viewfinder.  It has by far the largest "sensor" of this little group and even at it's prime made the least sharp pictures which were really only intended for contact printing.  Due to it's folding bellows design this has the smallest carry mass and volume of the group, even though it uses the largest film size.
    Next comes a Pentax Spotmatic, introduced in 1964. This uses 35mm perforated film to produce an image 24x36mm (43mm diagonal). This imager size remains in use today for professional and enthusiast DSLRs.  This is a Single Lens Reflex camera (SLR), a type of Interchangeable Lens Camera (ILC). The lens fitted here is a 55mm f1.8. This type of camera was very popular in  it's day. 
    Compared to the Baldafix the Spotmatic's imager size has shrunken dramatically yet picture quality has improved markedly. Versatility and speed of operation have improved also.
    In the middle we have the Canon EOS 300, a consumer film SLR  launched in 1999. Here we see the arrival of a consumer zoom lens with a decently useful range of focal lengths from 28-105mm. Electronic controls, a Main Mode Dial and motorised operation all make an appearance.  The transition from all manual device to hybrid mechanical/electronic machine is well under way.  Another key feature of the consumer SLR is seen. This particular camera like many others of it's type has never been used with any lens other than the 28-105mm zoom with which it was initially purchased.  The convenience of the zoom easily outweighed the slight improvement in picture quality which might have resulted from using several single focal length lenses.
    Further to the left we come to the Panasonic GH4 fitted with a 14-140mm all purpose zoom lens. While Pentax and Canon have a long history of making cameras, Panasonic did not begin making cameras until 2001. They jumped straight into the digital/electronic era. The GH4 shown here is a highly sophisticated hybrid stills/video model with very advanced specification and features.  The imaging sensor has a diagonal of  21.5mm giving it only a quarter the area of the old 35mm film. Despite this the imaging output is of very high quality. The small sensor also allows the lens to be much smaller. Canon does or did make a zoom of comparable focal length range for the 43mm sensor. It is huge, heavy and expensive.
    Last is the Panasonic FZ1000.  This has a fixed zoom lens with an even longer zoom range and wider aperture than that fitted to the GH4. The sensor continues the trend to even smaller size while giving up very little in picture quality.
    This camera has the zoom range, picture quality and performance to replace many DSLR and MILC multi lens kits on the market today. It is much smaller than or has a much greater zoom range than any current interchangeable lens camera (ILC) fitted with a superzoom/travel zoom lens.
    I have been making a lot of photos with this camera in recent weeks and have been very impressed with it's capability both indoors and outdoors.  I have been printing some of the pictures at 600x400mm size and been very favourably impressed with the results.  People look at these prints and say, Wow ! that looks good.
    The FZ1000  is a nice camera to use, with good ergonomics and performance. It is very versatile and competent in many different photographic situations. I will probably use it exclusively for several months and in due course decide whether or not to keep my ILC and lenses.
    FZ1000, casual hand held snapshot. This picture illustrates the excellent clarity, resolution, highlight and shadow detail which is routinely available from the FZ1000.
     
    Summary  The  little group camera photo  illustrates some very clear trends in design and technology over the last 60 years.  Each camera is approximately the same size. No surprise there, each is intended to be used hand held and human hands have not changed size in the last little while. The use of electronics is one dramatic change. Imaging sensors have become progressively smaller. This has allowed designers to fit compact lenses of ever increasing zoom range. The FZ1000 lens would have been hailed as the ninth wonder of the modern world had it appeared ten years ago. 
    Discussion   In retrospect it seems to me that the interchangeable lens camera was a clever answer to a specific question arising in the first half of the 20th Century, namely "How can a camera system  provide for different angles of view when lenses are of fixed focal length ?" 
    Now we are in the first part of the 21st Century and zoom lens technology has improved dramatically. It is no longer necessary to use different lenses to cover the angles of view required by most photographic situations.  
    It seems to me the question now is "Is it possible to include most of  the benefits provided by an ILC in a very much smaller, more affordable  single module package ?"
    And I think the answer to that question is moving closer to "yes" with each generational improvement in the Vee Zee camera.


     


     




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    Lunch at the Opera House. E33mm, 1/250 @ f5.6 ISO 125 Hand Held 

    Art Gallery of New South Wales FZ1000, E25mm, 1/60 @ f4, ISO 1000, Hand Held

     
    Fixed zoom lens cameras have been around for quite some time.  Most have been consumer compacts. But a more highly specified camera type has been evolving steadily.


    Panasonic produced the FZ1 in 2002 with a specification quite similar in some ways to the current FZ1000.   Both  lenses have a long zoom range and bright aperture. Both have a built in EVF. Both are substantial in form. Both are pitched at the photographer who wants a camera which can handle almost any assignment including those requiring a long lens.
    Since the FZ1 Panasonic has produced the FZ10, 20, 3, 5, 30, 50, 8, 18, 28, 35, 38, 100, 40, 45, 47, 48, 150, 60, 200 and 70. I may have missed a few, there are so many. 
    Although the theme of the FZ series has been consistent over the years big changes have occurred to the technology inside the cameras.
    Consider the imaging sensor. The CCD  in the FZ1 had a diagonal of 5.7mm and 2,  that is not a misprint, megapixels. In 2006 the FZ50 had a considerably larger 10 megapixel CCD  with a diagonal of 8.9mm.  By 2012 the FZ200 had changed to a CMOS type sensor with 12 megapixels but a smaller diagonal of  7.67mm.
    These cameras delivered  good picture quality considering their very small sensors and were very versatile.
    The first FZ camera which came into our house was the FZ200, in 2013. My wife and I thought it was quite an impressive performer in many respects but it's picture quality made no case for either of us to give up our interchangeable lens cameras (ILC), both of which had a much larger sensor.
    Many people call the FZ series and similar cameras from other makers "Bridge" cameras. Presumably they are perceived as a "bridge" between compacts and ILCs. 
    The FZ1000 makes the biggest jump in sensor size and resolution since the FZ series began. It uses a 20 megapixel back illuminated CMOS type imager with a diagonal of 15.86mm.   In the past such an increase in sensor size and resolution would have required a massive increase in the size and cost of the lens.  But advances in aspheric technology have made it possible to contain lens size on the FZ100 to a remarkable degree.
    I don't regard the FZ1000 as a "bridge", but a fully realised photographic device able to stand alone and produce excellent pictures in a wide range of circumstances. I see it as a game changer that could have the potential to encourage many people to abandon their present attachment to DSLRs and MILCs.
    I like to call it a  [V]iewfinder [Z]oom (lens) Camera (VeeZeeC), to distinguish it from cameras with fixed zoom lens but no viewfinder.
    I suspect we will see more high specification versions of this camera type in the near future from all the main manufacturers, with variations on the VZ theme.


     


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    High ISO RAW Picture Quality Compared with Panasonic GH4 and Nikon 1 V2

    I am considering  the feasibility of giving up my Interchangeable Lens Camera System and a bag of very nice zoom  lenses, to be replaced by the FZ1000.

    To make a sensible decision I need  comparative data on performance, ergonomics and picture quality. This post is about picture quality.

    For my tests I compared the FZ1000 (sensor diagonal 15.86mm) with two cameras, a  Panasonic GH4 (sensor diagonal 21.5mm) with Lumix 14-140mm lens and a Nikon 1 V2 (sensor diagonal 15.9mm) with 1 Nikkor 10-100mm lens.

    I chose these bodies because they happen to be in the household and selected the lenses because each makes a versatile family/travel/holiday kit when mounted on it's matching camera body.    Both the GH3/4+14-140mm and V2+10-100mm have been used by our family in a wide variety of photographic situations. I have found the GH3/4+14-140mm  to be a very high performing single module (no lens changing) kit with which I have made thousands of excellent photos. The V2+10-100mm is a less expensive kit which still delivers good results in many settings.

    The Test   I used each camera on tripod to photograph a static subject at ISO settings from the minimum to the maximum available. I opened the files in groups of 3 (at each ISO level) in Adobe Photoshop Camera RAW then transferred the files to Photoshop with no adjustment beyond the default settings. I viewed the files side by side at 100% on screen.

    I looked for grain, sharpness/resolution, color fidelity, color shifts and highlight/shadow detail. As far as possible I matched images for output size which meant reducing the (20Mp) FZ1000 files and increasing the (14Mp) V2 files to match those of the GH4 (16Mp).

    I ran the test three times using a different test subject each time. There was some minor variation in the results but overall the results were as described below.
    Results
    Exposure  The two Panasonic cameras used the same aperture and shutter speed. On each frame the Nikon used a 1/3 stop faster shutter speed. Despite this the Nikon files were slightly lighter than the Panasonics.
     
    Resolution and  grain  At low ISO settings the FZ1000 had slightly more detail resolution than the GH4 but I had to pixel peep very hard to pick the difference. The V2 files showed some grain even at base ISO and reduced resolution compared to the Panasonics.

    At high ISO settings the FZ1000 continued to provide slightly more resolution than the GH4 with the V2 last.

    At ISO 6400 the GH4 showed the least grain, as expected. The FZ1000 was about 0.66 stops more grainy and the V2 a further 0.66 stops more grainy.

    For grain the GH4 files at ISO 6400 looked like those from the FZ1000 at ISO4000 and the V2 at ISO2500.

    Color   Files from the V2 were slightly more yellow and those from the Panasonics slightly more blue. at high ISO settings there was some green shift in the Nikon files.
    Dynamic range   One would expect the V2 to have less dynamic range (highlight and shadow detail) than the GH4 with it's larger sensor and I have found this in general photography .  FZ1000 DR  is very close to the GH4 such that they are difficult to tell apart.

    Summary  The GH4 tested about 2/3 stop better than the FZ1000 with respect to grain. The FZ1000 tested better then the V2 by the same amount.

    Discussion  Of these three cameras the V2  has clearly the least appealing output at all ISO settings. That is not to suggest it is a bad camera but users have to be careful about  ISO and shutter speed settings to get the best from the camera.

    In general photographic usage in a variety of conditions the FZ1000 and GH4 can produce very similar results. The GH4 has a definite but not dramatic high ISO advantage but the FZ1000 has more effective  OIS than any of the Lumix lenses which I have tested,  allowing slower shutter speeds and therefore a lower ISO to be selected.  

    Although not included in this test I have recently tested two cameras with the larger APS-C size sensor (28mm diagonal). These were the Nikon D5200 and Sony ILCE-A3500. Both of these cameras have a previous generation imager. I found the GH3 and GH4  (their IQ is the same) to produce slightly better image quality than both those cameras right across the ISO range.

     

     


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    FZ1000 at E400mm, hand held. 1/1000 sec f5, ISO 125.  I included this photo to show that even at it's "worst" focal length the FZ1000 lens still does a very good job. The boats in the foreground are about 500 meters from the camera, the trees in the background about 1000 meters.
     
    This post is part of my ongoing evaluation of the FZ1000. In due course I hope to discover whether the FZ1000 can replace my interchangeable lens camera (currently a Panasonic GH4) and a bag of  lenses.
    In the previouspost I looked at ISO range picture quality. Now it is time to investigate lens quality.
    Method  I went about this in two ways. The first was to go forth into the world and make hundreds of photos at all focal lengths and apertures using many different types of subject material. Most of these pictures were hand held. 
    The second was to photograph my standard test chart on tripod with timer delay, focus confirmation with MF and peaking. This chart is a repeating set of classified newspaper adverts affixed to a board. It does not give any kind of absolute reading but is very useful for comparisons. In this case I used a Panasonic GH4 with 12-35mm, 35-100mm and 100-300mm zoom lenses for comparison. These are three of the best zooms in Panasonic's lineup. I have used them extensively and know they deliver high quality pictures.
    To assess resolution/sharpness, I  compared  pairs of frames matched for E-Focal Length and Aperture on screen at 100% in Photoshop. 
    Focal length range  I will use "Full Frame Equivalent" (E)  focal lengths throughout this post. The FZ1000 refers to it's own lens focal lengths in this way by inscription on the lens barrel and by display  in the EVF or monitor.
    The FZ1000 has a focal length range of E25-400mm.  This covers most of the combined range of the comparison lenses which is E24-600mm.
    Pricing and dimensions  The Australian retail cost of the  GH4 + 3 lens kit is around $4600. At the time of writing the FZ1000 is selling for about $1150.
    The FZ1000 weighs 865 grams and fits easily into a Lowe Pro Apex 110 AW bag with space for two spare batteries, SD cards and microfiber cloth.
    The three lens kit weighs 1965 grams and requires a much larger bag such as a Lowe Pro Nova 180 AW.
    Expectations  I think it reasonable that one would expect the high grade three lens kit to easily best the FZ1000 at all focal lengths. My findings indicate a more complex comparison with a  closer result than I had originally expected.
    Results
    Sharpness/resolution   Best lens indicated.  Test aperture indicated. Approximate optimum aperture for the FZ1000  indicated in brackets.
    Wide angle, E25mm  f2.8.  [f4]
    Center: FZ1000
    Edges: Equal
    Corners: 12-35mm
    Short Mid range, E70  f3.5   [f4]
    Center: FZ1000
    Edges: 12-35mm
    Corners:12-35mm
    Mid Mid Range, E 170mm  f4   [f4]
    Center: FZ1000
    Edges: FZ1000
    Corners: FZ1000
    The comparison lens at this focal length was the 35-100mm which is a very fine performer. Both lenses delivered an outstanding result at this focal length but the FZ1000 was just slightly ahead.
    Long Mid Range, E230mm  f4  [f4]
    The comparison lens was the 100-300mm which I know from experience delivers very fine results at this focal length. Both the FZ1000 and the 100-300mm gave an outstanding result and both were equal across the frame.
    Maximum focal length for the FZ1000, E 400mm  f5.0   [f5]
    Center: Equal
    Edges: 100-300mm
    Corners: 100-300mm
    Super tele, E600mm  f5.6  [f5.6]
    For this I used the 100-300mm at it's longest optical focal length and the FZ1000 on iZoom (JPG) at E600.
    As expected, the 100-300 was clearly and substantially superior, center, edges and corners. Unlike all the other focal lengths where there was a surprisingly even contest between the two kits, this focal length saw a no contest with the 100-300 well ahead. Bird photographers note.
    Corner shading  Was not much of an issue with either kit, I assume it is corrected in the camera software.
    Chromatic aberration and Purple fringing   was quite noticeable from the FZ100 especially in the corners at the wide end.  Both are correctable in Photoshop Camera Raw or Lightroom.
    Distortion  is being corrected in camera software in both cases, with the FZ1000 applying almost complete correction.
    Flare, sun  All lenses can exhibit various streaks, spots and veiling when exposed to the sun in frame or just out of frame. All four lenses in this test were so affected. However I made many photos with the FZ1000 pointed directly at the sun with no ill effects. Flare is very well controlled in the FZ1000.
    Flare, local  The FZ1000 showed a sometimes obvious tendency to flare out a halo around very bright subject elements such as white boats in direct sun. The 12-35mm can also do this.
    Contrast/microcontrast  You would expect the GH4 lenses to have higher local contrast than the more complex lens on the FZ1000, and they do. The FZ1000 loses contrast toward the long end.  This can make AF more difficult with low contrast subjects and requires extra  sharpening in Photoshop Camera Raw, plus often a bit of Clarity increase.
    Bokeh  Out of focus rendition from the FZ1000 is very smooth in the great majority of photos which I have made. There is an occasional minor tendency to nisen (double line) bokeh with branches, twigs and the like but this is not common.
    Mechanical Function 
    Image Stabiliser  The stabiliser in the FZ1000 is much more effective than that in any of the Panasonic M43 lenses which I have used.  I will report on this separately.  Fair warning though, OIS does nothing to counter subject movement.
    Zoom   For those of us accustomed to manual zooming, the FZ1000 power zoom comes as a bit of a surprise. However it works well in practice, with practice. The trick is to understand that the zoom ring is just an actuator for the zoom motor. Gentle but constant turning pressure on the ring allows full zoom from wide to long in about 3 seconds. Twisting the ring faster/harder is counterproductive.
    Manual focus  This uses the same ring as zoom after setting the control lever to "Focus". Focus is motorised. With practice MF works well and is accurate, assisted by peaking which is well implemented in this camera. However like zooming, Manual focussing requires practice and familiarity with the behaviour of the actuator ring. This can be a bit frustrating at first as the position of the ring is not directly related to the focus movement of the lens elements.
    Decentering  I cannot remember buying a zoom lens in recent times without some small or larger degree of decentering. This occurs when the lens elements are not located in the optical pathway in exactly the correct position to very fine tolerances.  My copy of the FZ1000 is a bit soft on the right side at mid zoom and a bit soft on the left side at full zoom. Closing the aperture one stop minimises the problem.
    Summary  The FZ1000 lens has performed well above my initial expectations.  It  is capable of making highly detailed photos across the focal length range.
    For all focal lengths except E400mm and E600mm it performs at a level comparable to the three comparison M43 zooms, especially in a large central area of the frame where most critical subject information is located.
    I am investigating strategies for optimising sharpness/resolution at E400 and E600 and will report on these in an upcoming post.


     


     


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    After a few thousand frames I am finding photos from the FZ1000 very agreeable in appearance with good presence on the screen or print. I do not feel I am giving up any significant picture quality to cameras with larger sensors and I have gained a great deal in size, mass, cost and portability. By the way in the 1990s I used 4x5 inch large format cameras so I am very familiar with the characteristics of the larger formats. The foreground/background relationship in this photo is worth note. The walkers in the foreground are sharply drawn by the lens with strong color and contrast. The bridge in the background retains abundant detail but is rendered more softly providing good visual separation between foreground and background while retaining informational integrity in the background.
     
    In it's promotional material  for the FZ1000, Panasonic announced a 5 axis optical image stabiliser system, promising greater effectiveness than OIS systems previously seen in Panasonic cameras and lenses.
    In my early  outings with the camera the OIS did indeed seem effective with a steady EVF image at E400mm focal length and plenty of nice sharp pictures.
    So I ran some systematic tests  My method was to photograph a page of newsprint, standing, hand held, viewing through the EVF at a range of shutter speeds from 1/400 to 1 second, with and without OIS engaged.  I used normal type OIS.
    I ran the test with the lens at the wide end, focal length E25mm, at the mid part of the range  E100mm and at the long end, E400mm.
    I viewed the resulting files at 100% on screen and recorded the result as sharp, slightly soft or obviously soft.
    Results:


    Focal length

    Slowest shutter speed giving a sharp picture

    OIS advantage in EV steps

     

    OIS Off

    OIS On

    E25

    1/15 sec

    0.3 sec

    2.3

    E100

    1/40sec

    1/5 sec

    3.0

    E400

    1/250sec

    1/40sec

    3.0


     

    In the past when I ran this test with Panasonic M43 zoom lenses I found about 1 stop advantage from OIS.
    Clearly FZ1000 OIS is more effective than that in Panasonic M43 lenses.
    Discussion: 
    Safe hand held shutter speeds.   The table above might tempt you to try for some very low hand held shutter speeds. By all means give these a trial.  there are two issues to consider however:
    1. OIS does nothing to minimise subject movement. If you are photographing people at 0.3 seconds they are not going to be sharp.
    2. The results reported here are an accurate statement of the shutter speeds which I was able to achieve in my OIS test. However the test session was in a quiet room, with plenty of time to make each shot. I have steady hands. I was calm and was able to use optimal technique on each frame, namely doing mini meditation, controlled breathing, squeezing the shutter button smoothly at the end of an exhalation.
    Out in the real world these ideal conditions will often not be available. As a result I would not expect such low shutter speeds to be routinely associated with sharp pictures.
    In fact I have found it more realistic to use the following as slowest shutter speeds likely to reliably produce sharp results if the subject is reasonably still and I use  good camera technique.
    Wide, E25mm, 1/25sec
    Middle, E100, 1/100sec
    Long, E400, 1/400sec
    Many readers will immediately recognise these shutter speeds as the old inverse of focal length for 35mm cameras. I have repeatedly found that with everyday use, slower shutter speeds, for instance 1/125sec at E400mm will not reliably deliver sharp photos.
    If the subject is moving I have found it necessary to at least double the (1/focal length) shutter speeds, and to go faster if there is enough light.
    I have noticed on user forums a tendency for contributors to post photos with the notation "sharp, hand held at half a second" or similar, with pride and a few exclamation marks. Indeed one of my shots at E25mm and 1 second was quite decently sharp. But such wonders are flukes, not a realistic guide to user expectations.
    FZ1000 Programme Auto Exposure  (P on the Mode dial. iA has a very similar, possibly the same algorithm)  On this camera the P Mode algorithms have a characteristic which I have not found in M43 cameras.  A Mode is the same with respect to shutter speed and Auto ISO. Indoors as the light level falls, the camera will allow the shutter speed to fall to a very low speed before shifting Auto ISO above 1600.
    That shutter speed is
    E25mm, 1/4 sec
    E100mm, 1/6 sec
    E400mm 1/8 sec
    When using the FZ1000 indoors I find I need to be constantly aware of the shutter speed being selected by the camera in P or A Mode and  either switch to S Mode or use a bit of flash when light levels are low.
    Summary  The new 5 axis FZ1000 OIS is a definite improvement over previous implementations of Panasonic OIS technology. I believe OIS is essential if a camera such as this is to be hand held at the long end of the zoom range. But it is not a panacea for poor technique and it cannot achieve the impossible.


     


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    The FZ1000 is very suitable for documentary style photography. It acquires focus quickly and accurately.  It operates quickly and makes good pictures in a variety of settings including this underground shopping mall.  I held the camera at mid chest height looking down at the swung out monitor.
     
    The FZ1000  is a very versatile and capable camera. It is highly configurable.  This means each individual  can decide how it will operate to suit personal preference.  This is a wonderful thing but it does present the user with the task of understanding how to make best use of  all  the  many options available.
    Those coming from a recent Panasonic micro four thirds camera will feel quite at home with the FZ1000 interface but users coming from a bridge camera or other brand might find themselves facing a steep learning curve. 
    In this little series of posts I will try to help the new FZ1000 user set up the camera to their own preference.
    Throughout I will indicate my settings and the reasons for them. Your requirements will be different and unknown to me. So my settings are not prescriptive but suggestions to stimulate your thinking process.
    This post is about still photo not video. There are other sources available for hints about setting up for video. I will not deal here with Wi-Fi either as it is covered fully in the Owners Manual.
    Download and read  the Owners manual from any Panasonic website. It is well written and very useful. It is also jam packed with information which will take most people quite a while to digest.
    Buy spare BLC-12E batteries  I have two spares, one would be the absolute minimum. I find genuine Panasonic ones last longer than any of the generics which I have used and they also take more recharge cycles. The FZ1000 uses power zoom, power focus and requires power for the EVF,  monitor and operating system so battery drain is substantial.
    Get a 62mm clear protect or uv filter  Some users report they don't use a protective filter fearing image degradation.  I use a  B+W  007 Clear MRC Nano XS-Pro digital filter and have no problems at all. I much prefer to clean the filter than risk damaging the front element of the lens.
    FZ1000 in Lowe Pro Apex 110 AW bag. A perfect fit with two spare batteries, several SD cards and microfiber cloth under the lens. Note wrist strap from a compact camera. I find the full neck strap just a nuisance because I carry the camera in the bag on in my right hand which is very easy with the full handle.
     
    Locate a carry bag. I use a Lowe Pro Apex 110 AW bag as shown in the photo. The FZ1000 fits in this perfectly with room for two spare batteries, a microfiber cloth and several spare memory cards. I cut away the memory card pouch which sits above the camera handle to ensure the camera fits easily into the bag without strain.
    Leave the neck strapin the box. Buy or steal from a compact camera a lightweight wrist strap. Even the smallest ones can easily hold the camera's weight. I attach this to the lug on the handle side and loop the strap around my wrist when I am carrying the camera, just to ensure it won't fall to the ground if my grip is disrupted.
    Lens Cap   The inner flat surfaces are smooth, providing inadequate grip for the fingers. Roughen these with  coarse sandpaper. Now the fingers can grip properly.
    Now we come to camera settings

     


    Menu Resume  This is found on Page 3 of the Setup Menu. Set this ON so that the camera will recall the last menu item you accessed in any submenu. So in the event you do need to access a main menu item you can get there quickly without having to scroll through the entire menu. I use this frequently for the Format function which is the last item on the Setup Menu.
    Direct Focus Area,  On or Off ?    Custom Menu Page 3.   This is an important decision as it affects the way the camera operates. If Direct Focus Area is ON the AF box can be moved directly by pressing any cursor key. There is no need to press another button to activate the AF box. The benefit of Direct Focus Area is fast, efficient access to changing position and size of the AF box.
     The downside is you have to locate access to ISO, WB, AF Macro and Autofocus Mode elsewhere, generally on a Fn button or in the Q Menu. This is not really a problem as there are plenty of options available.
    I set Direct Focus Area ON as it streamlines camera operation in the Capture Phase.
    Those users who in the past have become familiar with the "focus (with the center AF area) and recompose" style of use might find that Direct Focus Area brings new speed and efficiency to the AF process.
    I allocate ISO to Fn1, AF Macro to Fn5 and WB and AF Mode to the Q Menu which I allocate to Fn2. I will discuss Fn button function allocations in another post.
    Zoom to Manual (lens)  ring or (shutter button) zoom lever ?  Custom Menu Page 7. This is another important decision as your fingers need to learn where they should go in order to operate key camera functions by memory, without having to think about which fingers go where and do what. Like driving a car.
    People coming from a superzoom camera might at first feel more comfortable about zooming with the lever. Those coming from an ILC will likely find their left hand wanting to turn the ring on the lens.
    I set the Manual (lens) ring to stepless zoom and the Zoom lever to [+/-].  I do this because zooming via the lens ring seems more natural to me but also because this frees up the Zoom Lever around the shutter button for direct control of exposure compensation. This is very quick and convenient and I have never had the lever move unintentionally. It is stiff enough to prevent that.
     Stepped zoom also works fine.
    Some reviewers have suggested that zoom works faster via the lever but I have not found this. Lens ring zoom works well if light but steady rotational torque is applied to the ring. I can zoom from widest to longest settings in about 3 seconds.  Twisting the ring with more vigour is counterproductive.
    Switching from monitor to EVF view  Custom Menu page 8 > Eye Sensor.  There are several options and  possible combinations.  
    I set Eye Sensor > LVF/Monitor Switch to Monitor. Now the camera works like an FZ200 for readers who are familiar with this camera.  The eye sensor has been rendered inactive.
    When the monitor is turned to face out it is active. When the monitor is turned  face in, viewing goes to the EVF (LVF). This suits the way I use the camera. When I want to view via the EVF I turn the monitor in so it does not get covered in sunburn cream or makeup if a lady  is using the camera.
    When I want to hold the camera close to my chest or close in at my waist with the monitor swung out to the side, viewing by looking down at the monitor, the eye sensor does not switch the monitor off.   If the eye sensor is active it will not let you hold the camera in close  but forces you to hold it away from the body which is less secure and stable.
    If you want to have the monitor facing out and the ability to switch directly from monitor view to EVF view then you will have to set the >LVF/Monitor switch in the custom Menu to Auto.


    AF/AE Lock button function  Custom Menu Page 1. Setting for this button will depend very much on the user's previous use and expectations. You get plenty of choice, including AE Lock, AF Lock, AF/AE Lock and AF ON.
    I set AF ON which causes the button to function like the back focus button on a mid to high range DSLR.  This allows AF and AE/Capture to be separated, which can be very useful in several situations.
    In particular this allows quick AF with the back button when the Focus Mode lever is set to Manual and the Focus/Zoom switch on the lens is set to Focus. So in manual focus you can quickly AF to the in focus position then fine tune with MF and peaking. This is very handy.
    Scene Mode/Panorama  The only setting I find useful in the Scene Mode on the Main Mode Dial is Panorama, which this camera does very well. So I turn the Mode Dial to {Scn}, then press Menu/Set to bring up the Menu screen, navigate up to the Scn Menu > Scene Switch > Scroll to number 25, Panorama.   Now go to the Rec Menu Page 4 > Panorama Settings > Direction > Select the bottom one of the four choices available. Ignore the indicated arrow directions they are incorrect and misleading.  
    Now at last after all that:  when you turn the Mode Dial to {Scn} the Panorama function will be active and the Direction setting ready to go.
    The setting I have suggested allows you to hold the camera in portrait orientation and sweep the camera from left to right horizontally. This is often the best option for  panoramas as it gives more height to the final image than holding the camera in landscape orientation.
    LVF Display Style and Monitor Display Style  In the Custom Menu, Page 8 you get the option to set both the monitor and LVF to "Viewfinder" style with key camera data on a black background beneath the preview image  or "Monitor" style, with the data superimposed on the lower part of the preview image.
    I strongly recommend the viewfinder style for both because:
    I have found that the auto exposure algorithms used by the FZ1000 quite often lead to a shutter speed or ISO setting which differ from that which I regard as ideal. I therefore want  to constantly monitor these exposure parameters and shift Exposure Mode and/or shutter speed as desired. In order to do this the data needs to be easily visible at all times.
    I make both the viewfinder and monitor the same for a seamless segue from one to the other.
    Next in the FZ1000 setup series  I will cover Q Menu, Function button  allocations and Custom Modes.


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    I am finding that pictures from the FZ1000 have a pleasing quality indoors or out. This is a quick shot made while walking through an underground shopping mall. I held the camera close in at chest height viewing on the articulated monitor.  ISO 200, 1/60sec, f2.8. The excellent OIS allows the use of slow shutter speeds which in turn keeps ISO settings down. Note that at f2.8 most things in the frame are in focus. If I had used, say, a full frame camera then f8 would have been required, which in turn would have required ISO 1600, which in turn would have at least the same amount of grain/noise as the FZ1000 at ISO 200.   My point is that I don't see how a larger/more expensive camera/sensor would actually allow me to make  better picture.
     
    The FZ1000  allows you to allocate your chosen function to 6 buttons. These are the AF/AE-L button, discussed in the previous post and the 5 Function buttons. When recording there are 46 options from which to select. At first this might seem like baffling overchoice. However I have some suggestions which are designed to make the selection process easier. In any case the function allocations can be altered at any time.
    Phases of camera use  I like to identify four phases of camera use: Setup, Prepare, Capture and Review.
    As a general guide I like to leave in the main menu items which require change in Setup Phase. These are the items you want to set at home with the Owners Manual to hand and not need to access while out and about with the camera.
    Prepare Phase is the several minutes just before making photos when you prepare camera settings for the task to hand. The Q Menu is a handy place for items requiring adjustment in this phase.
    Capture Phase is self explanatory. This is when you are in the process of taking photos. Adjustments in this phase need to be made  quickly and automatically, like using the controls to drive a car.  The main control modules used in this phase are the Focus/zoom ring on the lens, the shutter button, the zoom lever around the shutter button, the rear dial, the AF/AE-L button, the 4 Way cursor keys and the Function buttons.
    Function Buttons   Page 45 of the Owners Manual.
    Look at the list below of available options for the Fn buttons.  Try to decide which of those things you might want to adjust in Capture Phase. If you have never tackled  this exercise before, take a guess. There is no "wrong" answer. If your first selections doesn't seem to work for you, just change them.
    The nice thing about this system is that each individual can set the camera up to personal preference then change it as experience prompts a different approach.


    2. Preparations before Recording


    You can use assigned functions by pressing a function button when recording.


    The following functions can be assigned to the button [Fn1], [Fn2], [Fn3], [Fn4] or [Fn5].


    ¢Function button settings at the time of purchase.


    Making the function button settings for recording


    [Rec] menu/Recording functions


    [Wi-Fi] (P251): [Fn2]¢


    [Q.MENU] (P40): [Fn3]¢


    [LVF/Monitor Switch] (P58): [Fn5]¢


    [AF/AE LOCK] (P151)


    [AF-ON] (P151, 157)


    [Preview] (P91): [Fn4]¢


    [One Push AE] (P92)


    [Level Gauge] (P67)


    [Focus Area Set] (P46)


    [Photo Style] (P122): [Fn1]¢


    [Aspect Ratio] (P131)


    [Picture Size] (P131)


    [Quality] (P132)


    [AFS/AFF] (P139)


    [Metering Mode] (P163)


    [Burst Rate] (P167)


    [Auto Bracket] (P171)


    [Self Timer] (P174)


    [Highlight Shadow] (P124)


    [i.Dynamic] (P134)


    [i.Resolution] (P134)


    [HDR] (P135)


    [Shutter Type] (P164)


    [Flash Mode] (P203)


    [Flash Adjust.] (P207)


    [i.Zoom] (P198)


    [Digital Zoom] (P199)


    [Stabilizer] (P195)


    [Sensitivity] (P160)


    [White Balance] (P126)


    [AF Mode/MF] (P138)


    [Macro Mode] (P155)


    [Restore to Default]


    [Motion Picture] menu


    [Motion Pic. Set]


    ([Rec Format] (P212)/[Rec Quality] (P212))


    [Picture Mode] (P219)


    [Custom] menu


    [Silent Mode] (P186)


    [Peaking] (P152)


    [Histogram] (P66)


    [Guide Line] (P66)


    [Zebra Pattern] (P193)


    [Monochrome Live View] (P194)


    [Rec Area] (P216)


    [Zoom Lever] (P200)


    [Manual ring (Zoom)] (P200


    My Fn button function allocations with reasons for each, are below. You might use these as an aid to your own thinking process. Recall from the previous post that I use Direct Focus Area on the 4 way cursor keys:


    Fn1: ISO.  This is one of the three primary exposure parameters (the others are shutter speed and aperture) so it goes to a high accessibility location. I use Auto ISO most of the time but want direct access to ISO adjustment if I am unhappy with the Auto ISO selection.


    Fn2: The Fn 2 button  is impossible to reach without releasing grip on the handle with the right hand. It is therefore more suitable for Prepare Phase adjustments than Capture Phase ones. So I put the Q Menu on this button.


    Fn3: I need to switch back and forth between RAW and JPG capture quite frequently. I mostly use RAW but switch to JPG for iZoom and action with AFC and Burst Mode.  So I put Quality on Fn3.


    Fn4: I quite often like to know if my camera is level, but I don't want the electronic level gauge obscuring  my preview image all the time. So I allocate this to Fn 4 so it can be quickly switched on or off.


    Fn5: I like to photograph flowers often by the wayside and often with a hand held camera. So I want quick access to AF Macro which resides on Fn5.


    Your priorities and photographic preferences will be different from mine and will lead to selection of a different function set.


    Q Menu  Page 42-43 of the Manual.
    Go to page 8 of the Custom Menu and set the Q Menu tab to CUSTOM.  You don't want the PRESET version which is not very user friendly and doesn't have your own preferred items. Below is the list of functions which can be assigned to the  Custom Q Menu. By the way, if you assign a function from a main menu to the Q Menu or a Fn button it remains in the main menu and can be adjusted from either location.
    Try to figure which of these items you might want to change in Prepare Phase of use.
    Up to 15 items can be allocated to the Q menu, with a maximum of 5 appearing at any time. Any more than 5 requires scrolling across with the Cursor keys or rear dial.  There are 36 from which to choose.
    The actual method for selecting items for the Q Menu is well described in the Manual. You might need to jiggle and fiddle a bit with some of the items to set them where you prefer in the line.  


    [Rec] menu/Recording functions


    [Photo Style] (P122)


    [Picture Setting]


    ([Aspect Ratio] (P131)/[Picture Size]


    (P131))


    [Quality] (P132)


    [AFS/AFF] (P139)


    [Metering Mode] (P163)


    [Burst Rate] (P167)


    [Auto Bracket] (P171)


    [Self Timer] (P174)


    [i.Dynamic] (P134)


    [i.Resolution] (P134)


    [HDR] (P135)


    [Shutter Type] (P164)


    [Flash Mode] (P203)


    [Flash Adjust.] (P207)


    [i.Zoom] (P198)


    [Digital Zoom] (P199)


    [Stabilizer] (P195)


    [Sensitivity] (P160)


    [White Balance] (P126)


    [AF Mode] (P138)


    [Macro Mode] (P155)


    L


    [Motion Pic. Set]


    ([Rec Format] (P212)/[Rec Quality]


    (P212))


    [Picture Mode] (P219)


    [Silent Mode] (P186)


    [Peaking] (P152)


    [Histogram] (P66)


    [Guide Line] (P66)


    [Zebra Pattern] (P193)


    [Monochrome Live View] (P194)


    [Rec Area] (P216)


    [Zoom Lever] (P200)


    [Manual ring (Zoom)] (P200)


    My own selection for the Q Menu, with reasons,  is:
    * Flash adjust. Because I am currently experimenting with flash at minus 2 EV as an alternative to high ISO settings in low light.
    * White Balance. I usually just use Auto White Balance but in artificial light manual adjustment can be useful.
    * Autofocus Mode.  I usually use 1 Area. However sometimes Face Detect is useful and sometimes I use Pinpoint. I have not yet found a use for Tracking. I don't like 49 Area as it does not give me enough control over the point of focus. I have played around with Custom Multi but not yet found a convincing use for it.
    * Burst Rate.  I usually use M as this gives live view on each frame. But L could be useful for slowly moving subjects and H might be handy in a situation where focus and framing can be fixed at the beginning of a burst. For instance a high jumper going over the bar.
    * Self timer. I generally use 2 seconds but sometimes 10 seconds might be appropriate.
    * Shutter Type. I probably should remove this as I always use the mechanical shutter. I came to the FZ1000 from Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras most of which are subject to shutter shock with some lenses. This requires frequent switching from E-Shutter to mechanical shutter. But the FZ1000 is not affected by shutter shock and can be operated with the mechanical shutter all the time.
    * Silent Mode. E-Shutter is automatically activated if  Silent Mode is set. This is the only time I would use the electronic shutter on the FZ1000. By the way the camera is not completely silent. The OIS module makes a little grinding noise anytime the camera is powered on. In addition the focus motor and lens diaphragm actuator make some noise.
     
    Custom Modes   Page 120-121 of the Manual.  Custom Settings are the first tab on the Custom Menu.
    The FZ1000 has two Custom Mode positions on the Mode Dial, accessing four possible Custom Modes. These are C1, C2-1, C2-2, C2-3. C2-2 and C2-3 are accessed by pressing the Menu/Set button with the Mode Dial on C2, at which point a Custom Mode Menu appears, allowing the user to scroll to the hidden custom modes.
    The process of registering a Custom Set is well described on Page 120 of the Manual.
    A Custom Set allows you to memorise and recall many settings at one place on the Mode Dial. There is a list of items which cannot be registered in a Custom Setting at the bottom of Page 120 of the Manual. Otherwise all settings in the Menus, Q menu, Fn Buttons and Mode Dial are registered. Obviously settings on the Drive Mode Dial and the Focus mode Lever cannot be registered to a Custom Mode because they cannot be over-ridden by software.  If they could you would have a ridiculous situation in which the setting in the camera was different from that indicated on the dial or lever.
    Here are two suggestions for Custom Modes,  there is no limit to the possibilities available for each of the 4 Custom Modes.
    C1- Sport/Action:
    Hard Control Modules:  Burst Mode, AF-C
    Software: Shutter Priority AE, shutter speed 1/1000,  Mechanical shutter, JPG quality, Burst M, AF Mode 1 Area.
    C2 - Tripod/landscape/night:
    Hard Control Modules: Timer 2 Sec, AF-S
    Software: Aperture priority AE, f5, Mechanical Shutter, RAW Quality, AF Mode 1 Area, Review Hold. Note: I normally set Auto Review (Custom Menu Page 7) OFF. However the FZ1000 in its current firmware configuration has an irritating glitch. If you make a few shots then press the Playback button to check the results, the lens retracts itself, unbidden, after a few seconds. The time delay appears to be variable. This happened to me one evening when I was making night shots which took quite a while to frame up and focus accurately.  I was not amused when the lens retracted, forcing me to zoom, frame and focus over again.
    If Auto Review > Duration Time > Hold is set, then image review comes up automatically and remains in place until you half press the shutter button, allowing the next shot to be taken. This appears to prevent the irritating lens retraction provoked by pressing the Playback button.


    In the next post I willstart working through the menus.


     


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    FZ1000 Does B.O.H. (Bird On Head)  I am finding this camera very versatile, delivering  good pictures in  wide variety of situations inside and outdoors. It focusses and operates  quickly. The pictures have very good detail and highlight/shadow information.
     
    Setup Menu  Page 47 of the Manual.  I will not dwell on items like setting the time, which need no explanation from me and I pass on Wi-Fi which is extensively explained in the Manual, Page 250-267.
    Beeps and Shutter Volume   Set the beep volume to personal preference.  I note that the default shutter sound is a composite of the actual sound of the leaf shutter working plus an electronic sound. I set the shutter sound to Off which removes the electronic component leaving the soft little blip of the leaf shutter.
    Live View Mode  This feature is inherited from the GH4.  The Manual, Page 49, says this sets the frame rate of the recording screen (live view screen) at 30 or 60 fps, without specifying whether the monitor or EVF is meant. I tried both and can't really see a convincing difference. So I have it on 30 fps for now as the Manual says this uses less power.
    Monitor Display Note: this changes to Viewfinder Display when you look in the viewfinder. Both can be adjusted for Brightness, Contrast/Saturation (increasing contrast increases saturation) Green/Magenta color (red tint)  and Yellow/Blue color (blue tint).
    I am finding the monitor looks right to me at default settings. However the LVF looks different. Each individual has different preferences and eye sensitivity but for the record I use on the LVF: Brightness -3, Contrast +1, Red tint zero, Blue tint -2. This adjustment is to some extent a work in progress.
    Monitor Luminance  There are four options. I just leave it at the default which is [A*] Auto, which appears to work well in a variety of conditions.
    Economy  You can choose when the camera will turn the monitor off and when it will go into sleep mode to conserve battery.  As battery life is an issue with this camera I set  auto monitor off  to 1 minute and sleep to 2 minutes. The camera wakes up from sleep mode almost instantly with a half press of the shutter button.
    USB Mode and TV Connection  I can't say anything about these features as I never use them.
    Menu Resume  Set this ON.  When you press the Menu/Set button to enter the menus, the display will jump directly to the last used tab. This is very handy for accessing items such as Format, which can only be found in the menus.  Unfortunately this camera does not have a My Menu facility.
    Menu Background  You can experiment with this. Personal preference will prevail. I use the second option from the top.
    Menu Information  I would suggest users unfamiliar with the Panasonic interface leave this on for a while until they have become familiar with the options then later switch it off to declutter the interface.
    Language and Version Disp need no comment from me.
    Exposure Comp Reset  You can set exposure compensation directly with the front lever (if it is thus set up) or by pressing the rear dial until it clicks which activates the +/- function. Someone at Panasonic has realised that users like me invariably forget to cancel +/- at the end of a photo session. When Exposure Comp Reset is ON the camera will automatically reset +/- to zero when you change recording Mode or switch the camera off or if you allow the camera to go into sleep mode.  Excellent idea. 
    No. Reset  Resets the file number sequence.
    Reset   Returns all settings except folder number and clock to default.
    Reset Wi-Fi SettingsDoes the same thing for the Wi-Fi settings.
    Format  You should always format a memory card after inserting it into the camera for the first time, or if it has been in another camera. I use this command frequently and wish it could be allocated to a My Menu. That not being available Menu Resume usually gets me to Format quickly enough.


    Rec (ording) Menu 
    Photo Style  Settings here affect the camera's JPG output. They have no effect on RAW files. So, for instance,  if you set Monochrome in Photo Style and select RAW Quality, the preview and playback image in camera will be monochrome but the downloaded RAW is  still a RAW color file.
    I am generally a RAW shooter but I use JPG in two situations. iZoom only works in JPG. When I am following sport/action I have found the camera gives more shots per burst in JPG than RAW and writes to the card much more quickly.
    You can select one of the preset styles such as Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome.....etc or you can select Custom then adjust Contrast, Sharpness, Noise Reduction and Saturation separately.  Your selection will be strongly influenced by personal preference. I find the Standard preset rather over processed for my taste and of the presets prefer Natural.  Alternatively I use a Custom setting with Contrast 0, Sharpness +1, NR -5, Saturation 0.  Some experiment is indicated.
    The selected Photo Style is used in iZoom in addition to normal JPG images. 
    Aspect Ratio  The native sensor AR is 3:2. Anything else is just a crop. So I always capture 3:2 and crop later as and if required.
    Picture Size  For best picture quality select L=20Mpx. I see little reason to select a smaller size except that if you want to use Ext.Opt.Zoom then the M or S size must be selected. By the way, I  recommend iZoom as the preferred digital zoom type.
    Quality  The basic choice is between JPG (best quality, two lines of dashes),  RAW or both. I see little point in using the lower quality JPG setting (the one with only one line of dashes).
    AFS/AFF  There is only enough space for three positions on the Focus Mode lever. So one of them has to do double duty. AFS is AF Single. AFF is one of those "helpful" settings which is supposed to function as AFS with a still subject but switch to AFC when the camera detects subject movement. Canon DSLRs have a similar setting called AI Servo, if I remember correctly. Maybe AFF will function as advertised,  maybe not, or maybe not quickly enough for my purposes. Anyway I want to know exactly which setting is currently active so I select AFS on this tab.
    Metering Mode  The choice is between Multiple, Center Weighted and Spot. I find the most reliable in a wide variety of situations is Multiple so I use that all the time. It is basically centerweighted with consideration of the pattern of lightness across the frame compared to a database  of  subject types stored in the camera's memory.  If you want to achieve lots of incorrect exposures try Spot a few times. It is more difficult to use than the other two options.
    Burst Rate  Page 167-168.  When you set the Drive Mode Dial on top of the camera to position 2 (multi page symbol) the camera will use the  Burst Mode setting made here.    The explanation of the  four burst speeds in the Manual is informative and detailed.  For sport/action the most generally useful is M Burst which allows live view, AF and AE on every frame at a nominal 7 fps.
    I am using Focus Priority AF  ( Custom Menu, Page 169) in AFS  as I want all my single shot pictures to be in focus. I am still experimenting with Focus/Release Priority for AFC with moving subjects.
    Auto Bracket  This is the place to establish auto bracket settings, which the camera will use when the Drive Mode dial is set to position 3 (multi page symbol with +/- ). The options are extensive.
    Single/ Burst  Single means you have to actuate the shutter for each  frame of the sequence. Burst means you press and hold the shutter button (or wired remote) while all the frames fire off quickly.
     Step  Select from 3 shots at 1/3 EV step intervals up to 7 shots at 1 EV step intervals.  There is no option for 3 shots at 2 EV step intervals, which I would use if it were available. So I compromise on 5 shots at 1 step intervals.
    Sequence  Select from -/0/+ or 0/-/+. Makes no difference to the result but the former always seems more logical to me.
    Note there is no option to combine AEB with Timer Delay. So you have to actuate the shutter with the shutter button, wired remote or smart phone. Panasonic gets considerable negative comment in user forums about this. Some method of combining the two would be very popular.
    Self Timer  You get the option of one shot after 2 or 10 seconds or 3 shots after 10 seconds for various types of selfie.
    Time Lapse/Animation  I have to confess this function remains a mystery to me at present. One day..........maybe....... I might try to figure it out.............perhaps..................
     
    Now follow a series of features which work with JPG captures:
    Highlight/Shadow  This is a feature  which I first saw on Olympus M43 cameras a few years ago and found it a one day wonder there.   If  highlight/shadow is an answer I am not quite sure what the question was.  Somebody will love it. Maybe. There are already so many ways to adjust JPG images I am not convinced we need more of them.
    i Dynamic  Used for subjects with high brightness range,  this feature underexposes the  shot to prevent highlights blowing out then applies a tone curve adjustment to the shadows. There are three levels, auto and off.  It works and might be useful for regular JPG shooters in locations with bright sunlight.


    i Resolution  This one is supposed to do something clever which leads to better definition in detailed  parts of a scene without causing objectionable noise in even toned areas. I tried it on a GH4 with no apparent benefit and have not been moved to try it on the FZ1000 yet.


    Handheld Night Shot  [iA] and [iA+] Modes only. This is, I suppose,  a kind of emergency feature for someone caught out at night without a tripod.  I tried it.   When the shutter is pressed, the camera makes a series of exposures then combines them into one. It works as advertised and the results look OK.  The feature can be left set On permanently as it only comes into play in very low light in [iA] or [iA+] Mode.


    i HDR  [iA] and [iA+] Modes only. If the camera detects a subject with high brightness range it will fire off  three quick shots at different exposures and combine them in camera. Another emergency feature for the intrepid photographer without a tripod.


    HDR  This feature is also JPG only but can be used in the P,A,S,M Modes with more user input and control. The camera fires three shots and combines them in camera. The step between them can be Auto, 1,2 or 3 EV and Auto Align can be used with hand held operation.  It works as advertised.


    Multi Exp  Ah, the mysterious Multi Exp which has eluded my understanding through several generations of Panasonic M43 cameras and now the FZ1000. Maybe one day I might figure out how this one works........................ but not today.


    Panorama Settings  The in camera auto stitching panorama feature in this camera works very well, so setting up the function to suit your preferences is  worthwhile. First set the Quality to JPG. Then turn the Mode Dial to {Scn}. Now access the Rec Menu and see the Panorama Settings tab on Page 4. You select Filter Effect, which I always leave at No Effect, and Direction. When you enter the Direction tab see four options designated by a screen symbol and arrows. Ignore these,  they are misleading. My preference is to select the bottom option of the four. This allows you to hold the camera in portrait orientation while panning left to right. Some practice is required to get  the function working reliably.


    Shutter Type  The choice is M(echanical), E(lectronic) or Auto. I  leave it on M which is the best setting for all general photography. If  you set  Silent Mode the camera will automatically switch to the E-Shutter.


    Flash  Manual, Page 203.  This camera has an advanced set of flash functions for on camera and off camera, including wireless operation. The Flash submenu covers three pages. Full discussion of flash functions deserves a separate post or maybe several of them. For the occasional/casual user some starting settings might be:
    Firing Mode-TTL, The camera fires two flashes in quick succession.
    Flash Mode-Forced Flash On (single lightning symbol),
    Flash Synchro-1st,
    Flash Adjust- Depends on whether you want the flash to be the primary light source or just a fill for darker tones and backlit shadows. I am experimenting at -2 stops, using the flash just as a supplement to ambient light.
    Auto Exposure Comp-On.
    Red Eye Removal  Page 211.  Either of the two flash settings with an eye symbol have this feature. The camera fires two flashes about 1/5 second apart.


    ISO limit Set Sets the upper limit for Auto ISO.  I just set the highest available which is 12800. The camera is quite reluctant to select an auto ISO above 1600. Picture quality at ISO 12800 is poor but better than nothing.


    ISO Increments  The camera provides 1/3 stop increments on aperture,  shutter speed and Auto ISO so there is no need for 1/3 increments in manual  ISO settings.


    Extended ISO  This allows ISO 80 and 100 at the lower end (very useful in sufficient light or on tripod) and 25600 at the top end (of dubious value in any circumstance). Set Extended ISO to ON.


    Long shtr NR  Long shutter speeds give rise to increased noise levels. When Long Shtr NR is ON, the camera makes a second exposure with the shutter closed to identify and remove excess digital noise. The camera has algorithms which decide which combinations of shutter speed and ISO merit the extra exposure and processing. I leave this ON.


    I-Zoom  The FZ1000 has three types of digital zoom. These are i-Zoom, Digital Zoom and  Extra Optical Zoom (which is as far as I can tell actually digital....??). Of these,  i-Zoom is the most useful and user friendly. It allows full control of the AF box and can be set permanently in the Rec Menu. It will only become active when Quality is set to JPG.  It provides a maximum zoom of E800mm  which is as much as this camera can usefully manage in my view.


    So I set i-Zoom On and Digital Zoom Off.


    Color Space  Set this to Adobe RGB. The camera will automatically revert to sRGB with JPG capture.


    Stabiliser  Page 195.  Here you decide to set Normal (which compensates for vertical and horizontal movement, or in fact 5 axis movement according to the FZ1000 promotional material) or Panning which only compensates for up/down movement. Some contributors to user forums have reported that this may be useful at air shows and similar situations where fast panning would confuse the Normal OIS. The setting chosen here will become active when the OIS switch on the lens barrel is in the up position (On).


    Face Recog (nition)   Page 187.  This is not your plain old face detect but a system for registering and detecting individual person's faces. I have to confess the purpose of this eludes me somewhat. It looks like another one of those clever answers to a question nobody (but the security services) asked.


    Profile Setup  Last and least on the Rec Menu we have a system for "recording profiles of babies and pets on images". This is getting a bit Monty Pythonesque I think. Maybe the last two items are for grandparents  who can't recognise their grandchildren and can't remember their birthdays, or failed to write them down somewhere.................... whatever....... Seems like a waste of processing power to me.................


    Next Post,   after I recover from writing this one will be about the Custom Menu.


     


     


     


     


     


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    I photographed a fun run today with the FZ1000.  Of the 514 frames shot,  I rate 88% as sharp and of these about 1/3 very (as in count-their-eyelashes) sharp, 10% a bit soft but OK for a small print or email, and 2% completely out of focus. This camera continues to surprise and impress.
     
    This was going to be  a three part series on setting up the FZ1000 but has ended up with four parts as there is so much material to cover.
    In this post I look at the Custom Menu   This hosts a miscellaneous collection of items which don't readily fit into one of the other menus.
    Cust. Set Mem.  The process of registering Custom settings then using them is well described on Pages 120-121 of the Manual.
    Silent Mode   Page 186.   This is one you might wish to allocate to the Q Menu. When On, the E-Shutter is used.
    AF/AE-Lock    Page 157.  Here you decide which function will be performed by the AF/AE-L button.  Individual preference and previous experience will likely have a substantial influence on the selection.
    AF/AE-L Hold  Page 158.  Here you decide whether the button must be held pressed to hold the selected function or if it will be held after  a short press.
    Each of the available functions of this button can be very useful, depending on your established work practices.  The default setting is for Exposure Lock although many users will find AF Lock more useful when using focus and recompose. 
    The Lock Hold option could be useful if you are making a series of photos of, say a model in the same pose.
    I  set the button to AF-ON so I can use it like the back focus button of a DSLR.  I set the lock hold to Off so the action of the button ceases when I release it. If I set Hold On I will forget and the next series of photos will have the focus or exposure locked incorrectly.
    Shutter AF    Page 148.  AF is initiated by half press of the shutter button. This is the behaviour which most people expect from a camera.  But on the FZ1000 this can be disabled so half press of the shutter button just controls autoexposure. In this case you would initiate (and lock if required) AF with the AF/AE-L button. This separates AE form AF and is a strategy often used by professional photographers.
     
    Now come three features designed to speed up camera operation.
    Half Press Release  The camera focusses, evaluates exposure and fires the shutter with  half press of the shutter button.  This might be a favourite with the hyperactive photographer.  It certainly delivers superfast operation.  I prefer to half press > confirm focus > then fully press the shutter button.
    Quick AF   Page 148.  When On, the camera will hunt for focus continuously, the idea being that the subject under the AF box will already be in focus when you are ready to take the picture. The downside is increased battery drain.
    Eye Sensor AF   Page 58.  The camera adjusts focus once, not continuously,  when you look in the viewfinder.
    Pinpoint AF Time  Page 147.  When Pinpoint Focus is set in the Autofocus Menu, the image preview is automatically magnified for a short period when you half press the shutter button, so you can check whether your subject is actually in focus. The choice is Long (1.5 sec), Mid (1 sec)  or Short (0.5 sec).   Take your pick. I use Mid.
    AF Assist Lamp  This toggles the assist lamp On/Off.  Panasonic AF has become so fast, sensitive and accurate even in very low light that I have been switching the lamp Off  for several generations of M43 cameras and have it Off for the FZ1000. The AF works, albeit at a special slower-than-usual "low light" rate even when light levels are so low I can barely see anything.
    Direct Focus Area  I discussed this in Part 1 of the FZ1000 setup series. I use and recommend On.
    Focus /Release Priority  I have this routinely set to On because I prefer my pictures in focus but need to experiment with Release priority when using AFC.
    AF+MF   This camera allows you to focus manually while Autofocus is active (and it also allows you to Autofocus when Manual Focus is set).
    If AF+MF is On, then:
    When AF Lock is on (achieved by half press and hold  the shutter button in AFS Focus Mode,  or  pressing the AF/AE-L button configured for AF Lock) then you can touch up focus manually. MF assist and Peaking will operate if both are set On in the Custom Menu.  Panasonic M43 cameras enable  the same feature by simply rotating the focus ring on the lens. But the FZ1000 only has one ring on the lens which does double duty as zoom and focus actuator. So before the camera will MF you have to flick the Focus/Zoom switch down to the Focus position. Then flick it back up again later when you discover the lens won't zoom, or set the lever around the shutter button to zoom.
    In practice and with practice this is much easier to do than to read about.
    MF Assist  Page 151. In manual focus (Focus Mode lever set to MF and Focus/Zoom lever on the lens set to Focus), the camera can automatically enlarge that part of the preview image which surrounds the MF box, which by the way is rectangular so you can immediately distinguish it from the AF box which is square.  The amount of enlargement can be varied by turning the rear dial while the enlarged image is displayed.
    There are several ways by which this enlargement can be activated. Selection between them is made at this menu item. You select between rotating the lens ring or pressing the left cursor key, unless Direct Focus Area is set in which case the cursor keys directly move either the AF box or the MF box.
    I have Direct Focus Area set so I select [Enlarge by rotating the manual ring] at this menu item.
    MF Guide  This is a horizontal analogue scale which pops onto  the lower part of the preview screen when MF is activated. There is a mountain symbol (representing infinity) on the left side and flower symbol (representing close up) on the right side. It can  prompt you as to which direction you should turn the MF ring.  Unfortunately it does not display actual distance so you cannot preset manual focus distance by scale using this guide.  I set it On anyway as I find it of some use.
    Peaking    Page 152.   I find this feature genuinely useful when focussing manually. When a part of the subject is in sharp focus subject elements with contrast edges become surrounded by a colored halo indicating maximum edge contrast which = in focus.
    Enter the Peaking tab and you find three sub tabs, On, Off and Set.
    Enter the Set tab and you find two more tabs, Detect Level and Display Color.
    You might wish to experiment with Detect Level. The Manual says that when High is set portions to be highlighted are reduced allowing more precise focus. I find with this camera setting High can result in insufficient peaking color for effective operation. So I set Low. But on the GH4 I had to set High.
    As to Display Color On the Low setting you can have blue, orange or white. On the High setting you can have cyan, yellow or green.
    I set blue. I suggest you spend time experimenting with both the Detect Level and Color. Some practice with peaking is recommended for familiarity and best results.  
    Histogram  Page 66.  A preview histogram is a graphical display of brightness along the horizontal axis and the number of pixels at each brightness level on the vertical axis. It is a monochrome representation of the camera's JPG output.  By the way a histogram of the unconverted RAW output from the camera would look completely different.
    If you select ON for the histogram in the Custom Menu,  then half press the shutter button,  the histogram will appear on the monitor with a yellow bounding box and arrows. In this state it can be moved around the screen with the Cursor Keys. To clear it off the screen press the Disp button repeatedly until you come to a display without the histogram.
    To move the histogram to a different position on the screen, go back into the menu. select Histogram Off then On again, half press the shutter button and the yellow bounding box is back up around the histogram box.
    Is it useful ? Some contributors to user forums say yes, others are indifferent. I find the histogram just clutters up the preview screen without  telling me what I want to know, which is:  will I get blown out highlights at the current exposure ?
    Guide Line  Page 66.  This feature definitely is useful. The choice is between thirds, "union jack" and single horizontal/single vertical. I have the latter set and use it all the time with both lines running through the center.  It is particularly useful for guidance on holding the camera vertical, especially with architectural subjects.  Vertical lines in the subject are lined up with the vertical guide line.
    Center Marker  I find this useful and have it On. It just seems to make composition and framing easier.
    Highlight  (a.k.a. "Blinkies") I have no idea why this feature appears in the Custom Menu as it works in Playback. Anyway, here it is. If set to On,  overexposed highlights blink black/white on the review image. If the opportunity presents, highlights blinking would indicate a reshoot with negative exposure compensation or stronger i-Dynamic setting or both.  I set Highlight On.
    Zebra Pattern   Page 193.  I first encountered this feature in still photography on the G4 and now we see it on the FZ1000. Zebras is the preview equivalent of blinkies. Both are designed to indicate  over exposed  highlights.
    Zebras is a bit more complicated than blinkies.
    Zebra 1 lines run from 8 o'clock to 2 o'clock. Zebra 2 lines run from 10 o'clock to 4 o'clock. Take your pick. I don't know why they provide two versions.  They provide the same information.
    Now you need to set the sensitivity. I have been experimenting with this over the last few weeks. I have found that a level of 100% or 105% gives a reasonable balance between information and visual clutter.  If the level is set any lower you get zebras all over the preview image.
    I was initially sceptical of zebras but now believe they are definitely useful especially for JPG capture where the possibility of highlight recovery in Photoshop is minimal.
    I live in Sydney where bright sunlight and clear skies are common leading to subjects with high brightness range. In these conditions the FZ1000 has a moderate tendency to blow out highlights with JPG capture.
    If, as is often the case, I see the preview image showing  lots of zebras, I  apply negative exposure compensation until most but not quite all the zebras have disappeared. Sometimes a few isolated over exposed highlights can be left in place.
    I have the zoom lever (around the shutter button) set up for Exposure [+/-] so I can quickly apply negative exposure compensation if required.
    I also have i-Dynamic set to Auto for every JPG exposure.  Even with this in place I quite often need to apply negative exposure compensation when subject brightness range is high.
    Monochrome Live View  This feature actually has a purpose.  With manual focus the peaking color is easier to see on a monochrome preview image. The recorded image is still in color of course.
    Constant Preview  If you apply exposure compensation in P,A or S Modes, the effect will be previewed on the live view screen (monitor or EVF), whether Constant Preview is On or Off.
    In M Mode, If  Constant Preview is Off  the  live view screen looks the same regardless of  aperture and shutter speed settings. This can be useful in studio settings where flash will be the main light source. You need to be able to see the preview clearly even when the ambient light will not be enough for adequate exposure.
    In M Mode if Constant Preview is On the live view screen shows the effect of changes in aperture and/or shutter speed.  Use this setting when natural light will be used for the exposure.
    Expo. Meter  This is a big fat analogue display relating aperture to shutter speed and indicating alternate combinations which will give the same effective exposure. It only appears on one of the Display screen options. To see Expo. Meter, set it On in the Custom Menu then press Disp until the appropriate screen comes into view. If you also have histogram set there  is hardly any space for the preview image amongst all the clutter of technical data.  I definitely set Expo. Meter  Off and would be quite happy if Panasonic removed it from the list.
    Dial Guide  Page 19.  When On a little window pops up in the lower right corner of the live view screen when the rear dial is pressed in. This indicates something about dial function and rotation. I got confused with it on so I leave it Off.
    LVF Disp Style and Monitor Disp Style  As I indicated in Part 1 of this Setup series I recommend "viewfinder" style for both LVF and Monitor, with key camera data on a black strip beneath the image preview.
    Monitor Info. Disp.  This camera has the option to display a screen which gives the current status of 19 camera indicators. If set to  [On]  the screen can be displayed by repeatedly pressing the Disp button. It is just an information screen, not a portal through which changes to settings can be made. Some people might find it useful, others might feel it just clutters up the user interface.
    Rec Area  This selects whether the live view screen will show the field of view for video or stills capture.
    Remaining Disp.  Shows number of exposures (for stills) or time (for video) remaining on the memory card.
    Auto Review   If you like to chimp every photo immediately after capture,   set Auto Review On for 1-5 seconds or Hold, in which case normal operation is regained with a half press of the shutter button.  Some photographers prefer to review their photos some other place and time so they set Auto Review Off.   
    There is one reason that  even photographers who hate Auto Review might consider switching it On/Hold.  The FZ1000 has an irritating glitch built into it's current firmware.
    If the Playback button is pressed post capture to review a shot, the lens retracts, to the photographer's great annoyance as any framing and focussing are lost. But if Auto Review/Hold is set normal capture operation can be restored with a half press of the shutter button without triggering the dreaded lens retract.  
    This could be included in a Custom Mode.
    Fn Button Set  I dealt with this in Part 2 of this series.
    Zoom Lever and Manual Ring (Zoom) were discussed in Part 1 of this series.
    Zoom Resume  This is very much a personal preference choice. Do you want the lens to zoom to the default E25mm position when the camera starts or resumes from sleep or do you want it to resume the last set focal length before switching off or going to sleep ? You decide.
    Q Menu  was discussed in Part 2 of this series.
    Video Button If  like me, you do not do video you can disable the button to prevent inadvertent activation. Unfortunately the button function cannot be reassigned. I would like the option to use the red button as another Fn button.
    Eye Sensor  I discussed this in Part 1 of this setup series.
    Menu Guide  This is a little scrolling mini explanation of each menu item as it is highlighted. I recommend newcomers to the FZ1000 leave it On at first then switch it Off when they feel more familiar with the menu system.
    Thats all folks, my 4 part FZ1000 setup guide for still photos is  finished.  More interesting stuff will come with the next post.
    Please don't ask me to do a setup guide for video, which I find arcane and mysterious, beyond my comprehension.  Bitrate ? Codec ?  AVCHD ? .................It's all too much........... 


     


     


     


     


     


     


     


     


     


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    FZ1000 held overhead, viewing on the articulated monitor
     
    Can the FZ1000 Replace
    An Interchangeable Lens Camera with three zoom lenses or a  superzoom Lens ?


    Really ?  I have been using Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILC) for many years, not because I like changing lenses, but because until recently there has been no other way to have good picture quality and a decent selection of focal lengths from wide to telephoto. In addition ILCs have tended to provide  a higher specification level than Fixed Lens Cameras (FLC).
    Actually I hate having to buy, carry and change lenses. This is the least user friendly and least ergonomic feature of any ILC.  It is also why many buyers acquire an ILC then permanently mount a travelzoom/superzoom style of lens.
    I have for many years known that if someone made  a fixed zoom lens camera with the picture quality and focal length range of an ILC with a good quality travel/super zoom lens, or a 2 or 3 zoom lens kit,  I would buy it in a microsecond.
    The FZ1000 appears on paper to be exactly that camera so I did indeed buy one  as soon as it arrived in Australia.
    For this exercise I compared the FZ1000 to a Panasonic GH4 with Lumix 14-140mm travel zoom, and also the GH4 and G6  as  kits  with consumer grade zooms and pro grade f2.8 zooms, as this equipment was available to me for testing. 
    The GH4 is the latest hybrid, multifunction supercamera from Panasonic which has been receiving well deserved rave reviews. The G6 is a very good upper entry level ILC which consistently makes excellent pictures. 
    The M43 consumer grade zooms, super zoom and pro grade zooms have all been used and tested by me over a period of several years and I have found they make excellent pictures.
    I also consider the option of a mid range DSLR with 16x superzoom lens. I did not have one of these for direct testing against the FZ1000 but I have previously tested a Nikon D5200 with Nikkor 18-200mm lens against a Panasonic G6 fitted with the Lumix 14-140mm lens. I found the G6 kit made better photos in the majority of situations, mostly because the lens was better.
    I include a Nikon 1 V2 with 10-100mm all purpose zoom lens which has been in our household for some time but is soon going to make way for a second FZ1000.
    Last I discuss some issues with full frame cameras.  I have not used one of these since the days of film so purchase of a full frame DSLR has never been a serious consideration for me. But I include some figures for  size, price and performance by way of comparison.

     

    Size, Mass, Price, Sensor size, Technical image quality


    Kit

    Width

    mm

    Height

    mm

    Depth

    mm

    Box

    Volume

    cc

    Mass

    with

    Batt

    grams

    Price

    AU$

    Retail

    DXO

    Mark

    Score

    Sensor size

    WxH,

    diagonal

    mm

    FZ1000

    f2.8-4

    137

    99

    131

    1776

    890

    1059

    ?69

    13.2x8.8

    15.9

    GH4+14-140

    f3.5-5.6

    133

    95

    144

    1819

    850

    2513

    74

    17.3x13

    21.5

    G6+14-140

    f3.5-5.6

    122

    85

    140

    1451

    640

    1463

    61

    17.3x13

    21.5

    GH4+12-35+

    35-100+

    100-300

    f2.8-5.6

     

     

     

    2513

    1750

    4965

    74

    17.3x13

    21.5

    G6+14-45+45-150

    f3.5-5.6

     

     

     

    1145

    765

    1306

    61

    17.3x13

    21.5

    D5300+18-300

    f3.5-5.6

    125

    98

    198

    2426

    1310

    2104

    83

    23.5x15.6

    28.2

    V2+10-100

    f4-5.6

    108

    82

    119

    1054

    610

    1247

    50

    13.2x8.8

    15.9

    EOS 6D +

    24-105 + 70-200

    f4

     

     

     

    2891

    2200

    4358

    82

    36x24

    43


     

    The table above  basically shows that there is no free lunch. You can have a kit based on a larger sensor providing potentially better picture quality in some situations, but the penalty is more size, mass and price.
    Or you can have a kit based on a smaller sensor which delivers somewhat lower absolute image quality (but which is good enough most of the time for most users in most situations)  with the benefit of much reduced size, mass and price.
    The size, mass and price of a  fixed zoom lens camera is substantially less than the same or similar total zoom range spread over a 2 or 3 zoom lens kit, or a superzoom lens on an ILC.


    Note about DXO Mark scores.   DXO is, as far as I am aware,  the only organisation which has attempted to put a numerical score on RAW image quality. The published scores have generated a fair bit of, shall we say, "discussion". Without joining the argument about the validity of DXO Mark scores I just note that a one EV difference  in quality (which is mostly due to digital noise, a.k.a. grain)  is represented by 15 points.
    At the time of writing the FZ1000 has not received a DXO score but published comparison reviews rate it indistinguishable from the Sony RX10 which scores 69.  That is about one Stop (or EV step) less than the Nikon D5300 (with 28mm sensor) or Canon 6D (with 43mm sensor).
    My point is this: If the FZ1000 can use a 1EV step slower shutter speed (which it can because of the excellent 5 axis OIS) or a 1 EV step wider lens aperture (which it can if you look at most of the kits in the table above) than a camera with 21.5, 28 or 43mm sensor, then the advantage of the larger sensor (in terms of digital noise anyway) disappears.
    Comparisons  I don't want to bore the reader with minutiae but a brief summary of  the FZ100 in comparison with each of the alternatives might be useful.


    Specifications and features  Many manufacturers deliberately withhold features and  restrict the specification list of their fixed lens cameras, presumably to encourage buyers to move up market to an ILC, and preferably a large sensor one, which I assume provides the maker with a higher profit margin.
    Panasonic has gone the other way with the FZ1000 which has the most extensive list of specifications and features I have ever seen on a fixed lens camera (FLC). In fact the FZ1000 is very close to the GH4 in all round capability for both still and motion pictures and surpasses it in some ways. These include such useful features as the i-Zoom, Macro Zoom and Auto Panorama which can more effectively be incorporated into a camera with only one lens.
    Picture Quality  This is a composite of technical sensor image quality, lens quality, focus speed and accuracy and other factors which impact on the final output.   I have made several thousand exposures with the FZ1000 now and have a good idea of the quality of photos coming from it.
    As indicated above the FZ1000 is only about 1 EV step behind larger sensor cameras in technical image quality.
    The lens on the FZ1000 delivers excellent sharpness across the focal length and aperture range at an aperture of f2.8-4. The focal length is equivalent to 25-400mm.  The only  kit  in the table above which can beat this on the numbers this is the GH4 with two pro style f2.8 lenses and a long lens.  Surprisingly, on my tests the FZ1000 is much closer in outright picture quality to the pro level GH4 kit than I first imagined would be possible. Now look at the price, size and mass of that pro kit.
    Look for instance at the Nikon D5300+18-300mm lens. The FZ1000 has a 1EV lens aperture advantage across most of the focal length range immediately negating the technical sensor advantage of the very much larger and more expensive Nikon kit.
    Consider even the full frame Canon EOS 6D. If you are doing documentary, landscape, architecture or similar and want the same depth of field (DOF), any lens on the 6D has to be closed down three stops more than the FZ1000. So if adequate DOF for the subject is achieved with f4 on the FZ1000 the 6D will require f11.  Assume the angle of view is the same and the camera is hand held, then the 6D will require an ISO setting 3 EV steps higher to prevent camera shake. This immediately negates and probably reverses any noise (grain) advantage given by the larger sensor.
    Performance Only last year you could be reasonably sure that almost any upper entry to mid range ILC would easily outperform any FLC. All that has changed with the FZ1000. Panasonic appears to have invested the FZ1000 with everything they know about camera performance. The result is fast startup, fast single shot or continuous AF, excellent MF, fast shot to shot times, fast response to all user inputs of all kinds, supremely consistent and accurate AF and  highly competent follow focus on sport/action subjects.
    I have been using the FZ1000 alongside a GH4 with 12-35mm and 35-100mm f2.8 lenses. This GH4 kit is the fastest operating camera gear I have ever handled and the FZ1000 keeps up with it all the way, in bright light outdoors or low light indoors. The FZ1000 can autofocus accurately in light levels so dark I can hardly see anything.
    Ergonomics
    Holding  The FZ1000 is of substantial size which is required to accommodate the fast superzoom lens. The size permits inclusion of  a substantial and well designed handle, substantial thumb support and very well designed control modules.  The camera can be held comfortably and securely in landscape or portrait orientation with the fingers correctly placed for operation.


    Viewing  Viewing   arrangements on the FZ1000 are up with the best I have ever experienced on any camera. The EVF is of excellent quality providing a clear, natural looking view of the world ahead of the camera. It is so good that I forget that I am viewing through an electronic device. Key camera data is always presented clearly and is easy to read in all conditions.
    The fully articulated monitor is also of excellent quality. The user can segue seamlessly from EVF to monitor and see the same information presented in the same way.
    Of the cameras in my table above only the  GH4 can match the FZ1000 for viewing capability.
    Operating  There is not space in this post to delve into the differences in operating characteristics between MILCs, DSLRs and FLCs. Suffice to say that none of the alternatives to the FZ1000 offers a more user friendly or efficient operating experience in the Setup, Prepare, Capture or Review phases of use.
    Summary  The camera industry has been in turmoil recently with falling sales across all categories. Some manufacturers have tried to stimulate consumer interest with an appeal to past days of camera glory with various retro style design themes. Call these a blast from the past, if you will.  In my view, this is going absolutely nowhere.
    The FZ1000 is a blast from the future. Panasonic  has taken the lead from  Sony's  RX10 and improved it in almost every way.
    Behold the future of cameras for the enthusiast/expert user.
    FZ1000 Weaknesses   No fixed lens camera can do absolutely everything although the FZ1000 comes closer than anything else I have ever encountered.
    There are some things the FZ100 cannot do, or at least not directly. Here are a few:
    Ultrawide angle of view  is one.  The workaround for this is either auto panorama in camera which is surprisingly effective or multiple overlapping shots imported into Photoshop or other image editor for panorama stitching.
    Indoor sport/action  I am still working on this one. In this situation one usually needs a fast lens, no slower than f2.8 and very good high ISO capability, in the 6400+ range. The FZ1000 is not quite there. I will experiment and report in due course.
    Ultra telephoto lens  The lens goes optically to E400mm which is not super long. But i-Zoom stretches that to E800mm and still at f4,  with quite decent quality, certainly good enough for birds.


    Conclusion  In my view yes, the FZ1000 can replace any and all of the kits listed in the table above and will soon do so.  


     


     


     


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    Not the easiest shot. There is considerable brightness range between inside and outside. Shutter speed 1/125, f2.8, ISO 800. Picture size 6964 x 2508 pixels. Most of the stitching is clean but an area around the orange cushion on the left looks a bit soft. Blown out highlights are more of a problem than underexposed shadows. I locked exposure on one of the window areas.
     
    The FZ1000  is one of the most versatile cameras you can buy. One of it's capabilities is making good quality panoramas in camera. I offer some suggestions for best results.
    Panorama Mode is accessed via the {Scn} Mode on the main mode dial.  It is the #25 and last item listed, after  such gems as "Cute Dessert", "Appetising Food" and "Romantic Sunset Glow".
    Setting up
    1. Go to the Setup Menu, Page 3 and set Menu Resume ON.
    2. Turn the Mode Dial to {Scn}
    3.  Press Menu/Set to enter the menus. See  a SCN submenu appear above the Rec Menu icon. Click on the [Scene Switch] tab and scroll to #25, Panorama.  If your camera is showing #1: Clear Portrait,  scroll backwards to #25 directly.
    The next time you select {Scn} on the Mode Dial, Panorama will display.
    4. Select JPG/Fine Image Quality, from whichever portal you have decided will access  Quality, be it the Rec menu, Q Menu or a Fn button.
    5. With the Mode Dial at {Scn} enter the Rec Menu and scroll to [Panorama Settings], Page 4/7.  Press Menu/Set and see two submenus, [Direction] and [Filter Select]. Select direction. See four options.
    At this point there is a disconnect between the Owners Manual, the icons on the menu screen and the camera's actual behaviour. 
    My suggestion is to select the bottom of the four  options under [Direction]. Ignore the arrows.
    This will allow you to hold the camera in portrait orientation and swing horizontally from left to right. This provides greater picture  height than holding the camera in landscape orientation often allowing a pleasing result particularly with architectural subjects.
    Or you can select the top option under [Direction].  This gives less picture height but potentially more width and opens up the possibility of dramatic double perspectives.
    I have thus far not tried any of the filters, which include "Expressive", "Retro", "Old Days"  etc............There are lots of them.
    6. Allocate the electronic level gauge to a Fn button or press the Disp button until it appears. You want to see this gauge to level the camera at commencement of the panorama sweep even though it disappears off the screen during the sweep.
    7. Manual Focus with peaking  is compatible with Panorama but Manual Exposure is not.
    How it works  The lens is set automatically to the wide end, focal length E25mm. Zoom is not available.
    Look at the whole scene which will  be captured and decide which part thereof  you think is likely to provide the best exposure metering and autofocus (or manual focus). Half press and hold  the shutter button with the camera pointed at this part of the scene to lock exposure metering and focus.
    Swing the camera to the start point of the sweep and when the camera is level, press the shutter button once, no need to hold it down.


    Steadily and smoothly swing left to right while the camera fires off many exposures in quick succession. A little display on the live view screen shows (correctly) which way to swing the camera and indicates progress of the capture sequence.
    The camera magically merges all the individual exposures into one big panorama which  you can review immediately on the live view screen.
    Supporting the camera
    Ideally you want the camera to be at a height  half way between the top and bottom of the anticipated final picture and you want to hold the camera so the sensor is vertical throughout the sweep.   The stitching software is pretty clever though and will tolerate the camera being pointed up or down during the sweep.  This however can introduce some curious perspective distortions with architectural subjects.
    Hand Held  This can be at eye level viewing through the  EVF or waist level, which can work well indoors. In this case I recommend swinging out the monitor 90 degrees and viewing by looking directly down.  Set the LVF/Monitor switch to Monitor so the eye sensor doesn't black out the monitor as you hold the camera in close to your body.
    Swing by pivoting your whole body around.
    Tripod  Set up the tripod so the center column is vertical. This will prevent yaw as you swing the camera around.
    Best exposure and focus  The best way to focus is manually. Otherwise you get 49 Area which may or may not focus where you want.
    For exposure you need to experiment. The FZ1000 has a moderate tendency to clip highlights with JPG capture. So you need to select the optimum part of the scene to lock in exposure at the beginning.  Exposure Compensation is available and may be useful. You can also set the AF/AE-L button to AE Lock or AF+AE Lock but the Lock Hold tab is greyed out in {Scn} Mode.


    Practice  The first 20 or so times I tried Panorama, things did not work out so well. There is definitely an acquired skill to holding the camera optimally, getting the optimum exposure, swinging around smoothly at the optimum speed and selecting good subjects for the pano treatment.
    Post Capture Editing  I have found that even with my best efforts panos often need a bit of help in my image editor. I first use Photoshop Camera RAW (which can edit JPGs) to adjust highlight and shadow tone and often adjust color balance. Sometimes perspective corrections can be made here too.
    But not uncommonly with hand held capture and architectural subjects there is variable departure of verticals from true,  across the width of the frame.
    To fix these I use Photoshop > Edit > Transform > Warp. This allows me to push and pull sections of the image to get verticals lined up everywhere.
    Summary  Making panoramas is fun, gives a different perspective on many subjects and is one way to overcome the lack of an ultra wide angle zoom setting on the FZ1000.


     


     


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    GH4 with 100-300mm

    FZ1000

    Both these photos are heavily cropped from the original frame. The bird is a bit larger in the FZ1000 version as that camera was using E800mm while the GH4+100-300 was using E600mm and the FZ1000 sensor has more pixels.  The photographers were standing close together and the birds were about the same distance from the camera in each case.

     

    FZ1000 + i-Zoom vs GH4 + 100-300mm lens


    I recently testedThe FZ1000 at the long end of it's zoom compared with  a Lumix 100-300mm lens mounted to a Panasonic GH4 body.  For this  I used a test chart consisting of repeating pages of fine print.  I had each camera on a tripod and used  timer delay to release the shutter.
    I found the two rigs to produce very similar and by the way really excellent results in the focal length range E100 - E300 mm.
    But at E400mm which is the maximum optical zoom for the FZ1000, the 100-300mm lens on GH4 drew slightly ahead, with a bit more  microcontrast across the frame and slightly crisper corners.
    At E600mm the 100-300mm lens was at the end of it's optical zoom range and the FZ1000 was well into i-Zoom range. Here the 100-300mm lens was clearly superior across the frame with better resolution of fine details.
    A family memberis very keen to photograph birds in their natural habitat.
    Following my initial testing I thought that the GH4+100-300mm kit would be the obvious choice for this duty.
    However birds are not test charts and  the circumstances of wild  bird photography are very different from those which prevail for  test photos.
    So we went to a place where birds are common. I had the FZ1000 with i-Zoom enabled. She had the GH4 with 100-300mm lens mounted. We would be using both cameras hand held in the open with no hide. We would concentrate on the little birds as they are the most difficult to photograph.  We swapped cameras from time to time.


    The user experience  The GH4 with 100-300mm lens is really quite small and light compared to full frame kits but the FZ1000 is even lighter. This made the FZ1000 easier to hold and operate. The person with the smaller camera got the bird in frame more easily than the person with the larger kit.
    The GH4 is generally a super fast focussing camera but the 100-300mm lens has been on the market for a few years and is starting to show it's age in the technological sense. The lens is a bit slower to focus than the FZ1000 and that made getting the shot more difficult.
    Again, birds are not test charts. The requirement for birds is not so much for vast amounts of fine detail but for good contrast at a somewhat coarser level, together with fast, accurate focus and fast operation.
    The FZ1000 was operating at f4, the GH4/100-300 at f5.6. This allowed for potentially higher shutter speeds on the FZ1000, if required.





    Results  I just show two examples here to illustrate that the photos show very little difference between the two cameras. This was a bit surprising to me given the superiority of the GH4/100-300mm on the test chart. Neither  photo is one I would want to frame and mount on the wall. But they are decent enough at small print size and show that the FZ1000 can deliver quite  acceptable results at the limit of it's i-Zoom range which is a focal length of E800mm.


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  • 08/27/14--20:39: FZ1000 JPG i-Dynamic vs RAW

  • RAW

    JPG, I-Dynamic Off

    JPG, I-Dynamic On
     
    Although the FZ1000is an excellent RAW shooters camera there are many people who prefer to shoot JPG for convenience and there are subjects, such as sport/action when JPG capture is desirable and  functions such as  i-Zoom or Macro-Zoom when JPG is required.


    I have discovered  that the FZ1000 has a moderate tendency to blow out very bright highlights especially when subject brightness range is high.


    Many cameras have a function which seeeks to improve both highlight and shadow detail in one shot JPG capture. In the FZ1000 this is called i-Dynamic which is accessible in the Rec Menu, Page 3/7. This works by slightly underexposing the picture to reduce the risk of highlight clipping then applying a tone curve correction to lift brightness in the shadows and mid tones.


    The photos  I photographed this scene with high brightness range using RAW, JPG with i-Dynamic Off and JPG with i-Dynamic On. The aperture and ISO were set, the camera adjusted shutter speed.
    The RAW file was converted and adjusted in Photoshop Camera Raw by moving the highlight slider to the left and the shadow slider to the right, then saving as a JPG.
    The other two files are as they came from the camera.
    You can easily see that RAW capture and post processing is the most effective way to manage high subject brightness range. It is also clear that the JPG with i-Dynamic On (Auto) has better highlight and shadow detail than the one with I-Dynamic Off.
    I also tested i-Dynamic Low, Standard and High. I found that Auto gave the same result as High with the test scene.
    I live in Sydney where I very often encounter subjects with high brightness range so I have i-Dynamic permanently set to Auto  so it comes into operation anytime I am using JPG capture.  It does not work with RAW capture.
    I have thus far not discovered any adverse effects from this. In  particular Burst mode M with AFC appears to function just as well with i-Dynamic on or off.


    Zebras  These diagonal black and white moving stripes have been used  on video cameras for several years to indicate areas of the frame which will be exposed above a certain level. The feature is now available on some still/video hybrid cameras including the FZ1000. I find that a setting of 100%-105%  works well for many types of still photo. If there are substantial areas showing zebras you can apply negative exposure compensation to protect the highlights. 
    Getting best results with  this is still a work in progress for me but I am finding that lowering exposure until all the zebras have gone is probably a step too far, depending on how important every single highlight detail is to the photo.


    Recommendations for JPG shooters: 


    1. Probably always use i-Dynamic (unless someone finds a circumstance in which that setting would  interfere with some other camera function).


    2. Switch Zebras On and use them to prevent highlight overexposure (clipping).


     


     


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