Tips on getting the best out of your LUMIX
The advances in modern-day digital photography can make it difficult to know whether you're getting the most from your camera. While the functionality of most cameras is typically the same, there's a great deal of variety in how these functions work and how they can be manipulated and changed. In this article, we're going to unearth a few tips, tricks and techniques that you may not have known existed on your camera, to get you using it to its full potential.
Get Out of Auto
The first and probably most important thing on the road to professional photography is to stop letting the camera do all the work. The minute you leave the 'Auto' mode behind, the quicker you'll begin to learn the relationship between your shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Once this starts to stick, you can begin understanding where and when it’s appropriate to change them, and to what.
Outside of Auto, there are a range of modes that can help you work with your camera to get the best results. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes give you the flexibility of changing your A or S, while the light meter in the camera works to link your choice with appropriate shutter speed or aperture, respectively. The full Manual mode is always available to explore longer shutters or night-sky imagery should you need to. We'll discuss this in further detail shortly.
You won't be alone if this is something you haven't heard of and certainly not alone if you haven't used it before. Metering is simply the controlling of how your light meter reads your frame. There are three types of metering that can be played around with and every camera has the ability to change the metering, so that your subject matter and the frame generally, is exposed to more exacting standards.
Evaluative or Matrix metering is the go-to metering mode and the one that most cameras will shoot on unless otherwise stated. Here, the frame will be read and assessed on the exposure levels throughout your entire scene, and your light meter will expose accordingly. Spot metering applies only to the areas of your frame that you throw your focus, exposing just this area – particularly useful in difficult or contrasting light conditions. Then there's centre weighted metering, which balances elements of both other modes. Your focus point and several points around will be taken into consideration when exposing. This is particularly useful if you're shooting in areas where you have strong gradients in tone such as tunnels or through windows.
Bracketing is another very handy tool that you'll find in your LUMIX. The AEB or Auto Exposure Bracketing tool will provide you with 3 images of differing exposure, based on the exposure stops you set. You fire three shots of the same scene and the camera will apply an underexposure stop and an overexposure stop to each, leaving your even exposure in the centre. Bracketing is incredibly handy for those scenes where your light is everywhere. Sunlight, shadows, nature, cityscapes or if you're intending on doing a little HDR merging in your editing software later.
Long exposure images are one of the many processes in which your LUMIX excels. Once you open the doors to this wonderful way of shooting, it will be very hard to close them again. Shooting mainly in Manual mode and setting up nice and steady on a tripod, you're able to open the shutter exposing your sensor for long periods of time in darker conditions, to create all kinds of stunning results. Whether it's the 'smoky waterfall' effect, star or car trails or that classic Milky Way image, the flexibility is outstanding and is one of the sole reasons that digital and even film photography still excels over the likes of smartphone cameras.
When it comes to getting the most out of any camera, shooting RAW is probably the first thing that any photographer will tell you is a true 'must'. Your LUMIX is compact, light and no matter what the model, harbours the ability to shoot incredibly detailed imagery. This is all down to the sensor that sits inside. In order to use this sensor to its full potential, it's imperative you shoot RAW. Your image files will be larger, but this increases your scope when it comes to editing later on.
Multiple exposures are very simple. You just have to know how to go about finding the ability to shoot them. Usually, they are hidden somewhere within your camera's shooting menu. This is true of the LUMIX G range.
A multiple exposure is simply a group of images which are layered over the top of one another. These are wonderful ways of exploring more creative outputs for your imagery. A sunset mixed with a portrait or a forest scene doubled up with a busy street photography scene. It could be a dancer whom you'd like to capture several times within the same frame. Whatever your intentions, multiple exposures are really interesting and tend to produce great results, even if you're just experimenting.
Leave the 'In – Camera' flash behind.
You've probably been victim to the unwanted flash going off, or popping up when your autofocus locks on to a subject. Turn it off. It does nothing but create glare and causes very stark imagery. Within your menu settings or often usually as a button in itself on your camera there will be an option to disable the in-camera flash and once you learn the relationship between your ISO, aperture and shutter, you should never need to use this again. With ISO's as high as 25000, you can be shooting in a range of darker lit scenes and conditions and not have to fire a single flash. Yes, you may have to put up with a little noise, but you'll find the atmosphere and mood in your images far surpasses those where a pop-up flash has caused red-eye or bounced crassly from everything with a reflective surface.
Explore the Alternate Features
Every camera works the same way at a basic level, but there are always different additional features that are forever being added and advanced in digital photography. Take the time to work out what your kit has that the competitors don't and get to grips with it. It may be a built-in HDR tool or panorama function. It might be that you have the advantage of a movable touch screen live viewer and can position yourself at otherwise tricky angles, without need for a viewfinder or shutter button. When you get accustomed to the advantages of your kit, you can start to build your own brand of photography. You'll find that the rotating live screen is a big feature in most of the newer LUMIX range, particularly the DMC range. If we take the DC-FT7 as another example, here you have the advantage of a fully waterproof camera up to 31m, giving you an instant gateway into taking extraordinary images from below the waves.
So there you have it! You may think you're using your LUMIX to its full potential, but with any luck this article will have shed a little more light on what your kit is capable of.