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I might just throw my camera from a bridge

Discussion in 'Panasonic Chat' started by PeterG23, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. PeterG23

    PeterG23 New Member

    Anyone familiar with the autofocus features of the Lumix FZ-40? If so, you can save my camera's life.

    Admission: buying a nifty camera in anticipation of visiting the UK without getting used to using the device -- makes me an idiot. I fully recognize that now.

    Beautiful Scottish landscapes appear slightly unfocused and a bit washed out. It's precisely the kind of hazy image-cheap camera effect that I thought I'd avoid.

    Preliminary online reading suggests that single focus vs. continuous focus or manual focus might be possible solutions. However, the thin manual that came with the camera is useless. Can someone offer some guidance as to (a) how to even approach these techniques (i.e. how do I do it, which buttons/menus), or (b) other solutions?

    Maybe this is a great camera that I don't deserve, but I'm still considering dropping a big rock on it.

    Any help is appreciated.
  2. Chris Cool

    Chris Cool Retired

    On my Panasonic TZ 7. I always use the Scene mode setting for landscapes and make sure it does not try to focus on near objects. Shame Panasonic does not have an Infinity setting.
  3. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Do not have a FZ40 but it's a highly spec'd camera so:
    1. Exposure: use A for landscapes and dial in -(minus) on the exposure compensation by 1/3 increments until histogram is moved away from r/h side of scale, and,
    2. Focus: most compacts except the cheapest (and AF s/dSLRs for that matter) lock focus (and usually exposure readings also) with half pressure on the shutter release, so all you need to do is to set your focus point on something two-thirds of the way into the scene you are photographing a) half press shutter release, b) recompose pic, and c) press shutter release fully.

    However, on that latter point, I believe some EVF cameras may freeze the viewfinder image with half pressure on the shutter release. That means you need to resort to the rear screen to re-compose or find the appropriate over-ride in the appropriate menu segment. If you are touring without a full handbook or computer (how did you access the Forum & post the help request?) that may be tricky. Try a visit to a local Library in a town and access the handbook online.

    That should achieve acceptable sharpness IF:
    (i) You have set a sufficiently small aperture to provide the depth of field you need to cover the landscape of your choice at the lens focal length setting you have made.
    (ii) You are not using the zoom lens instead of your feet. With these massive zoom cameras it is easy to forget that even in strong sunlight, at f8 or f11, with a lens setting of, say {35mm equivalent} 380mm, only a small area either side of the point of focus will appear sharp and will create an overall sense of softness in your pictures.
    (iii) If the light is low and you are using long lens settings, and ISO 100, say, for maximum picture quality, beware camera shake (despite the maker's claims of improvide optical image stabilisation); watch the shutter speed indicator as well as the histogram.

    (Am very tempted to post that you would not have been having this trouble in the days of film. :rolleyes::) But I won't. So there!)
  4. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Just a further bit of info on the FZ40 and depth of field/apparent picture sharpness:

    I was on the point of closing the window on dpReview's info on the camera when I noticed, during a quick scroll, the aperture ranges of the lens.

    At the widey-dangle setting it appears to be f2.8 to f8 (no problem for d.o.f. - at 25mm to 28mm-ish {35mm equiv} f8 should get you enough most of the time) but at 100mm-ish it is f4.5 and it goes to f5.6 sometime after. Here's where your problem may lie: according to 'dp' the minimum aperture is f8. Come what may - it's f8. Whatever the focal length.

    This brings together the possibility of:
    1. Over-exposure (washed out pics) if you have a very high ISO (1600+) setting in good light and the camera cannot set a short enough shutter speed, (ie. it runs out of speeds at the short end 1/2000s>1/4000s>1/8000s), for correct exposure,
    2. Lack of d.o.f. {for what you want to appear sharp in the pic} as previously mentioned,
    3. Insufficient d.o.f. on long tele settings (as prev. ment.) because lens cannot be stopped down past f8, and,
    4. Not much scope for the lens to reach a highest optimum performance as it is stopped down - ie. it only improves by 1 f-stop at (probably) around the 200mm {35mm equiv} mark. Mind you it's a Leitz designed lens - it ought to be good and it ought to be good wide open - ignoring the depth of field thing for a moment. Leica always made lenses that could be used wide-open. {Well, nearly always ... :rolleyes:}
  5. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin


    1. There's no excuse for using ISO 1600 in strong light. There are good reasons - with any camera - for keeping the ISO setting as low as practical, to improve image quality.

    2. The DoF on a four thirds optic set to f/8 is about the same as on a full frame optic with the same field of view but set to f/16. More than enough for most of us, most of the time.

    3. With modern high denisty sensors (especially in smaller formats) you will be getting diffraction softening setting in by f/8 anyway. I have lots of experience with this and I know that, although you can get more information by extending the image scale to a certain point, over about f/15 (with 4.65 micron pixel pitch) the gains become very small and the artifacts which the necessary sharpening will likely add get to be an increasingly difficult issue. Restricting the minimum aperture of a lens intended for the consumer market to a point where diffraction softening isn't too much of an issue makes a lot of sense.

    A lens which apparently will not take sharp images may be defective (off centred elements, as a result of manufacturing fault or accidental knock), or it may not be focused correctly (autofocus mechanisms do not always lock onto what you want them to and aren't always accurate enough anyway). Try manual focus using live view, see if you can get sharp images that way. Subject or camera movement / vibration can also be an issue which can make images (or parts of them) appear unsharp.

    Finally, because of the anti-alias filter, images made on almost all digital cameras require some sharpening. Especially if raw images are processed in Photoshop or similar .... in-camera sharpening of jpegs does sort of work but can be very crude at times, especially when overdone.

    Unless the camera and/or is defective, I'd be surprised if replacing it would make a significant difference. There are differences between models but, generally speaking, they're all pretty good these days.

    Edit: the FZ40 seems to be 14.1 megapixels in a 1/2.33" format ... not four thirds as I'd sort of assumed ... so the pixel pitch is a lot smaller than my 4.65 micron reference, and it's going to be into severe diffraction issues even at f/8. And the depth of field should be enormous, irrespective of the aperture setting.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  6. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Possible OP has done that - am merely covering the bases! ;) Actually, with some digi-cams it's very easy to leave settings from previous session locked in camera and end up shooting JPEG only when you want RAW or 1600 ISO when you want 100, that sort of thing. Have done it myself. :eek:

    Did I not state that in my post? But that would not apply if OP had done the thing I have seen lots and lots and LOTS of 'photographers' do - rely on a long tele-zoom when they should be using feet to get into the right position. Format doesn't matter a jot - if you try to use insufficient aperture for the d.o.f. you require, then apparent sharpness will only extend so far and no further.

    Agreed. We are back to our old friend Arey ;) and other optical restrictions. But generally, with smaller modern lenses and sensor improvements plus Leica's lens knowledge, f11 or f16 ought to be achievable although - I can hear it now in English with a strong German accent - "We would need at least a two stop decrease of aperture to ensure an optimal sharpening to our standard for maximum quality but it would require higher specification requirements and manufacturing standards that would not be cost effective in a consumer model."

    Speaking of 4/3 sensors, it could be Olympus legendary close-up capability or merely the fact I haven't had any A3 or A2 prints made from the files, (possibly also the lighting for the test - controlled studio) but my tests so far indicate that my 14-54 Mk1, a 14-42 and a 35 macro do not degrade substantially at smaller apertures. And I have been down to f23.

    BTW, back in the days of film, there were compacts on the market that had MAXIMUM apertures of f14 and f16 at the long tele-end! :rolleyes:

    Aye and there's the rub! It's not unkown for cameras to be defective out of the box. I could tell tales of Canon 7Ds and have told tales of 50mm f1.8 Zuikos on here already.

    I just wanted to get some basic info to the OP to help with the predicament as set by him. Hopefully we will get some news as to whether we have solved it. If not "More diagnosis will be required, Watson." :) I also haven't mentioned/asked whether the OP was judging 'washed-out' via the screen - hence my mention of using A mode and exp. override with the histogram.
  7. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    Presuming that the camera has no technical fault.

    I give you the bad news. :(

    It is not the camera's problem. :p


    You can see if you browse the pages that the camera can produce very good results.

    Time to take control. Try using A mode for a start. Make sure the ISO is at the bottom setting (80).

    You can have the f stop set to say f8. Should still give a a reason shutter speed on average day.

    Get the AF to lock (half press shutter button) onto detail in the distance say where the sky meets the land.

    Then recompose and press shutter all the way careful down avoid camera shake.

    Maybe do some research on the technical side of photography understanding f stop, shutter speed & ISO relationship. Then you might feel more confident in telling the camera what to do.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  8. PeterG23

    PeterG23 New Member

    Thank you so much for responding. pointing at the horizon makes sense now that you mention it, I'll give it a whirl.
    The link: confirms my suspicion. the reviews were too good to suggest that the camera had gone rogue and was rebelling against me. The shots on flickr though -- some are truly humbling.
    Efforts lay ahead....
    Thank you.
  9. Chris Cool

    Chris Cool Retired

    Vivid setting

    I forget to add that I use the Vivid setting when shooting landscapes - you can always tone them down a bit afterwards ;)

    And lets see some images now you know how its done lol (just read the How to Post Images & Links in the the Appraisal gallery first).


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