Build complex toys and simple tools
by Tony Karp
Dealing with the modes and settings of the DMC-FZ18
 - An older flower addressing a group of young flowers - Panasonic DMC-FZ18 - Tony Karp, design, art, photography, techno-impressionist, techno-impressionism, aerial photography , drone , drones , dji , mavic pro , video , 3D printing - Books -
An older flower addressing a group of young flowers - Panasonic DMC-FZ18
The fact that this post has been such a long time coming is as much a tribute to my inertia as it is to the complexity and richness of the features and settings on the Panasonic DMC-FZ18. Although the settings here are for a specific camera -- the DMC-FZ18 -- most cameras of this type have similar settings.

Before starting, I want to say something in favor of evolution, the evolution of technology in particular. For the first 150 or so years, photographers used film or glass plates. But in a very short timeframe, the digital camera has replaced the film camera. The film has been replaced by a digital sensor working together with a computer in the camera.

The digital camera is a relatively new thing, and it is still evolving. With each new generation the computers in the cameras get faster and smarter. The automation on early digital cameras wasn't particularly good. I've used cameras that suddenly decided to shoot everything at the same aperture, another had a "Sports Mode" with a maximum shutter speed of 1/60 sec., and still another decided to use a high ISO setting when it wasn't necessary, yielding needlessly noisy pictures.

Engineers and designers are constantly thinking up new facilities and new features that add to a camera's capabilities while improving image quality and making the cameras easier to use. As they get more sophisticated, I start asking questions like, "I can set the camera on automatic or manual -- who will make better decisions, the camera or me?" or "I can choose raw or JPEG -- which will give better results with this particular camera?"

For me, the FZ18 has changed the answers to these questions. I've started using some of the automated features, such as the automatic ISO selection because testing showed that it picked the better ISO for a particular situation more often than I did. In addition, Panasonic has thrown a monkey wrench into the raw-vs-JPEG debate by automatically correcting lens faults like barrel distortion and color fringing in the FZ18's JPEG processing. (Raw shooters are left to fix these problems on their own.)

On top of the camera: I use the "P" setting on the mode dial, which lets you have a good amount of automation, but allows tweaks in the camera settings to make things a little bit better.

On the back of the camera - There are two buttons for accessing the camera's menus -- the traditional "Menu-Set" button that accesses the main menus, and a silver-colored (unlabeled) joystick that can be pressed straight in to give quick access to functions you might want to change while shooting.

Let's start by pressing the "Menu-Set" button to bring up the main menu structure. Here, I'll only cover settings that aren't on the quick-access menu, and If I skip a particular setting, it means I left it at its default value. There are two sections to the main menu - REC and SETUP, shown with a camera symbol and a wrench symbol respectively.

On the REC menu:

INTELLIGENT ISO: ISOMAX 400   While setting the ISO in the usual way yields only a few set values, ISOMAX will choose intermediate ISOs like 135 and 160. And it chooses a better ISO than me, most of the time.

AF ASSIST LAMP: OFF   This thing doesn't do much except annoy people and alert them that you're taking their picture.

AF/AE LOCK: AE   You can set whether the AF/AE LOCK button on the back of the camera will lock the exposure, the focus or both. You might want to choose AF if you're shooting sports or something similar where locking the focus will cut the delay. I'm using AE to lock the exposure, in combination with the spot metering. (More on this later.) You also want lock the exposure when shooting panoramas.

COL. EFFECT: OFF   This is my normal setting, but you can use this to set things like B/W (black and white), SEPIA, etc. The B/W setting is helpful when you want to shoot black and white - you can preview the scene in a way that photographers like Edward Weston and Ansel Adams could only dream of.

PICT.ADJ. The four settings below let you maximize the image quality when shooting JPEG.

* CONTRAST: -1   This will flatten out the tonal range and help with contrasty scenes. You can always pump up the contrast when adjusting things in the computer, but the reverse is not possible.

* SHARPNESS: 0   No in-camera sharpening is done. You can always add a little sharpness in the computer.

* Saturation: 0   This seems to be the best setting as higher settings seemed to add a little noise.

* NOISE REDUCTION: -2   This setting turns off the noise reduction, giving you a result very close to raw. You get the maximum sharpness and you can always use one of the popular noise reduction programs on the computer to get the best blend of sharpness and noise reduction.

CLOCK SET - I check this from time to time as the camera's internal clock seems to drift a little. Also, don't forget to change this when switching between Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time.

On the SETUP menu

On the GUIDE LINE menu, there are three items that determine the information displayed in the camera's viewfinder when the guide line pattern is displayed.

* REC. INFO: ON   Show camera information

* HISTOGRAM: OFF   I'll probably get some flack about this, but I'm not a histogram person. I find it distracting and I can tell a lot more about what's happening just by watching the viewfinder.

* PATTERN :   I chose the rectangular (upper) pattern as I have trouble holding the camera straight and this helps a lot.

AUTO REVIEW: ON   This is the best thing ever. You get a quick flash of the picture, right after you take it. You can spot a lot of things like someone blinking or caught with a strange expression. DSLR folks, eat your hearts out.

ZOOM RESUME: OFF   Although well intentioned, this can only cause trouble. Imagine turning the camera off while the lens is set at telephoto and then turning it back on after putting on the lens cap.

VOLUME: 0   This seems to turn off all of the annoying noises that the camera makes.

In the next part of this series, I'll cover the settings that you reach with the FZ18's joystick. And if I've left out your favorite setting, send me an email and I'll try to make things right.

< Previous Aug 8, 2008 Next >
Copyright 1958-2017 Tony & Marilyn Karp
Web Site Design
Systems Design
The Future
About
About Tony Karp
Recent Entries
The Emperor's new watch -- in the beginning
Variations on a skink
Andy shoots raw. Ann always shoots JPEG
A butterfly in Havana -- From start to finish
Recovering highlight detail in JPEG images
A tribute to Paris on November 14, 2015
Some black and white pictures from long ago
Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 2
Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 1
Art in the 3rd Dimension -- A butterfly takes wing
Shooting for NBC
What's new at the zoo?
On being a photojournalist
Some pictures of Manassas
Finishing a picture
Watching the sunset in Adams Morgan
A night at the circus - 1966
Fortune Qwerkies (tm) -- Fortune cookies for the smartphone user
Art in the 3rd Dimension -- The evolution from flat to solid
Art in the 3rd Dimension -- Showing how the pieces fit together
Getting a grip on the Panasonic DMC-LF1
Some random thoughts about the Panasonic DMC-LF1
The Panasonic DMC-LF1 is a game-changer
Art and the Zen of QR Codes -- Making QaRt
A new process for printing art in the 3rd dimension
Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles!
Photographing the Perry Como Show
Hiking at Sky Meadows with my Panasonic DMC-ZS20
Working for the union
A new take on JPEG vs raw - Panasonic DMC-ZS20
Some pictures from my Panasonic DMC-ZS20 - Part 2
Some pictures from my Panasonic DMC-ZS20 - Part 1
My new go-everywhere camera - Panasonic DMC-ZS20
My brief life in the studio
Shooting Shakespeare - The Tempest - NBC, 1960
Impressionist bees
In the studio with Roz Kelly
At the Peppermint Lounge - 1962
An evening with Gene Kelly
A portrait of Donna Mitchell - Variations on a theme
The "Sky Dream Ultimate" plug-in from Wilkington-Smythe
There's a 3D object on this page and why you can't see it
Post-processing: Going from good to great
Winter pictures from my Panasonic DMC-FZ150
Using the Panasonic DMC-FZ150's "Photo Style" Menu
A valentine for the Artist's Muse
The Panasonic DMC-FZ150's controls
Some thoughts on the Panasonic DMC-FZ150 - Part 2
The Panasonic DMC-FZ150 - A cure for DSLR envy?
Some thoughts about my Panasonic DMC-FZ150 - Part 1
The Panasonic DMC-FZ150 -- Best camera ever?
Sunglasses - What can you add to a picture?
Hey, camera makers. If my smartphone can do this…
The Artmuse Variations - a look inside my new book
A tribute to George Washington on Veterans Day
A visit to the White House
The little farmhouse, the tractor, and the interesting tree
Buckminster, the baby buckeye butterfly
Memories of September 11
Happy Corporation Day!
A trip to Monterey and San Francisco
The first battle of the American Civil War -- 150 years ago
The end of an era -- The last American manned mission
Growing an Italian stone pine tree
Random thoughts on art and other stuff - From my new book
Playing with a classic - Sony DSC-R1 - Part 3, Warrenton
Playing with a classic - Sony DSC-R1 - Part 2, In the house
Playing with a classic - Sony DSC-R1 - Part 1, Winter
Some recent pictures
Fixing a Panasonic DMC-FZ18/FZ28/FZ35 problem
Into the world of shadows
Snowbound!
A walk through Warrenton
Partly moony with my Panasonic DMC-FZ35
My new Panasonic DMC-FZ35 - Part 3 - Video
Some pictures from my Panasonic DMC-FZ35 - Part 2
Happy birthday to muse...
Pixels and parking lots -- The Panasonic FZ35
Some pictures from my Panasonic DMC-FZ35
My new Panasonic DMC-FZ35 - Part 2
My new Panasonic DMC-FZ35 - Part 1
On our way to Warrenton
Evolution of an Iris
A new feature in Adobe Camera Raw 5.4
A tribute to the Apollo 11 astronauts
The pole dancer - Variations on a theme
Restoring lost highlight detail in JPEG images
A short course in photography in ten easy lessons
Kodachrome memories
A walk in the woods on my birthday
Mythbusters - More raw vs JPEG myths
Restoring lost shadow detail in JPEG images
Action!!
Expose for the highlights, develop for the shadows
Something new -- Interchangeable cameras
Honey, I shrunk the newspaper - The "Nano" NY Times
Mistaking evolution for revolution
Some pictures from the artist's muse
Photography becomes art -- Daibutsu Buddha at Kamakura
Happy House-i-versary
25 random things about the artist's muse
It happened at the Met
Some pictures and some settings - Part 4 - DMC-FZ28
Some pictures and some settings - Part 3 - DMC-FZ28
Some pictures and some settings - Part 2 - DMC-FZ28
Some pictures and some settings - Panasonic DMC-FZ28
Noiseography -- A new photographic technique
Shooting infrared with the Panasonic DMC-FZ28
You're never too young
One month with the Panasonic DMC-FZ28
A trip to Berryville - Panasonic DMC-FZ28
It's the Hobbitt's birthday
On September 11th
Shooting Tri-X with the Panasonic DMC-FZ28
A shot in the dark - Panasonic DMC-FZ28
Sunset and the far-up lens -- Panasonic DMC-FZ18
Further musings on the Panasonic DMC-FZ28
Customizing your camera for high-ISO photography
Panasonic DMC-FZ28 vs DMC-FZ18 at high ISO
Some musings about the Panasonic DMC-FZ28
Hummers, SUVs, DSLRs, and my DMC-FZ28
Panasonic DMC-FZ28 -- At the Flying Circus
Panasonic DMC-FZ28 -- The journey begins
Farewell, my Panasonic DMC-FZ18
More about the settings for the DMC-FZ18
Dealing with the modes and settings of the DMC-FZ18
Photography becomes art - Bird on a wire
The artist's muse at sunset -- DMC-FZ18
Do you need fancy equipment?
Now here's my plan
Good cookie, bad cookie
But seriously, folks...
Post-processing Mr. Squirrel
A museum of one's own
We need new words to describe what's happening
Going over to the dark side
Shooting the moon
Happy Anniversary, Hobbitt
The view from my window - DMC-FZ18
My favorite museum
A toast to the artist's muse
The DMC-FZ18, a sunset, and a glass of beer
Remembering Herbert Keppler
Shooting abstracts with the Panasonic DMC-FZ18
Fixing a Panasonic DMC-FZ18 problem
More pictures from my Panasonic DMC-FZ18
The journey of a thousand Melvins
Stairway to the stars -- Extreme post processing
DMC-FZ18 - Raw vs JPEG - The JPEG Manifesto
Chromatic aberration and the DMC-FZ18
Raw vs JPEG, the DMC-FZ18, and a mystery
Some pictures from my Kodak P880 - Part 2
Some pictures from my Panasonic DMC-FZ18
Some pictures from my Kodak P880 - Part 1
DMC-FZ18 - Don't be afraid of the dark
Shooting in "Medium" - DMC-FZ18 - The right exposure
Shooting in "Medium" and the Panasonic DMC-FZ18
In-use review -- Panasonic DMC-FZ18 - Part 2
In-use review -- Panasonic DMC-FZ18 - Part 1
Photography becomes art - Fantasy at Ida Lee
Photography becomes art - The chefs at Little Washington
My new old camera - the Kodak Easyshare P880
Photography becomes art - Variations on a theme
Doing the impossible - Part 4 - The final result
Doing the impossible - Part 3 - The solutions
Doing the impossible - Part 2 - The challenges
Doing the impossible - Part 1 - The Godfather
All the (art) news that's fit to print
The museum becomes art - #1
Photography becomes art - Making an angel
How to test a camera
Hitting the wall
Extreme post-processing - Working with infrared
Blogging 2.0 - A new interface
A funny thing happened on my way to the blog
In the beginning...