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In serious need of focus help! FZ330 specific, but quite possibly applies to other bridge cameras. (1 Viewer)

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Any help with this would be hugely appreciated and if you ever need a favour returned then just ask me!

You could count on one hand my use of cameras for any purpose throughout my life, so that is the depth of my ignorance you're dealing with here: I'm pretty confident you could hand the camera to a blue tit and he/she would take a better picture of me than I'm able to take of him/her. When I first bought the camera (about three weeks back) I set it up as per Graham Houghton's tutorial, on IA mode, took it out with me, learned a few things on what positions I need to be in to take decent photos, 'was very impressed at what someone with my absolute zero level of camera experience can achieve (clearly that was the camera doing the work in IA mode rather than any skill I have, but never mind).

So, as time went on, I had some beauty photos lined up: sparrowhawk, kestrel and so on, and even in IA mode I managed to get them badly wrong. 'Thought: right, I've probably reached the limits of how much a camera's IA function can help a camera fool like me and so it's time to learn about the camera and move away from IA mode. I've been trying a few things out this weekend and I have a better understanding of how it works (as much understanding as a novice can garner in a few days).

Some adjustments I've made have been an improvement but some/many things I'm getting badly wrong, which is expected given that photography is a skill which is honed over years, as with any passion or interest. I don't expect to pick a camera up and be able to replicate what other people are able to achieve after years of hard work. On the other hand, I know this camera can produce outstanding photos because I've seen examples. What I want to do is just put one thing right at a time, and the biggest problem I feel I have now is focus. If I can't get that right then I feel whatever else I do I'll not get the desired results.

I have the camera in aperture mode, not much else has changed except setting a maximum ISO and a few other bits and pieces such as sharpness of jpeg photo and metering, I have the AFS on tracking mode. The problem is that the target/focus (yellow and red target) is jumping around all over the place. Some times the red target area comes up on my screen and sometimes the yellow and I can't work out why it's sometimes red and sometimes yellow, whether or not the red or yellow matters, and how I keep the target on the bird. On occasion, the target area won't set on the bird and this isn't always when there are branches and so on in the way (I think the camera will focus on the nearest branch because I have the aperture set to 2.8). I've looked around all over the internet and can't seem to get a clear and concise explanation that doesn't involve convoluted camera acrobatics that are monumentally beyond a camera novice like me.

'Long story short what I'd like to know is: why do I sometimes get a red target on my screen and other times a yellow one, which is more desirable for bird photography. Also, I'm trying to focus on the birds eyes to bring that out - is it possible without touching the screen and so on? Why do I sometimes not get the camera focusing on the bird, red or yellow target when I press the shutter half way down? Another way of answering this I suppose, is: what should I be doing to get a target on the bird that will blur the background and bring out the bird, in aperture mode?

Any help appreciated!
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Here is a link to the manual for the fz300 version of the same camera: ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/camera/om/dmc-fz300_en_adv_om.pdf

As I do not use this camera, I cannot help better than this
Niels
 

nikonmike

Well-known member
I would say come off all tracking type modes they are flakey at best and crap at worst, set some form of center focus point and stick with that for a while
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I would say come off all tracking type modes they are flakey at best and crap at worst, set some form of center focus point and stick with that for a while

Thanks, Mike.

Would I be right in thinking that the only way to set a centre focus is to touch the screen just before you take a picture, and more to the point every time you take a picture? I'm hoping there is a way of setting something up once, and then in any given photo situation the camera will always focus in on where you have the camera pointed, e.g. a bird's eyes. Maybe I'm being unrealistic, I don't know.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
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I believe that is only true when you are in tracking mode. Switch to AFS without tracking and the focus point should be the same as it was last time.
Niels
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I should have added: in a Pana in AFS mode, the focus square size can be adjusted. Make it as small as possible.

Niels
 

nikonmike

Well-known member
Just taking Niels advice one step further i would try afc mode and let the camera run a few shots off it may help your keeper rate.
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I believe that is only true when you are in tracking mode. Switch to AFS without tracking and the focus point should be the same as it was last time.
Niels

Thanks, Niels.

On the back of Mike's post I've tried a few things out today. I was labouring under the illusion that only the tracker mode would bring the bird out and blur the background. To the experienced that probably seems ridiculous, but to the likes of me, bamboozled by buttons/functions/modes, I was a bit lost in the mechanics of the thing. So, I've tried all of the AF modes and the best appears to be one area, so I've switched to that. I've also done quite a bit of further reading and I have enough to go on for the time being and should see a few small improvements that I can build upon. Any more reading for the moment and it'll only serve to lose/swamp me in details: I'm trying to strike the balance between theory and learning through experience, while not forgetting that I bought the camera for enjoyment rather than being frustrated or getting lost in the technological aspects. I think I have enough theoretical knowledge at this point to put it into practice and achieve decent photos in the context of my beginner experience.

My best bet now is to stay with the one area focus, try to get decent at pin-pointing the birds eyes, and concentrate on things such as aperture/ISO/shutter speed. I'm also not going to bother taking pictures of birds in the sky or in bad light. My thinking is that I need to get used to understanding what makes a good photo in good conditions before I even think about adjustments for not so good conditions.

And, thanks to Mike for that pointer if you're reading this.
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I should have added: in a Pana in AFS mode, the focus square size can be adjusted. Make it as small as possible.

Niels

This is interesting because I'm wondering if I can set something up in the menu that will put the target/pin point in a certain position on the screen, e.g. the middle of the screen, and then when I take a photo of any bird all I need to do is line that target/pin point up with the birds eyes?
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I have a pana G85 which is different from your camera, but I am using 1 area AF for stationary birds. That is therefore similar to what you have thought about doing. Then go to page 138 in the manual I linked to in post 2, to see how you regulate the size of that one area. My experience with first an older pana superzoom and since then two pana m4/3 cameras is to have this be small (that helps with focusing on a bird among branches as well as with determining its the eye rather than the tail that the camera focuses on).

Default location of this one area is center of the screen, shown to you as a small square that is white before focus is acquired and green when it is. However, it is possible for you to move it, for example by accidentally touching the touch screen. For that and other reasons (power consumption) I only flip the screen out when reviewing images or when looking at the menu - the rest of the time, the touch screen is facing the back of the camera and I look through the EVF.

When you have found some settings that work for you, save them to the Customs setting (page 111) which you can then access from the wheel at the top where you also choose A or P etc. This makes it much easier going back if you have accidentally changed something: just turn off and turn back on.

Niels
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I have a pana G85 which is different from your camera, but I am using 1 area AF for stationary birds. That is therefore similar to what you have thought about doing. Then go to page 138 in the manual I linked to in post 2, to see how you regulate the size of that one area. My experience with first an older pana superzoom and since then two pana m4/3 cameras is to have this be small (that helps with focusing on a bird among branches as well as with determining its the eye rather than the tail that the camera focuses on).

Default location of this one area is center of the screen, shown to you as a small square that is white before focus is acquired and green when it is. However, it is possible for you to move it, for example by accidentally touching the touch screen. For that and other reasons (power consumption) I only flip the screen out when reviewing images or when looking at the menu - the rest of the time, the touch screen is facing the back of the camera and I look through the EVF.

When you have found some settings that work for you, save them to the Customs setting (page 111) which you can then access from the wheel at the top where you also choose A or P etc. This makes it much easier going back if you have accidentally changed something: just turn off and turn back on.

Niels

Thanks Niels.

I'm don't take things in at night, but first thing in the morning I'll be coming back to this post. At a cursory glance, saving settings is exactly what I'm looking for.
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I have a pana G85 which is different from your camera, but I am using 1 area AF for stationary birds. That is therefore similar to what you have thought about doing. Then go to page 138 in the manual I linked to in post 2, to see how you regulate the size of that one area. My experience with first an older pana superzoom and since then two pana m4/3 cameras is to have this be small (that helps with focusing on a bird among branches as well as with determining its the eye rather than the tail that the camera focuses on).

Default location of this one area is center of the screen, shown to you as a small square that is white before focus is acquired and green when it is. However, it is possible for you to move it, for example by accidentally touching the touch screen. For that and other reasons (power consumption) I only flip the screen out when reviewing images or when looking at the menu - the rest of the time, the touch screen is facing the back of the camera and I look through the EVF.

When you have found some settings that work for you, save them to the Customs setting (page 111) which you can then access from the wheel at the top where you also choose A or P etc. This makes it much easier going back if you have accidentally changed something: just turn off and turn back on.

Niels

Hi Niels,

Many thanks for the advice.

Yes, everything you state is the same on my camera, although I find that when I've made the square as small as possible, and then turn off and back on, the camera has stored that size in its memory (and it's centred in the middled of the camera). At the moment, I don't want to be trying to adjust on screen as I'm about to to take a picture, as I have enough to work with at the moment in terms of improving the quality of my photos. So, I think I will try that, i.e. keep the smallest possible square in the middle of the screen and line up the birds' eyes when I aim. I appreciate there will be far more to using the focus square option than what I'm about to try but slow and steady improvements is good enough for me at the moment!

Thanks again,
Paul
 

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