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Nikon P950: first impressions and any advice appreciated (1 Viewer)

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
'Went ahead and bought the Nikon P950. 'Weather has been awful here during the last few days and so I've been researching settings and the like. Tonight, after work, there was about an hour of decent light for the first time since I bought the camera and so I took it out for a try.

First impressions and I'm comparing this to the FZ330, the other only other camera I've owned:

The settings aren't quite as logical as the FZ330, but this isn't something that will cause any issues. Generally, I think Panasonic did a better job of putting the important buttons in the right places.

I had no problems with the focus on the P950. No better or worse than the FZ330. 'Nothing that will leave me frustrated.

I was in a habit with the FZ330 in terms of how to quickly move around the camera settings and, naturally, I'm now having to get used to a camera with buttons in different places. They're not too dissimilar as it happens, and much more similar than I could have reasonably hoped for. Both are pretty simple and what I learned with the Panasonic is transferrable experience.

The good news is that I took a picture of a whitethroat in half decent light and there was far more detail than an equivalent FZ330 picture in a similar setting/situation, which I expected.

The even better news is that the P950 is far easier to hold steady. This was a big niggle in the back of my mind given the weight difference, and I was half expecting to have problems. 'Thinking about it, I played a lot of darts and snooker when I was younger and found it more difficult to play with light flights and light cues: 'turns out cameras are no different for me.

I took this picture of a grasshopper warbler. As you'll know, they're out in the open for a couple of seconds and so this was a quick zoom and hit, hand held, stood up. Shutter speed about 300, aiming into trees. While not a bad effort given I'd been out about 10 minutes before I took it, and for the first time with this camera, I feel there is something letting it down that can be easily changed, although due to my experience with cameras I can't quite put my finger on it. It is not cropped by the way.

These are my camera settings:

Centre weighted metering; vibration reduction: active; high speed continuous shooting; image quality: jpeg fine; image size largest; picture control: standard; autofocus mode: AFS single/manual spot; noise reduction: low; active dynamic lighting: normal; AWB; sharpening +2.

Aperture mode by the way.

I understand what all of these settings are aiming to achieve, but I don't necessarily understand the relationship between them and whether or not one will negate the other.

So, any advice appreciated as well good, old plain and simple straight down the line in terms of what is wrong with this picture. I'm guessing there are people on this forum who have seen these types of pictures a million times and can spot the problems a mile off.

Cheers,
Paul
 

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MikeInPA

Well-known member
Use AF-C. Continuous Auto Focus. AF-S focuses just once when you half press the shutter release. AF-C is continuously focusing while you have the shutter release half pressed.
 

MikeInPA

Well-known member
Not a bad shot at all Paul. Bit on the noisy side so it could do with a bit of noise reduction will make it appear even sharper.

Theres a lady lives near me that uses a P950 and she does great with it. I’ll see if I can find a link for you.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Agree with the AF-C.
Other than that, the settings seem pretty good (not an expert on the sharpening v noise ramifications on your camera).
Pic seems good for 1/300sec shutter speed. 👍
What were the other exif data ?
eg. ISO ? f# ?, and focal length ?


Chosun 👧
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Not a bad shot at all Paul. Bit on the noisy side so it could do with a bit of noise reduction will make it appear even sharper.

Theres a lady lives near me that uses a P950 and she does great with it. I’ll see if I can find a link for you.

Cheers Mike. I tried the AFC with the FZ330 and didn't particularly like it, but to be fair I didn't give it much of a try. I'll put this one on my list to try when I've had a bit more practice with the basics I have in place.
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Agree with the AF-C.
Other than that, the settings seem pretty good (not an expert on the sharpening v noise ramifications on your camera).
Pic seems good for 1/300sec shutter speed. 👍
What were the other exif data ?
eg. ISO ? f# ?, and focal length ?


Chosun 👧

Hi Chosun,

ISO 200, focal length 2000mm, f number 6.5.

Looking at the picture properties, it isn't the largest size which is what I set so it seems under certain conditions/settings the camera adjusts.

Thinking about it, although it was easier than the FZ330 in terms of keeping steady while the shutter button is pressed half way down, the P950 did move with more pressure when I was taking pictures and so the camera was moving down when the picture was taken and I'm guessing at that shutter speed it will have reduced sharpness. I've a bit of work to do/practice there to get into the habit of preventing the camera moving downwards when I take the picture. I was used to it with the FZ330 but I was applying a different level of pressure than what is needed for the P950.

As I say, I didn't struggle with the focus but I did have a bit of trouble locating roughly where the bird was through the lens. That's just a product of a different sized lens and camera that I'll get used to. What I did with the FZ330 was just focus broadly in the direction of where the bird was just to get a marker/sight of the the bird and then I could quickly get the focus on the bird from there. I struggled with that on the P950 but, as I say, a product of a different sized lens and camera that I'll quickly get used to.

I think under the those conditions, at those camera settings, I was never going to get a nice, sharp picture. The weather here is poor again today but I think I'll go out with the camera with the sole purpose of practicing locating the bird/getting used to the size of the lens camera to do that and keeping the camera steady when I take the picture/preventing the camera moving downwards.

Cheers,
Paul
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
Hi Paul, don't know if this will help you (it does me at times with the P900).... there's a button on the left of the camera. If you're pointing the camera in the right general direction, press it, the camera will zoom out, hunt for a bird and then zoom in when it think it's spotted it.

I'm not sure how it hunts for it (may be a bird-shaped blob) but it works 7 times out of 10 with me when I've lost one that moved as I was preparing to shoot.

Just make sure you don't have your finger on that button to stabilise the camera LOL. :oops:
 

MalR

Well-known member
I hope you don't mind, Paul, but I had a play with this pic in Lightroom. I had the impression that it was a pretty good image but somewhat underexposed. I raised the exposure, lifted the shadows and increased the contrast slightly.

If I remember correctly from some of your earlier posts, you're not someone who wants to spend ages post-processing images to get the best out of them. In that case, when you're in the field (assuming the bird co-operates, of course), it might be worth bracketing your exposures in tricky lighting situations like this one. I'm not familiar with the P950, but I presume there's a button you could assign exposure bracketing to, so that you could access it quickly.

Alternatively, you could try tweaking exposure compensation, plus or minus, depending on the lighting.

Malcolm
 

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PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Hi Paul, don't know if this will help you (it does me at times with the P900).... there's a button on the left of the camera. If you're pointing the camera in the right general direction, press it, the camera will zoom out, hunt for a bird and then zoom in when it think it's spotted it.

I'm not sure how it hunts for it (may be a bird-shaped blob) but it works 7 times out of 10 with me when I've lost one that moved as I was preparing to shoot.

Just make sure you don't have your finger on that button to stabilise the camera LOL. :oops:

Thanks Delia. I've made a note of that and will be trying it!
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I hope you don't mind, Paul, but I had a play with this pic in Lightroom. I had the impression that it was a pretty good image but somewhat underexposed. I raised the exposure, lifted the shadows and increased the contrast slightly.

If I remember correctly from some of your earlier posts, you're not someone who wants to spend ages post-processing images to get the best out of them. In that case, when you're in the field (assuming the bird co-operates, of course), it might be worth bracketing your exposures in tricky lighting situations like this one. I'm not familiar with the P950, but I presume there's a button you could assign exposure bracketing to, so that you could access it quickly.

Alternatively, you could try tweaking exposure compensation, plus or minus, depending on the lighting.

Malcolm

Not a problem, Malcolm, thanks for helping. And, you're right about post processing. I'd rather be out all day, weather permitting, than spending a good while editing pictures. I have the dynamic lighting switched on and the aim of this is to take account of the light and pretty much rid the need for EV: whether or not it has done the job, I personally can't tell.

I was out today in awful weather again, with the sole purpose of practicing keeping the camera steady and to see what happens.

What I learned is as follows:

No matter how steady my hands are, there is some movement and that is shown in the sequence of images. It's something I never noticed with the FZ330 and all of the images from that camera seemed dead steady, no movement. Maybe it's because of the way the cameras are set up and images are replayed that it's obvious with the P950 but wasn't with the FZ330. I thought I had it bang on with the FZ330 and the P950 no different, but it's obvious with this camera there is slight movement in the sequence of continuous shots.

The images I'm taking are full size, but when they're transferred to my laptop they're a different size: something I'll need to look at.

I took this picture of a robin today. The light is awful, grey sky, 500 SS at 2000mm, trees in the background further impacting the non-existent light; but the good news for me is that whatever the faults of this picture it is infinitely better than what I could have achieved with the FZ330 in similar conditions. In the event that translates into a situation with good weather then the P950 will exceed what I had hoped for regardless of anything else. I have an early feeling that filling the frame makes a huge difference: again the little robin is barely cropped.

The real test will be in good weather because that's what I bought it for. I've looked all over the North of England and even the Northern parts of the Midlands and Scotland, I could be in Edinburgh in an hour and a half, but there's nowhere with any sun in a 200 miles radius otherwise I would have been there. Finding good weather at the moment is like trying to get blood out of a stone.

I tried changing some of the settings to prevent that movement in the sequence in continuous burst mode, such as: all of the VR settings, AFS/AFF and so on but nothing solved it and so that and a few other things are research items while the weather is poor.
 

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njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I would like to make a general comment for AFC vs AFS: with AFS, you usually are pretty good with focus on image one and two in a series if AF did right at the start. The longer the series the higher risk of the bird moving away from where it was. If you want to use AFS, shoot in really short bursts, refocus and shoot again, etc.

The difficulty with AFC can be an inordinate drain on the battery. For at least some cameras it also slows down the frequency of images in a burst. (as you can tell, I am not shooting a p950).

Niels
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I would like to make a general comment for AFC vs AFS: with AFS, you usually are pretty good with focus on image one and two in a series if AF did right at the start. The longer the series the higher risk of the bird moving away from where it was. If you want to use AFS, shoot in really short bursts, refocus and shoot again, etc.

The difficulty with AFC can be an inordinate drain on the battery. For at least some cameras it also slows down the frequency of images in a burst. (as you can tell, I am not shooting a p950).

Niels

Thanks Niels. What you suggest with AFS is pretty much what I've always done. By necessity because once I have a few shots off the bird pretty much always has moved at least slightly and by instinct as I like to steady myself again if the bird hasn't flown off.

I am going to try AFC and give it a decent amount of time to draw a conclusion. I don't have battery concerns because I took the advice of Chosun and bought a couple of spares. 'Just waiting for the weather to turn!

I think the main things for me to work out at the moment: why is the image size different when I save to my laptop? is it causing unnecessary loss of image quality? what can I do about it?; is there any way I can reduce the slight movement in the sequence of images during a burst or is this the inevitable consequence of owning a camera, i.e. impossible to keep absolutely still hand-held; Delia's zoom feature tip. I think these are the things I can have a look at/research while the weather is poor. Then when we get some decent weather I'll get out and take pictures with the current settings as a starting point, and then I'll look to make slow and steady improvements, one at a time, such as give AFC a good go. I'll also take more care photo-editing with things such as exposure.
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Not a bad shot at all Paul. Bit on the noisy side so it could do with a bit of noise reduction will make it appear even sharper.

Theres a lady lives near me that uses a P950 and she does great with it. I’ll see if I can find a link for you.

Mike: were you thinking in-camera noise reduction or editing?
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
First issue resolved: the file size when transferred is a complete non-issue. I've just tested it and the difference in file size when transferred to my laptop is simply because I'd slightly cropped the left-hand side of the little robin. 'Should have been obvious really but I'm not the brightest with these things!

What is noticeable though, is that there is a bit more detail in the version I saved to my laptop to the version saved on this forum. I'm guessing that's just an inevitable consequence of saving a later version, a bit of lost image quality every time.
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Editing. If you want the best quality image out of your camera then you should be shooting in RAW. Before anybody replies “JPG is just as good” forget it. You’re a moron who probably thinks Covid is a hoax too.

Cheers Mike, it's something I'll be looking at.

I've been reading about AFC. The P950 doesn't have that feature. AFF is the closest so I'm going to give that a try this afternoon.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I agree raw is a better original format, but in this case I also think that there is a bigger issue with doing the crop, again save as jpg, open that copy to do some more and again save as jpg. Depending on the settings of your editing software, the losses can be larger for each round on your laptop than the original loss in the camera. If you plan on reopening to do more later, save in a lossless format.

a second comment is that when reducing resolution/image size, you mostly will need a little sharpening afterwards.
Niels
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I agree raw is a better original format, but in this case I also think that there is a bigger issue with doing the crop, again save as jpg, open that copy to do some more and again save as jpg. Depending on the settings of your editing software, the losses can be larger for each round on your laptop than the original loss in the camera. If you plan on reopening to do more later, save in a lossless format.

a second comment is that when reducing resolution/image size, you mostly will need a little sharpening afterwards.
Niels

Cheers Niels. What I've been doing is editing directly from the SD card rather than save to my laptop and then edit, and I only edit once.

When I look at the pictures, there is a minimal loss of quality from camera to laptop, and a bigger loss of image quality from laptop to uploading on thIs forum.

'Not that it really matters that much. I think what's most important for me at the moment is trying the autofocus options.

AFS versus AFF, and manual spot versus manual normal.

Manual normal is AFS or AFF with a slightly wider focus point than manual spot. I think the reason why some people use manual normal with the P950 is that it gives a bit of extra room for maintaining focus when the bird moves. 'Makes sense and the only way I'll know which I prefer is through testing. The weather forecast for tomorrow after work is good, so if it stays that way I'll be going somewhere where there are birds aplenty and I'll be trying AFS/AFF manual spot/manual normal combinations.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
For stationary birds, I use the spot as small as I can get it on my Panasonic. This is especially an advantage for birds in plants with plenty of branched in front/around. Disadvantage on some cameras could slower focus/sometimes not getting focus until trying again. I guess you will have to test for yourself with this camera.

Niels
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
For stationary birds, I use the spot as small as I can get it on my Panasonic. This is especially an advantage for birds in plants with plenty of branched in front/around. Disadvantage on some cameras could slower focus/sometimes not getting focus until trying again. I guess you will have to test for yourself with this camera.

Niels

Aye, will do, cheers Niels.
 

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