Monday, March 31, 2014

Setting Up the Lumix DMC-LX5

Larry - No Flash, JPG (no Raw), Film Type Set for "Dynamic", With +1  Added to Contrast, Saturation, Colour Balance and Noise Reduction
I've come up with two set-ups for the DMC-LX5 - note that a great feature of this camera is that it can hold up to four Custom set-ups. These are stored on the Dial positions C1 (which holds only 1) and C2 (which holds up to 3). I'm not sure why they did it this way, but it works OK. This is a great feature for any camera - to be able to store your favourite set-ups.

For beginners, this camera, like all of 'em, has a PHD (press here dummy) mode, which is marked "iA" on the dial. It stands for "Intelligent Auto". So, you've got this, and up to four more. So far, I've made two Custom Setups - one for JPG, and one for RAW. For a third one, I might do one for Black and White, but I prefer to do B&W conversions on the larger computer screen, so I can see the subtle changes in tone.

So, now it's time to do your first Custom set-up - let's do one for a Dynamic JPG, like Larry's sportin' above. Larry is actually beige, not orange, so what I've done here creates some colour inaccuracy.

  1. Turn on your camera, press "Menu" (not Q. Menu), and the first menu item is "Film Mode" - choose Dynamic if that's what you want, or for more natural colour, choose "Standard" or "Nature". You'll notice underneath each type, there are sub-menus with sliders to adjust Contrast, Saturation, Colour Balance and Noise Reduction. I added +1 to each of these. Also keep in mind here that all camera settings, included the ones with switches and dials are going to be stored on your "C1" position - so now is also the time to decide which shooting mode, aspect ratio, etc you're going to use for this set-up. I used "A", as I explained in my post about "PSAM" You might prefer "P" for more goof-proof exposure, or if you'll be using a flash a lot. You should also choose what else you'd like to automate. 
  2. For Sensitivity, choose i-ISO, and for ISO Limit Set, choose 1600 - any higher, and your shots might be extremely noisy. 
  3. For picture size and quality, go with full size - 10m, and highest quality, but not RAW - that comes later. 
  4. For White Balance, use "AWB". Some pro photographers discourage this, instead saying you should set it for sunny. cloud, flash - whatever the light is like around you - but this camera does a great job in Automatic (WB). 
  5. For AF Mode, use the big block in the centre, which means you focus on your subject with a half-press of the shutter button, then re-compose the picture while you're still holding the shutter half-way, then press the shutter button all the way down to take the picture. You could choose the AF Mode > "all the little squares", which puts focus automatically in the hands of the camera, but this creates a risk that the camera might focus on the wrong thing, making your subject a bit blurry. 
  6. For Metering Mode, use the brackets with dot in centre (.) for goof-proof, or, for slightly brighter pictures at the risk of over-exposure, use the Brackets only () and also, set I-Exposure to "Standard". Same for I. Resolution - "Standard". 
  7. Also, turn "Burst" to On (the stack of Rectangles). This camera does reasonably good Burst shooting in JPG -only Mode, but it's terrible when using RAW - so for the RAW set-up, this will be turned off. 
  8. Finally, you might as well go for maximum Zoom in your JPG set-up, because Digital Zoom is not allowed with RAW. So turn i.Zoom and Digital Zoom both to "On" - this allows the normal 3.8X Optical Zoom to go all the way out to 20X, but with a corresponding loss o picture quality, especially beyond around 7X. Now, for Step Zoom, this is a cool feature which I like - when it's On, the Zoom acts like real individual lenses - 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, etc. I'm used to that, so I like it. Otherwise, when it's off, it's more like a normal small camera with 1X, 2X, 3X, etc.
  9. Now that you've got everything the way you want it, navigate your menu down to the little wrench symbol, then arrow down to Custom Set Menu, and select C1. You'll then be prompted to verify this - select "yes".

You now have your basic JPG set-up for a "Dynamic Film Mode" set on Dial Position C1. Every time you go back to C1, this will be your set-up. As long as the camera's turned on, you can make any changes you want - like if you want to do a 1:1 (square) picture, you can change the switch on the lens barrel. You can also make any change you want within the menu (like change Dynamic to Standard). But when you turn the camera off, and then on again, it reverts back to your original C1.

My RAW Setup, which I saved to C2-1 is pretty much the same, except I didn't use Digital Zoom (because you can't), and I turned Burst Shooting off (because with RAW it doesn't work so well). Also, with a RAW set-up, things like your "Film Mode" and "White Balance" don't matter so much, because a RAW Data File isn't really a picture, until you've processed it on your computer - and there's way-way more things you can do with RAW Conversion Software, with plenty of lee-way to correct mistakes. Some famous professionals, like Ken Rockwell, don't like RAW, because it takes too long to fiddle around with just one shot - he prefers to get the look he likes just by setting up the JPG's in his camera (which frankly to me always looks like a trip to Disney World!).

I always set up with RAW + JPG (small) so I can see both, and compare one to the other - I can always make a RAW look a whole lot better. But sometimes, a JPG comes in handy when you want to make it look "worse" - kind of like people do with Instagram - "a worser but cooler" kind of vibe. Actually, the DMC-LX5 has a "Nostalgic" Film Mode that looks like an Instagram setting. It also has a whole bunch of Scene (SCN) Modes and Art Filters (the little Artist-Pallet Icon on the Dial) that are sort of Instagram-like. You might choose to use nothing but these choices for Social Media shooting, but its nice to know this camera is way more capable - you can actually get some close to DSLR -like perfect pictures with it.

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