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Camera settings for compact with a strobe


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#1 jacquescousteau

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 05:46 PM

Good day all.

I tried posting this on other forums, but I am either ignore (snobed ? as my gear is not fancy) or being sold some "better" equipment! Darn, I just need help, not an invoice ;-)

I found your forum, and think that there are wise peoples here so here it goes.

I have a simple compact camera, with no manual mode of any kind (no full manual, no aperture priority, no shutter speed priority). It's a Lumix ZS3. Great lens, does ok pictures, but I needed a strobe.

Bought a good strobe (S&S YS-110a as I will move to dSLR very soon) that does D-TTL with the Lumix (or is it S-TTL or E-TTL, I don't know but it does TTL with the preflash via a fiber optic cable).

My question is simple : What settings should I use with the camera. Forced flash "ON", no focus light help, and lower ASA (like 100) is ok, but what's next ? Maybe WB to "sunny" ?

Please help me, I will be diving in Australia (Great Barrier Reef :-)))))) soon and need to figure this out!

Thanks.

Yes I am Jacques, but "Cousteau" is a nickname given to me by my friends as I am doing research about the oceans as a job, and I speak French (From Montreal) !

#2 Mooseman1007

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 11:48 PM

Jacques

Just remember Its not about the quality of the gear, its about how you use it best. I have just upgraded from a Pana TZ10 which is only slightly more advanced than the ZS3. I find that leaving the ISO as low as possible is best, and keep white balance on auto (for flash) or cloudy/underwater (ambient). Put the strobe in TTL to begin with and remember GET CLOSE !

Moose


Good day all.

I tried posting this on other forums, but I am either ignore (snobed ? as my gear is not fancy) or being sold some "better" equipment! Darn, I just need help, not an invoice ;-)

I found your forum, and think that there are wise peoples here so here it goes.

I have a simple compact camera, with no manual mode of any kind (no full manual, no aperture priority, no shutter speed priority). It's a Lumix ZS3. Great lens, does ok pictures, but I needed a strobe.

Bought a good strobe (S&S YS-110a as I will move to dSLR very soon) that does D-TTL with the Lumix (or is it S-TTL or E-TTL, I don't know but it does TTL with the preflash via a fiber optic cable).

My question is simple : What settings should I use with the camera. Forced flash "ON", no focus light help, and lower ASA (like 100) is ok, but what's next ? Maybe WB to "sunny" ?

Please help me, I will be diving in Australia (Great Barrier Reef :-)))))) soon and need to figure this out!

Thanks.

Yes I am Jacques, but "Cousteau" is a nickname given to me by my friends as I am doing research about the oceans as a job, and I speak French (From Montreal) !



#3 jacquescousteau

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 04:58 AM

Thanks Mooseman,

I am glad you think this way! Not that I don't dream or plan of getting a d-slr, but this gear is what I have for the next diving trip and would like to do exactly that : the best I can whit what I have !

Do you think there will be a difference between ISO 80 or 100 ? I tried 80, 100, 200 "out of the water" on a few targets and can't see much of a difference in quality, but underwater it would mean either slower shutter speed, larger aperture or longer flash - it's all automatic and don't know what the camera will do !!

I'll do some trials underwater but don't want to loose too many photo ops while out there. Here in Montreal the water is chilly (3-5C till the middle of June), the viz is poor, and I dive mostly wrecks so not much chance of getting close!

I'll follow your pointers as I think it all make sense.

Thanks.

Jacques

Just remember Its not about the quality of the gear, its about how you use it best. I have just upgraded from a Pana TZ10 which is only slightly more advanced than the ZS3. I find that leaving the ISO as low as possible is best, and keep white balance on auto (for flash) or cloudy/underwater (ambient). Put the strobe in TTL to begin with and remember GET CLOSE !

Moose



#4 Graggs

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 05:26 AM

Hi JC
A strobe isn't going to help you much unless you can get close!
If you're diving the GBR you are mainly going to have coral, fish, turtles etc in your viewfinder and you should be able to sneak up and get close to them!
Learn to position the strobe so it doesn't light all the particles in the water - there's lots on the internet or in these forums to help you.
I doubt there's much difference between 80 and 100 ....I often wind the ISO up to 400 or even more - in your case this may have an effect on the colour of the water behind your subject.
Get in a pool and practise BEFORE you go.
On your first dive, plan a series of settings you can try....write them on a slate and take them with you....Use your first dive to get an range of settings that will work for different scenarios. Practise these settings with your camera in it's housing before you even go on holiday.

Mooseman is bang on.....don't rush out and buy a dSLR either - I use a Canon 5D and a single strobe....but the size or housing etc can be tricky to drag around and squeeze into spaces etc....I already had the camera and lenses, so my outlay was only the case. I used to shoot on a Canon G9 which was ace. If I was looking now I would seriously look at the emerging CSC cameras the ones which slot in between compacts and dSLR ....most have interchangeable lenses and Canon have just raised the bar by squeezing in a new bigger sensor (virtually the same as their semi pro 7D). The other key advantage (except for price and size) is that if you get the combination of camera and housing right, you'll be able to use wet lens which I really envy. Read some of the articles on http://www.deepshots.co.uk/ particularly http://www.deepshots...slr-underwater/

Good luck with the reef...my only trip there was during a big storm and diving was very difficult!!

Graggs

Edited by Graggs, 19 April 2012 - 06:17 AM.


#5 MortenHansen

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 05:48 AM

Well, as it was already said, you don't need great gear to make great photos!

When you think you're close enough, get even closer! Preferably within 20cm of your subject. Shoot upwards at an angle, do not take pictures from directly above the subject.

What I would do is put your camera on program mode (P) and use the "exposure compensation" to darken the exposure slightly, I find that the best blues come when its down by 1-2 stops. Use manual white-balance for shallow reef scenery shots.

ps. remember that you're not shooting with a dslr with a fisheye lens- chose your subjects carefully, smaller animals that doesn't move to much! :)

Have fun on the reef!

Morten!

#6 jacquescousteau

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 05:18 AM

Thanks for all these great comments and pointers.

I'm glad I posted on this forum as everyone is helpful and not trying to sell me something or tell me my camera is crap! OK, I do agree though that I should have bought one with full manual control, the next one will have full manual!

Thanks Graggs for the comment on not rushing to buy a dslr. I had read about the mirror-less 4/3 and other compacts and also thought it was a good alternative. But then when you talk to the pros with their dslr they tell you that it won't be as good as what they have and that I will regret it. Maybe trying to convinced themselves ? Glad to hear from someone who has the real thing and think that smaller might be the way to go. I think I like the Panasonic GX1, so will look closer to these!

Great comments from all, greatly appreciated. Will get to the pool first, then get in the lake (in a drysuit as it is still 2-3C) to practice before I go on the real diving trip. Will get close (yes, even closer), low ISO, WB on auto or sun, and take several shots of the same thing while adjusting the strobe output (which is minimal when in d-TTL I think ?).

As Morten mentioned I'll practice various pre-defined settings on "immobile" subjects to understand a bit more how this all works. That's the beauty of digital, you can take 400 shots on a dive and look at them before the next one!

Thanks again

#7 Graggs

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:05 AM

Your welcome JC
Best of luck and don't forget to come back here and post some of the results :)

When you decide on your camera, read some of those articles, because the lens / housing combo can mean the difference between being able to use the wet lenses or not.

Graggs

Edited by Graggs, 20 April 2012 - 07:05 AM.