Going wrong - How do you pros do it?

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Mj62mj62, Feb 29, 2016.

  1. Mj62mj62

    Mj62mj62 New to Mu-43

    Feb 29, 2016
    Thank you for reading my post - I can see more work is required, but I want to know if I'm going in the right direction.

    Panasonic G3
    Leica 25mm f1.4 prime lens

    Following two big occasions, I failed to take great photos :-(

    - Groups (especially at tables) Some of the people are in focus, others not
    - In focus gifts with out of focus people
    - Distance: In the lounge I can't get far enough away from the subjects because of the 25mm fixed position

    I did an online course but there is so much to remember. The camera has various semi-auto modes, but I'm not getting the photos right when it matters. Settings for one situation don't work for another.


    - trying to get farther away from people ("You paid all that money and you can't take photos in the lounge?")

    - missing the shot whilst faffing with settings
    ("the photos are all yellowy, change the WB", "Why isn't everyone in focus", "It's too dark, increase the brightness")


    Great photos every time with a minimum of effort
    Great photos that can be blown up, framed and printed to capture those special moments. Especially with great bokeh.

    The situation:

    The automatic mode on the G3 isn't great - photos come out of the wrong colour and never seem bright enough.
    I use various manual settings but get caught out in changing conditions.

    Plus you never really appreciate whether your shots are good until they are on a computer.
    It's too late then!!!

    Do I persevere with this camera and try to get a number of custom-settings saved in preparation for situations?

    Or is my kit insufficient? Camera isn't intelligent enough? Lens is more for pros?

    Or is the prime lens perfect to really make me move and get composition?

    Thank you for your time and patience,
  2. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    C'mon then @Mj62mj62@Mj62mj62 lets post some sample pics then. That's probably the best way you can get some help. And don't worry, trust me, we've all been there.
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  3. Some examples would help, but I can see the gist of what's going on... I suffered from this too as the 25mm f/1.4 is also the first prime lens that I ever bought... I'll address the subjects in groups.

    In focus / out of focus / bokeh / framing
    I find the 25mm too tight for group shots indoors, like you found, backing up is annoying. f/1.4 at that focal length is also too shallow DoF for groups, even f/2.8 is cutting it close, stopping down more is likely required. Bokeh + lots of things in focus requires very precise framing, not easy to do for candids. You have to move yourself or pose the subjects to align them to a tighter plane of focus.

    1st part of the equation... You probably need a wider lens, especially if you're forced to take a picture of the whole table in focus where you have no choice about moving people around.
    2nd part... maybe a bit too much to take on right now but a bounce flash would REALLY help for this sort of thing for when you need to stop down the lens. It gives you more control of the lighting too.

    • WB doesn't matter if you shoot RAW (you can losslessly change it in post-processing), but under fixed lighting you can always set up a custom WB setting before you shoot and leave it there.
    • Too dark/bright - use exposure compensation, the EVF gives you exposure preview so you can adjust.
    • Insufficient DoF - use the DoF preview function, chimp after you take the shot until you get the hang of it.
    Most importantly, lots of patience and practice, you'll get there eventually. Don't put so much pressure on an important event. These sorts of social occasions can be some of the most demanding and judgemental of all - people assume that because you've got a dedicated camera rather than a smart phone that the photos will magically be better, when in reality most of it is up to skill and experience.
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
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  4. speedy

    speedy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 27, 2015
    Start by shooting raw. Seriously. This will help you immensely in correcting the WB, & colours after the fact. 2 less things to worry about straight off the bat. Next thing, you might have to stop down a bit when shooting groups. Pay particular attention to your focus point. Keep it on the people, don't stress about their hands perhaps being out of focus. I'd start around f/2.5, & try to keep square to your subject. If you're shooting indoors, I'd strongly recommend getting a decent flash with a tilting swivel head, & learn how to bounce it. That will probably make the single biggest difference to the quality of your shots. I'm sure plenty of others will chip in with advice.

    PS I'm not a pro. Far far far from it. Just someone who's figured stuff out the hard way. A bit of reading,& lots of failures:) 
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
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  5. DaveEP

    DaveEP Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 20, 2014
    Firstly, welcome to the forum. Looks like this is your first post and you're diving in at the deep end :) 

    It's always interesting to see how others struggle knowing how we've all been there at one time or another.

    There are a few social truths spread by the internet to be skeptical about. Theses are:

    1) Only shoot available light
    2) Shallow DOF if king
    3) Everyone should have a nifty fifty (50mm FF, 25mm M43)

    For my way of shooting events these are all wrong.

    In all the weddings & events I shot, 25mm (50mm) happened to be my very least used lens. Why? It's almost always either too long or too short because:
    • It's too long to get good inside shots with more than one or two people and even those are going to be head & shoulders
    • It's too long to get groups of more than one or two people outside - for that I'd be using a lot wider
    • It's too short to get decent telephoto shots from the back of a church or shooting people speaking at a podium or other similar situations


    How were you shooting the tables? Were you trying to get everyone on the table in focus while sat in their chairs? That can't be done. You need to split in to smaller groups or re-arrange people so that they are on a flatter focal plane. Don't shoot wide open. These were almost always f5.6-f8 shots for me, which would be f4(ish) on m43. If you don't have enough light to shoot at f4 then ADD-SOME (just don't make it direct light!). If you learn to use flash well then that becomes 'available light'.

    You need wider glass for in-door events. End of story.

    In doors means one thing for me, manual mode. If I'm using flash I'd put the camera in manual mode, typically 1/125, f5.6 ISO 800 and let the flash do the balancing (don't shoot with the flash flat & forward!). If I needed more ambient light I'd drag the shutter down to 1/60 or even 1/30 (or slower) and let the flash freeze the subjects while allowing the background light to come through more.

    Trying to use semi-auto is putting your shots in the hands of an software engineer who's job was to make the shot approximately average neutral grey. He has no idea of the actual location or subjects you're in, he just knows what colour and/or brightens the pixels were, then average them all together. Does that sound like a good idea to you?

    If you don't know how to use flash then you need to learn. It's really not that hard, but it does take a little guidance and a little practice.

    As said above, you need wider glass.

    In unpredictable WB situations shoot raw. You don't have time to be messing with WB which will itself be screwed up by different people's clothing. On lady has a red dress, next one a yellow dress etc, so the camera will choose a different WB for exactly the same location. The camera has no idea what it's doing. Set to a fixed white balance (if you're using flash: 5600 unless it's fitted with a gel to match the ambient, if you're using indoor lighting in the room 2600-4000 depending on the lighting) and stick with it. Fix the variations in post if needed.

    I really wouldn't shoot this stuff as JPEG unless you're absolutely sure about the lighting.

    Of course, that's what everyone wants, but it takes practice. If I give you a fast car will you win the world rally championship or will that take some practice too?

    Don't shoot JPEG, don't rely on automatics. If you continue to do so then you are asking for trouble. Remember, if you always do what you've always done you'll always get what you always got. You have to learn to change the way you shoot. If things aren't bright enough you need to learn to override the camera's exposure.

    Custom settings are great for situations you come across regularly, but if you don't know what they are, or the situations don't match your presets then what are you going to do? You need to learn to adapt to situations quickly and TBH that comes with practice.

    The only way to get practice is to go out and shoot more. Don't wait until an important event, go to as many different locations and lighting situations as you can. Restrict yourself to manual mode, take your time as you learn, you will get quicker with practice. Musicians don't just turn up and play a gig, they have many hours/days/weeks/months/years practice behind them.

    Shooting needs to be second nature. Anything else is wasting both yours and other people's time.

    Photography is a number of different skills. No one photographer is skilled in all aspects of everything to do with photography (e.g. macro, portraits, events, travel, landscape, wildlife, lighting etc). While they can good at most / all of them, they are unlikely to be the very best at more than one or two of them because each area takes time to learn, practice & perfect.

    You have one body and one lens. Your kit is insufficient!

    Cameras take the shot, the photographer 'makes' the shot. Sounds like a cliche, but in the end the camera can only do what the factory programmer told it to do on-the-average. If you rely on camera intelligence then you may as well have a monkey take the shots. Use your own intelligence to tell the camera what to do. That takes practice.

    That's rather a confusing question. You want to take pro-quality shots, but you're asking if this lens is 'too-pro'? You need good quality glass for events. simple answer, no the lens is not more for pros, you just need to learn how to use it (and others).

    I've lost count of the number of times I've had this discussion about primes. What use is a prime if you have to move 10 feet backwards when you only have 5 feet available? What use is a prime if you need to move 50 feet nearer but that would mean standing in the middle of a pond?

    Primes are just one tool among many. If you want to shoot primes then you need more of them. A single prime in a situation where the prime it too long or to short without the requirement room for movement is a waste of time.

    If you'd had a bag of 3 or 4 primes (say 12mm, 17.5mm 25mm 45mm) then you'd pretty much have things covered, although once again you'd be swapping primes and delaying the shots. TBH for events I'd rely on (fast) zooms. Nothing slower than f2.8, although I'd use it more at f4-5.6 when shooting groups.

    If you're going to shoot with multiple primes then better to have (at-least) two bodies so you don't have to keep changing lens
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
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  6. rboate

    rboate Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 6, 2012
    turn the program dial to M and start practicing. Learn the relationship between aperture and depth of field as well as how slow you can hand hold.
    Wedding receptions are challenging in that most venues are lit for ambiance not photography. White balance is important, learn how to set your custom white balance. When using auto modes the camera adjusts for every shot based on programmed algorithms,when you shoot manual you have the ability to reproduce results from one photo to the next. Don't be too hard on yourself, most of us have been at this for a long time and still miss some shots. Over time you will get more keepers.
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  7. TassieFig

    TassieFig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 28, 2013
    Tasmania, Australia
    LOL, you have no idea how many of us want this. You should use that quote in your signature :drinks:

    I would suggest to start learning the basics. Read and watch tutorials. Learn about digital sensors (the basics!), exposure (shutter speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity and how they interact; deceptively simple but agonisingly difficult to master), Depth of Field (DoF), different lenses (wide, normal, tele, primes, zoom), RAW vs jpeg (do both in the beginning), post processing (necessary for RAW but really worth it!!!!) etc etc

    Lots of free stuff on the web. One great source is Cambridge in Colour. This forum is of course another; you have already got some good pointers, here are some suggestion on good reads, even basic stuff. Keep asking questions here!

    Lynda.com is very good value if you can spend a small amount. These courses would be a great start.

    Keep at it and good luck! :th_salute:
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  8. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    It's mostly been said above, but indoors "event" photography with available light is a challenge. I'd seriously look into two gear things:

    - Getting a good flash and learning how to use it. Bounce flash is usually the best approach for event-style shots, so long as the ceiling isn't too high or low.

    - Look to get a wider lens, maybe even a zoom like the Olympus 12-40 or the Panasonic 12-35. If these are too expensive, look to the little 12-32. Actually, given you have a G3, get a Panasonic zoom with OIS (so either the 12-35 or 12-32 I mentioned will be fine). Whilst people shots need a reasonable shutter speed, at least OIS takes cameras shake out of the equation.

    On the technique front:

    - Shooting raw in artificial light is a good idea, as others have said, since WB can be easily fixed afterwards.

    - Push the ISO if you need to. More DOF (smaller aperture) to get everyone in focus is preferable to a little noise.

    - Finally - practice. Don't wait until the event itself - get taking shots of cushions, cuddly toys etc so that you can get your technique right.
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  9. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    You need to buy a camera that comes with a photographer. Are you charging money, or do provide disappointment gratis?
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  10. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    First: this is normal. All cameras take wrong pictures without a little help from the photographer. Some problem (focus problems) are even more common on serious cameras like the G3 (nothing wrong with that, and the lens is great).

    My advice: get the basics right. There is no one setting that works for anything, that is why you can set things. All those modes are not for fancy things only, you need to use those 90% of the time or at least check if the camera is doing the right thing. Ok, shooting outdoor with good light makes everything easier and the camera seems to work better.

    It doesn't actually matter much which mode you use, as long as you know a few things you can use any mode to get the same result and is just a matter of convenience, speed or personal preference which one to use.

    If you like books get this one: Understanding exposure by Peterson. Or one of the suggested online courses. You'll spent a lot less time in this way.

    Then practice before the event, experiment, do things right and wrong, do it again trying to understand why is wrong and how to fix it. You may post samples here and I think everybody here will be willing to give some hints.

    Just one example. The pictures may be dark for different reasons:
    - strong lights pointing at the camera "blinding" it and confusing it.
    - very bright/white subjects and walls
    - you set exposure compensation on the wrong value of forgot it there from the previous shot/session
    - you were shooting manual or semi-auto and you took the wrong settings
    - you were shooting Auto or P with fixed or auto-ISO, and the camera couldn't pick the right values
    - you used AEL and locked the wrong exposure
    - you used a fancy metering mode without noticing

    each of this is easy to fix obviously in a different way. It really depends on what you were doing, the situation, etc..

    Getting a zoom lens gives you much more versatility in framing but it is worst in low light (indoor you almost always have low light even if you do not notice). So it's about picking the right tool for the situation.
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  11. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    You have to learn how to edit/process photos . That's a must , especially for difficult lighting environment like what you did. It also sounds like you need to learn more about the principles of photography and buy more lenses. Good luck .
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  12. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2015
    Lots of good advice - I would put camera in aperture mode to allow you to set the aperture so that you have enough Depth of filed i.e. that everything is in focus - take a few test shots to ensure you get the focus depth you want. If this requires a aperture setting that want allow you to shoot sharp pictures because your shutter speed drops too much then you need a flash.

    But start by practicing in Aperture mode and dont worry we have al been there. I would stick with your lens for know but alternatively a 14mm pana or 15mm pana could get be good options for wide indoor.
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  13. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    The single easy answer here seems to be to find a lens with a wider focal length. That will get you more in the frame, and has inherently deeper depth of field, killing 2 of your birds with 1 stone. Shooting RAW also means you never need to think about white-balance again (unless you're dealing with mixed lighting like fluorescent + incandescent, which is always a nightmare).

    Lots of people have mentioned flash. A bounced flash at 75 or 90 degrees (straight up) is also a good solution for most indoor shooting, but doesn't address your field of view issues.

    If you don't want to break the bank, I'd suggest the Panasonic 12-32 or 14mm f2.5. The 12-32 is more flexible and gives you a wider wide angle, but the 14mm is a full stop faster, which can be useful indoors. And even at f2.5 you won't need to worry about having too small a depth of field, unlike a 25mm. Both of those lenses can easily be found for $100-150 these days.

    I don't have any suggestions for a good flash, but it needs to be bounceable, and I think that despite everyone's best intentions above, telling you to jump in the deep end with full manual control and a non-TTL flash is asking for trouble. As a start, there are cheap options like the Bower SFD926O for under $100 might be workable, giving you TTL, tilt, rotate, and a lot of power. The Metz Mecablitz 36 AF-5 is also in the same price range, a bit smaller but with less power.

    Honestly, you could probably sell your 25/1.4 and replace it with the cheaper P25/1.7 (or O25/1.8 if you can score a good used deal), get a wider angle lens, and maybe even the flash as well, all without spending any more money. I can totally understand your frustration and wouldn't want to add more up front cost.
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  14. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2012

    You are on a steep learning curve. A friend of mine took a $500 course about basic photography. She was eager to learn and was overwhelmed. After sitting down with her for 2 hours she learned more about "camera navigation" from me than her entire course. Photography style is something a person must get after a lot of experience. She truthfully admits she would have learned more from me in several hours compared to paying $500 on that course!! Only thing is experience is a part of a different "school" she had to do on her own.

    You must shoot RAW for the digital negative. More room for pushing/pulling the exposure in a post processing program such as Lightroom.

    Gear is almost as important as the photographer. Better tools makes life easier. Using a Sony A7s vs M43 (for most events work) for extremely low light (no flash) will without a doubt give you better image quality. IQ is a component of what is expected of a Professional. However both camera's with the experiencing of painting light with a flash will reap great results. However in some situations you cannot use flash.

    My point? There will always be better capable camera's out there. Mastering your current gear is needed to maximize the gears capabilities. The limitations of the gear will also effect "how you shoot" for your particular style.

    My style of shooting has changed because of the use of gear that produces less noise (full frame). However when I use my M43 gear I shoot what my gear allows me to shoot so my style changes a bit.

    I can get away with one UWA lens, mid tele zoom and 70-200 equiv. Then I'd need a 24mm equiv prime, 85mm equiv and speedlights. I can shoot and event with confidence. I seldom ever touch 50mm. However for low light no flash photography I try my best to get the "ambiance" of the moment. With M43 my current gear i get too much noise and my IQ drops. This is where a can easily shoot ISO 6400++ and get good files I can clean up in post using my full frame.

    I am not here stirr up things. My point is my toolbox works for me and I use specific tools for specific reasons.

    I documented a mini piano concert this weekend with my Panny GH3 and it did a fantastic job. Different tools for different reasons.

    I suggest shadowing an experienced photographer and you may learn more about photography at the cost of a lunch or dinner!! Think about gear but concentrate equally on the art of photography. You must learn the fundamentals first. Reading this thread your still on a steep learning curve but dont let that frustrate you!!
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  15. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Respectfully, if Mj is struggling to get sufficient depth of field, suggesting a full-frame sensor to improve low-light image quality is a losing proposition. There is no noise advantage to a larger sensor if you are keeping depth of field constant. A larger sensor gives you better low light image quality only if you can tolerate less depth of field by using the same aperture, shutter speed, and ISO as with a smaller sensor.

    As an extreme example, if you absolutely needed the depth of field that a smartphone could give you, the low light image quality of that smartphone at f/2 and ISO 800 would be just good - and in reality probably much better - than the full-frame camera stopped down to f/16 and ISO 51200 to achieve the same shutter speed.

    The only way to get better low light image quality if you are depth of field limited is with a shorter focal length to increase DoF, or a flash to allow you to stop down aperture.

    Unfortunately, there is absolutely no free lunch, not even with larger sensors.
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
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  16. gr6825

    gr6825 Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 10, 2012
    Classic example of "equivalence argument" jumping the shark here.
  17. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    And yet, it is true. Obviously it is going to be very rare that you'd need smartphone equivalent depth of field. But if the OP is struggling with 25mm @ f1.4 and ISO 1600 (?) and maybe needs to stop down to f2.8 or more, does anyone really think that going to f5.6 with a full-frame camera at 4x the ISO would help the image quality?

    In any case, this is all a diversion from the original question. A suggestion of a larger sensor is out of left field and simply not appropriate for the concerns voiced in that post.
  18. gr6825

    gr6825 Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 10, 2012
    @Turbofrog@Turbofrog I would like to see you demonstrate the comparison to back up your claim re smartphone f/2 ISO 800 versus FF @f/16 ISO 51200. Are you viewing the results on a smartphone? ;) 
  19. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2012

    If your finding that your getting some people out of focus in group shots this is due to the incorrect selection of aperture OR depending on the size of group try to have them in line so that they are on the same plane (same distance from your lens). Just realize that as you reduce the size of aperture (f/2.8 or even smaller) you will need higher ISO which will introduce more noise. Group shots you can hammer them with flash and it will be fine for simple documentation purposes. However if you shoot a "couple" for example in an intimate setting you will completely and utterly destroy the "moment" by a candle light if you use flash.

    If you buy a wide angle prime or have wide angle capabilities with a zoom you'll see things totally in a different aspect. 50mm (35mm equivalence) is not wide and for some strange reason it's called "normal". That is much too long for alot of documentation purposes imo.

    I purchased a panasonic 14-45mm zoom for a photography teaching tool for my 6 & 9yrs old daughters. I've used this lens in lower light and it's definitely a good lens in "good" light. Glass does matter for rendering higher quality image quality. As I used this lens in low light it was not nearly as good as a constant aperture 12-35mm f/2.8 zoom. If you do not lock down your shutter speed you'll get that typical motion blur shot you see with a smartphone. If you shoot with a variable aperture zoom you will loose creative control because the camera decides your aperture as you zoom in and out.

    I urge new photographers to shoot primes. This forces you to learn composition as you move your body to get the proper composition. I know most newbie/soccer mom&dads extremely lazy with poor composition or boring perspective because they are only "zooming" and taking the shot.

    If you automatically set your iso high (3200++) you can deal with the noise in post processing. This will help you as long as your maintaining a fast shutter speed. Your subjective tolerance to noise will be gauged when you shoot higher than iso 3200.

    I urge you to look more into more photographic schools or shadowing an experienced shooter.

    I apologize for talking full frame. I'm merely giving you an insight on my experience in photography. I would struggle like mad to incorporate a variable aperture zoom for professional use. If your shooting and always using flash this will work adequately for events. However if you need to shoot in very low light with no flash your image quality will suffer as a "pro".

    I previously owned a 14-140mm mk1 (mk2 not much better) and that variable aperture zoom was adequate for bright light situations but it was unusable for low light indoors. The noise level in a "so so " lit gymnasium was no where near "pro" quality. The 12-35 f/2.8 was worlds better that had wider FL and shorter FL on the long end. That lens was much closer to my PL25 f/1.4.

    If you are able to shoot all the time with studio strobes, speedlights you can stop down your aperture and get great professional IQ. The real world situations this is not always the case or ideal.

    Safest recommendations I cant give is to buy fast primes only for max IQ. If you need zooms I suggest f/2.8 constant aperture pro lenses for max IQ. If you need to stop down your aperture just do it and deal with the noise later in post.

    I use to shoot with a Canon 50D and my M43 gear performs much better when noise is concerned. Learn to shoot and let your photographic style grow. With different gear your style will change with it to a certain extent. Change your lenses and you'll get more adventurous and even grow even more.

    Just remember that in events photography motion blur is absolutely unacceptable. Only when it is deliberately executed for artisitc merit blur should NOT be part of events photography. Also having OOF group shots is an absolute NO NO.
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  20. AlanU

    AlanU Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2012

    I'm not here to ruffle feathers. I've learned to shut my mouth.

    I truly enjoy my canon gear and M43 gear. My previous post is just a very generic compilation of babbles :) 

    I have been in the same place as the original poster. It takes many years to find yourself in "style". Gear just is a tool so you must use it accordingly :) 

    I have yet used my m43 for professional stills. I can do it but I have preference to my comfort zone in FF.
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