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Why was a 'consumer' camera so hard to set up?

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by harry_s, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. harry_s

    harry_s Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    I've now shot 3 motorsport events with my G3 and it's now the all-singing all-dancing camera that I never really thought it would be capable of being. 4 weeks ago I was an hour into shooting motorsport with it and realising that all those who said it would struggle with fast moving objects were right. Fast forward to today and it's now unrecognisable from that day.

    That said, it's taken me 10hrs of shooting to tweak the settings to a point where it's now operating at a speed that doesn't make me miss my Nikon D90. It's ironic, but Panasonic have been 'dumbing down' the G range and trying to make it more accessible to those moving up from compact cameras, yet for myself moving 'down' from a DSLR it took quite a bit of effort to turn it from a very average camera into something that I now think is brilliant.

    On the one hand it's brilliant that these bodies do have so much customization for those a little more serious about their photography, but at the same time the initial set up of the camera 'out of the box' really doesn't sell the camera as well as it could do. The most obvious example is AFC / AFS, read the manual and the first thing you would do is switch to AFC if you were going to an airshow (for example), yet it's far easier to shoot in AFS for objects moving over 30mph. I've found a couple of discussions on this on DPReview and other forums etc where they've come to the conclusion that AFS makes far more sense than AFC in most situations (the same goes for Single Point AF Area vs. AF Tracking) so I don't believe this is specific to my shooting style.

    I appreciate that fast moving objects (motorsport / airshows etc) are hardly the most common of subjects for the masses, but I'm sure there are times when many people find themselves in a situation where they might want to shoot something along those lines, I would hate to think somebody was struggling with their camera through no fault of their own, when a few quick tweaks could transform their camera into a tool genuinely useful at shooting some challenging subjects.
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  2. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    Very helpful information, and a neat blogsite.

    Do you find it easier to shoot through a viewfinder (i.e., G3) versus using an LED screen (i.e., E-PL2)?

    How do you find the performance of the G3 to capture images of cars heading directly towards you?

    Do you find the fps on your G3 to be a limiting factor to your keeper rates?
  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I know what you mean, Harry! I've been shooting Olympus cameras as my main digital medium since I moved from film, so I've gotten used to the change in settings needed for initial setup to make the camera operate the way I want it to... and new features that come up are easy to fix since they're single, isolated items. In other words, I've gotten used to the particular nuances of my particular brand system, over many years of use. If I wasn't an experienced Olympus guy though, picking up one of these cameras from the store and using them at their default settings would be just a pain. I know it is, because I sometimes have to do this with demo cameras and the factory setup is just terrible.
  4. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Anything worth doing right takes time to figure it out. Most consumers want P&S with no thought beyond "Cheese"/click.

    I'm a noob, read the manual-very little help there. Steady use for 5 months and I just accidentally found out how to set the IS from the rear dial.

    I can see where it would be quite frustrating to go from one system well known and picking up a new one and being stymied at every turn-even though they are very similar. I had the same experience when switching from Yoshinkan to Iwama schools of the same martial art. They are the same but totally different.
  5. harry_s

    harry_s Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    The viewfinder is much easier as the camera/lens is naturally more stabilized in that position as you are essentially eliminating another direction the camera could move in by holding it against your eye. Holding it out to look through the screen makes it for more susceptible to wind and for me personally I find it harder to pan smoothly with the E-PL2.

    I've still not managed to successfully shoot cars heading straight at me at a keeper rate I'm comfortable with, it's very difficult to do. Pictures appear relatively sharp on the screen, but 9 times out of 10 it's ever so slightly out of focus when reviewed at home. The D90 could shoot sharp shots all day in that respect (which made it pretty boring and is therefore why very few of my shots were even taken like that). I haven't really experimented enough yet though, I'm sure with a bit of time I can find a selection of settings that make it easier to do.

    FPS makes no difference to me really, 95% of my shots are shot one at a time, I personally find it's much easier to concentrate on achieving a smooth pan for one shot than to adopt the 'spray and hope' approach. It's only crashes and unusual events that require a quick burst, in those cases 4fps is good enough for me.
  6. elandel

    elandel Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 16, 2010
    Milan, Italy
    Well I think many of us had the same issues on fine-tuning their cameras. I still have mie with my new GF1 even if I own a G2 already for a few months.

    I know it seems odd but jpegs with same settings on the 2 bodies don't just have the same output: or that is what it seems to me.:confused: 
  7. harry_s

    harry_s Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Wiltshire, UK
    Absolutely, but I think the issue around AFC/AFS is a bit more than fine-tuning. It's literally a case of the camera being usable or not in certain circumstances.

    For someone moving into the system they are probably going to put it down to poor technique (or immediately want a DSLR) when actually it's a fairly crucial camera setting that is hampering their ability to shoot.

    As I said, probably something that the majority would never notice as M4/3 doesn't have a great reputation for fast moving sport (perhaps unfairly) but approaching it from where I have it's frustrating to note that actually 'under the hood' the camera is perfectly capable of doing it if you ignore the manual.
  8. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    1. It's new
    2. It's set up for consumer, and you want to do pro things with it
    3. It's SO powerful, there are a ton of menu options. Kinda like the difference between learning how to use "notepad" vs MS Word.
    3. IIRC, you didn't ask :)  The AFS vs AFC thing was known about from the beginning.
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