Generally, when we get a compact camera, especially an entry level model (read: cheap low-end camera), we just intend to take snapshots and will use the automatic mode. That’s why it’s called a point and shoot, i.e. just point the camera towards the subject and press the shutter button.
However, in certain conditions, we would really want to have manual control over our pictures, especially for those of us who have DSLRs. I usually carry my cheap Lumix LZ8 wherever I don’t have any intention to take any photographs, for those just in case moments. This evening I was having dinner in Chili’s and decided to take some photos. Out came the LZ8 in iA mode (intelligent Auto). I pointed and shot … but everything is just so wrong with it! It was dark (yes, it is a dark place but I expected the iA to work) and it had wrong white balance. Ok, ok … I turned off the flash but then I would expect it to boost up the ISO automatically and use the largest aperture settings and maybe a slower shutter speed. It did a reasonable job to select
- f3.3, and
- shutter speed of 1/8th
I guess it is intelligent enough to know that there is a person in the image and hence tries to have the fastest possible shutter speed. But my subject is actually the food and with shadows and people moving around in the background, it just didn’t work for me …
Anyway, luckily for me, the LZ8 has a simple enough interface for me to do some manual settings, especially for the white balance. Set it to
- ISO-200 (ISO-400 just too grainy)
- f4 (the maximum possible on this little fella is f3.3 but I find that f4 seems to work better)
- Incandescent mode for the white balance
- Spot metering (instead of wide)
- Varying shutter speed according to exposure, but mainly around 1/3rd
Ok, that sounds weird .. and didn’t make much difference from the auto mode. But, I am not sure why, it turned out much better.
1/3rd Shutter Speed (no post-processing)
1/3rd Shutter Speed but Over-exposed! (no post-processing)
I guess it is still a useable little camera but you will need to use the manual mode in such a situation. Of course, the sharpness of the pictures will be compromised as I believe the low light conditions will effect the Auto-Focus.
After dinner, I actually went to visit the Canon shop to have a look at the Powershot S90 … but they don’t have stock! Hmmphhhh …