Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Using Shutter Speed Priority Setting with Panasonic FZ20 the answer to nonflash interior photography

In my second major outing with the Panasonic FZ20 digital camera I obtained much better results indoors where flash was prohibited and low lighting was a significant issue. I was attending the Historical Novel Society conference in Salt Lake City and visited the University of Utah Museum of Fine Art. I set the ISO sensitivity to 400 and used the Shutter Speed priority setting with a speed of 1/30 second. I was then able to get adequately-exposed sharp images thanks to the built-in digital stabilization system in the camera. Although there is increased noise in the images because of the high sensitivity setting, the pictures were still quite acceptable.

I wish I had used this setting more often in Rome. Most museums, both here and in Italy, do not permit the use of tripods (or flash). Even the digital stabilization system cannot compensate enough if the Automatic Program setting drops the shutter speed to less than 1/30 second. Without a tripod this makes it almost impossible, especially with a person like me with familial tremor, to get a sharp image.

I hope to return to Italy in 2008 and reshoot some of the darker exhibits in the Capitoline, National, and Vatican Museums. I also hope to spend several days in Florence next time so I can get a reservation for the Uffitzi Gallery, get an opportunity to photograph the exhibits at the Museum of Roman Civilization in Fermi, and the displays in the Archaeological Museum of Naples.

In the meantime I plan to attend the King Tut exhibition in Los Angeles and visit the Getty Museum while I am there as well. I want to experiment a little with the stabilizer mode setting. According to the article I have link referenced the Mode 2 setting (not the default) will actually produce a sharper image:

"When the "mode 1" setting is used, the stabilizer is always running, which helps you compose your photo. Mode 2 only activates the stabilizer when the picture is actually taken, which actually does a better job of eliminating camera shake."

I also want to experiment with the White Balance adjustment. I had problems in Rome using the present Program setting when shooting flash pictures of bronze figures. It resulted in them looking like a negative. Perhaps adjusting the white balance would resolve this problem.
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