Digital cameras have so many features and functions, that it makes it difficult to know how to set them up. In setting up your camera, you need to think about what type of photographs you mainly shoot, and use this as the basis for setting up the camera.
Here is how I have chosen to set my camera up for everyday shooting, I think that this is a good starting point for most Lumix users.
Basic shooting set up
Things I rarely change once they are set up
- White balance – Auto
- File type – RAW (you can set this to JPEG if you are not going to post process your images)
- Camera shooting Mode – Aperture Priority
- ISO – Manual
- Photo style – Standard (does not matter when shooting RAW)
This is my basic set-up for everyday situations, I control my aperture, and my camera sets the shutter speed based on my ISO.
A word about ISO
As photographers, we are often told to keep our ISO as low as possible, and that is a good rule of thumb. ISO relates to how sensitive your sensor is to the light, in bright light we use lower ISO settings and when the light is dull or darker, we tend to use higher ISO settings to help us arrive at the optimum aperture/shutter speed combination to expose our scene or subject correctly.
Although I use manual ISO, you may want to leave your ISO on ‘Auto”, it gives you one less thing to worry about.
Focus Mode / Auto Focus Mode
- Focus mode – AFF (Auto Focus Flexible)
- Auto Focus Mode – 1 area focus
I tend to leave my camera in AFF mode unless I am shooting action, then I turn to AFC, (autofocus continuous). AFF works by detecting movement, so if your subject moves as you press the shutter, the focus will reset on your subject, helping you ensure that your subject stays in focus.
- Setting I – low speed burst (L)
- Setting II – High speed burst (H)
For the drive mode, I keep my camera on ‘Setting I‘ for most situations, this allows me to take one shot but also means that if I keep my finger pressed on the shutter button I can take several consecutive shots at low speed. If I am shooting action shots then I switch to ‘Setting II‘ for high-speed burst shots.
- Multiple metering
- Spot metering
I use multiple metering for evenly lit scenes but when the lighting is tricky and I want to be sure I expose my subject correctly I switch to spot metering. Spot metering is another subject, if you are just learning or new to photography, you probably want to use multiple metering.
The function buttons on your camera can be programmed to your needs and can be very useful, for example, I have one of my function buttons set to ‘one-shot spot metering‘, which means that I can quickly switch from multiple metering to spot metering at the touch of a button.
I use the following set-up for my Lumix G9, depending on your Lumix camera model, you may or may not be able to use custom assigned function buttons.
- Function button 4 – One shot spot metering.
- Function button 16 – 1 Shot RAW + JPEG.
- Function button 17 – Autofocus far.
- If your camera is struggling to focus on something far away then one press of this button sets your autofocus to the distance.
- Function button 18 – Auto exposure reset.
- Auto exposure reset is great if you shoot in manual mode, you can quickly press a button and get a base exposure then tweak your aperture, shutter speed and ISO to your preference. A good example of using this function would be, you have just finished shooting outside in bright light and are now indoors, press the assigned function button and imediately your expsoure is adjusted for the indoor lighting.
- Function button 19 – Auto focus near.
- Similar to auto focus far except that the focus snaps to close focus.
Make use of your camera function buttons to quickly access the features you use the most.
I have shown you my basic camera set-up to help you get started with your Lumix camera. It is only a guide and you can set your Lumix camera up to meet your needs.