As many of you may recall from my introduction to 4K photography last month, I have been trialling the Panasonic LUMIX GX8 camera and its 4K capabilities. The camera allows me to shoot HD video at the rate of 30 frames per second, with each frame providing me with a high resolution photograph that can be used for enlarged prints, displaying on an HDTV or any other similar purpose. In short, I can capture the precise moment I want from a scene. Of course, the camera and concept is still relatively new to me so I’m still learning, but this week I visited Panasonic’s Technical Product Marketing Specialist, Mark Baber, and his team at the Panasonic stand at the Family Travel Show in London to see what tips I could pick up.
Visiting them at a trade show or at one of their National Trust roadshows is a great way to learn more about their range of mirrorless 4K cameras, get first-hand advice and, of course, actually try out the kit for yourself. They’ll have time to spend with you in a way that you’re unlikely to get by just visiting your local camera shop. It’s an opportunity for you to be educated about 4K photography, learn about the cameras’ touchscreen capabilities, see how easy it is to use the WiFi features, learn about focussing, discover more about face recognition (did you know that, unlike DSLRs, Panasonic’s eye recognition detects eyes through glasses?!) and much more.
I went with the express aim of finding out how to improve my 4K photography and these are the 10 top tips I came away with:
1. Preparation is key
The more you can prepare for a photograph, the better the results you’re likely to get, so think about what it is you’re looking to achieve and how best to go about it. Photographing our dog, George, is always a challenge for me as he never sits still, but with a bit of planning, a tripod and a helpful volunteer (my youngest son, who assisted by throwing leaves!), I was able to catch this shot of him in action.
2. See the light
As with all photography – but particularly with 4K photography – the importance of light cannot be underestimated. Quite simply, the brighter the conditions, the faster the shutter speed you can have, and this in turn will allow you to ‘freeze’ the action more effectively when photographing scenes where this is a lot of movement.
3. Pay close attention to your shutter speed
The Panasonic LUMIX GX8 shoots at a rate of 30 frames per second when in 4K mode. Shooting at over 1/1000th of a second is ideal when it comes to 4K photography. A high f stop (narrow aperture) will allow you to select a fast shutter speed so of course this goes hand-in-hand with the ambient light conditions. Take a look at the constant preview mode as this allows you to see the effect of your selected shutter speed.
4. Don’t be ashamed to use the iA mode
As amateur photographers, we are always been told to stop using the automatic mode on your camera, and that the best results are achieved by getting to grips with the manual controls and taking charge of the aperture and shutter speed. That said, the iA (intelligent auto) mode on the Panasonic LUMIX GX8 is exceptionally good, continually checking the ambient light level and adjusting the exposure settings as conditions change, with very pleasing results. If you’re pressed for time, don’t be ashamed to revert to iA mode, particularly if it could make the difference between capturing an image or missing it completely.
5. Explore the manual controls and creative capabilities
Remember, if time permits, you can use the manual control and you don’t have to shoot in standard mode. The Panasonic LUMIX GX8 has numerous creative options – for example, the dynamic monochrome option allows you to select a colour that you want to pick out in an otherwise monochrome image .Here’s an example of this in action – a picture of the Panasonic stand at the Family Travel Show, pulling out the reds from the scene.
There are multiple modes, all of which can be used in 4K, as well as other controls at your disposal – the C modes, function buttons and aspect ratio can all be changed.
6. Learn from trial and error
The beauty of digital is that you can experiment at no cost. Don’t be afraid to try things out – at worst, you can just delete and try again. At best, you might just get that incredible shot you’d only previously dreamt of achieving. What’s more, they often say that the best way to hone your skills is to practice.
7. Choose the right 4K mode
The Panasonic LUMIX GX8 has three 4K photo modes to choose from. The 4K Burst is perfect for when the photographer knows when to shoot, but needs to keep shooting for a certain period. The 4K Burst (S/S) mode is ideal for when the photographer doesn’t know when the moment will come. And the 4K Pre-Burst is suited to when the photographer knows the exact moment to shoot. With the latter, the camera captures one second before the button is pressed and one second after (for a total of 60 frames). Yes, you read that right… thanks to the camera’s loop recording feature, with 4K you can actually photograph something that’s already happened!
8. Choose lenses carefully
Brighter and faster lenses let more light into your camera so choose your lenses carefully and this will allow you to capture faster motion – perfect for 4K photography. And the beauty of the Panasonic cameras is that they are not locked down – you can use Olympus lenses, there are adaptors for old Canon and Nikon lenses, or you could opt for a high quality Panasonic Leica Nocticron lens with a 42.5mm focal length – whatever suits you, your photography and your budget best.
9. Re-evaluate your kit
4K photography will make you look at photography in a different way, and might encourage you to review your camera gear. Many photographers are nowadays ditching their DSLRs in favour of lighter, more compact mirrorless cameras. If you don’t already have a tripod, this is something you’ll definitely want to consider for some shots. An additional battery (using the pre-burst mode with 4K photography can devour your battery life!) is something else to think about, as is an external drive for storing all that amazing HD footage you’re now able to capture. U3 SD cards with a minimum of 100 Megabits per second are essential for 4K photography, too.
10. Enjoy it!
Above all else, enjoy the incredible possibilities that 4K photography brings. Just go out there, try it out and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve, even with limited experience.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Panasonic Lumix UK.