The Panasonic DMC-FZ28 is a far more complex camera than its predecessor, the DMC-FZ18. It has more modes, more menu options, and many new features and capabilities to be explored. So in this entry, I'm going to start listing some of the features and settings that I've been using. While these features are particular to the FZ28, there are similar settings on other cameras of this breed.
There are three areas for settings -- the controls and dials on the outside of the camera, the camera's main menu system, and the quick-access menus that you get by pressing in on the camera's joystick. In this post, we'll take a look at the FZ28's external controls.
The most important control is the FZ28's mode dial on the top of the camera. Through it, you can access all sorts of special modes, each aimed at a particular photographic situation. They're all explained in the user manual, and it's certainly worth experimenting with them.
If you're just starting out, you might want to set the Mode dial to the red "iA" setting. This puts the camera in its most automated mode. For new users, it's a good way to explore the camera's capabilities.
Most of the time, I use the "P" mode, as this gives access to most of the camera's adjustable settings. I also use the C1 and C2 positions on the Mode dial. These allow me to store up to four sets of custom adjustments.
Some people use the "A" setting, which allows them to specify the camera's aperture, while the auto exposure system adjusts the shutter speed. This is useful if you feel that the lens is sharper at certain apertures, or if you want to control the depth of field by setting a specific aperture. (Lower numbers give less depth of field and higher numbers give you more.)
You can also use the "S" mode to force a specific shutter speed. Use longer shutter speeds to add blur in things like moving water, and faster shutter speeds to catch action.
The Record/Playback function is now a slide switch that falls under your right thumb when gripping the camera. You can use this for reviewing your pictures without fiddling with the mode dial as on previous models. It also gives more information than using the "Review" function (now labeled "Fn").
On the top of the camera are the macro button (flower symbol) and the AF/MF button used to set the camera from auto to manual focus.
On the back of the camera are the EVF/LCD button, used to switch where the image is displayed, and the AF/AE lock, to lock the exposure, the focus, or both, depending on preferences set in the main menu. The DISPLAY button changes how much information is displayed, and is used for several other functions, such as setting the white balance.
The four-way switch is used for a number of functions such as varying the exposure, for navigating the camera's main menu system (use the SET button to access this), and for moving between images when reviewing them.
In a future post, we'll take a look at the DMC-FZ28's main menu system.