Build complex toys and simple tools
by Tony Karp
Using the Panasonic DMC-FZ150's "Photo Style" Menu
 - The five main color settings on the DMC-FZ150's Photo Style menu - -  Panasonic DMC-FZ150 - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
The five main color settings on the DMC-FZ150's Photo Style menu
Left to right: Standard, Vivid, Natural, Scenery, Portrait
All the same exposure. Monochrome (Black and White) omitted for clarity.
"why do it simply, when you can make it wondrous and complicated?"
- A design philosophy that leads to things that do not end well.
The DMC-FZ150 has a brand new menu called "Photo Style," and it's the very first one you see when you press the Menu button. It's different from the FZ100's "Film Mode" menu and from the separate "Color Effect" and Pict. Adj" menus of earlier models like the FZ35. All of these menus performed similar functions, but with slightly different approaches.

The FZ150's Photo Style menu provides six different color rendering modes:
STANDARD This is the standard setting.
VIVID Brilliant effect with high saturation and contrast.
NATURAL Soft effect with low contrast.
MONOCHROME Monochrome effect with no color shades. (Black and white)
SCENERY An effect appropriate for scenes with vivid blue skies and greens.
PORTRAIT An effect appropriate for portrait picture with a healthy and beautiful skin tone.

The five color settings are compared in the photo above. Choosing among them is like saying which is your favorite grandchild. They all look good, in one way or another. What's interesting is that some are lighter and some are darker, but they all received the same exposure. You can reach these color settings through the Record menu, by pressing the Menu button, or through the Quick-Menu button beneath it. For the purposes of this discussion, I'll refer to these settings as "Color Modes."

But wait, there's more.

For each of the Color Modes listed above, you can adjust:
CONTRAST
SHARPNESS
SATURATION
(color vividness)
NOISE REDUCTION

These settings are much more interesting, and have led to a number of discussions on the photography forums. For the purposes of this discussion, I'll refer to these settings as "Detail Modes."

If you aren't confused yet, you haven't been following closely.

Where to start? The Detail Mode settings are probably the most important. They have the biggest effect on the image quality of the final picture. Each of these detail modes can have one of five values (-2 to +2). Let's take a look.

CONTRAST This setting expands or contracts the tonal range of the image, I usually leave this set at 0. You might want to set it to a higher value if you're shooting a scene with very flat lighting, such as on an overcast day. You might want to set it to lower value if the lighting is very contrasty, such as in direct sunlight. You can always adjust the contrast in the post-processing if you didn't get it exactly right when you shot the picture.

SHARPNESS Setting this to a higher value boosts the in-camera sharpening when the picture is taken. If you set it at zero, you can always add sharpening in the post processing. I use +1 on the FZ150 because it seems to add some detail. Setting it to +2 can leave white outlines around some details. Don't set this below 0. According to the manual, this reduces sharpness.

SATURATION This adjusts how strong the colors will be. A plus number makes the colors pop more, and a negative number cranks the colors down. I've used digital cameras where I had turn down the saturation because the colors were too bright. For the FZ150, I leave the saturation at 0. If need be, I can tune this in post processing.

NOISE REDUCTION All digital images have some noise. At the lower ISO settings, you probably won't notice it. But at higher ISO settings that you'll be using indoors, it may become objectionable. The noise reduction setting can remove some of this noise, but it can also remove detail from your images, so you have to be careful. The noise in the FZ150's images is already pretty low, so I turn the noise reduction off by setting it to -2. If noise does show up in one of my pictures, I can remove it in post processing.

As I said before, setting the Noise Reduction to -2 and the sharpness to +1 pretty much does it for me. You might want to tweak all of the Detail Mode settings a little to get the best results for your own liking.

In earlier Panasonic models, the colors menu and the details menu were separate. Now, they're all shmushed together and there's a separate set of Detail Modes for each one of Color modes. (Over 3,700 combinations.) This allows you to fine-tune the details for each color mode. (And it adds a great deal of confusion that makes my head hurt.) So if you're going to experiment with the color modes, make sure you set the appropriate detail modes as well.

There's something else you should know before trying the different Color Modes.

When you shoot a JPEG image on a digital camera, it records all sorts of information along with the image. There's standardized stuff like the camera model, shutter speed, and f/stop. There's stuff related to a particular manufacturer's camera or model. All of this information is referred to as the EXIF data. You can read this data with some photo editing programs, and there are a number of EXIF-reading utilities you can find with your favorite search engine. This EXIF data is handy if you can't remember when a particular picture was taken or the settings you used.

The settings for the detail modes -- Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness, and Noise Reduction -- all show up in the EXIF data. But the record of the Color Mode setting you used, that's another story. I searched the FZ150's EXIF data with a number of EXIF reading utilities and I just couldn't find it. Very unusual. It means that if you're experimenting with the various Color Mode settings you'd better keep notes because there's no way to go back later and see which setting you used.

(If you know where this particular information is buried, please drop me an email. It wouldn't be the first time I missed something like this.)

What to do with the color mode settings? As the photo at the top of the page shows, there is some variation, but not all that much. So I'm going to make a recommendation.

Forget the Color Mode settings. Set the Color Mode to Standard. Then adjust the Detail Mode settings and you're done. As I mentioned earlier, I set Contrast at 0, Sharpness at +1, Saturation at 0,and Noise Reduction at -2. If you want to experiment, playing with the Detail Mode settings such as Contrast and Saturation will yield the most useful results.

Now a word about post processing. When you shoot digital images, very few come out 100% perfect. Most can use some additional work, usually referred to as post processing. Modern photo editing programs make these corrections easily and some have these optimizing functions automated. A good photo editing program isn't expensive, and some are even free. So there's no reason not to put in this small additional effort, especially when you can see the improved results.

That's why the Color Modes on the Photo Style menu aren't that important. Rather than fiddling with these preset choices, shoot in just one mode (Standard) and tweak your images to the best result in post processing.

Note: After changing any of the settings in the Photo Style menu, remember to press the Set button, or your choices will be lost.

Note: If you choose MONOCHROME (Black and White), the SATURATION control gives you a toned effect. A setting of -2 gives a sepia effect, and a setting of +2 yields a cooler tint.

I'm glad we had this little talk. Now go take some pictures.
< Previous Feb 17, 2012 Next >
Copyright 1958-2017 Tony & Marilyn Karp
Web Site Design
Systems Design
The Future
About
About Tony Karp
Recent Entries
The Emperor's new watch -- in the beginning
Variations on a skink
Andy shoots raw. Ann always shoots JPEG
A butterfly in Havana -- From start to finish
Recovering highlight detail in JPEG images
A tribute to Paris on November 14, 2015
Some black and white pictures from long ago
Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 2
Panasonic DMC-ZS40 pictures - Part 1
Art in the 3rd Dimension -- A butterfly takes wing
Shooting for NBC
What's new at the zoo?
On being a photojournalist
Some pictures of Manassas
Finishing a picture
Watching the sunset in Adams Morgan
A night at the circus - 1966
Fortune Qwerkies (tm) -- Fortune cookies for the smartphone user
Art in the 3rd Dimension -- The evolution from flat to solid
Art in the 3rd Dimension -- Showing how the pieces fit together
Getting a grip on the Panasonic DMC-LF1
Some random thoughts about the Panasonic DMC-LF1
The Panasonic DMC-LF1 is a game-changer
Art and the Zen of QR Codes -- Making QaRt
A new process for printing art in the 3rd dimension
Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles!
Photographing the Perry Como Show
Hiking at Sky Meadows with my Panasonic DMC-ZS20
Working for the union
A new take on JPEG vs raw - Panasonic DMC-ZS20
Some pictures from my Panasonic DMC-ZS20 - Part 2
Some pictures from my Panasonic DMC-ZS20 - Part 1
My new go-everywhere camera - Panasonic DMC-ZS20
My brief life in the studio
Shooting Shakespeare - The Tempest - NBC, 1960
Impressionist bees
In the studio with Roz Kelly
At the Peppermint Lounge - 1962
An evening with Gene Kelly
A portrait of Donna Mitchell - Variations on a theme
The "Sky Dream Ultimate" plug-in from Wilkington-Smythe
There's a 3D object on this page and why you can't see it
Post-processing: Going from good to great
Winter pictures from my Panasonic DMC-FZ150
Using the Panasonic DMC-FZ150's "Photo Style" Menu
A valentine for the Artist's Muse
The Panasonic DMC-FZ150's controls
Some thoughts on the Panasonic DMC-FZ150 - Part 2
The Panasonic DMC-FZ150 - A cure for DSLR envy?
Some thoughts about my Panasonic DMC-FZ150 - Part 1
The Panasonic DMC-FZ150 -- Best camera ever?
Sunglasses - What can you add to a picture?
Hey, camera makers. If my smartphone can do this…
The Artmuse Variations - a look inside my new book
A tribute to George Washington on Veterans Day
A visit to the White House
The little farmhouse, the tractor, and the interesting tree
Buckminster, the baby buckeye butterfly
Memories of September 11
Happy Corporation Day!
A trip to Monterey and San Francisco
The first battle of the American Civil War -- 150 years ago
The end of an era -- The last American manned mission
Growing an Italian stone pine tree
Random thoughts on art and other stuff - From my new book
Playing with a classic - Sony DSC-R1 - Part 3, Warrenton
Playing with a classic - Sony DSC-R1 - Part 2, In the house
Playing with a classic - Sony DSC-R1 - Part 1, Winter
Some recent pictures
Fixing a Panasonic DMC-FZ18/FZ28/FZ35 problem
Into the world of shadows
Snowbound!
A walk through Warrenton
Partly moony with my Panasonic DMC-FZ35
My new Panasonic DMC-FZ35 - Part 3 - Video
Some pictures from my Panasonic DMC-FZ35 - Part 2
Happy birthday to muse...
Pixels and parking lots -- The Panasonic FZ35
Some pictures from my Panasonic DMC-FZ35
My new Panasonic DMC-FZ35 - Part 2
My new Panasonic DMC-FZ35 - Part 1
On our way to Warrenton
Evolution of an Iris
A new feature in Adobe Camera Raw 5.4
A tribute to the Apollo 11 astronauts
The pole dancer - Variations on a theme
Restoring lost highlight detail in JPEG images
A short course in photography in ten easy lessons
Kodachrome memories
A walk in the woods on my birthday
Mythbusters - More raw vs JPEG myths
Restoring lost shadow detail in JPEG images
Action!!
Expose for the highlights, develop for the shadows
Something new -- Interchangeable cameras
Honey, I shrunk the newspaper - The "Nano" NY Times
Mistaking evolution for revolution
Some pictures from the artist's muse
Photography becomes art -- Daibutsu Buddha at Kamakura
Happy House-i-versary
25 random things about the artist's muse
It happened at the Met
Some pictures and some settings - Part 4 - DMC-FZ28
Some pictures and some settings - Part 3 - DMC-FZ28
Some pictures and some settings - Part 2 - DMC-FZ28
Some pictures and some settings - Panasonic DMC-FZ28
Noiseography -- A new photographic technique
Shooting infrared with the Panasonic DMC-FZ28
You're never too young
One month with the Panasonic DMC-FZ28
A trip to Berryville - Panasonic DMC-FZ28
It's the Hobbitt's birthday
On September 11th
Shooting Tri-X with the Panasonic DMC-FZ28
A shot in the dark - Panasonic DMC-FZ28
Sunset and the far-up lens -- Panasonic DMC-FZ18
Further musings on the Panasonic DMC-FZ28
Customizing your camera for high-ISO photography
Panasonic DMC-FZ28 vs DMC-FZ18 at high ISO
Some musings about the Panasonic DMC-FZ28
Hummers, SUVs, DSLRs, and my DMC-FZ28
Panasonic DMC-FZ28 -- At the Flying Circus
Panasonic DMC-FZ28 -- The journey begins
Farewell, my Panasonic DMC-FZ18
More about the settings for the DMC-FZ18
Dealing with the modes and settings of the DMC-FZ18
Photography becomes art - Bird on a wire
The artist's muse at sunset -- DMC-FZ18
Do you need fancy equipment?
Now here's my plan
Good cookie, bad cookie
But seriously, folks...
Post-processing Mr. Squirrel
A museum of one's own
We need new words to describe what's happening
Going over to the dark side
Shooting the moon
Happy Anniversary, Hobbitt
The view from my window - DMC-FZ18
My favorite museum
A toast to the artist's muse
The DMC-FZ18, a sunset, and a glass of beer
Remembering Herbert Keppler
Shooting abstracts with the Panasonic DMC-FZ18
Fixing a Panasonic DMC-FZ18 problem
More pictures from my Panasonic DMC-FZ18
The journey of a thousand Melvins
Stairway to the stars -- Extreme post processing
DMC-FZ18 - Raw vs JPEG - The JPEG Manifesto
Chromatic aberration and the DMC-FZ18
Raw vs JPEG, the DMC-FZ18, and a mystery
Some pictures from my Kodak P880 - Part 2
Some pictures from my Panasonic DMC-FZ18
Some pictures from my Kodak P880 - Part 1
DMC-FZ18 - Don't be afraid of the dark
Shooting in "Medium" - DMC-FZ18 - The right exposure
Shooting in "Medium" and the Panasonic DMC-FZ18
In-use review -- Panasonic DMC-FZ18 - Part 2
In-use review -- Panasonic DMC-FZ18 - Part 1
Photography becomes art - Fantasy at Ida Lee
Photography becomes art - The chefs at Little Washington
My new old camera - the Kodak Easyshare P880
Photography becomes art - Variations on a theme
Doing the impossible - Part 4 - The final result
Doing the impossible - Part 3 - The solutions
Doing the impossible - Part 2 - The challenges
Doing the impossible - Part 1 - The Godfather
All the (art) news that's fit to print
The museum becomes art - #1
Photography becomes art - Making an angel
How to test a camera
Hitting the wall
Extreme post-processing - Working with infrared
Blogging 2.0 - A new interface
A funny thing happened on my way to the blog
In the beginning...