Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Recommended settings for Samsung NX500

Did you get a Samsung NX500 (reviewed here)?  Here are the settings and menu options that I use on the NX500 for people photos:

File type: I prefer Raw+JPEG. Raw gives you the highest image quality and the greatest latitude for adjusting the shot. The disadvantage is that you need software that can convert the raw file.  I use Lightroom 6.  Another disadvantage for the NX500 is that when shooting bursts with raw, you're limited to about 6 shots.  If you're not ready for raw yet, that's ok. In the future, you probably will prefer raw, and you can go back to your photos taken in raw to edit them. In addition to raw, I also take JPEG because it makes it easier to send my images wirelessly when I want to.

File size: It depends on what you want to do with them. If you're only going to look at them on a phone or tablet, you probably don't need more than 7mb. The raw file will still be 28mb. However, if you're only shooting in JPEG, you probably should use the full 28mb. The only disadvantage of a large file size is that it takes up more space. Since space is cheap, using the 28mb size gives you more flexibility if you someday decide you want to make a large print from it.

ISO: set to Auto

ISO customizing: Auto ISO Range: set to 25,600.

Minimum shutter speed: if you're using a lens with stabilization, set to 1/125 for stationary people, or 1/250 or higher if they are moving. If you're using a lens without stabilization, and the lens is longer than 80mm, set to Auto (link to focal length), then maybe adjust to Fast 1 or Fast 2 for sharper shots, or slower speeds to get lower ISOs with less noise.

AF mode: I use CAF. Even when a person is stationary, s/he is still moving a bit. CAF ensures that the subject stays in focus.

AF area: I use Multi AF. Press OK then when you see a blue frame, rotate the top command dial (near the shutter) to adjust the size of the Multi AF area. I prefer the second largest one. Half-press the shutter to get back to shooting. To focus, position the AF area over your subject, then half-press the shutter. As long as you're half-pressing the shutter, the camera will try to track the subject, even if it goes outside of the AF area. Wait until the AF area turns green before taking the shot.

Face Detection: I usually set to off. Note: If you turn it on, it will automatically switch the AF area to Multi AF with the entire frame.  The NX500 will also automatically keep trying to focus whether or not you're half-pressing the shutter.

Touch AF: I usually set to Tracking AF.  My new approach is to set it to AF Point.  Tracking AF is unnecessary because if you use Multi AF and CAF, then the camera will track the subject anyway (even if it goes outside the Multi AF area).  The advantage of using AF Point for Touch AF is that it is like being able to switch temporarily to Selection AF, which I find helpful for backlit subjects.  Similarly, because I can readily switch from Multi AF to Selection AF, I don't assign AF Area to any of my custom keys anymore.

AF Release Priority: Focus: Shooting speed priority

Overexposure Guide: on.  If you see zebra highlights on your screen, you're being warned that those details will be lost.

Image stabilization: use OIS mode 1, which means it will activate the image stabilization only when half-pressing the shutter.  After half-pressing, give it a second to stabilize before shooting.

Metering: Multi.  By default, it will try to protect highlights.  That is the best approach for the highest quality.  But FYI if there is something bright in the scene, the exposure might look dark.  That's ok.  You adjust it when you edit the shot.

Dynamic Range: off.  If you turn SmartRange+ on, then it will automatically underexpose by 2/3 stops with any scene, even scenes that are well within the camera's dynamic range. Therefore I don't think it's a good idea to keep it on.  Just be careful of overexposing highlights.

Raw Compression: I use Normal because I don't notice the difference between normal and lossless (if you want the highest quality, choose lossless)

Noise reduction: high ISO NR set to low; long term NR set to On

Color Space: I chose sRGB. AdobeRGB gives you a wider gamut (more colors), but cannot be represented accurately by most browsers, where it looks washed out.  Since my photos are shown on the web most of the time, I use sRGB.

Key mapping:
custom: Movie STBY.  Pressing it helps frame your movies.  It can also be used to view depth of field in realtime.
AEL: AFL.  When using CAF, sometimes you don't want it to change focus.  That's when AFL is useful.
EV: AF Area.  AF Area is unnecessary because it's accessible from the Fn menu and because I now use AF Point for my Touch AF setting, which is similar to switching temporarily to Selection AF.  Instead I now assign this button to Dynamic Range to temporarily turn on SmartRange+ in high-contrast situations to avoid blowing highlights.
Command dials: top dial is consistently for EV. In manual mode, I use the top dial for shutter speed.

iFn Setting: I use iFn Plus. I use iFn+AEL for Framing Mode (when I want to shoot with flash), and iFn+EV is for Quality (to switch to JPEG when shooting long bursts).

Auto Self Shot: Off.  Self shot is too sensitive for me, triggering shots when I don't intend to.

AF Lamp: Off.  The AF Lamp is too bright and distracting for people.

E-Shutter: On. Avoids shutter shock, making your shots more likely to be sharp.