Friday, August 9, 2013

Samsung NX300 - Program Mode

Personally, I'd say that Program Mode (P on the dial) is the next step up from Smart Auto Mode for beginners in SLRs.  Here you gain a little more control by adjusting the shutter and aperture yourself while the camera keeps the exposure the same.  If you increase the shutter speed the aperture (the F and number seen at the bottom) decreases and visa versa.

Right: number of shots available, battery, Dynamic Range, photo size (20M), Drive, Flash, Metering, AF mode, Focus Area, OIS, RAW format, Fn menu
Left: Program Mode, Autoshare, AF options, Menu, Histogram (the graph)

You have the option of changing the following on the camera via the Fn button:
 EV (exposure value where you can adjust the brightness), ISO, White Balance, Picture Wizard (with various effects, AF Mode (sets focus mode), AF Area (sets the focus area), Drive, Flash, Metering

The menu button also offers the options above.

The following photos were all taken in Program Mode.  Here I'm showing the before (taken straight from the camera, unedited) and after photos (with some basic colour correction and some photos with a little more artistic fun).

ISO: 800, shutter speed: 1/200, aperture: f/5.6, no flash, handheld

ISO: 100, shutter speed: 1/60, aperture: f/5.6, no flash, handheld

ISO: 100, shutter speed: 1/250, aperture: f/7.1, no flash, handheld

ISO: 100, shutter speed: 1/640, aperture: f/5.6, no flash, handheld

The photo of the parrots was taken just before sunset, so light was low.  Considering that the parrots were moving and the low light which resulted in a slower shutter speed, the Samsung NX300 did a good job of capturing a sharp photo.  I could have opened my aperture further but then the DOF would have been narrower.  

Unlike Smart Auto Mode (where you can only save in JPEG format), in Program Mode you can select to have the camera save your photos in RAW format (SRW file extension for Samsung NX300).  SRW format requires Lightroom 4's update (which is free) in order to view and edit the file.  As said before, software manufacturers are still updating for the newer cameras.

A green line appears under the shutter speed and aperture indicating that the exposure is correct for these settings (in other modes the settings will turn red for incorrect exposure).  You will find that in some cases you won't be able to go past a certain aperture or shutter speed number (example, in low light) as this would not maintain the same exposure according to the settings.  See it as the camera looking out for you by not allowing you to over or underexpose the photo.

As you can see with the Balloon photo and Plane photo, the Program Mode on the Samsung NX300 exposed the photos fairly well. Both contained enough light to work without editing whereas the Parrots photo and Flower photo needed some minor adjustments.

The Plane photo was taken on a sunny day around mid morning where the sun was shining directly down without any coverage for me or the camera.  Direct sun can blow out highlights and look harsh, causing unwanted reflections.  The plane (a Harvard, I think), was also moving, as can be seen by the slight blur of the propeller.  

The sky is a little bland but being a typical South African Winter, no clouds were visible.  However, the NX300 still captured the blue from the top fading down to the ground into the white, smog filled part of the sky.  In the past I have had to deal with a bleached sky when using my other DSLR, where not one part of blue was visible.  It's not difficult to replace a sky or use other techniques to bring out more detail.  But that can be time consuming and I'm pretty happy with result from the NX300.

I start out any RAW format files from the Samsung NX300 in Lightroom 4, make a few adjustments and then Export to PSE 10.  You can do all of your adjustments in Lightroom 4 as it's a powerful program with quick and easy edits.  I like to add a little something extra, which is why PSE 10 is usually the last software used in my workflow.

In the Plane photo, the second plane was made to look like an old photo using Lightroom 4 and a few easy adjustments.  Nothing further was done to the photo in any other photographic software. I did try a similar effect in Photoshop Elements 10 but couldn't get the result that I wanted (and that LR4 provided), even with the Guided feature. 

That's it for now.  Next shooting mode is Aperture Priority.

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