Monday, April 28, 2014

Samsung NX300: Waterfall Feature

Waterfall Feature - Smart Mode

Finally had a chance to get to the Walter Sisulu Gardens and use the Waterfall feature on the Witpoortjie Waterfall.

First off, the smooth, misty look of water can be achieved by slowing down the shutter speed to about 2-4 seconds or more.  But the problem you have when leaving your shutter open for long exposure is that is draws in more light causing an over exposed photo.  Photographers tend to go in the very early morning or just before sunset to minimize the amount of light that enters the camera.

For those who can only use this technique during the day, they need to use a ND filter to decrease the amount of light and allow for longer shutter speeds.

Take a look at this tutorial by Scott Kelby.

With the Samsung NX300, you don't need to do anything other than set up your tripod, your NX300, change the creative mode to the Waterfall Feature (shows a waterfall) and press the button.  For extra stability so that any vibrations from touching the camera can settle down I would suggest using the self-timer for about 5 seconds.

But read further down about a mistake I made that changed my results.

To use the timer you press the the left button (of the four circling the OK button on the camera). These are the navigation buttons and the left one selects the Drive where only Single Shot and the Timer is available.

Onced press, navigate to the self-timer and before clicking ok press the top navigation button that says DISP to select the time.  Change the time to the amount of seconds you want and press ok.

Position your camera, half press the shutter to focus and check if focus is where you want it to be, then press the shutter button all the way, let go and quickly stand back.  It's crucial that you don't touch the camera or tripod until it had finished taking the photo.

With long exposure (which is what this feature uses) the slightest movement of the camera or tripod can cause blurring where you don't want it.

Even a stable surface will work but hand held you will struggle to get a clear shot.

Manual Focus is not an option, only Single Focus and the AF Area is kept to Selection AF and Multi AF.  Selection AF means that the camera owner selects where they want the focus to be.  The focus point will stay on that area chosen until the owner changes it again, meaning that no matter how many times you half press the shutter button to focus, it will remain where you placed it.

With Multi AF you can change where you want the focus to be if the camera doesn't place it where you want it, but you need to be quick about it.  Once you have touched the screen to place the focus you need to quickly half press the shutter to lock focus and then press the rest of the way down to take a photo.  As long as you see the green square on your selected focus area then focus is kept there but when it disappears you will need to select your focus area again.

Touch AF is available giving you the option of OFF, Touch AF, AF Point and One Touch Shot but Tracking AF is not an option.

I don't actually see a difference per say between Touch AF and AF Point.  From what I can tell Touch AF selects an area of focus points where as AF Point only selects one point.  But when I use AF Point and let the camera choose, an area is selected as if I were using Touch AF.

The manual doesn't provide a difference between the two so personally I just keep my setting on Touch AF.

For my examples below I used the 18-55mm because it allowed me to zoom in where I couldn't with the 30mm.  With the 18-55mm OIS is available under the Menu and the setting was Mode 1, which I completely forgot to turn off.  OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer) is meant to reduce blur caused by camera movement and works best for times when your hands are not steady or you don't have a tripod.

But when using with a tripod, it does the opposite because OIS (known as IS on Canon) is looking for camera movement and doesn't find any. This results in blurred photos and manufacturers always recommend that this option be turned off when using a tripod (as is mentioned in the Samsung NX300 manual).  Dumb me, so used to using the 30mm (which doesn't have OIS) that I made the mess up :-P.  So learn from my mistakes.

Anywho, the Samsung NX300 still did a damn good job.  Considering I didn't have a ND Filter and was taking photos midday the results with the Waterfall Feature were better (thanks to my forgetting the OIS) than my Manual Shots.

Even the ripples at the bottom of the waterfall were smoothed out.

A close up of the action.  Notice how lovely and smooth the water is.

The point of this is to show what happens if using another advanced mode like Manual, midday sun, similar settings without a ND Filter.  The Manual Mode photo with the 2 second shutter speed (while the Waterfall Feature was 4 seconds) is over exposed.  The water is smooth but I've lost detail.  I can still recover some detail in Lightroom 4 but it will take more time that it would using the Waterfall Feature.

The Waterfall Feature on the Samsung NX300 is pretty impressive, eliminating the need for extra setups.  As with the other Smart Modes, this feature only allows JPEG but no problem there.


A little experiment.  As I mention in my post about comparing examples of features, even though Waterfall is aimed at moving water, try using it with something like a plane.  Best to try with a plane where only the propellers are moving.  Break the rules a bit and use the feature for unintended situations.

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