Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Samsung NX300 Smart Mode: Sunset and Fireworks

EDIT:  In the Fireworks example below you will notice that the photo is not in focus.  I thought at the time this was my mistake but later found out that it could be how the feature works i.e. I was too close.  If you find that your photos using this feature are not in focus take a look at this blog post Fireworks.

Nighttime photos are popular but can be a pain if you have the wrong settings and bad lighting.  I haven't had a chance for decent photos using Night and Light Trace modes yet but I tried using the Fireworks mode in a slightly different way.  Nighttime also means noise in the photos but so far, again, noise has been handled well with the Samsung NX300 although Sunset did show a slight increase in noise.

For the Fireworks mode, while they are beautiful I opt for no fireworks because of the effect it has on my animals and my furkids are far more important than some pretty lights.  There are fireworks without the bang but please do not light any fireworks near pets or wildlife, it's like a warzone for them.


In Sunset mode, you are able to capture the amazing colours of a sunset and in South Africa we vary from a beautiful blue and purple to a brilliant red and orange.

I had a lovely photo of trees that formed a heart shape with the purple and blue sky but for the life of me can't remember where I stored it.  Will scout for the photo but Sunset did a great job on the colours.

Below is a photo of one of our red/orange sunsets which I took handheld without a tripod.  Ok, the red is usually due to the pollution in the air and smoke from fires (dry grass burning) but still, the scene can be something amazing.

Drive is set to Single or Timer so multiple shots are out although this wasn't a problem for me as the NX300 didn't take long to process the photo as it did with Night mode.  I have already tried Night mode but the photos are not to my liking as the scene wasn't all that wonderful.

AF Mode only allows for Single AF or Manual AF, no tracking.  Flash is not an option, that one is fairly obvious but the majority of the other settings are similar to the other modes.

Quality, as with the other Smart Modes only allows for JPEG and not RAW.  I generally set the Photo Size to 20M (5472 x 3648) and Quality to Super Fine.

ISO 400, 1/80, f5.6 using the 18-55mm lens

The above photo was not edited in any way off the camera, the colours are exactly what I saw.  There is a nice graduation from sunset to darker sky but I did find that there was quite a bit of noise even though ISO was 400.  Noise and artifacts became more evident when saved as a smaller photo.  There is also a bit of bleeding on the edges of the trees.

As said above, I didn't use a tripod and successfully took photos handheld.  

The colours in Sunset are enhanced and captures the colour exactly as you see it so no further editing is needed in most cases.  Just be careful with your editing should you want to do something further with the photo or else banding and artifacts will appear.


I avoid fireworks for my furkids.  But that doesn't mean you can't have some creative fun.  Fireworks mode uses long exposure of about 3 seconds so it's long enough to use a light source and move it around for some light painting.  You can do the same with Light Trace but with Night mode you will get ghosting (as it takes about 4-5 shots at one go).  I will go into detail when I learn more and get better shots.

I experimented with sparkles in Fireworks mode but was quite close to the camera (not the brightest of ideas) so the photos are a little out of focus.  Fireworks are not meant to be right in front of the camera so some distance might be needed for a more focused photo plus a longer exposure will mean more blur because of camera shake.  Camera shake is not a bad thing in this case as it can create finger like designs with fireworks but if you want clear, perfect shots then you need a tripod.

In the first photo I held the sparkle still for the full 3 seconds with the camera on a tripod.  My hand is blurred because I wasn't dead still but even with that there is still detail in the sparks.

ISO 100, f8, 3 seconds

Here I played a bit, drawing squiggly lines.  I didn't have much space to move around in else you would have seen a photo of my prancing around with a trail of light lol.  This is an example of how a shooting feature/mode can be used for something else other than what it was originally created for.  

The background is completely black, which is good considering I wasn't far from a building and light from the sparklers could have lit unwanted areas.  So you are able to create imaginative photos without having to worry too much about having unwanted surroundings appear in the shot.

If you are into serious light painting then you need to use Manual mode so that you can select the length of time that you want. 

Much like Sunsets, Tracking is disabled and Drive is kept to Single and Timer.  

A shorter exposure or multiple shots would make the sparkle more defined and I have taken photos in the past with multiple shots on short exposures (about 1/50).  But those were directly in front of me and therefore brighter so enough light was able to hit sensor.  If there isn't enough light hitting the sensor at a shorter exposure you photo will come out darker/muted.  

Experiment (safely of course) and try different ideas!

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