Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Samsung NX300: Smart Mode Silhouette

Silhouette is a fairly nice Smart Mode feature and even though it was intended for photos of people, I won't be using human subjects due to the sensitivity of privacy and so on.

But who said you can't break the rules?

The reason I like Silhouette is because it gives a type of glow depending on where the light source is coming from.  More detail is kept in Silhouette than in Sunset but Sunset brings out the warmer colours.

The photo examples below were taken around sunset and haven't been edited in anyway other than to make them smaller for the blog.

To use the Silhouette Mode, as with the other modes under Smart Mode (represented as a small S surrounded by a black camera shape on the shooting mode dial):

Turn on the NX300, turn the mode dial to the small S and you will be given a selection of modes to choose from.  Use the Navigation buttons to scroll through the modes and press OK (the mode will have a blue box around it) to select the Silhouette mode, which will show with a tick as the selected mode.  You can also just touch the screen to select the mode.

The rest is easy as the camera does everything else for you, unless you want to change some of the limited settings.  But to get started, just point, half press the shutter button to focus and fully to shoot. The camera will take one photo and even in low light I didn't have a problem with blurring as the photos were sharp and clear.

Settings wise this is what I used:

Autoshare - Off (Your choice whether this is on or not)

Smart Mode set to Silhouette

Photo size - 20M 5472 x 3648 (for best results I go for the highest resolution)

Quality - Super Fine (RAW is not available in Smart Mode features)

AF Mode - Single Auto Focus (if you have a switch for Manual Focus MF and Auto Focus AF on the lens, then when AF is selected on the lens, MF will be greyed out and visa versa.  This is different for lenses like the 30mm that don't have a switch and must be manually changed in the menu)

AF Area - Multi AF

Touch AF - Touch AF - you can touch the screen to place the focus.  Tracking is not available

MF Assist - I leave this at Enlarge x5, i.e. when you want to fine tune focus using manual focus ring (small front ring) the screen will enlarge the area x5

Focus Peaking - I have this set to High Level and Colour White.  Some people don't like this as they find it distracting.  What happens is that areas considered over exposed will flash the colour selected, in this case White.  It does in no way affect the photo.

OIS - Set to Mode 1 but this is only available on lenses that support OIS e.g. 18-55mm kit lens

Drive - set to Single.  Timer is also available but Continuous is not.

Ok, so that's the extra settings that you use to fine tune the Silhouette mode. The 18-55mm lens was used with the following examples.  You may see some banding (rainbow like lines) in the sky but that is due to the quality that the photo was saved at for the web.  In the original photos you don't see any banding.

Smart Mode Silhouette - camera chose ISO 100, Shutter 1/500, Aperture f9

You can also achieve the same results in Manual but the point of Smart Mode is to make it easier for those not used to DSLRs to take photos without the hassle of settings.  ISO was kept at 100, which is perfect as noise is kept at its lowest and I didn't even need a tripod.  The ISO will go up the more the lights drops and may get to a point that a tripod is needed but at just before Sunset I didn't have an issue.

Not a great idea, but the Sun was directly behind the trees so I quickly snapped a photo.  In comparison to the Sunset mode below, the Silhouette has more impact with more detail.  But, the sky was one of our bland pale blue and white sunsets so the Sunset mode literally didn't get a chance to shine here.  Silhouette also darkened the trees, street, street sign and wall whereas in the Sunset photo you can still details in the bottom elements.

 A little less detail and impact in the sky, but would have worked better with a sky that had more red in it.  You can see feintly some red captured.  Photos were taken within a 1 minute of each other so the light source was the same.

Playing around with a more defined outline.  A wire and beaded Christmas Tree with lights.  You can see some colour has been kept for the Christmas lights but a majority has been darkened out (the star on top is made of blue beads).  No lol, that's not a UFO on the right but part of a street lamp.

Another Silhouette photo but facing the direction of the sun whereas the photo below, also taken in Silhouette, looks like any normal photo.  It was taken with the sun at my back so for successful results make sure the source of light is facing you.

Taken with my back to the source of light, in this case the Sun.  Avoid pointing your camera directly at the Sun as you can damage your eyes as well as your camera.

Just for some fun and maybe artistic value.  Different shapes; a bare Winter tree with old peach pips hanging from the branches.  Taken facing the light source (sun) and shows the stark impact of Winter.

So while Silhouette is a people thing, you can take a photo of anything that peaks your interest and get great results.

I'm a Manual Shooting Mode Fan but for those times when you don't want to fiddle with the aperture and shutter speed, Silhouette does a very nice job of capturing that drama quickly and effortlessly.

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