Fuji HS20EXR Review..Pt. 10… Manual Mode.
One of the most useful modes to operate the HS20 in is Manual mode. It gives the user the extra flexibility outside of the pre-programmed modes. This is especially useful for difficult shooting situations such as facing sun wards on a bright day. Low f ratio’s tend to blow out detail you wish to capture. By stopping down (using higher aperture no’s eg: f 9 or f 11) and faster shutter speeds, allows the photographer to use the HS20 much like its DSLR cousins. The natural aperture range for the HS20’s lens is f2.8 to f 5.6. This means that when zoomed out the lens is quite fast, and allows a lot of light to reach the sensor. Conversely the lens is considered rather soft at full zoom (zoomed in) at f 5.6 making images less crisp and duller than at shorter focal lengths.These attributes are not great impediments to the performance of the lens but rather a physical limitation that the user needs to be aware of before taking a image. So this is the aperture range that the Fuji lens utilizes as the minimum aperture range available to the photographer. The maximum aperture is f 11. This is not a large range given the nature and design of the lens, however f 2.8 to f11 does give a reasonable amount of variability for the photographer to use.There are however other restrictions, primarily the starting f ratio at different focal lengths. Below is a list of the starting apertures available at some commonly used DSLR lens equivalents. Think of it as using seven different lens all with different f ratios.
|Fuji HS20 shown with lens at 50mm SLR equivalent.|
- 24mm = f2.8 – f11
- 50mm = f3.6 – f11
- 80mm = f4 – f11
- 135mm = f4.5 – f11
- 200mm = f5.0 – f11
- 300mm to 500mm = f 5.0 -f11
- 600mm to 720mm = f5.6 – f11
Understanding these limitations of the HS20EXR’s lens will help in the decision as to what aperture/shutter speed combinations are available for different shooting situations. In this mode Ev adjustments are not available. The +/- button controls the aperture setting and the command dial controls the shutter speed as its primary function in this mode. Other settings such as ISO, metering, film simulation are all available to the user in manual mode. As this mode is non EXR the dynamic range is reduced with the range being as follows:
- ISO 100 = DR 100%
- ISO 200 = DR 100% – DR200%
- ISO 400 to 3200 = DR 100% – DR 400%.
This then leads to the question, when should I shoot in manual mode? There is no right or wrong answer to this as it is up to the individual to decide on what the required outcome will be. We can however generalize somewhat.
|Approaching a shaded area.|
I was recently confronted with a situation a few days ago where I wanted to take a photo of a flower and new flower bud. These items were in a deeply shaded area as can be seen in the picture of my wife as she approached one such area. I had the camera in EXR Res Pri mode with the camera set to 4:3 (8mp) image size (set to fine) and had lifted the EV to +2 and ISO to 400.
|Image taken in EXR Res Pri Mode
ISO 400 @f4.5 & 1/250sec
I didn’t want to use a higher ISO as this would present with more sensor noise than I wanted. By changing to manual mode and leaving the ISO setting at 400, I set the aperture at f5.6 and shutter to 1/80 sec. Spot metering was used, with Auto white-balance and single point AF. When using the camera in EXR mode the camera would set aperture at f4.5 and shutter to 1/250 sec and even with the Ev set at +2.00 I still wasnt getting the right image as the camera wouldn’t slow down the shutter speed. Both images shot at the same focal length with the manual exposure being considerably brighter and better detailed.
|HS20 EXR – Manual mode
ISO 400 @ f 5.6 & 1/80sec.
This is common with the HS series cameras as the HS10 also exhibited this trait in P mode, necessitating manual shooting as well.
Again this isn’t a bad thing but rather just one of the physical limitations of this camera. All cameras have there individual limitations and the HS20 is by no means unique in this.
As can be seen from the images above there are definite advantages to shooting the HS20EXR in manual mode. Does it work well? In short yes it does, within the physical constraints of the lens design, manual shooting can be immensely satisfying, allowing the photographer the chance to capture an image that otherwise may not have been attainable. It is well worth the effort to experiment and use this mode as it can yield some very good results.