Archive for February, 2022

Video settings: Apple iPad mini 6

February 25, 2022

Who knew the default video settings on my Apple iPad mini 6 would create movies that couldn’t be uploaded “as is” to some of the more popular social media sites? I didn’t.

Apple seems to be promoting use of the HEVC video format. “High Efficiency Video Coding,” also known as H.265, isn’t supported by either Facebook or YouTube.

Thanks to Kyle Margenau, a good friend and former colleague, for coaching me up on how to fix this problem. Navigate to “Settings,” select “Camera,” then select “Formats.” Change the setting from “High Efficiency” to “Most Compatible,” as shown below.

Set “Record Video” for “1080p at 30 fps.”

Now the iPad camera will record movies in the H.264 video format, also known as .MP4, one of two video formats recommended by Facebook and YouTube.

The Backstory

In my last blog post I mentioned I’m working on a new post that’s taking longer to finish than expected. I used my Apple iPad mini 6 to shoot a few “quick-and-dirty” video clips to include in the new blog post. That’s when I discovered I couldn’t upload the videos to YouTube. Like Roseanne Roseannadanna says “It’s always something!

Related Resources

Post Update

The following screen capture shows the camera settings for my Apple iPad mini 2. As you can see, the default settings for “Record Video” just work. I think it’s safe to say this is where I got the idea that my iPad mini 6 would just work too. Live and learn.

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Photo Gear Talk

February 22, 2022

I’m working on another “how to” blog post related to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 superzoom bridge camera. The new post is coming together more slowly than I’d hoped and isn’t ready for publication. In the meantime, let me make lemondade from lemons and introduce a new permanent page in my blog.

Photo Gear Talk” is a work-in-progress that I created to showcase some of the better “how to” blog posts I’ve written for select Canon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic digital cameras, as well as some useful accessories including external flash units, power sources, tablets, and action cameras.

Although I use both “Categories” and “Tags” for all of my blog posts, I think readers of my blog will find “Photo Gear Talk” to be a faster way to find links to blog posts that should be helpful/useful. The link to “Photo Gear Talk” appears in the right sidebar under “Pages.”

As always, suggestions for improvement are invited and welcome.

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Custom settings: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300

February 18, 2022

I prefer to use a combination of camera settings that I call “set it and forget it,” that is, select settings that work for most subjects in most lighting conditions, enabling me to focus on the subject rather than futzing around with camera settings.

Wouldn’t it be convenient if there were a way to save a few of these setups for fast recall whenever you want? Turns out the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 superzoom bridge camera features three Custom settings: C1; C2; and C3.

The preceding image shows the camera settings for C1: “M” (Manual Exposure Mode); “Macro Mode,” as indicated by the AF-flower(icon); ISO set for either Auto (ISO limit of 400) or 100, not shown; f/7.1; shutter speed 1/640 s; and 0 ev.

Editor’s Notes: Although you might be fooled into thinking the setting for exposure compensation (ev) is “-3,” it’s actually “0.” In this case the camera display is telling you the photo is underexposed by at least three stops. Remember that ev doesn’t work in Manual Exposure Mode.

WB (White Balance) is set for flash. Notice the flash icon (located along the top of the screen, to the right of “STD.”) indicates no flash — this icon changes when either the pop-up flash is opened or an external flash unit/flash trigger is mounted on the hotshoe of the camera.

The white square in the lower-right corner of the LCD is where the histogram is shown. In this case, the histogram is simply a vertical yellow line along the left side of the square indicating the camera “sees” only blacks.

Remember all of the camera settings that I made by drilling down into the menus? All of those settings are included in the Custom settings too.

My preferred settings for C2 and C3 are the same with the exception of shutter speed: C2 = 1/800 s; and C3 = 1/1000 s.

How to save and use Custom settings

Let’s say you’d like to save a Custom setting using Aperture priority mode. Set the Mode dial to “A” and make all of the camera settings you prefer.

Next, press the Menu/Set button (on the back of the camera), select Custom (wrench-C icon), p. 1/9 Cust.Set. Mem. Use the right and left Cursor buttons to select C1, C2, or C3 and press Menu/Set. Follow the same sequence of steps in order to overwrite one of the Custom settings.

In order to shoot photos using your Custom settings, set the Mode dial to “C” to access the Custom settings saved to your camera. Use the right and left Cursor buttons to select one of three Custom settings and press the Menu/Set button.

Switch Custom settings (e.g., from C1 to C2) by pressing the Menu/Set button, then use the right and left Cursor buttons to select one of the other settings.

It’s worth noting you can change camera settings during a photo shoot without changing the Custom settings permanently.

Manual mode plus Custom settings

I prefer to shoot using Manual mode. The aperture is set for f/7.1 for greater depth of field and the shutter speed is set for ≥ 1/640 s in order to reduce camera shake.

At telephoto focal lengths, camera shake is the enemy of tack-sharp photographs. There are three ways to reduce/eliminate camera shake.

  • Use the reciprocal rule. Use a fast shutter speed, equal to or greater than the reciprocal of the lens focal length (actual focal length for full-frame sensor cameras or 35mm equivalent for crop sensor cameras), in my case, usually no less than 1/640 s for a 600mm telephoto lens (35mm equivalent).
  • Use a camera flash. Set the flash power ratio for 1/16 power and increase/decrease as necessary.
  • Optional: Use either a monopod or tripod. Remember to turn off image stabilization when using a monopod/tripod. [Menu/Set, Rec, p. 7/7 = Off.]

Related Resources

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Camera settings: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300

February 15, 2022

Here is a list of the current Menu settings for my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 superzoom bridge camera. This blog post is the companion post for “Programmable function buttons.” I think it might be easier to understand my rationale for reprogramming the function buttons in light of the Menu settings I use.

Settings that appear in green text are ones that I think are critical for my needs. Settings shown with an orange question mark (?) means either I don’t use that function or I don’t understand that specific camera function. Some settings are grayed out on my camera and are labeled as such in the following list. Finally, there are a few notes to myself (purple text) regarding settings changes to consider.

Rec (camera icon) = 7 pages

p. 1/7

  • Photo Style = Standard
  • Filter Settings = No Effect
  • Aspect Ratio = 4:3
  • Picture Size = L 12M
  • Quality = RAW plus Fine JPG

p. 2/7

  • Metering Mode = spot metering
  • Burst Rate = H
  • 4K Photo = 4K Burst
  • Auto Bracket = Single/Burst Settings = Burst; Step 5 1/3; Sequence 0/-/+

p. 3/7

  • Self Timer = 10 s
  • Highlight Shadow = ?
  • i.Dynamic = Off
  • i.Resolution = Off
  • Post Focus = Off ← Fn4 button

p. 4/7

  • Handheld Night Shot = Off [grayed out]
  • iHDR = Off [grayed out]
  • HDR = Off [grayed out]
  • Multi Exp. = ?
  • Time Lapse Shot = ?

p. 5/7

  • Stop Motion Animation = ?
  • Panorama Settings [grayed out]
  • Shutter Type = MSHTR
  • Flash = Firing Mode (Manual); Flash Mode (forced flash icon); Flash Synchro (1st)
  • Red-Eye Removal = Off

p. 6/7

  • ISO Limit Set = 400
  • ISO Increments = 1/3EV
  • Diffraction Compensation = Off
  • i.Zoom = Off [grayed out]
  • Digital Zoom = Off [grayed out]

p. 7/7

  • Conversion = Off [tele and close-up accessory lenses]
  • Color Space = SRGB
  • Stabilizer = Operation Mode (handheld icon) ← 1 of 3 options
  • Face Recognition = Off
  • Profile Setup = Off

Motion Picture (video camera icon) = 1/6 pages

Note: I haven’t made many settings for this menu group … yet.

p. 1/6

  • Rec Format = MP4
  • Rec Quality = 1920×1080,60p

Custom (spanner tool icon/C) = 9 pages

p. 1/9

  • Cust.Set Mem. = C1, C2, C3
  • Silent Mode = Off
  • Silent Mode = Off
  • AF/AE Lock = AF-On
  • AF/AE Lock Hold = Off [grayed out]
  • Shutter AF = On

p. 2/9

  • Half Press Release = Off
  • Quick AF = Off
  • Eye Sensor AF = On
  • Pinpoint AF Time = MID
  • Pinpoint AF Display = PIP

p. 3/9

  • AF Assist Lamp = Off
  • Direct Focus Area = Off ← Fn1 button
  • Focus/Release Priority = Release ← Change to Focus? Research owner’s manual. *** Set to “Focus.” ***
  • AF+MF = On
  • MF Assist = Side Dial icon + AF Mode button icon ← ?

p. 4/9

  • MF Assist Display = PIP
  • MF Guide = On
  • Peaking = On
  • Histogram = On
  • Guide Line = 9×9 grid

p. 5/9

  • Center Marker = On
  • Highlight = On ← over-saturated areas
  • Zebra Pattern = Off
  • Monochrome Live View = Off ← Fn2 button
  • Constant Preview = On


  • Expo. Meter = On
  • Dial Guide = On
  • LVF Disp.Style = Display the icons outside of the live view area
  • Monitor Disp.Style = Display the icons outside of the live view area
  • Monitor Info. Disp. = On

p. 7/9

  • Rec Area = set for camera icon
  • Remaining Disp. = set for either camera or movie
  • Auto Review = 2 s
  • Fn Button Set = Setting in REC mode or Setting in PLAY mode
  • Side Button Setting = AF(macro icon)/Focus

p. 8/9

  • Zoom Lever = ?
  • Side Lever = ?
  • Zoom Resume = On
  • Q. Menu = Preset [default] or Custom
  • Dial Set = Rotation (F/SS)

p. 9/9

  • Video Button = On
  • Eye Sensor = ?
  • Touch Settings = Touch Screen = On; Touch Tab = On; Touch AF = AF; Touch Pad AF = Exact
  • Touch Scroll = L
  • Menu Guide = On

Setup (spanner tool icon) = 5 pages

Note: I haven’t made many settings for this menu group … yet.

p. 2/5

  • USB Mode = Select on connection

p. 3/5

  • Menu Resume = On
  • Menu Information = On

p. 4/5

  • Self Timer Auto Off = On ← change to OFF ?

p. 5/5

  • Format [memory card]

Playback (“Play” icon) = 4 pages

Note: I haven’t made many settings for this menu group … yet.

p. 3/4

  • Rotate Disp. = On

Related Resources

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Programmable function buttons: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300

February 11, 2022

I like digital cameras with programmable function buttons, such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 superzoom bridge camera, that enable the user to customize the camera to work better for their needs.

The FZ300 features four function buttons (e.g., Fn1) plus five more icons displayed on-screen. All nine (9) buttons are programmable. There are also four default functions around the “Cursor” button that aren’t programmable, as far as I know.

It’s worth noting there’s a non-programmable button on the side of the lens barrel that’s labeled “AF-flower(icon)/FOCUS.” The “Macro Mode” menu is shown when this button is pressed. Menu options include: AF-flower(icon); an icon for macro zoom mode (grayed out); and flower(icon)OFF. I selected the first option. This option enables me to shoot photos with the camera as close as 1 cm from the subject.

After a long period of experimentation, I settled on a configuration of the function buttons that is close to ideal for me. Just to be clear I’m talking about the four physical buttons on the camera body, not including the five on-screen icons.

Fn1 = Focus Area Set

The FZ300 features a touch screen that can cause more headache/heartache than it’s worth. Although I set my camera so that touch screen operation is enabled, I use it only when absolutely necessary. During photowalks, the touch screen is facing toward the camera body so that I don’t change settings accidentally when I look through the EVF.

In order to set the Auto Focus “Focus Area” I prefer using the “Cursor” to move the focus area around the screen rather than touching a point on the LCD screen.

Caution: There is a Menu item for “Focus Area Set.” When that menu item is selected, the default functions of the “Cursor” buttons are disabled. But when a function button is reprogrammed for “Focus Area Set” the default functions of the “Cursor” buttons are still enabled.

Note: Exposure Compensation is the default setting for Fn1. This function can be accessed quickly via the Fn3 button Q.MENU.

Fn2 = Monochrome Live View

This function is useful when using Manual Focus mode and “Peaking.” Monochrome Live View changes the display from color to black-and-white. When “Peaking” is set for High Red it’s easy to see the areas that are in focus.

Note: “Wi-Fi” is the default setting for the Fn2 button; Wi-Fi can be enabled from a Menu setting too. Since I don’t use Wi-Fi often when I’m photowalking I think it’s better to reprogram the Fn2 button. [In order to enable Wi-Fi press the Menu/Set button (on the back of the camera), select Setup (wrench-icon), p. 1/5 Wi-Fi.]

Fn3 = Q.MENU [default]

Quick Menu” is the default setting for the Fn3 button. This menu can be used to set most frequently used camera settings.

It’s worth noting that by pressing the “Display” button on the back of the camera repeatedly, a version of the “Quick Menu” is one of several screens that can be displayed.

I prefer using the Fn3 button to access the “Quick Menu” because it’s easier to navigate using the Cursor buttons.

Fn4 = Post Focus

I usually shoot photographs using an external flash unit. “Post Focus” is a function that I don’t use often because it doesn’t work with camera flash. Click Posts tagged ‘Panasonic “Post Focus”‘ to see the results of my experimentation with this function.

I need to test “Post Focus” in bright, sunny light and would like to be able to set the camera for that function quickly so I reprogrammed the Fn4 button.

Note: LVF is the default setting for Fn4.

Cursor ↑ = ISO [default]

Cursor → = White Balance [default]

Cursor ↓ = Drive Mode (including 2 s and 10 s timers) [default]

Cursor ← = AF Mode [default]

Related Resources

Press the Menu/Set button (on the back of the camera), select Custom (wrench-C icon), p. 7/9 Fn Button Set. Choose Setting in REC mode and select a function button to reprogram. There are 14 pages of options from which you can select a new function to assign to a given button.

p. 1/14

  • Exposure Comp. ← default setting for Fn1 button, as labeled on camera body
  • Wi-Fi ← default setting for Fn2 button, as labeled on camera body
  • Q.MENU
  • LVF/Monitor Switch ← default setting for Fn4 button, as labeled on camera body

p. 2/14

  • AF-ON
  • Macro Mode
  • Preview

p. 3/14

  • One Push AE
  • Touch AE
  • Level Gauge
  • Focus Area Set ← reprogram Fn1 button for this function

p. 4/14

  • Cursor Button Lock
  • Dial Operation Switch
  • Photo Style
  • Filter Select

p. 5/14

  • Aspect Ratio
  • Picture Size
  • Quality

p. 6/14

  • Metering Mode
  • Burst Rate
  • 4K PHOTO
  • Auto Bracket

p. 7/14

  • Self Timer
  • Highlight Shadow
  • i.Dynamic
  • i.Resolution

p. 8/14

  • Post Focus ← reprogram Fn4 button for this function
  • HDR
  • Shutter Type
  • Flash Mode

p. 9/14

  • Flash Adjust.
  • Wireless Setup (Flash)
  • i.Zoom
  • Digital Zoom

p. 10/14

  • Stabilizer
  • Snap Movie
  • Motion Pic. Set
  • Picture Mode

p. 11/14

  • Silent Mode
  • Peaking
  • Histogram
  • Guide Line

p. 12/14

  • Zebra Pattern
  • Monochrome Live View ← reprogram Fn2 button for this function
  • Rec Area
  • Zoom Lever

p. 13/14

  • Side Lever
  • Touch Screen
  • Sensitivity
  • White Balance

p. 14/14

  • AF Mode/MF
  • Drive Mode
  • Restore to Default

See also …

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Twin-spotted versus Brown Spiketails

February 8, 2022

Four species of genus Cordulegaster are found in the Commonwealth of Virginia: Brown Spiketail (C. bilineata); Tiger Spiketail (C. erronea); Twin-spotted Spiketail (C. maculata); and Arrowhead Spiketail (C. obliqua).

According to the excellent datasets for the Commonwealth of Virginia by Dr. Steve Roble, Staff Zoologist at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, the adult flight periods for spiketail dragonflies are as follows.

MAR 16 – JUL 10 = Twin-spotted

MAR 28 – AUG 08 = Brown

MAY 11 – JUL 17 = Arrowhead

MAY 28 – AUG 22 = Tiger

As you can see, there’s a lot of overlap between the flight periods for Twin-spotted Spiketail and Brown Spiketail. Also notice the overlap between the flight periods for Arrowhead Spiketail and Tiger Spiketail.

I think we can agree the distinctive arrowhead-shaped yellow markings on the abdomen of Arrowhead Spiketail (shown below) are unmistakeable for any other species of spiketail, including Tiger Spiketail.

07 JUL 2014 | Fairfax County, VA | Arrowhead Spiketail (male)

In the opinion of the author it’s more likely a dark-colored Brown Spiketail, such as the one shown below, might be misidentified as a Twin-spotted Spiketail.

02 MAY 2019 | Fairfax County, VA | Brown Spiketail (male)

Differentiating Twin-spotted versus Brown

Twin-spotted and Brown Spiketail dragonflies can be differentiated by looking closely at the yellow markings on abdominal segments one through three (S1-S3).

07 MAY 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Twin-spotted Spiketail (male)

The pattern of yellow markings on S1-S3 is simpler for Twin-spotted than Brown, as you can see by looking at the full-size versions of these two photos, shown above and below.

11 MAY 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Brown Spiketail (male)

Female Twin-spotted versus Brown

Female Twin-spotted Spiketails, such as the one shown below, have a much longer subgenital plate (ovipositor) than female Brown Spiketails.

Photo used with written permission from Mike Boatwright.

The subgenital plate for the following female Brown Spiketail is barely visible.

09 MAY 2013 | Fairfax County, VA | Brown Spiketail (female)

It isn’t a lot easier to see the subgenital plate in a close-up view of the same individual shown above.

09 MAY 2013 | Fairfax County, VA | Brown Spiketail (female)

Coach’s Corner

Thanks to Mike Boatwright, founder and administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for coaching me up on how to differentiate Twin-spotted Spiketail from Brown Spiketail, including both males and females.

Look for yellow markings on the side of abdominal segments one through three (S1-S3): green arrows show the lack of yellow markings on S1-S3 for Twin-spotted; red arrows show yellow markings on the sides of S1-S3 for Brown.

Set 1

Twin-spotted Spiketail | male (dorsal view)

Photo used with written permission from Mike Boatwright.

Brown Spiketail | male (dorsal view)

Photo used with written permission from Mike Boatwright.

Set 2

Twin-spotted Spiketail | male (dorso-lateral view)

Photo used with written permission from Mike Boatwright.

Brown Spiketail | male (dorso-lateral view)

Photo used with written permission from Mike Boatwright.

What are the take-aways?

Remember the odonate hunter’s credo: Shoot first (photographs, that is); ask questions later. (Repeat it like a mantra.) Get a shot, any shot; refine the shot gradually.

Please don’t waste precious time in the field! You can study the photos when you return home in order to identify the subject(s) you shot as either Twin-spotted Spiketail or Brown Spiketail.

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Video settings: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300

February 4, 2022

I’m not sure, but I think the short movie featured in my last two blog posts is the first time I’ve used my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 superzoom bridge camera to record video.

Before beginning my project, I consulted Graham Houghton for expert advice regarding recommended video settings for the FZ300.

In “The Panasonic Lumix FZ300/330 Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video,” by Graham Houghton (28:51), Graham talks about “red button recording” versus “creative video mode.”

Red Button Recording

I chose “red button recording” for the simple video I wanted to create using Apple iMovie. The following settings were selected on the camera, synthesized from Graham’s recommendations in the preceding video.

  • Press Menu/Set button, Motion Picture (video camera icon), p. 1/6 Rec Format → change to MP4
  • Menu/Set, Motion Picture (video camera icon), p. 1/6 Rec Quality → change to FHD 28M 60p
  • Menu/Set, Custom (wrench-C icon), p. 7/9 Rec Area → switch from camera icon to video icon (Note: camera format = 4×3; video format = 16×9.)

Press the red button on top of the camera body to start recording in 16:9 format; press the red button again to stop recording. It’s that simple.

Well, not quite so simple. Although the camera was mounted on a tripod, I had to use Apple iMovie to delete a couple of seconds of video at the beginning and end of the clip because of camera shake when I pressed the button to start/stop recording. I intended to use the “Panasonic Image App” for remote control of the camera but simply forgot.

Creative Video Mode

At the ~10:20 mark in the video, Graham transitions to talking about “creative video mode.” I encourage you to continue watching the video for tips related to more advanced video recording.

Related Resource

Demonstrating the Panasonic Image App on an IOS device, by Graham Houghton (23:05).

See also “Demonstrating the Panasonic Image App on an Android device,” by Graham Houghton (19:38).

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


Post update: What is it?

February 1, 2022

The mystery item featured in my last blog post is a Christmas tree ornament hanging above a battery-powered flashlight with a low-power incandescent bulb.

Perhaps the bigger mystery is what makes the gold propeller inside the ornament spin around when the flashlight is powered-on.

Christmas tree ornament hanging above a flashlight.

Energy Transformations

When I taught 8th grade Physical Science classes, “energy transformations” was an overarching theme in one of the lab manuals for the course.

The Rayovac No. H22 Industrial Flashlight (shown above) uses two 1.5 V D-cell batteries to power a 2.4 V incandescent bulb. When the flashlight was powered-on and placed below the Christmas tree ornament, the following energy transformations occured.

potential energy → chemical energy → electrical energy →
radiant energy → thermal energy → kinetic energy

Knowing that kinetic energy can be thought of as energy of motion, the question remains: What gives the spinning propeller its kinetic energy?

Heat Rises

How many times have you heard this common misconception? “Heat,” more correctly referred to as “thermal energy,” flows from higher to lower concentration of thermal energy, regardless of directions such as up or down. So what causes the propeller to spin?

Thermal energy from the incandescent flashlight bulb causes the temperature of the air around the flashlight bulb to increase. The warm air around the bulb is less dense than the surrounding air so it rises; the rising air current causes the gold propeller inside the Christmas tree ornament to spin. It’s worth noting I removed the plastic “lens” from the face of the flashlight head so it wouldn’t block airflow from the light bulb to Christmas tree ornament.

The Backstory

The Christmas tree ornament shown above is a treasured memento from my early childhood. My parents bought two similar ornaments: one is blue with a gold propeller; the other is green with a red propeller (not shown).

One of the ornaments was a gift for my sister; the other was for me. I can’t remember which one was given to me. In my defense, that was a long time ago — I might have been as young as three or four years old when we got the ornaments. That said, I remember clearly how fascinated I was with the spinning propeller inside the ornament!

At that time, Christmas tree lights were relatively large colored incandescent bulbs that got uncomfortably warm-to-hot when powered-on. When my Christmas tree ornament was hung above one of those lights, the propeller spun much faster than it did when hanging above the smaller flashlight bulb used for my demonstration.

Related Resource: Candle Powered Carousel (1:01). My family had one of these too.

Copyright © 2022 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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