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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:09 am 
Hey all, I recently got a Panasonic ZS7.

I always wanted to get photos of flowing water, beaches, waterfalls, etc, with the water smoothed out.

However, despite the Manual controls on the ZS7, if I take a shot during the day, even at max f-stop (smallest aperture), it's not nearly enough to allow me to take a 1/2 - 1 second exposure without over-exposing. Of course on an SLR you can just use f-stops like f/20, f/25 , etc, however on the ZS7, all you get is f/6.3 .

So I was wondering if I use a filter (I am a TOTAL newbie at filters, so I don't even know which I would use..ND?) and simply hold it in front of the lens while the shot is taken, would that work?

If yes, what would be the cheapest filter I could get? I don't care about the size, because this camera doesn't accept filters either way, so as long as it's large enough to cover the opening (around 1 inch diameter), it should be fine.

I don't need a $100 filter that's made for $1500 SLRs, technically I can probably use sunglasses or something, but that's already too MacGyver ;-).

This thread would apply to ANYONE with a compact digital camera, so I would appreciate any help, thanks :).

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:01 am 
ZS7User - Like you, I'm not a DSLR user - yet - but wanted to use filters with my Canon SX10. I bought the Lensmate adaptor - and a couple of cheap filters - a Polariser and an ND4. $24.00 and $22.00.

Bad mistake - they were dreadul on image quality....

I went to the shop where I bought the SX10 and after asking the assistant's advice (Digital Camera Warehouse in Sydney - they're very helpful) - bought a proper Hoya CP Polariser - for $75.00. Chalk-and-cheese, so to say - it works very well...!

The El-Cheapo ND4 hasn't been replaced yet - but it will be, with a Std Hoya ND4, which is $55.00 here.

The 'better' - if not the $115.00 Pro version - Hoya CP does work somewhat like an about 2-stop ND, when turned 90-degrees from the polarising function.

Using a Polariser with an autofocus P&S camera is quite ''interesting'' - in Shutter or Aperture you'd have to lock exposure to get it to work - it's much easier to use it in Manual mode.

I just bought a Fuji HS10 (for the things the SX10 doesn't do) - which lens is properly threaded for the same 58mm filters the SX10's Lensmate adaptor uses, which is a convenient coincidence...

However - while we all like to save money - I found out the hard way that the ''cheap'' filters aren't - if you want to perserve your image quality - cheap, at all.

Regards, Dave.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:53 pm cheap filters are no good...?

The SX10 DOES have some sort of thread though right? You can properly secure the filter to the lens?

With my camera there's absolutely no thread, so I would have to hold the filter, which might not even work for long exposure since my hand would inevitable shake and probably increase/decrease the distance from the lens to the filter.

Do you have any sample images of photos taken with the "El Cheapo" ND filter? Or with any of your newer filters?

The autofocus wouldn't be an issue in my case, since I would focus first, then hold up the filter before taking the shot. That's why I'm skeptical to try $50 filters, because who says holding it up would all? Anyone try anything like this?

Thanks for the input oldwarbler :)

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:08 am 
ZS7User - No, the Canon SX10 does not have a thread for filters. What it does have is a 'groove' - which holds the lens-cap on.

(After the flimsy Canon lens-cap fails, get a generic "DSLR lens cap" from a camera shop. I got one better-fitting than the Canon original for AUD$9.00.)

The SX10 does have a bayonet-fitting on the lens barrel for the supplied hood.

The Lensmate folk make a very light but strong adaptor ring - for SX10, SX1, SX20 - that rotates into the hood's bayonet-fitting, instead of the hood. The filters screw into the adaptor's 58mm thread.

Google the Lensmate site to see how it works.

From pictures of the ZS7, it looks as if the lens telescopes back in flush with the camera body - making it slim and easy to pocket. So the filter setup that fixes to the barrel and has the slide-in square or round filters might not work - somebody here might know how to rig a "temporary slide-on" that does.

You might be able to make an elastic "collar" - look at elastic widths at a "home sewing" place - that could have about 3 small clips attached - that'd hold your 1 or more NDs in place for the longer periods needed to get the water-flowing effects. You'd need to be careful and remove it before the lens retracted, though.

With the polariser, you have to be able to rotate it to first find, then adjust, the effects. Screw-in polarisers are "two-piece" - that is, they have a base-part that usually screws into the lens (or adaptor) threads - and a ribbed-edge outer part that rotates freely.

If you take your ZS7 to a camera shop - show the assistant the diameter of the extended lens - and they'd be able to find one that "just-fits" over the end. This would prevent it "slipping around" and make it easier to hold in place and rotate - while looking at the LCD-screen - not at what you're doing with the filter.

Shots with polarisers on P&S cameras won't be "long period" - at most a few seconds. So you could use a tripod to actually hold the camera, hold the polariser in place with your left hand, and adjust the camera with your right.

You probably won't want a full-size tripod when traveling about. So get a "table" sized one that fits in pocket or carry-bag.

Again - don't buy 'the cheapest" - they'll wobble-about (been-there, done-that, too...!) - get one that's solid and firm - I paid $25.00 for one - after a "$10.00 wobbly".

Just use it as an "aimable support" - don't extend the legs, so it will be at its steadiest - just place it on a handy object.

Google GorillaPods - while they cost a bit more than table tripods, they attach to many objects firmly - so might do as you need.

If you can mount the camera firmly in one of those ways - and others might have better ideas, too - you could set the shot up with the polariser at the desired-effects rotation angle - set the camera timer so the camera doesn't "vibe" from the shutter-pressing at the actual-shot time - and as the timer runs - 2-seconds might be enough - gently hold the polariser in position.

Sorry - the cruddy-cheap filters went in-the-bin - and the messes-pix they made have long been deleted.

Here's one done by the Hoya Std CIR-PL polariser with the Lensmate adaptor on the Canon SX10. Distance was about 60ft - so this is a crop. (At 20x / 560mm equiv.) Aperture Priority, f/5.6, 1/250th and ISO-80.


Regards, Dave.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 5:40 am 
Wow thanks for the detailed info. You are right about the SX10, I was thinking of the thread for the hood as if it's made for filters.

What I planned was to use a tripod, and I did in fact look up GorrilaPods, and then set the shot up, use a 2 second timer, and hold the filter in place.

The problem with the ZS7, which I actually find annoying, is that while you are in playback mode, for literally more than 10 - 15 seconds, the lens retracts, so if I were to attach a filter to the lens, it would inevitable attempt to retract with the filter still on. So the best bet is to hold up the filter.

So to allow me to take longer exposures, is that the polariser, or the "ND" filters? I was under the assumption it's "ND", not clear what the polariser does, but I will look it up.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:40 am 
ZS7User - You wouldn't be taking photos while in Playback Mode - so you'd remove any "positioned" filter before switching to that. If the camera is actually taking a picture - even at up to the 60-seconds the camera allows, it wouldn't retract the lens.

The Maximum Shutter time for this camera is 60-seconds - only in the Manual Mode. The other semi-manual Modes seem to be limited to 8-seconds.

So the longest time you'd need to hand-hold an ND Filter would be that 60-seconds.

For those "many-minutes" high ND shots the DSLR folk do - usually needing "Bulb Mode" shutter control - you'll need a DSLR, I think.

It's the ND Filters that reduce the "Quantity of Light" entering the lens and allow the longer Exposure Times. A "good" ND Filter doesn't reduce the "Quality of Light" entering. The "cheapo" ND Filters - as I found! - do awful things to that Quality...

The Polarising Filters can do several things - including acting as a low-end (1-2 stops) ND Filter. But the main uses are to enhance Colour and Saturation, and to reduce or cut Glare and Reflections.

In the Bird pic above, there was glare coming from the warehouse roof he was perched on, and from his back feathers. I positioned the Polariser in Manual until the "glares" were reduced most, then went to Aperture Priority and took several shots.

You can use a Polariser to enhance colours of the sky - get a nice deep blue sky with good white-clouds - or the greenery of bushes and trees.

A Polariser reduces or removes the glare / reflections from water - you can use it to get images of fish below the water surface, pebbles on the bottom of a stream, so on.

If you look under "Tutorials" in the bar above, you'll find that Gordon has done ones on Polarisers and ND Filters. In the "How to Make Water Look Dreamy" one - scroll down for the part on ND Filters.

If you haven't yet studied all of the Pages in Gordon's Review of the ZS7 - it's his "usual", in-depth, hands-on, very detailed Review - that's a "must" - his are more "Study-Reports" - the best Reviews anywhere on Internet.. (I bought my Canon SX10 on Gordon's Review of it - and he was totally right on that!)

Also - if you haven't read the full ZS7 Manual (DMCZS7.PDF) - page by page - as I did the other day after downloading it - that's worth doing. You have a camera with a lot of abilities I certainly wouldn't have assumed an upper midrange P&S to have!

Regards, Dave.

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