Underwater Video Tips: Best video settings for Panasonic LX7
I thought of doing a debrief of the settings I use as I see few people that have bought this camera and have few niggles to go through and the obvious learning curve of new equipment so here we go.
Which Video Setting
It is always possible to reduce detail if needed so always shoot in the highest mode AVCHD progressive that in the menu is called PSH this records at 28 Mbps.
Which Mode to Use for Video
The LX7 has a one touch video mode that is accessible in still mode. When you press this button, even if the camera is in Aperture or Shutter priority and even in Manual, the movie clip is recorded in Program mode.
It follows that the mode to use to have full control is the creative video mode accessible through the mode dial.
Standard Setting for Creative Video Mode
I use the Shutter priority setting submenu in this mode. This is because the LX7 does not follow the 180 degrees shutter rule in video program mode.
Set your shutter speed to 1/100 for PAL and 1/125 for NTSC so that your shutter speed is double of the frame rate (1/50 for PAL and 1/60 for NTSC).
Exposure Lock Button
I never use the manual or the aperture priority mode as I find the lens fairly sharp even in macro and very small subjects. When I have changing light I point the camera to the exposure I want and the click Exposure Lock. To disable focus lock you need to go into the menu and set the button to AE lock only.
I personally find the standard exposure of the LX7 underwater far too bright. So using the exposure compensation dial found by pressing the shutter speed wheel I dial down to -2/3. This is personal sometimes I even go down to -1.
ISO and Max ISO
The LX7 has a very bright lens even at telephoto end and this lens produces also a very sharp image. In the worst case of deep water with low light I found that having an underexposed but cleaner picture at ISO400 is better than letting the camera go all the way to high ISO. So in the menu I set ISO MAX to 400 or in some cases I push this down to 800. I set the ISO to Auto as the camera generally keeps it very low anyway.
I leave autofocus for video mode to on and I ensure that the autofocus is set to single area. Be careful as the default setting is face detection and that does not work well underwater! Multi area and tracking are not available in video mode.
In video you can extend the 90mm lens to 180 with the iZoom and to 360mm with digital zoom. I set iZoom to on and Digital zoom to off as I have seen that the iZoom is very useful in macro and the picture quality is not visibly affected.
I use multi metering for landscapes and centred weighted for close ups and macro.
This is a tricky setting; generally I keep it off or on Low as the standard settings clip the highlights. In doubt turn it off.
This setting controls contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction. I use the standard setting that is a little bit oversaturated. If you do a lot of colour corrections in post processing use the Natural setting. The footage will be less saturated and a bit less sharp with less noise reduction.
I use two custom settings WB1 and WB2 one for shooting with ambient light and the other one with lights that I only use in special circumstances.
I leave this on and it does not affect the field of view.
Zoom resume has to be left off as this delays the camera ready to shoot time and ends up with missed opportunities.
It is useful to leave this on.
I record all my settings for shooting in ambient light in the C1 mode this has all the settings are describes and recalls the Custom White Balance 1.
I then set another menu C2-1 with auto white balance for shooting with lights and menu C2-2 for shooting with lights and WB2.
This is an example video shot with those settings and no additional lenses this is with video lights and auto white balance little to no correction in post processing.
This other video is with some grading applied and ambient light for most
I hope you found this useful and happy shooting!