Working with Custom Sets

A useful feature in the Panasonic G1

Given the myriad of adjustments which can be made to the Panasonic G1’s custom settings, it’s nice that Panny has provided the option of saving up to three custom sets in the Custom Menu.

After banging away for a while and getting generally familiar with the camera over the past month, I have pretty much settled on a set of street snapper settings whose goal is to have a camera that is as responsive and fast to use as possible, while at the same time having a minimum of clutter on the EVF screen to get in the way of seeing pictures.

To save these setting, I start the camera in Aperture priority mode to which I apply the usual defaults, such as iISO (intelligent selection of ISO by the camera’s CPU), RAW picture quality (I have no use for RAW + JPG) and, of course, shake reduction. The EVF display is set to minimal display by toggling the ‘Display’ button on the rear, so that only Aperture, Shutter Speed and over/under exposure adjustment is shown, the latter set to 2/3rd stops under-exposed. I do not use the LCD screen on the rear and have it turned face in, as LCD settings are irrelevant to street snapper mode.

Custom Sets allow no fewer than ten additional settings to be saved, so with the camera still set on ‘A’ on the mode dial (for Aperture priority), I set the remaining variables as follows:

AFL/AE: AE. I want the rear panel button to lock exposure only, when depressed and held. I prefer to lock focus with a first press on the shutter button, when needed.

AFL/AEL Hold: Off. The problem with this setting is that the ‘hold’ remains in place after the picture is taken, which is exactly wrong. So ‘Off’ it is.

AF + MF: On. This allows for fine tuning focus, even though the camera is set to auto focus, by turning the focus collar on the lens. Very handy if you are shooting through a window or a wire fence, for example, as the camera can get confused and focus on the obstacle rather than on the subject.

Focus: Off. This allows the shutter button to work even if the image is not in focus. Better a slightly unsharp picture than none at all.

AF*: Off. This makes sure the bright red auto focus ‘assist’ light stays off in dim light. The very last thing you want for unobtrusive snapping is for a bright red LED to broadcast your presence.

P-AF: Off. This disables continuous pre-focusing before the shutter button is released. A waste of battery power and you need all you can get.

Fn: Set to Aspect Ratio. This dictates the action of the small Fn button on the rear panel. I have it set to allow choice of aspect ratio (4:3, 3:2, 16:9) as the other choices (RAW or JPG, Metering mode, iExposure or Guidelines) are of no use on the street. For that matter, setting the aspect ratio is of little use to me as I always use 3:2. You can take the man from his Leica but you cannot take the Leica from the man, and film Leicas are 3:2.

Auto Review: Off. The last thing you want is to be presented with an Auto Review of the last snap when you are desperate for the camera to free up for the next picture. Anyone who complains about the picture-to-picture times of the G1 being too slow is ignorant of this setting option. Unfortunately, Panny ships it with Auto Review set to ‘On’ which hardly helps matters.

NR: On. Reduces noise in long exposures. Why not?

Shoot without lens: Off. This allows adapted lenses to be used but, for now, I have all I need with the 14-45mm kit lens.

To save these, all you have to do, with the camera still in ‘A’ on the top mode dial, is to go to the Custom Menu->Cust.Set.Men (the very first choice), right arrow, hit Menu ->Yes and your settings are now saved to Custom Set 1.

Then rotate the mode dial to ‘CUST’ and the first Custom Set, the one you just saved, is in effect. If you create other Custom Sets, then you have to depress the Menu button and choose the one you want. For example, you may want an auto-bracketing set for HDR photography, or a ‘100 ISO’ only set for highest quality images, and so on. However, at my time of life, when I’m happy just getting the right leg in the right half of my pants, one custom set is just fine, thank you.

G1 – Custom Set 1 at work