For years I’ve been taking nature photos (just for fun) with a smartphone while kayaking or hiking. Now that I’m starting to get more systematic about learning and cataloging I broke down and got an Olympus TG-7. But I’m finding the learning curve to be super-steep, ironically getting most confused on the interaction of the basic settings with the programmed functions that are supposed to help non-photographers like me. For one example, the product manual tells me things like how to set the AF area – but not which selection is best for which purpose, or whether the programmed modes override that selection (or others). My photos have been pretty awful, even on full auto mode or when I choose the corresponding “scene.”
My question for now is whether anyone has a suggestion for tutorials that may fit this sort of need, and/or (maybe better!) a board or group where I could ask total newbie questions that are also specific to this line of cameras. I know the very basics of photo terminology (my spouse has a Nikon that I’ve used occasionally) but things like the Olympus camera Reddit are waaaay beyond me. And though I’ve seen specific questions here, I have so many – many of them so basic! – that I don’t think this is the right place for them.
I like my purchase, and would buy it again, but want to share three experiences with my TG-6 after one year of testing, that I found the most annoying. All address the macro function, and I guess they would be similar or identical for the TG-7
I often switch between macro and ‘normal’ mode (A or P), but the macro mode is opposite to the A/P mode on the wheel, I’d preferred it next to the other modes for quick changes. There are two customizable modes but assigning a macro setting to them does not seem to be possible (there is a macro AF for the A/P modes, but it is not the true super-macro)
when switching to macro mode, it always starts with a ‘home screen’ that lets you chose between different options. When I see an insect, I want to be as fast as possible, so first the wheel needs to be turned quite a bit for the correct position (see point 1) and then the home screen doesn’t let you zoom immediately. There is no option I could find to turn this off
In macro mode, it often struggles to focus even when the object seems to be well discernable from the background. Instead of starting with the minimal focal distance (I mean, it is (super) macro mode after all, so there is some likelihood the object is very close to the camera…), the AF often is too busy with the background, never managing to get it in focus - because it is MACRO mode after all, and there is a limit how far an object can be. But then the AF doesn’t try to get a nearer object into focus but gives up and is happy with the blurry fuzzyness. MF is not an option when you need to be fast
I used to use a TG5 and the macro setting had terrible depth of field becasue it did not let me change the aperture, and was stuck on F-2.3, so it was almost impossible to get something perfectly in focus, the depth of field was less than the cross sectional depth of a Temnothorax ambuguus thorax when you were really zoomed in
I now use a DSLR with a special lens capable of normal photography down to super macro, and a flash diffuser, all together its 1.62x the price of the TG5, and the lens has no autofocus or auto aperture change, but the ability to stop down the aperture is great for serious macro photography, I shoot the extreme close ups at F-16 and everything else macro at F-11, the idea of shooting macro at F-2.3 now seems crazy to me
It is, it’s the very first (and only ever) setting I changed. You can set C1 and C2 to any of the macro/microscope modes. Admittedly I never dialed away from microscope mode since (for non-macro my phone has much higher resolution) so it probably didn’t help me all that much
Thanks for this input! These details on macro mode are pointing toward one of my big newbie questions, which comes from my utter confusion about the menus. For example, Shooting Menu 1 asks me to pick an auto-focus “area.” But I can’t tell – does that control only in auto mode? Or will that AF area carry through to all modes including presets like macro, scenes, etc.?
Also, I’m not sure whether this is the same thing that @carniflex explained, but when I’m in, say, “landscape with people” and want to switch to just “landscape” (or whatever), I can’t figure out how to get that submenu back. The only thing I know to do is turn the dial away from “Scenes” and then back to “Scenes” and go back in to select from there. Same thing with macro, switching from focus bracketing to focus stacking – I can’t figure out how to get the choice without turning the dial away, then back, to the microscope icon. Same problem?
I guess I decided to ask my newbie questions here! :-/
As best as I can tell, the choices you make in the Shooting Menus are carried through to all modes EXCEPT where Olympus thinks they’re smarter than you. For instance, the macro mode only allows single-point focusing. If you set the mode dial to macro and press the menu button, you’ll see that the focus area menu item is grayed out and you can’t change it.
For the sake of simplicity, I use single-point focus and keep the focus area in the center. As far as which is best for what, it might be interesting to learn what Olympics thinks with their defaults. As mentioned above, the macro mode only allows single-point focus, and you can’t change it. One of the underwater modes, however, defaults to multi-point focus to track an entire school of fish, but that choice can be changed.