Gary’s Parries 28/01/07

January 28, 2007 | Mark Goldstein | Gary's Parries | 14 Comments | |

Gary's ParriesThis week’s Gary’s Parries topics are:

1. Wanted: Bridge Camera With SLR Viewfinder
2. How To Avoid DSLR Dust In 3 Easy Steps
3. How To Turn Off Your Camera’s Flash – Volume 1

Introducing this week’s Gary’s Parries column. Everything you always wanted to know about digital cameras, but were afraid to ask. No question too difficult, or too easy. As a Senior Principal Software Engineer, and a former Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems, as well as a recording studio owner/operator, inventor, and now, a digital camera enthusiast, GARY has more digital camera knowledge in his entire brain than most people have in their little finger. In the unlikely event that GARY would not know the answer to your question, he will answer it anyway, true to the spirit of the word “Parries”, a fencing term which, in this context, implies “cleverly evasive answers”. So let your imagination run wild. Email all your nagging digital camera questions to: , and then, En Garde!

You may also attach to your email an ORIGINAL PHOTO of your choosing. A preview of the photo will be displayed with your question, and a full-sized version will be just a click away. No personal information will be published with your question unless you specifically include it in the text or attached photo of your email, which may be further edited for grammar, content, or other reasons.



Why don’t they design the viewfinders in cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10, FZ20, FZ30, and FZ50 to be more useful in manual mode? These viewfinders are way too dark to be useful for manual focus. If they were brighter, I could use the cameras with studio flashes and flash meters. But as it stands now, if F11 is called for, and I set the camera to that, I can’t see anything and the camera then has trouble auto-focusing.

Thank you for your response.

John R. Spurr - EPID

*** ANSWER 1

John, essentially what you want is a Nikon D80 SLR viewfinder on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 bridge camera. Even though the FZ50 is already one of the most SLR-like bridge cameras, including such a viewfinder would require a significant redesign with a substantial cost increase and/or the sacrifice of existing high-end features, which would result in a less marketable FZ50. Case in point, would you be interested in an FZ50 with an SLR viewfinder, but with a typical SLR kit lens in place of its existing 12x Leica zoom lens? I think not.

To make matters even worse, the FZ50 already has one of the best EVFs of any bridge camera available, so there probably is not much room for improvement in that regard. The proof of this is in the fact that the FZ20’s viewfinder was a significant improvement over the FZ10, as was the FZ30’s viewfinder over the FZ20; however, there was no such improvement with the FZ50.

John, did I mention that the Nikon D80 viewfinder has a .94x magnification factor with 95% frame coverage? :)

P.S. Good luck with your website. That’s an impressive list of photographic services you provide. Hope you don’t mind my borrowing the accompanying photo :).


Dear Sir,

I need some help from you in understanding the problem of DUST IN DSLR CAMERAS. I wanted to buy a Nikon D80, but after reading reviews on the net, I am now confused and unable to decide which DSLR CAMERA TO BUY.

Is dust a real problem even if you don’t change the kit lens at all? Your answer will help me a lot in deciding which camera to buy.

Waiting for your reply.

Thanks and regards,

*** ANSWER 2

Ramesh, if you never change a DSLR’s kit lens (Step 1), then the chance of dust ever becoming a problem is significantly reduced. You will still have to contend with the very realistic possibility of dust entering the camera through the lens housing while zooming; however, that possibility can be easily eliminated just by keeping your DSLR enclosed in a Ziploc plastic bag at all times during shooting (Step 2). Even so, you will still have to contend with the very realistic possibility of dust having entered the camera at the factory. Such dust will likely attach itself to the CCD once you have generated sufficient static electricity from flipping the mirror up and down during shooting, so I would heartily recommend that you have the camera cleaned at an authorized service center before you take your first shot (Step 3).

By now, I’m sure you realize my exaggerated point. If you NEVER intend to change a DSLR’s kit lens, you are eliminating one of the major advantages of DSLRs over bridge cameras, namely, the flexibility of switching lenses to accommodate different shooting situations. What it comes down to is this. If you really need the quality and performance of a DSLR, then the Nikon D80 is an excellent choice. If not, then a bridge camera such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 might be a better choice.

Another bridge camera that looks promising is the soon-to-be-released Olympus SP-550 UZ, with its 28-504mm (18x !!!) zoom lens; however, I would not recommend the purchase of that camera until you have read our PhotographyBLOG review, which I assume Mark is working on as we speak :).


Hello Mark,

Here’s something for Gary to parry.

The Canon Digital IXUS 800 IS (a.c.k.a. Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, where the ‘c’ stands for ‘confusingly’ - GP) is a delightful little camera that I take with me wherever I go. The bad news is the inadequacy of its user manual, specifically the virtually non-existent instructions explaining how to force the flash to fire when you want it to, and how to prevent the flash from firing when you don’t.

The index of the ‘Advanced’ Camera User Guide refers the reader to page 14, where it shows that the button marked with a ‘lightning’ symbol controls the flash (which comes as no great surprise). It then refers the reader to page 9 of the ‘Basic’ Camera User Guide. No other instructions for the flash in this entire manual, apart from a piece on the Flash Exposure Lock. Okay, that will come in handy later on, but first it would be nice to know how to control with certainty whether or not the flash is going to fire.

So you go to page 9 of the Basic Camera User Guide where it says to “Press the flash button to cycle through the flash settings,” and it then illustrates the resulting sequence of flash modes as follows: Auto -> Auto Red-eye Reduction -> Red-eye Reduction On -> On -> Off -> Slow Synchro -> (back to Auto). There is also the handy sentence, “Flash settings cannot be used in some shooting modes,” which implies that some flash modes may not work at all times, but it does not elaborate further on this.

I spent several frustrating minutes this afternoon trying to capture some interesting silhouettes of people on a white wall in a dining room; the sunlight that was causing these silhouettes was fading all the time. Every shot I took - even with the flash turned off - was ruined by a burst of flash wiping out the shadows.

How do I tell the camera that when I set the flash to ‘Off’ I really do mean ‘Off’, and not ‘oh, alright then, flash sometimes if you really want to’? Or am I giving the camera carte blanche by using the Auto shooting mode, so that setting the flash to ‘Off’ in this mode has no effect whatsoever. If so, why do they even present the flash ‘Off’ setting in Auto shooting mode?

It would be a shame to have to use the camera’s Manual shooting mode just to turn the flash off, because it isn’t really a ‘manual’ shooting mode as we know it, Jim.

All good wishes,

*** ANSWER 3

Geoff, who’s Jim? – Gary

It is amazing how much more useful user manuals can be in electronic format compared to printed. The good news is that both the Basic and Advanced Camera User Guides are available online for the SD700 IS, and after a few electronic searches of the same, I am now ready to answer all your SD700 IS flash questions.

To answer your secondary question first, namely, which flash settings can NOT be used in the Auto shooting mode, the chart on page 138 of the Advanced Camera User Guide conveniently illustrates that the ‘On’, ‘Red-eye Reduction On’, and ‘Slow Synchro’ flash settings are not available in Auto shooting mode, which makes perfect sense.

To answer your primary question second, namely, how do you prevent the flash from firing, the procedure is as simple as you have already described. Merely press the flash button to cycle through the flash settings until you encounter the ‘No Lightning’ symbol corresponding to the flash ‘Off’ setting (which is also conveniently illustrated in the previously mentioned chart on page 138 of the Advanced Camera User Guide).

Now Geoff, I know from previous contacts with you that you are an intelligent guy, so how is it that you could not follow this very, very, very simple instruction? Fortunately, you have raised your question in the right place, as I too have trouble following even the simplest of instructions. So I tried turning the SD700’s flash off as described above, and it worked, but then at some later point it stopped working?

It seems that the Auto shooting mode also has a ‘default’ flash setting, so if you set the flash to “Off’ and then turn the camera ‘Off’ and ‘On’ again, or if you set the flash to “Off’ and then go to another shooting mode and back again, the camera returns to its default flash setting, which for the Auto shooting mode is ‘Auto Red-eye Reduction On’ (once again conveniently illustrated in the very same previously mentioned chart on page 138 of the Advanced Camera User Guide :)).

[Column photo “The Photographer” by Brenda LaFleur of Brenda LaFleur Photography.]

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14 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Damon Webster

Wow. Where have I been? have to share this with our readers.

4:08 am - Sunday, January 28, 2007

#2 ND

In reponse to Q1:

How about that new Olympus? I reckon that'll be a nice bridge camera when it comes out.

Forget Panasonic! Until they stop mickey-mousing and give us a far advanced set-up in their cameras than the rest, their products leave a lot to be desired - sacrificing one feature for another is simply not good enough any more.

6:39 am - Sunday, January 28, 2007

#3 Nicholas


Love your tounge in cheek comments but I think you are really doing your readers a dis-service if you don't caution them about the very real image noise levels that exists in the Panasonic cameras you suggested.

Why can't they creat an attachable glass viewfinder to a camerasuch as th R-1?

Set up a little gear mechanism from the zoom ring to an attached variable view viewfinder. It shouuldn't be too expensive.

12:27 pm - Sunday, January 28, 2007

#4 Steve Cooper

Re Q1,

Pity the Canon Powershot Pro1 has been discontinued. The EVF in mine is easily bright enough for accurate manual focusing in dim light.

12:45 pm - Sunday, January 28, 2007

#5 Geoff Oakshott

Hi Gary,

"Who's Jim?": I know you're kidding, but what can I say? He's from Star Trek, Gary, but not that you'd know it. (Just a speck from the spick Mr Spock.)

Thanks for your help with turning the flash on and off. You have hit the nail on the head with your point about losing the setting when the camera is turned on and off or between modes. That's exactly what I was doing. D'oh!

I shall now try to retrace your online searches and learn how to do it right next time.

It's worth having problems just to get your replies. Keep 'em coming!

All the best,


12:50 pm - Sunday, January 28, 2007

#6 Daniel Norin


I just want to recommend a unique software bundle.
It’s a photo usb bundle ready to put on an a USB memory.

It can be found at

A lot of really good program, all freeware.

Here is the list of all programs:








sRGB Profile

Image Editors

Neat Image
Opanda PhotoFilter 1.0
RawShooter essentials 2006 1.0
Stepok's RAW Importer

Image Exif tagging

Copiks PhotoMapper

Image Recovery

Photo Recovery

Image Resizing

Avatar Sizer
Visualizer Photo Resize

Misc Tools

Adobe Photoshop SpeedUp
Photography Exposure Wheel
Smart Photo Statistics
waterMark V2


ADG Panorama
The Panorama Factory

Webalbum Makers

Web Album Maker
Web Picture Creator

Viewers and Organizers

FastStone Image Viewer
Free RAW Viewer

1:14 pm - Sunday, January 28, 2007

#7 Gary's Parries

Geoff, that one went over my head. Of course, that's not too difficult
these days, ever since Canon removed my brain, which they plan to
use as The Controller for their upcoming G8. :)

Steve, the Pro1 had 'one' of the best EVFs, but the 'best' of the best
had to be the Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2 EVF. It had 900K+ pixels of
resolution and it had a high-gain black & white mode that allowed it's
use in low-light situations. It must have been quite expensive since it
was not used in any succeeding models.

Nicholas, no arguments about Panasonic noise levels, particularly the
LX series. As for the Sony R1, in order to have a true SLR viewfinder,
you would need to add a reflex mirror and a pentaprism, which would
make the R1 a fixed-lens SLR (i.e., no more live view).

ND, I am looking forward to Mark's review of that Olympus SP-550 UZ.

5:26 pm - Sunday, January 28, 2007

#8 Gary's Parries

Forgot someone. Damon, thanks.

6:03 pm - Sunday, January 28, 2007

#9 Zoltan


There have been digital bridge cameras with true optical TTL viewfinders, the most prominent being the Olympus E-10 and E-20. Some photographers still use these cameras professionally.

3:52 pm - Monday, January 29, 2007

#10 Gary's Parries

Zoltan, as usual, you are absolutely correct about the Olympus E-20's
optical TTL viewfinder; however, I should point out some caveats.

1. The E-20 used a prism to 'split' the light, rather than a reflex mirror
to direct it. The reason Olympus went to this expense is because they
already needed the prism for their 'live view' LCD, which was the main
attraction of the camera.

2. The E-20's viewfinder was still not that great for focusing.

3. At around $2000 in 2001, the E-20 was quite expensive.

9:48 pm - Tuesday, January 30, 2007

#11 harvinder

need a page9 from basic guide for canon g7
want to change language... my camera is set on chineez.. and i couldnt understand that so i want to change that in english

10:21 am - Thursday, July 19, 2007

#12 Gary's Parries

The following link will take you to the G7's "Drivers & Downloads" page
at Then click on the "Product / Software Manuals" link
where you can download the G7 Basic and Advanced user guides.

Setting the Display Language:
1. Press the Playback button (the button with a right arrow in a rectangle)
2. Hold down the FUNC/SET button and press the MENU button.
3. Use the Up, Down, Left, or Right Arrow button to select a language and
press the FUNC/SET button.

It sounds like you may also need to release the FUNC/SET button between
steps 2 and 3, but maybe not. :)

2:51 pm - Thursday, July 19, 2007

#13 Harvinder

Hi! Gary....changed successfully...thanks a lot

9:18 pm - Friday, July 20, 2007

#14 Gary's Parries

Nessun problema!

3:58 pm - Saturday, July 21, 2007