Over the next two weeks we’ll view Santiago from the vantage point afforded from the upper deck of what is rapidly becoming a touring favorite in cities around the globe — the Hop-on/Hop-off bus. These conveyances are great ways to tour a town to scout out areas that pique your interest and deserve further scrutiny later. Another advantage is that you can hop off the bus at any of the stops, and then hop on another after you’ve walked a certain area all for one convenient price. Hence the term “Ho-Ho,” short for Hop-on/Hop-off.
The view from the upper deck also affords the photographer with a vantage point not available from the ground, obviously. But you have to adjust your camera settings to take advantage. You’ll probably want to up the ISO to obtain higher shutter speeds since motion blur can be a problem aboard a moving vehicle. This is especially true during cloudy conditions, at or just after dawn, right around dusk, and in shady areas. Best to just go ahead and set to between ISOs 200 and 400 depending on the size and pixel rating of your camera’s sensor. Remember what I’ve told you before in my photography lesson blogs — in low light conditions bigger (sensor) is better, but more (megapixels) are not your friend. The more megapixels crammed onto a sensor means a reduction in the size — and thus light-gathering capability — of the individual pixels. This results in digital noise and reduced resolution, especially at higher ISO settings.
Thus, depending on your camera, ISO and shutter speed can become a critical balancing act in the effort to obtain the highest possible quality image.
I currently take two cameras with me while on vacation. My trusty Canon G1 X has become my back-up, but its 12-megapixel, 1.5-inch sensor is still a champ for low light. My primary travel camera is a 20-megapixel, 1-inch Panasonic FZ1000, but it also sports a much more versatile 25mm-to-400mm lens as opposed to the Canon’s 28mm-to-112mm zoom. That clearly gives the travel photography advantage to the FZ1000, especially in bright lighting, and Handheld Night Shot mode nullifies much of the Canon’s low-light advantage during stationary photography.
Fortunately today’s Ho-Ho excursion took place during mostly sunny skies, so I didn’t have to give up too much on the FZ1000. Most shots shown today and for the next two weeks were taken at around ISO 125 to ISO 160, and the FZ1000 seems to be quite capable of going up to at least ISO 800 before noise and resolution start to noticeably impact image quality.
Keeping ISO below 200 for most of this excursion allowed shutter speeds of 1/500th or faster, which was more than adequate to stop motion blur.
At other times I would wait for the Ho-Ho to slow, or quickly up the ISO for a specific shot.
The trick here is to keep the ISO as low as possible while still freezing motion. Another tip is to take advantage of the widest aperture available on your lens, which on the FZ1000 ranges from f2.8 to f4.0 depending on the amount of zoom employed.