Holiday Tips for Mirrorless Cameras

Today and next Monday we’ll be running the “Best of Mark Toal”

Whether you already have a mirrorless camera or get to open a box on Christmas morning that has one in it, I want to share a few tips for getting good photos during the holidays.

© Mark Toal

I’m normally not a conservative photographer; I like to break the rules and try different styles, but I put that aside during family events or parties. I learned a long time ago that this is not the time to try for shallow depth of field or using available light in dark rooms. This is a time when you are just trying to capture the event as clearly and easily as possible.

mirrorless ChristmasIf you don’t have an external flash for your camera don’t be afraid to use the built in pop up flash. A lot of these small built-in flashes can actually be too strong when used close to people. Try shooting in Program mode and setting the ISO to about 200. Take a photo with somebody in it and see how it looks. If it’s too bright find the menu setting that allows you adjust the power output of the flash. I frequently turn it down to -3/4 of a stop. When using the built in flash it’s important to not use the lens hood on the lens. The lens hood can possibly cast a shadow in the photo.

Try using the built in flash when photographing people outdoors. This will fill in shadows on a sunny day and give a more professional look to your photos. You will have to find the menu setting that sets the flash to fire every time you take a photo to override the cameras desire to not use the flash in bright light.

mirrorless holidays

The kit lens that is usually in the 14-45mm range is perfect for this type of photography. The 14mm wide angle setting is great for small or large groups. When shooting just one person zoom in to catch their expression and avoid clutter from distracting from the action. I don’t like to use a wide-angle lens with the built in flash since the flash is designed to cover a certain angle of view. You can easily end up with dark edges on your photo. After you’ve taken the memory photos then put on that new lens or turn the flash off. This is the time to get creative. Happy Holidays and have fun with your camera.

Mark.selfieMark Toal works for Panasonic as a training representative in Portland, OR. The views on this blog are his own and do not represent Panasonic. You can see more of Mark’s photos on his photo blog or Lumix Images by Mark Toal. Contact him at

Author: Joe Farace

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