Here's how I did it:
- Use a tripod, asking someone to hand held your camera and shoot would NOT do at all.
- I used Program mode and ask the camera to decide on the settings.
- I set max ISO to ISO400 but the camera decides ISO100 is good with F3.0 and a shutter time of 1 second.
- I opened up my flash on the FZ28, and set it to slow sync / red eye mode. This effectively tells the camera that I want a slow shutter to absorb the natural lights but still want the flash to fire a short burst anyway. Auto or Forced Flash would fire flash but would not have a slow shutter to absorb the natural night scenery.
- Because the flash is used, and it has an effective range, meaning if you stand too far it won't illuminate your face well, my experience says you must stand about less than 10 feet away. On paper, the FZ28 flash has a range of 8.5 meters at wide angle and 5.4 meters at telephoto, but you'll need to experiment with this to get your subject well illuminated.
- I also used the timer set at 10 seconds. The auto focus assist lamp (orange) will blink and on steady when the timer is about to be reached. Be SURE to tell your subject (people) to stay still for 1 or 2 seconds even after the camera has fired it's flash. This is because the camera has decided to open the shutter for 1 second to absorb the night scenery after firing the flash, and if you moved during this time, your subject will be blurred.
- Sometimes if I set the camera auto focus mode to face detection, it will not be able to recognize faces during night portraits as the scene is dark. This may cause the camera to focus on other parts of the scene and have your faces out of focus. Therefore, I used 1 area focusing. The default when using 1 area focusing is to focus in the middle of the scene, but if you press the AF/Focus button near the shutter button for a second or two, you'll be able to use the joystick to move the focus rectangle to anywhere you choose. Move this focus rectangle to your subject's faces and the camera should be able to focus properly on your subject's face.