I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ18 camera and I am going to see the total solar eclipse in Oregon in August. I would like to obtain at least one photo of totality and I think I should probably use the [STARRY SKY] setting but I have no idea which time setting to choose. I think I won't have time to try more than one setting as, on advice, I mainly want to experience the occasion visually. So, please, what is the best time setting to try? I can select 15, 30 or 60 seconds. Bracketing is not available. I will use a tripod.
You won't know the brightness of the solar corona in advance. It can vary from eclipse to eclipse, or even within the space of a few minutes. The good news is that a variety of exposures can give a pleasing shot of an eclipse.
If you are going to zoom in (your camera goes to ~500mm), you should use a shorter exposure. Motion blur will be a problem for exposures longer than 15 seconds.
I got good results in the 1991 total eclipse with 15 seconds, 500mm on a 35mm camera, f/8 and ISO 400.
If you take a wider angle shot, you might prefer a longer exposure.
There are tables for solar eclipse photography. These should give an idea about how to choose the right setting. Here is a table I have found by astrophotographer Jerry Lodriguss on astropix.com:
Recommended Exposures for a Total Solar Eclipse These exposures are in seconds for totality with no filter. Pick your ISO from the column at top left. Then read across on that line to your f/stop. Then read down for shutter speed.
As stated in the article: "These are suggested starting points for exposure times - they are not written in stone."
It might be difficult to get the shot right in just one try. If you have the chance, testing the camera beforehand at night - taking photographs of the moon the stars etc - could help to get familiar with night sky photography. Of course a total solar eclipse is still very different from the "normal" night sky.