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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre People Talk
Thread started 15 Jan 2018 (Monday) 01:05
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Seeking advice for Portraits using wide aperture prime lenses

 
pappusrkr
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Post has been edited 1 month ago by pappusrkr.
Jan 15, 2018 01:05 |  #1

I am using a 5D MKii and 50mm f1.8 stm. The issue is focusing and recomposing when using wide open aperture. I understand the reason of changing the focus plane, distance by moving the camera while recomposing, also the vey shallow depth of field and other factors. This topic has been debated since long (I have been searching Google and doing some reading) and several advice are on forums, blogs etc. 5DMkii being almost 10 yrs old the focusing system is not as advanced as other newer models, and its center focus point is only the most sensitive "cross type" and other focus point are not as accurate. Some people suggested to manually focus by using live view and zooming 5x or 10x then take the shot. Some suggested to avoid recomposing at all, etc. I am relatively new to portrait photography and still learning.
There are great examples of stunning portraits in this forum and I am sure some of our senior and portrait experts can give me some advice on how to minimize focus missing while recomposing using my existing gear. Please excuse my poor writing.

Looking forward to hear from you.:-)




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AD ­ Campbell
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Jan 15, 2018 02:06 |  #2

I've got a 6D and therefore have the same problem (a crap focusing system). Using liveview is your safest bet.


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www.acampbellphoto.netexternal link

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pappusrkr
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Post has been edited 1 month ago by pappusrkr.
Jan 15, 2018 02:12 |  #3

AD Campbell wrote in post #18541164 (external link)
I've got a 6D and therefore have the same problem (a crap focusing system). Using liveview is your safest bet.

Thanks for your suggestion. However my point is not to discuss about the limitations, I am already aware of it, but to understand how others or professionals deal with this matter. Perhaps a newer body will perform better on focusing, but what are the basics or guidelines they follow may be some tricks or tips they can share. Thanks once again.




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AD ­ Campbell
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Jan 15, 2018 02:48 as a reply to pappusrkr's post |  #4

I, as a professional use live view mode (both 5x & 10x zooms) on my 6D to nail focus when shooting @ f1.2. But by all means, buy a new body if you feel you need to. :D

IMAGE: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/305/32537258351_4e56991a45_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/RzcX​jX] (external link)Zainab (external link) by Adam Campbell (external link), on Flickr
IMAGE: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5811/31194539516_86ffa28ac1_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Pwya​Nd] (external link)Tamantha (external link) by Adam Campbell (external link), on Flickr
IMAGE: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5759/30330999952_9466e1aca2_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Ndfi​z3] (external link)Marie (external link) by Adam Campbell (external link), on Flickr
IMAGE: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5058/30115121722_f8e9f3c84e_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MTaS​uA] (external link)Kayla (external link) by Adam Campbell (external link), on Flickr

I own gear to take photos with...
Adam Campbell - Portrait photographer
www.acampbellphoto.netexternal link

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pappusrkr
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Jan 15, 2018 02:52 |  #5

AD Campbell wrote in post #18541174 (external link)
I, as a professional use live view mode (both 5x & 10x zooms) on my 6D to nail focus when shooting @ f1.2. But by all means, buy a new body if you feel you need to. :D

QUOTED IMAGE
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/RzcX​jX] (external link)Zainab (external link) by Adam Campbell (external link), on Flickr
QUOTED IMAGE
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Pwya​Nd] (external link)Tamantha (external link) by Adam Campbell (external link), on Flickr
QUOTED IMAGE
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Ndfi​z3] (external link)Marie (external link) by Adam Campbell (external link), on Flickr
QUOTED IMAGE
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/MTaS​uA] (external link)Kayla (external link) by Adam Campbell (external link), on Flickr

Those are some stunning portraits. All respect to you Sir. Photography is my hobby, I am in no way professional. I am more into landscapes, recently getting into portraits. This forum so far has been a great source of learning for me and also see other's excellent work including yours. Thanks for sharing your suggestion.




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tcphoto1
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Jan 15, 2018 10:52 |  #6

If you're going to shoot nearly wide open, it's better to focus manually. The 50/1.8 is not a particularly sharp lens so you'd be smart to stop down a little.


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AZ ­ Pix
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Jan 15, 2018 11:14 |  #7

I'm a Nikon shooter and typically don't comment on Canon cameras I have never shot, but I am a portrait photographer so will lend my 2 cents as to what helps me. Forgive me if you already know all this. First - make sure the lens is sharp wide open. I have an old 50mm 1.8 that gave me issues trying to nail focus wide open. Turns out the lens simply wasn't that sharp at 1.8. When I shot it at 2.0 or smaller it was fine. One day I tried a different 50mm 1.8 at 1.8 and Bam! It was sharp and I knew the original problem was not with me or the camera. Second - when shooting portraits with WAY WIDE apertures, I use back-button focus and select my focus point instead of using a center focus point and re-composing (then select your AF setting accordingly - usually to Spot). Third - I also make sure the lens is calibrated to the camera body. In my case my Nikons have an AF Fine Tune feature, so I eliminate any minor front/back focusing issues that are only noticed wide open. And finally - I've come to accept that there are times, for whatever reason, I just can't consistently get the focus I want wide open. If I stop down from say from 1.8 to 2.0, 2.2, 2.5, etc. and find success, so be it. I smile and move on to the next shot. Good luck!




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kf095
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Post has been edited 1 month ago by kf095.
Jan 15, 2018 11:26 |  #8

Use DoF calculator to determine if recomposing makes sense at all. You don't have to be very precise with distances.
It might shows you what for some scenarios AF/recompose is not going to works.
And sometimes MF is not the answer, either.
You breath, person slightly moves between MF and image taken - OOF.
So, run DOF calculator to determine which aperture is giving enough DOF.

With large apertures and DLSRs (I quit at 5D MKII) it is better to keep object at one (any) of AF point and have camera set to back button focus and AI Servo focus mode for constant focusing. And have enough DOF between AF point and where focus is needed. STM lens should handle continuous AF well. But I'm not sure if 5D MKII will do it well.
I quit on it due to weak AF performance.


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pappusrkr
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Jan 15, 2018 18:36 |  #9

tcphoto1 wrote in post #18541359 (external link)
If you're going to shoot nearly wide open, it's better to focus manually. The 50/1.8 is not a particularly sharp lens so you'd be smart to stop down a little.

Thank you Sir for your suggestion and input. I own 2 L lenses other than the 50mm f1.8 so I am aware of the price difference and their optical capability difference. It is true I have noticed that it performs sharper at f2, 2.2 or 2.8.




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pappusrkr
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Jan 15, 2018 18:45 |  #10

AZ Pix wrote in post #18541379 (external link)
I'm a Nikon shooter and typically don't comment on Canon cameras I have never shot, but I am a portrait photographer so will lend my 2 cents as to what helps me. Forgive me if you already know all this. First - make sure the lens is sharp wide open. I have an old 50mm 1.8 that gave me issues trying to nail focus wide open. Turns out the lens simply wasn't that sharp at 1.8. When I shot it at 2.0 or smaller it was fine. One day I tried a different 50mm 1.8 at 1.8 and Bam! It was sharp and I knew the original problem was not with me or the camera. Second - when shooting portraits with WAY WIDE apertures, I use back-button focus and select my focus point instead of using a center focus point and re-composing (then select your AF setting accordingly - usually to Spot). Third - I also make sure the lens is calibrated to the camera body. In my case my Nikons have an AF Fine Tune feature, so I eliminate any minor front/back focusing issues that are only noticed wide open. And finally - I've come to accept that there are times, for whatever reason, I just can't consistently get the focus I want wide open. If I stop down from say from 1.8 to 2.0, 2.2, 2.5, etc. and find success, so be it. I smile and move on to the next shot. Good luck!

Thank you Sir for your inputs and suggestions. For me Canon and Nikon are just two brands and they produce equally good camera bodies and lenses. The concept and issues that we face are similar. I do agree that the same lens of different copy might give different sharpness, it has happened with me in the past. Yes, I have noticed it performs better at f2.0, 2.2 or 2.8 rather than 1.8. Honestly after a careful look the first day I have taken around 90 portrait shots in which 10 are unusable, few I manually focused using live view 5x and 10x zoom, others using AF center focus point. Looking at the price of the lens actually it didn't perform bad. Perhaps using the other L lenses my expectation of sharpness had got higher. Yes, I do use the back button focus. This time I will try to use the other focus points nearer to the subject face while recomposing. I have checked the focus on a A4 sample, and its focuses fine. Thanks once again.




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pappusrkr
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Jan 15, 2018 18:52 |  #11

kf095 wrote in post #18541398 (external link)
Use DoF calculator to determine if recomposing makes sense at all. You don't have to be very precise with distances.
It might shows you what for some scenarios AF/recompose is not going to works.
And sometimes MF is not the answer, either.
You breath, person slightly moves between MF and image taken - OOF.
So, run DOF calculator to determine which aperture is giving enough DOF.

With large apertures and DLSRs (I quit at 5D MKII) it is better to keep object at one (any) of AF point and have camera set to back button focus and AI Servo focus mode for constant focusing. And have enough DOF between AF point and where focus is needed. STM lens should handle continuous AF well. But I'm not sure if 5D MKII will do it well.
I quit on it due to weak AF performance.

Thanks for your suggestions. I have used the 50mm II several years ago, If I compare with the new STM version it performs better in focusing and sharpness is a bit better in center. Changing my camera body is no option for me now, as I have invested my max on other L lenses, the 5DII works fine for me, for my landscapes or non-static objects. Yes, I have checked the mark 3, its focusing system is totally different and much advanced. I wanted to make sure that I know what or If I was doing anything wrong, or can improve my skills to get better focus using the same gear. I am happy to get so many useful information.




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aezoss
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Joined Nov 2013
Jan 15, 2018 23:40 |  #12

Have you considered shooting with a tripod and rail system? A rail would allow you to move the body parallel to the subject and avoid the backward/forward motion inherent in hand holding. A tripod makes liveview + 5/10x mag more practical.

Models breathe and fidget; shoot 3 or 4 consecutive frames to increase your chances of getting one in focus.

Magic Lantern has focus peaking which may be useful if you're open to installing it on your 5D2. Works fine on my 6D although I don't find focus peaking any more accurate than manually focusing with the OVF and standard focusing screen. The precision focusing screen may help.

6D keeper rate with my 50L @ 1.2 is easily >80% when keeping an AF point locked on an eye vs focus and recompose which is <50%, this includes the peripheral points.

If you have a speedlite or remote flash trigger try using AF assist to improve the focus accuracy when shooting in low light or situations where AF won't lock due to lack of contrast or whatever. The YN-622C-TX works well on my 6D.

I've abandoned focus and recompose for shallow DOF shots. The simplest solution is to crop in post. The 5D2 has a few MP to spare. There is no harm in cropping to get the composition you want, esp if output medium is small prints or social media.

My kid's 50 STM is very sharp at 2.8. It's acceptable at 1.8-2.5. Shooting portraits I would default to 2.8 and increase the subject to background distance if necessary.

If you have $$ get an 85 1.8 on sale or used. Better portrait lens than the 50 and is an excellent value. You'll get more mileage out of the lens than upgrading the body if you're shooting mainly portraits imo.

Rail:
https://www.aliexpress​.com ...o-Studio/32832451383.htm​l (external link)

Lee




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pappusrkr
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Jan 15, 2018 23:57 |  #13

aezoss wrote in post #18542001 (external link)
Have you considered shooting with a tripod and rail system? A rail would allow you to move the body parallel to the subject and avoid the backward/forward motion inherent in hand holding. A tripod makes liveview + 5/10x mag more practical.

Models breathe and fidget; shoot 3 or 4 consecutive frames to increase your chances of getting one in focus.

Magic Lantern has focus peaking which may be useful if you're open to installing it on your 5D2. Works fine on my 6D although I don't find focus peaking any more accurate than manually focusing with the OVF and standard focusing screen. The precision focusing screen may help.

6D keeper rate with my 50L @ 1.2 is easily >80% when keeping an AF point locked on an eye vs focus and recompose which is <50%, this includes the peripheral points.

If you have a speedlite or remote flash trigger try using AF assist to improve the focus accuracy when shooting in low light or situations where AF won't lock due to lack of contrast or whatever. The YN-622C-TX works well on my 6D.

I've abandoned focus and recompose for shallow DOF shots. The simplest solution is to crop in post. The 5D2 has a few MP to spare. There is no harm in cropping to get the composition you want, esp if output medium is small prints or social media.

My kid's 50 STM is very sharp at 2.8. It's acceptable at 1.8-2.5. Shooting portraits I would default to 2.8 and increase the subject to background distance if necessary.

If you have $$ get an 85 1.8 on sale or used. Better portrait lens than the 50 and is an excellent value. You'll get more mileage out of the lens than upgrading the body if you're shooting mainly portraits imo.

Rail:
https://www.aliexpress​.com ...o-Studio/32832451383.htm​l (external link)

Lee

Thank you Sir for your valuable inputs. I would certainly consider the crop next time instead of recomposing specially at wide open aperture. As I have a 70-200 F4L I can cover that 85mm to 135mm (ideal for portraits) but at F4 which is still acceptable for me. I recently purchased the 50mm F1.8 STM because of its value for money, and size/weight. I have a 16-35 F4L IS which covers mostly for my landscapes, and the 70-200 which covers the telephoto including some portrait focul length. I was missing the 50mm so I took the decision to go for it against the 85mm f1.8 (Its a good lens i know).




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bildeb0rg
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Jan 16, 2018 03:45 |  #14

As aezoss suggested, shoot multiple frames using ai servo focusing and centre focus point and crop in post.
This pic is one of seven images shot and was the only one with her eye in focus as the wife was jumping about with nerves

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bob_r
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Jan 16, 2018 07:39 |  #15

Personally, I rarely find any advantage to shooting portraits with very fast primes at their widest apertures. I much prefer that my subjects have both eyes in focus. I used to own an 85mm f/1.2L along with the 85mm f/1.8 lens and couldn't justify owning the L since I so rarely shot either wider than f/2. The L rendered slightly better colors, in my opinion, but not enough difference to justify the price difference. They both could produce terrible CA and the L was slow to focus.

My 50 is the f/1.4 version and have owned it for at least 10 years and doubt that I have 10 pictures taken with it wide open. Here's a sample pic I took of one of my grandsons while micro-adjusting the focus on it. Note that only one eye is in focus at f/1.4 (I had another image with the other eye in focus and the far eye was out of focus). I don't find any reason to shoot this type of image, unless I'm testing my gear.

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Seeking advice for Portraits using wide aperture prime lenses
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