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Thread started 18 Dec 2011 (Sunday) 09:51
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Focus Technique

 
birderman
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Dec 18, 2011 09:51 |  #1

I had session in a studio last week, it went quite well and was enjoyable by myself and the models. However, I am somewhat dissapointed with the results. The majority of the shots do not appear to have the pinsharp focus evident from pictures posted to these forums. My gear is Canon EOS-550D with 18-55mm AF Lens. All shots were taken using manual exposure and AF and IS On. What I would like to know what is the best technique to ensure sharp focus, is there something I am doing wrong with my camera settings, is there a way to check that its not a fault with my camera ? Should I use manual focus in the Studio, why would the camera not be focusing correctly in the studio, I have not noticed this problem before when taking outdoor shots.
The strange thing is the shots looked okay on the LCD screen of camera after taking them, should I be more thorough and check the LCD using magnification setting....

Any help in understanding this issue would be appreciated.
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Kish
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nvchad2
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Dec 18, 2011 12:04 |  #2

birderman wrote in post #13563002 (external link)
What I would like to know what is the best technique to ensure sharp focus, is there something I am doing wrong with my camera settings, is there a way to check that its not a fault with my camera ?

I would suggest take some shots on a tripod. Use remote shutter if you have the option. Could it be the IS isnt working properly? At least putting it on a tripod (if not already) should eliminate any problems caused by movement. If you're still having problems, try other lenses. Just try a bunch of changes (one at a time so you can pinpoint the problem if you find it) and see if any of them help.

I don't pretend to know anything about Canon cameras or lenses, but the steps above are steps I've taken when I thought my camera wasn't functioning properly.


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nathancarter
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Dec 19, 2011 13:32 |  #3

Use Live View, zoom in to 5x or even 10x, and manually focus. Always focus on the eyes/lashes unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise.

After taking the shot, zoom in on the LCD to make sure it's sharp. The non-zoomed image on the LCD is not a good indicator of focus or sharpness.

If you have control of the lighting, use a bigger f-stop (smaller aperture) to get more depth-of-field, and therefore more cushion for focus errors.

Make sure you're not confusing motion blur for focus errors. If you're not shooting with a flash, you're going to need a shutter speed of no slower than 1/80 to get a crisp person. 1/125 or higher is preferable, or even more if shooting kids or someone who can't hold a pose.

If you have a laptop or a computer in your studio, shoot tethered, for instant feedback on focus, composition, pose, and lighting. Lightroom makes tethered shooting very easy. If you don't have Lightroom, Canon's EOS utility (which came free with the camera) also makes tethered shooting pretty easy, if you can get your hands on a version that's compatible with your computer and camera (it's in dire need of an update for OSX Lion compatibility).


One more thing: Don't forget that images straight out of the camera aren't going to be as sharp as some of the results you see here. Proper cleanup and sharpening in post-processing can make or break your image. There's a sharpening tutorial stickied at the top of the Raw/Processing subforum.


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yellowstone
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Dec 20, 2011 03:53 |  #4

stupid question but what was your aperture set to for the shots? is it that everything is not tac sharp?




  
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birderman
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Dec 21, 2011 04:28 |  #5

f stop was around f16...f22, shutter was 1/125 lighting was studio flash with soft boxes.
I get the impression that by having my camera select the focus point automatically its probably selecting the background as oppossed to the subject.....I don't suspect its motion blurr causing the problem unless the IS is over compensating and causing it ?

Should I try selecting a single focus point manually rather than relying on the camera to do fully automatic focus ?

Another question on studio work, does one move around the studio to get different viewpoints/angles or should the photographer remain fairly constant and get different of angles by directing models to move and or adjusting focal length of lens ?

TIA for help offered.


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FlyingPhotog
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Dec 21, 2011 04:35 |  #6

You should absolutely NOT let the camera choose the focus point...


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philwillmedia
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Dec 21, 2011 05:10 |  #7

birderman wrote in post #13577848 (external link)
...I get the impression that by having my camera select the focus point automatically its probably selecting the background as oppossed to the subject...

KAA-CHING!!!

By allowing the camera to select it's own focus point, what you are really saying to it is..."You're smarter than I am and you instinctively know what I want you to focus on.
I don't care what that is because whatever you choose, I'll be happy with. It doesn't matter if it's the closest or furthest object, I just want a picture"

That's what your camera did.
It did exactly what you told it to do and that was to "focus on anything you like."


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Guyon
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Dec 21, 2011 08:31 |  #8

On the other side what was your shutter? I believe the Canon EOS-550D can sync at 1/200. IF you had a slower shutter speed and there was enough available light the shot could blur.

Update: just saw that you used 1/125 so unless the available light was very bright then the culprit had to be focus.




  
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nathancarter
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Dec 21, 2011 10:04 as a reply to  @ Guyon's post |  #9

At 1/125 and f/16-f/22, ambient light likely wasn't the issue. However, depending on the lens and your studio layout, you may get better/sharper results with a medium aperture (f/5.6, f/8) and you also won't have to work your flashes so hard.

That leads me to another thought... with that small of an aperture, a slightly missed focus isn't going to give you a serious problem. I guess if you let the camera select the AF point, and it chose the background, and your model was far away from the background, then the missed focus would be quite evident. But at f/16 or f/22, the camera would REALLY have to bungle the AF to make an out-of-focus image.

Do you have any examples to post?


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Guyon
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Dec 21, 2011 13:33 |  #10

nathancarter wrote in post #13578833 (external link)
At 1/125 and f/16-f/22, ambient light likely wasn't the issue.

I agree Nathancarter, but... Using the rule of shutter to lens reciprocity if he got heavy with a zoom then 1/125 might be too slow for hand held (again only if ambient light was very high as the flash usually stops the subject.)

Still note to birderman: Shoot at max shutter to be safe unless you have a good reason not to.




  
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FlyingPhotog
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Dec 21, 2011 14:43 |  #11

Knocking on f/22 means the OP might be getting diffraction issues as well...


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dano57
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Dec 21, 2011 17:47 |  #12

Interesting subject, I have thought about this previous to this post and guess I'd like to ask what is your technique? I have used live view before but it is inherently slow and I have fixed the focal point then focused on the eyes and then repositioned for the shot.

Reading between the lines of the above post I assume that some (most) are setting the focus manually for a specific range and then by selective use of f-stop ensuring that the model stays within an acceptable "zone" of sharp focus?? Or ??


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philwillmedia
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Dec 21, 2011 21:22 |  #13

It's not rocket science.
Pick the most suitable focus point for the subject and framing you want then take the photo.
Simple.


Regards, Phil
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phantelope
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Dec 22, 2011 11:49 |  #14

never have the camera focus on "what ever", always select a focus point. I almost always use the center point, focus on eyes and then recompose.
I also never shoot at f22 in the studio (and hardly ever any other time actually), I start at f8 and 1/200 or thereabout and adjust the lights and/or fstop, but don't stray too far from 8 in either direction.
Manual focus would be too slow for my taste. I sometimes move the focus point on my 40D but usually use the center and recompose, since I frequently flip from landscape to portrait.

I've never used live view with models, I pretty much only use it with macro work, but I do check focus and exposure of the first test shots on my LCD. After that I check occasionally, maybe every 10 or 20 shots.


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GambitLive
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Dec 29, 2011 08:59 as a reply to  @ phantelope's post |  #15

Being a diehard canon user, and having used nearly every level of lens up to my current L series.. I would be more inclined to say this:

It probably has something to do with you using the Canon entry level kit lens..

I had the same lens once... and I noticed the same thing.. not that images were out of focus but at magnification they just wern't pin sharp on the eyes. (which is where I always focus to)

I'd suggest investing in decent glass..


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