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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 29 Dec 2012 (Saturday) 16:42
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Which focus point type with wide primes?

 
VirtualRain
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Dec 29, 2012 16:42 |  #1

For those with a 5D3/1DX and fast primes, I'm wondering what focus point types (Canon calls it AF Area Selection Mode), you folks recommend for shooting low light pictures of your partner with fast primes.

Here's a typical picture I'm talking about (this one taken with the 35L)...

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Do you use single-point (spot) and aim for an eye, single-point around the eye/teeth, single-point expansion and just aim for the face, Zone AF and aim for the head?

What works best?

Can anyone explain the real-world difference between single-point (spot) and plain old single-point? Are you better off with one or the other shooting people?

Sony a7rII / 24-240 / Zeiss 25, 55, 85

  
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kin2son
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Dec 29, 2012 16:56 |  #2
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I use the 5D3, basically the AF modes range from the most accurate (spot) to the least accurate (All 61 points enabled).

In your example, for maximum accuracy, use single point (spot) and aim for one of her eyes. Single point will be less accurate but it works the same way (aim for the eye).

Basically I wouldn't want to use anything apart from single point for portrait. Unless we are talking about moving subjects, then expansion and zone maybe OK despite being even less accurate.


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cdang
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Dec 29, 2012 20:16 |  #3

Single point on the eye with the 45 cross points. The five dual cross points in the middle have a higher depth of focus if you want more precision but generally every other point is good.




  
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klaxian
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Dec 29, 2012 21:23 |  #4

I agree with the others but choose a focus point closest to their eyes. Don't use the center point and recompose with fast lenses because you have a shadow DoF and you don't want to change the plane of focus too much after you get focus lock. Also you can disable the non-cross-type points from being selectable and they can act only as support points. It makes it faster when you're bouncing between AF points. Cheers.


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VirtualRain
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Dec 30, 2012 01:55 |  #5

Yeah, I'm not surprised to hear a lot of support for a single focus point on the eye... however, I'm finding the expansion mode with a selected point and surrounding points in a diamond also work well. Here's an example where there was no focus point over her eye and while I could focus and recompose (or perhaps step back and crop), this expansion point technique worked out ok. On the other hand, I need to have enough DOF to go from the tip of her nose to her eye socket for this to work. So at F/1.2 this probably would have been missed focus.

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Here's another example from that shoot using this focus technique. Again, it probably worked because I was shooting at f2. I'm not sure it would work at f1.2.

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Another advantage to this expansion mode that I can see is that in really low light, you can probably get a good focus lock on "something" on their face, when an eye may not provide enough to get a good lock or may result in a miss.

Does anyone else use this expansion mode when shooting portraits or is it just too risky with f1.2-1.4?

Sony a7rII / 24-240 / Zeiss 25, 55, 85

  
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kin2son
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Dec 30, 2012 02:04 |  #6
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VirtualRain wrote in post #15422633 (external link)
Does anyone else use this expansion mode when shooting portraits or is it just too risky with f1.2-1.4?

Do you understand how expansion mode work?

You are still using the middle point, the other 4 around it are all disabled and only on standby. One of the 4 will be used only if the middle point cannot acquire focus.

In your first example, I don't think her eyes would be in perfect focus on large aperture. You really have to stop down to have any chance of that. Also one of the assisted point (one on left) is non-crosstype which makes is pretty much useless in low light.

In your 2nd example, I think the camera should have no problem locking on using the middle point between her eyes, therefore the other 4 were never needed and camera focused exactly there, something I would avoid doing...

Another advantage to this expansion mode that I can see is that in really low light, you can probably get a good focus lock on "something" on their face, when an eye may not provide enough to get a good lock or may result in a miss.

Read my comments above. Low light or not depends on the point you pick. That is, stick to cross-types or the middle bunch for higher sensitivity. The other 4 points in expansion mode are only on standby and won't be activated if the middle point achieves a lock.

As long as you don't focus recompose and use one of the crosstype on the eyes, it shouldn't matter ;)


5D3 Gripped / 17-40L / Σ35 / 40 Pancake / Zeiss 50 MP / Σ85 / 100L Macro / 70-200 f2.8L II IS / 430 EX II / 580 EX II / Canon 2xIII TC / Kenko Ext. Tubes
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VirtualRain
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Dec 30, 2012 03:48 |  #7

kin2son wrote in post #15422643 (external link)
Do you understand how expansion mode work?

You are still using the middle point, the other 4 around it are all disabled and only on standby. One of the 4 will be used only if the middle point cannot acquire focus.

Yes agreed. However, I can't see any downside to using expansion mode as long as you still aim your selected point on the eye (something which I haven't been great at doing obviously). As you say, most of the time, the selected point will achieve focus on the eye rendering the other points completely unnecessary. However, in the odd instance the selected point can't achieve focus perhaps another will and you may get a usable shot in a low light situation or one where you don't have a ton of time to fuss around (busy location like a bar). I realize I may be grasping here as a quick look through a couple of shoots did not reveal any such photos that benefited from the added focus points.

The only other advantage I can see to expansion mode is coupling it with AI Focus so if your subject moves slightly after your initial focus, you might still maintain focus? I'm just throwing ideas out.

kin2son wrote in post #15422643 (external link)
Read my comments above. Low light or not depends on the point you pick. That is, stick to cross-types or the middle bunch for higher sensitivity. The other 4 points in expansion mode are only on standby and won't be activated if the middle point achieves a lock.

As long as you don't focus recompose and use one of the crosstype on the eyes, it shouldn't matter ;)

As you suggest, I have my focus points selection setup to only use the cross-type points and you're preaching to the choir about focus recompose :)

BTW, I'm still interested in hearing whether portrait pro's prefer to use the smaller "spot" variation of single point, or the larger single point focus point.


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taylorman00
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Jan 05, 2013 19:55 |  #8

If I'm shooting photos of a single person, I always focus on the eyes.


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VirtualRain
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Jan 06, 2013 02:35 |  #9

taylorman00 wrote in post #15449852 (external link)
If I'm shooting photos of a single person, I always focus on the eyes.

Yeah, but with what kind of focus point selection?


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jrscls
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Jan 06, 2013 08:01 |  #10

Spot AF single point for me with this type of shot using nearest cross-type (non cross-type disabled in view finder)


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Which focus point type with wide primes?
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