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Getting everything in focus

joekinerman 11 36 United Kingdom
28 Mar 2014 9:59AM
I have a home studio which isn't big maybe 7/8 meters long at most. I mainly do hair/fashion photography. The thing I'm struggling with is getting everything pin sharp. I tend to only shoot to a maximum of 3/4 length as it starts to distort. I shoot about f11 and 160 (my flash sync speed). Where am I going wrong?
I've got a canon 6d and usually use my 70/200 f4 lens.

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sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
28 Mar 2014 10:11AM
Joe - remember that DOF is relational to aperture, focal length and focusing distance. Try making your aperture smaller or increasing your focusing distance.
thewilliam 9 6.1k
28 Mar 2014 10:12AM
Depth of field will depend on focal length of the lens, aperture and the degree of enlargement of the final pic.

A full length pic at f11 should be sharp throughout unless either:-
1. Some part of the model's body is very much nearer the camera such as an outstretched hand
2. You haven't focused on the right part of the model's body.

One of my "mentees" came to me with a similar problem when he was doing group shots. I noticed that the AF was focusing on the background between two of the subject heads.
joekinerman 11 36 United Kingdom
28 Mar 2014 10:14AM
Well I always find I can get the face or somewhere in focus. But the whole image isn't sharp. So best push my f stop to above f11? What about other settings such as focus mode etc?
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
28 Mar 2014 10:52AM
got any examples?

bit surprised that it's not sharp at F11...

1-shot focus mode for me - no need for servo unless your subject's running around
28 Mar 2014 11:42AM
Try to take images with larger aperture (say, 5.6 - 8). Seriously. Shutter speed of 1/160 if shooting from hands with 200mm lens is not short enough. You may get it reasonably sharp from 1/200 or 1/250, but I understand your camera may have flash sync problems with that.

The other option is to stay with your current lighting but take the images from a rock-solid professional grade tripod (expensive!), in live view mode with the camera tethered to a laptop or a tablet. That should nail the sharpness, but will make all the process much less flexible.

Also, think if you really need 200mm . Limiting it to 100 mm and shorter distance to the subject may allow you to stay with 1/160 manual shooting.

Investing in a dedicated prime for portrait work will lift all the game at much higher level as well.

ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
28 Mar 2014 11:46AM
just to clarify - the issue is insufficient depth of field rather than camera shake related blur?
Evertonian 5 729 England
28 Mar 2014 12:00PM
For what you are doing I would have thought a largish aperture would be essential, in order to keep your BG out of focus. If the eyes are in focus, you are using f11 yet the body is not in focus, then either you are kidding yourself about the eyes, kidding yourself about the aperture or you need to bin your camera/lens combination.
Do some test shots on say chairs in a line leading away from you. Focus 1/3 the way down and then check how many chairs are in focus either side of your 1/3 in focal point.
One small thing to remember, as your studio is 8m long, perhaps you are using a long focal length lens to take your pics. With long lenses you need a shutter speed 1.5X the focal length and whatever aperture you use, the DoF will be a lot less than if you were using a wide angle lens for the same given aperture.
Dave_Canon 11 1.4k United Kingdom
28 Mar 2014 12:56PM
For studio work, I use manual exposure, and single spot one shot autofocus. Using the single centre spot only, I normally lock focus on one of the model's eyes by half pressing the shutter then recompose before fully pressing the shutter to take the shot. I would normal use around f8. I also ensure that the distance from camera to subject is greater than this distance from subject to background but you can only do this if you have enough space. I normally use my 24-105mm f4 for this type of shot but do sometimes use my 70-200mm f2.8 particularly if taking some available light shots and will often settle for a larger aperture for these.

Other tips. I never have any filters on the camera and use a lens hood. It is very easy to introduce flare in a studio set up where lights are often in front of the camera.

TanyaH Plus
15 1.3k 394 United Kingdom
28 Mar 2014 1:02PM
Mine isn't necessarily a technical response, as I don't feel I know enough for that ... but I did once end up with some very weird halo type things and focus issues when using the gold/white side of a reflector in a studio setup. Couldn't figure out what the hell had happened, but figured it may have been something to do with the light hitting the reflector wrong - and while it wasn't a depth of field thing, it did definitely bu**er up the focus!

Turned the reflector over to the normal white side, and didn't get the same problem. I doubt it's the answer to your question, but could it be a contributing factor?
dark_lord Plus
14 2.1k 537 England
28 Mar 2014 4:52PM
The guy's using studio flash, why on earth are you worrying about using fast shutter speeds Grin
At 3/4 length and f/11 there should be no issue. Unless you're looking down or up at an extreme angle.
A thought that popped into my, is the lens focussing correctly, or in front of or behind where it thinks it's focussing. A few lenses do, and some cameras do have a micro focus adjustment. I'd expect the 6D does, and if so the instruction booklet should cover it. If you suspect this, set your lens to manual focus on a tripod and do some tests.

What sort of distortion are you getting? It seems odd that at 70 mm, a short telephoto length, that you would if you're using a 35mm, 28 mm or wider lens I could believe it. As Ade says, any examples? You can post them in this thread. Full frame plus cropped samples to show sharpness or lack of would be most helpful.

What focal length are you using, generally? I know you said what lens, butsome have assumed you use the long end. I'd imagine you're in the 100-135 mm range at most.
28 Mar 2014 7:23PM

Quote:The guy's using studio flash, why on earth are you worrying about using fast shutter speeds Grin

Unless shooting with a flash in complete darkness, exposure continues during all shutter open period. This may be not much to change the picture's lights and colors, but quite enough to create some very minor movement blur that can easily be seen as lack of image sharpness.
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
28 Mar 2014 7:56PM
You don't have to shoot in utter darkness. A small aperture, low ISO and fairly fast shutter speed combined with general indoor lighting will give you a black or nearly totally black photo. 1/200sec, f8, ISO 100 in a room with a 60watt light bulb just gave me a black shot.

Once the light in the shot is totally dominated by the flash the flash itself is controlling the motion stopping effect.
thewilliam 9 6.1k
28 Mar 2014 9:07PM
The effect of the ambient light becomes obvious when you take a picture with the flash trigger switched off/sync lead unplugged. In our studio, the result is blackness.

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