Best setting for casual indoor portraits

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by KrisHunt, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. KrisHunt

    KrisHunt TPF Noob!

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    So I just got my first big boy camera, a Canon XSi with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I'm impressed with the amount of light the lens captures at large apertures, but I'm having trouble getting a sharp image, even when I focus manually. I'm not sure if the lack of focus is due to not focusing properly, or because I'm not holding the camera still enough. By the way, I'm shooting mostly in aperture priority mode. Should I be shooting in manual mode instead, so I can increase the shutter speed and ISO? How does everyone else shoot casual indoor portraits in low light?
     
  2. sburatorul

    sburatorul TPF Noob!

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    i guess your problem is the shallow DOF. at large aperture the area of focus is very small so you have to be careful with it. i use a 50mm with a d60 so no auto focus. even though i focus manual i do get occasionally crisp pictures but more than often i get what you get. practice makes perfect
     
  3. NateWagner

    NateWagner TPF Noob!

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    well, I would say that it's really tough to give critique without seeing an example of what you are talking about. One thing that is important with the 1.4 is that if you are anywhere near that aperture you are going to have an extremely shallow DOF which will mean that not very much of your photo will be in focus (at least, a very small plane will be in focus).
     
  4. D-50

    D-50 TPF Noob!

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    At 1.4 or 1.8 if you take a photo of a face focusing on the tip of the nose the tip of the nose will be in focus but everything else will not. To get a good idea of the size of a focal plane shoot at 1.4 and take an shot of something close that gets far away i.e. sit on a bench and shot down the bench you will see the focal plane clearly when you view this shot on your computer
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Yes, examples will help.

    Shooting in Av or manual...won't have any effect on the photos, provided the settings are the same. You can change the exposure in either mode and ISO is a separate issue.

    It's my guess that you are having issues with DOF, as others have noted. When shooting at F1.4, your distance that will be in focus...might be only a few inches or less. So unless you are focused very accurately on what you want and neither you or the subject moves...there is a good chance that the area of focus won't be where you want it. Even if the focus is accurate, it might not be deep enough to get all of what you want, in focus. To get a deeper DOF, you would need to 'stop down' the lens to a smaller aperture...at the expense of shutter speed and/or ISO.
     

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