Not sure if I'am doing something wrong or is the camera malfunctioning

Discussion in 'Commercial/Product photography' started by Jellybean88, Sep 25, 2016.

  1. Jellybean88

    Jellybean88 TPF Noob!

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    Please critique and send me in the right direction (I have enclosed a photo). So far I have spent hours & hours reading and trying to learn. I have enclosed a photo.

    I am trying to get a seamless white background for clothing, but every photo I have taken since following online directions is not sharp/in focus when zooming in.

    I have tried to be as detailed as possible in regards to settings I am using etc..
    My equipment:
    Nikon D3100 - Lens: Nikkor DX AF-S 35mm
    2 Flashpoint 320M (150 Watt) Mono's & 2 Flashpoint 1220M's (600W)
    ***Mannequin is positioned approx 7' away from wall/white backdrop
    ***I stand approx 8' in front of the mannequin to get a full-length shot
    Background lighting is at f/16 on the light meter
    Key light is at f/8 (approx 5' from mannequin)
    Fill light at f/5.6 (approx 5' from mannequin)

    **Camera Settings: Aperture Priority - f/11 1/125 ISO-200, Single-Point AF / Metering- Center-weighted

    When I shoot with the flashes the Sekonik light meter (L-358) it reads f/11 1/125 ISO-200

    Also do the modeling lamps in the flash units play an important part, because 3 of them don't work?

    Any help would be terrific!:1247:[​IMG]


     
  2. john.margetts

    john.margetts No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If auto-focus isn't working, I would try manual focus instead.

    Focus should have nothing to do with lighting or exposure unless you are in the dark until the flashes fire.
     
  3. Jellybean88

    Jellybean88 TPF Noob!

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    NOTE: I forgot to add that for some reason when I am in Aperture Priority and I turn the wheel to change the Aperture value the shutter speed does not change at all. It sticks at 1/60 no matter what aperture I use. Is something locked??​
     
  4. AKUK

    AKUK No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    With regard to the 1/60th sec issue you are experiencing, it sounds like your camera is using its flash sync speed. If I put my Metz 58 AF-1 flash onto the camera and am in Aperture Priority, the shutter speed does not alter. It defaults to 1/60 sec. If you have a flash trigger/controller on the camera hotshoe, it is most likely causing the 1/60 sec default. You are far better off working in Manual mode when using monolights, setting the camera to it's max sync speed to help kill ambient light (although your f/11 aperture should be doing this).

    As for the sharpness, it could be one of a number of issues.

    One is that the room you are shooting in is too dark for the camera to lock on focus properly, especially if the modelling lamps of the monolights aren't working. This could mean that the lens is missing focus and it is only the small aperture that has increase the depth of field enough to bring the mannequin marginally into focus. With a 35mm f/1.8 lens though, the room would have to be particularly dark for the camera not to focus properly. Having said that, even in nominal light conditions, if the area you are focusing upon lacks contrast, it is possible for the lens to hunt or miss focus.

    Secondly, the lens could have a physical back/forward focus issue. This is where you focus on a subject but the AF actually lands behind or in front of the focus plane you intended. You can test this yourself by propping a ruler at a 45 degree angle and focusing on the middle of it. If the number you focus on is out of focus, then the lens is defective or needs calibrating to your camera with the AF fine tune function, if your camera has it.

    Another possiblity is if you are hand holding the camera and the t=0.1 time of the flash isn't very fast. This would mean that if you move the camera whilst the flash is firing, it is still possible to get motion blur recorded onto the sensor. I would find this less plausible, as even entry level flashes should still produce around 1/200 sec, which at 35mm focal length should be fine, unless you are drastically moving the camera.

    The forth option is that there is sufficient light for the camera to focus and the flash is firing fine, but ambient light is still being recorded to the sensor too. If you are hand holding, this will again create motion blur if you move.

    Personally I would check the lens to see if there is indeed a focus issue with it. Once you have verified the lens status, you can then move onto to eliminating other potential causes. Set your camera to M mode. Select the maximum sync speed of the camera (1/200 usually). This will help eliminate almost 2 more stops of ambient light, than 1/60 sec. If you aren't tripod mounted, use one an set the camera to timer mode and exposure delay mode, to avoid vibrations from depressing the focus /shutter release and mirror slap.

    Let us know how you get on with these and if they make any difference to the resulting image quality.
     
  5. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

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    Have you contacted Adorama about your modeling lamps not working? I've heard the modeling light does not work when on battery mode.
    If you are in the dark your camera is going to have AF issues.

    FYI, I've always worked in Manual Exposure mode when using OCF (except for Event type photography when in TTL).
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Then you're just getting started.
     
  7. Jellybean88

    Jellybean88 TPF Noob!

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    Hi, thanks for your reply. The OCF's don't have the battery packs. The lamp in one of the larger lights just stopped working and the two smaller lights got friendly with the concrete floor. I just ordered replacements.:fat:
    Great photo's BTW. I'm from Grand Rapids, now in FL.
     
  8. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    No, modeling only assist you in seeing where the shadows fall on your subject prior to exposure. They have no impact on actual exposure.
    Trust your Sekonic, but make sure you know the difference between reflective and incidence metering.
     
  9. Jellybean88

    Jellybean88 TPF Noob!

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  10. Jellybean88

    Jellybean88 TPF Noob!

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    Wow, thank you so much for all the info. Great help section on your website also & fantastic photo's!
     
  11. Scatterbrained

    Scatterbrained Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Shoot in manual mode, not Av.

    The 1/60th is the minimum flash sync. That's your camera trying to set a shutter speed that would expose for the ambient light, but being stopped at 1/60th because of the flash being mounted. Shoot in manual and do away with that uncertainty.

    If you're trying to shoot product in Av mode I'd imagine that you still have the focus linked to the shutter button as well. Switch the camera to "back button AF" so you won't be activating the focus when hitting the shutter button.

    Pre-focus the camera (I'm assuming you're shooting from a tripod right?) using LiveView at maximum magnification. Once focused you should be good to go, so long as the camera doesn't move and you don't engage the auto focus.
     
  12. Jellybean88

    Jellybean88 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you for the advice. I am learning about reflective and incident lighting right now. Just don't know how to use the reflective meter reading in conjunction with the incident reading (myself and camera are in dim light & the subject is lit)
     

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