Aperture setting changes as number of people in photo increases . . .

DaveAndHolly219

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This is something I've been thinking a bit about and I'm hoping to get some advice.

I tend to shoot portraits fairly wide open, as I enjoy the look it produces, both in the background and on the subject. I usually shoot one or two people at a time though.

I've been approached to do some group shots of anywhere from four to twenty people. How would I go about ensuring that I'm using a small enough aperture to get everyone in a given group in focus? (Apart from chimping and zooming in on every face to check focus).

I know that distance from the lens is typically preached in connection with where focus is and depth of field (i.e. if you're shooting two people at a wide aperture, you'd better make sure they're sitting directly aside one another so that they're the same distance from the lens and therefore both in focus). However, there are only so many people you can/want to put in a straight line to shoot.


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tirediron

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Plan your groups/posing, determine your focal length, and from that extrapolate your camera-to-subject distance, and using a DoF application or tables, determine your aperture.
 

Derrel

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A group of four could be done as one row, four people across, anything from chest-up down to half-body height, to even full-body standing. A bigger group of say, 20 people...that's going to HAVE to be at least two ranks deep, maybe even three ranks deep, depending. One thing to keep in mind is that to increase DOF the easiest thing to do is not to close the lens down, but to move the camera BACK!!!! Move the camera BACK, away from the group! DOF increases quite rapidly with **distance**! This is especially true on APS-C sensors; I used to shoot at a busy high-volume studio with a motorized/electric long-roll 35mm camera setup that used "half-frame" 35mm size caprture, quite similar to APS-C in capture size.

At f/13 at 25 feet, all the way to the back of the camera room, we could shoot three ranks deep, with the ranks (front,middle-back rank) spaced "close"...you want the people in the middle to be VERY close to the front rank, and same for the back rank of people: they need to squish right up close to the middle rank.

GO HERE, and write down a few scenarios, and you will, be set. Here is a Screen Capture that I just made: Nikon DX camera, 50mm lens, a 30-foot camera-to-subject distance, f/11 lens aperture.Depth of Field, Angle & Field of View, & Equivalent Lens Calculator - Points in Focus Photography
Group Shot Data 50mm at f-11 at 25 feet.jpg


OKAY--this has a 14-foot wide coverage! Look at how much DOF there is at f/11 at 25 feet on a DX-Nikon camera with a 50mm lens!
 

Derrel

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Look at the above: you have a 14-foot 2.28 inch wide (left-to-right) picture coverage, and a 9-foot 4-inch tall frame. PLENTY of space for a larger but tightly-spaced group, even with a 50mm lens on a DX-Nikon
 
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The online depth of field calculators are a huge help.

I usually shoot less open with more people in the frame. Also a slightly wider angle helps with the dof anyhow and you want to use wider angles with more people. Sweet spot usually being f/3.2 or so fo full body on a 35 prime lens for me. Maybe f/4 on an 85. That's for groups of 10+. For couples I usually go f/2.2 straight on and f/2.8 at angles.
 

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