Attempting portraiture CC

shutterbugmomma

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Ok, let me just say, this is the first time I am getting real criticism and I am VERY nervous!! :meh:
I am having a problem with soft focus on the face/eyes.
All of these pics were shot with w T1i and a 50 mm lens.

f 2.5, 1/160, ISO 100
_MG_7341-1.jpg


f 2.8, 1/160, ISO 100
_MG_7320-1.jpg


f 2.5, 1/160, ISO 100
_MG_7266-1.jpg


f 2.8, 1/160, ISO 100
_MG_7283-1.jpg



f 1.8, 1/500, ISO 200
_MG_6775-1.jpg
 

MTVision

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I can't really give critique on the photos because I am on my phone - I will do it when I get to a computer. The reason you are having soft focus (missed focus) is because of your aperture and shallow depth of field. At 6ft away from your subject at 1.8 you only have 3.4" of DOF (in focus). Shallow DOF make nailing focus tricky because the slightest error will become very noticeable. Even at f/2.5 you still don't have very much DOF if you are within 5-6 feet of your subject. Stop down your aperture and you will probably nail your focus and still have the blurred background. At f/5.6 and 5 feet away I think you have about 6" of DOF which is still shallow but might allow you to nail focus easier.

The closer you are to your subject te shallower the DOF. you don't have to fill the frame with your subject. Plus if you fill the frame you will probably lose some of the image when you crop it for print. There are some depth of field calculators online - look one up and play around with it. Also, lenses don't perform their best wide open - they won't be that sharp.
 
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shutterbugmomma

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Awesome!! I will most definitely do that! Thank you! I just got the prime lens for Christmas so I have no idea what I am doing with it yet.
 

ph0enix

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Like Megan said, your DOF in all the photos is too shallow for portrait.
 

KmH

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Canon's inexpensive 50 mm f/1.8 II lens has some decent but not great optics. The lens still needs to be stopped down to between f/4 to about f/8 to produce truly sharp images.

For that matter, most prime lenses have to be stopped down to see their sharpest focus.

f/2.5 is only 1 stop down from f/1.8, and f/2.8 is only 1 1/3 stop down from f/1.8. f/3.5 is 2 full stops of smaller aperture from f/1.8 and that is where the focus will start to get pretty sharp.

Though the inexpensive 50 mm f/1.8 prime lenses often get recommended for doing portraiture, they are not really the best choice photographically speaking, and get recommended mostly because of their low cost.

Here at TPF we constantly get threads from neophyte 50 mm f/1.8 prime users attempting portraiture, that are having focusing issues.

So in summary, stop the lens down at least 2 stops if you want tack sharp focus. Be sure and review what constitutes good camera holding technique too, because poor camera holding technique can also adversely affect focus.
 
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shutterbugmomma

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Keith, So what lens would you recommend for portraiture? I only have the Canon 50 mm 1.8, 75-300 telephoto, and 18-55.
 

KmH

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Lets get something else straight here regarding DoF.

There is only one point (distance from the image sensor) that can be sharply focused. Depth-of-field defines a range of distance from that point that will have 'acceptable focus' but focus starts falling off immediately with distance both in front of and behind that one sharp point of focus. So if the total DoF is 3.4", tack sharp focus no longer exists 0.2 inches in front of, and 0.2 inches in back of the point of focus. From those distances the focus is still reasonable, but it's no longer 'tack sharp' and gets less reasonable as distance from the point of focus increases.

in addition to studying posing, lighting, compostion and other aspects of the art of doing photography, a photographer also has to have a good understanding of the technical aspects of using the tools of photography: camera, lens, and light.
 

blackrose89

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I dont know much about portrait work so I can't offer too much help, I just wanna say I love #3. Love the expression.
 

KmH

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Keith, So what lens would you recommend for portraiture? I only have the Canon 50 mm 1.8, 75-300 telephoto, and 18-55.
All of those.

Doing portraiture is not a one lens task.

For that selective focus, shallow DoF look, I preferred using a 200 mm focal length. But to use 200 mm you have to be further away from the subject. When I didn't have that much room I used a shorter focal length lens.
Sometimes I used a 24 mm focal length lens, and sometimes I used a 50 mm lens. I also had and used 85 mm and 105 mm prime lenses.

A lot of pros use a 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom lens for that reason.

Investigate using focal lengths longer than 50 mm for doing portraiture.
 

MTVision

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shutterbugmomma said:
Keith, So what lens would you recommend for portraiture? I only have the Canon 50 mm 1.8, 75-300 telephoto, and 18-55.

Its a good enough portrait lens. There isn't any point right now to buy another lens. You can still get excellent photos with it. Wait until you outgrow it. Then you will probably know what you need next. Also, if you are inside taking pictures anything longer is gonna be to long inside.
 

mwcfarms

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shutterbugmomma said:
Keith, So what lens would you recommend for portraiture? I only have the Canon 50 mm 1.8, 75-300 telephoto, and 18-55.

Its a good enough portrait lens. There isn't any point right now to buy another lens. You can still get excellent photos with it. Wait until you outgrow it. Then you will probably know what you need next. Also, if you are inside taking pictures anything longer is gonna be to long inside.

Actually Megan your incorrect. I shoot with a 70 - 200 quite often inside and my 105 and my 85. It all depends on the distance to subject and what not. I prefer to shoot with my 70-200 exclusively for head shots. For groups of people its a bit much but again it all depends on your distance to subject.
 

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shutterbugmomma said:
Keith, So what lens would you recommend for portraiture? I only have the Canon 50 mm 1.8, 75-300 telephoto, and 18-55.

Its a good enough portrait lens. There isn't any point right now to buy another lens. You can still get excellent photos with it. Wait until you outgrow it. Then you will probably know what you need next. Also, if you are inside taking pictures anything longer is gonna be to long inside.

Actually Megan your incorrect. I shoot with a 70 - 200 quite often inside and my 105 and my 85. It all depends on the distance to subject and what not. I prefer to shoot with my 70-200 exclusively for head shots. For groups of people its a bit much but again it all depends on your distance to subject.

I also shoot with my 70-200 more often than not for portraits. For children it works well for full body even, adults not so much and I have to switch. The barrel distortion doesn't exist so much with a longer focal length and it's divine for portraits because of it.
 

MLeeK

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I SWEAR I cc'd and added to this post... I have no idea where it went???

Aside from aperture, there is also something more going on with the first 3 and I suspect that you are using more than one focus point? Your focus on the first looks like it doesn't exist. The second is locked on the bow and third on her lip? And fourth maybe the end of her nose? Your focus is going to lock onto wherever it can get the most contrast to lock to. Use one focus point and lock it to the inside corner of the eye closest to you.
You are also using a lower shutter speed in that first set. Kids move like lightning and I would try to stay above 1/250 with that. You'll see an improvement in focus by doing that. If you must raise your ISO by all means do so!
 

GeorgieGirl

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What was your lighting for the girl with the hair bow?
 

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