I'm not sure I'm using the right lens...


TPF Noob!
Oct 6, 2009
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Hi guys,

You were very very helpful a while ago when I was setting up a studio to take pictures on location at a baby furniture/gear manufacturer's warehouse. Thread here.

I have since added a big light box which has improved the quality greatly, and will most likely add another one soon.

I have been having a hard time figuring out the correct settings on my T1i to get the sharpest and most focused image possible. I started out with being too close to the objects (using a Canon 17-85mm lens) which would stretch the subject and even with f11-13 would still leave parts of the item blurred.

I have since moved the tripod back and try to keep the length at 50mm since I read somewhere that it's the closest to the way human eyes see things.

ISO at 100, F13, exposure between 1 and 2 I get results that are good, but even after photoshopping I still think the items could have come out sharper.

So now I'm considering getting a 50mm f1.8 hoping this would produce sharper images, but I crank it up to F13 anyway, so would there actually be any difference?

Here are some examples of what I'm talking about...

Out of camera:


After processing:


Notice how the back of the bed is not as sharp as the front.

So is this the best quality I can achieve out of my current set up and would a different lens make a difference?

Thank you so much!
Your limitation here is not your equipment so much as your understanding of Depth of Field. Simply put, the smaller the aperture, the more of a scene is in focus. Bear in mind that: Wider angle lenses (shorter focal lengths) have more DoF at a given aperture than longer ones. The greater the camera-to-subject distance, the greater the DoF.

Plug your settings into a DoF calculator such as this one:

Online Depth of Field Calculator

and see what you need to get the desired results based on equipment and camera to subject distance. Also remember that a 50mm is considered a "normal" lens on a full-frame (24x36mm) sensor/35mm film camera. On an APS-C sensor such as yours, it's actually closer to 35mm due to the "crop" factor.

Were I to shoot this, I would use a focal length in the area of 20 - 30 mm, an aperture of around f11 (where lenses are typically at their sharpest) and move the camera far enough back so that the whole scene is in sharp focus (The DoF calculator will help you with this).
Thanks for the posts.

I played around with the calculator as well as F11-16, 35-50mm and moved the tripod around.

Here are some of the results straight out of camera.

I think at 35mm the tripod needs to be very close to the bed so the bed is in the depth of field area, but that distorts the bed itself stretching it, doesn't really look good, IMO.



At about 12 feet from the bed, while at 50mm and f16 I think I came up with the best result:


Here's the bed at 35mm from the same distance as the example above:

You could also try Focus Stacking the images in Photoshop if you really wanted ultra sharpness from front to back. By doing that you can get complete focus, and you can also open up your lens a little bit to f/8 or so, to work in your lens's sweet spot for maximum sharpness.

You can probably get enough DOF from stopping down to f/16-f/22, but then you also run into aperture diffraction problems. A kit lens especially, might be pretty soft at minimum aperture. So being at f/8 to maximize it's performance would be helpful.
^^ Yes, focus stacking may be the way to go. I used 36 stacked images to capture this product.
I would prefer not to have to deal with focus stacking. Interesting method, but I already do a lot of post processing, adding more steps will just slow me down more.

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