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Partially Blurry Faces, what are some depth of field tips

djscrib

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So I recently had my first kid, and most of my friends are in the same boat. So in the spirit of over-doing things I tossed out my old Eos Rebel, and picked up a new Eos 40D, with a 24-70 2.8 lens. I also have a 50 mm 1.4 on order.

So most of my photos currently are indoor shots of kids/babies. The issue I'm having is a lot of the shots are half blurry, half in focus. My guess here is my depth of field is too shallow (I wind up shooting indoors so crank the aperture wide open to use the lowest ISO possible while still shooting at 1/60).

So there are a few questions that arise for how to fix this.

1) Is my assumption correct? The kid's nose is in focus, but their neck is blurry.

2) I assume the further you get away from the subject, the larger amount of the subject is focused properly. Is this correct?

3) If you are 10 feet away from a subject, is the same amount of them in focus regardless of your zoom? Or does it change when you zoom. Thus is shooting fully zoomed from 10 feet away, any different than shooting at half/zoom from 5 feet away, if the subject appears the same size in the picture?

What I'm trying to figure out is what's my optimal strategy for indoor photography for faces. Do I need to get the maximum distance possible from the subject and zoom in as far as I can to get the deepest focus band? Should I try focusing on the cheeks or eyes instead of the nose so I'm focused more "in the middle"?

Just trying to figure out a general strategy to employ here. (I figure the issue is only going to get worse using a 50mm 1.4 lens)

Thanks in advance for any help

DJScrib
 
With people, you generally always want to get their eyes in focus, so if your using a really wide aperture like 2.8 or 1.4, then focus for the eyes and recompose.

You could also try cranking up the iso and stoping the aperture down abit.. to maybe 5.6 or 8... then you'll have a fighting chance even if your focus is a bit off. If its getting to dark or the noise is too apparent, maybe invest in a flashgun for your camera... then bounce it off a wall or something to difuse it a bit.... then it'll allow you to shoot at a smaller aperture with a lower ISO thus increasing depth of field and image quality :)

Hope that helps
 
Oh yeah, I'm on my third kid and each somehow requires a new camera :)

You're on the right track, your assumptions are largely correct. Try and shoot at least set to f/5.6, which will require a much higher ISO when indoors. That will get everyone in focus.

The further away, the longer the DOF becomes - so if you're shooting from twenty feet away, your DOF will be wider than from six feet away. Not sure how that works with zoom, others here will be able to educate you on that.

DOF is 1/3rd -2/3rds... Whatever the given Depth of Field that is in focus, if you're dead-on focused then 1/3rd of the available DOF will be in front, and twice the difference behind the focal depth.

Yes, it will get worse with the 1.4, but you'll love the lens anyway :)
 
I have struggled with the same issues when shooting indoors. I have tried to use the room with the max light -open up the blinds, pick a day-time when it is bright. I also increase the iso, but then dont like the noise it introduces since I dont have photoshop or some other noise eliminating software.

Finally last week, I bought a flash (SB600) and used it in an indoor shoot. Have been very happy with the capabilities it offers. Now I need to learn a lot about how to use all the features of my flash.

good luck.
 
F/8, ISO 100, 1/250th SS and off camera strobes are your friend. ;)

I don't have any children, but I never let that stop me as a reason... though thats a darn good one for an upgrade. Guess I need to go "practice" some more. I wonder how many kids I would need for a D3 and a half-dozen lenses? lmao!
 
Here is an online DOF calculator. You can play around with the focal length, distance to subject, and aperture to get a feel for how it all relates...

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
 
I think youe DOF issue has pretty much been covered here nut I really have to ask you a question. Why would you need the 500mm 1.4 when you already have that FL covered with an excellent 24-70 2.8 lens. In my personal opinion (and that don't mean much) that money could be better spent on somehing like.... well I don't know anything other than a redundant focal-length.
 
Regarding why I'm getting a 50m 1.4 lens. I really don't know a ton about the stuff but it seems like a fairly common theme I keep hearing is that the 24-70 2.8 is a good workhouse lens. But a lot of people seem to post that they also like to use the 50mm 1.4. My assumption is that a 1.4 gives you the ability to do low-light flash-less photography in churches, receptions, etc. that the 2.8 just can't handle without adding a ton of noise.

From what I keep reading the magic number isn't the 50mm, but the 1.4 aperture.

Anyhow I'd love to hear any opinions about this as I am very new to everything.

I kind of figured it'd be a good lens for taking pics at parties and stuff when I don't feel like packing the 24-70 which is obviously much larger/heavier.
 

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