Focusing on portraits

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kylebybee, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. I'd like to first start out by thanking another Photo.net subscriber, William W. who helped a lot in the portrait forum. My question here pertains to the camera I'm using and an issue I was running into during one of my first portrait shoots. It was an outdoor session, I had the couple riding a bicycle at times and just generally letting them interact with each other. I was using my D7000, I rented a Sigma 85mm f/1.4 and was having trouble with the lens auto focusing on the faces/eyes. I switched to manual focus but even with slow walking around or even just posing it was too slow to get the focus point where I wanted it and then focus meter etc..
    Are there other Nikon bodies that would do a better/faster job at getting focus on the face/eyes? I look at the mirror less bodies like GH4, EM-1, with touch focus and wonder?
    00cl9L-550384184.jpg
     
  2. another example of work done, these are the ones that were mainly in focus.
    00cl9O-550384284.jpg
     
  3. The D7100 has better (faster and more precise) autofocus than the D7000, but even then you are not likely to get 100% of the shots focused on the eye at f/1.4. At f/2.8 achieving acceptable focus is easier. I would accept that there is some stochastic nature in autofocus and grab a few frames each time, and pick the best one. You should also fine tune the focus of your camera and lens to be sure that there is no systematic error.
    I look at the mirror less bodies like GH4, EM-1, with touch focus and wonder?

    Are you talking about a feature where you touch a point in the LCD and it focuses on that area? For extremely shallow depth of field work just a slightest movement of the camera relative to the subject after the focus is completed would throw focus off. I think it is best to keep the camera against your face for better stability. I would test the camera with the lens you intend to buy in a realistic shooting environment before committing to the purchase of a new camera. My personal choice would be either the D810 or the D7100 if you want to shoot portraits and some moving subjects (such as people walking towards the camera, riding a bike etc.) and specifically want the best autofocus (D4s could be even better but it is not very cost-efficient and comparatively low resolution). I notice that in the bike shot there is also some movement blur; if you want to freeze the movement and that way get the sharpest results, you should use at least 1/500s shutter speed if not faster. The D7100 is an excellent camera and would work with your current lenses.
     
  4. As Ilkka mentioned, for the bike shot, your panning technique has to be perfect at the 1/125 it's taken on or there's going to be apparent camera shake. Sure you want a movement-blurred background and a sharp subject, but that's a pretty tricky skill. Equally, wide open the DoF is going to be very thin. Combine the 2 factors and you're playing the odds...1 in 10 maybe?
    There maybe, emphasis on maybe, an issue with the Nikon body not playing nicely with a non-Nikon lens. Try a Nikon 85mm f1.8 AFS and see if there are the same probs.
    Late Edit.
    Just noticed this bit..
    I switched to manual focus but even with slow walking around or even just posing it was too slow to get the focus point where I wanted it and then focus meter etc..​
    Could you explain a bit more about this process..are you using MF with the Green dot?
    Later Edit
    You could try Face-Detect AF and see if it will follow the rider/passenger?
     
  5. Yes Mike, I switched the lens manual focus and then was looking for the green dot in the view finder, this is ok for me
    when shooting stills/ landscapes, not portraits. I'm self conscious about how long I'm taking to take the shot with a
    person.
     
  6. Kyle, first off I am no expert in portraits, so I cannot comment very specifically, but I think it comes down to generically how to deal with autofocus and how to focus manually.
    For the latter, the green dot is nice, but when working with off-centre focus points, it's not always very accurate in my experience, especially with fast primes. I use the green dot only if I have plenty of time; else - just the viewfinder. Unfortunately, the viewfinder in nearly all DSLRs isn't optimised for manual focus, nor for very fast lenses. The full frame cameras have a big advantage here, though I could work just OK with my D300 (viewfinder very similar to the D7000); I have pretty good eyesight though. I know quite a lot of others who found it not so doable.
    As for the AF not really working out - a lot also depends on the settings you were using. The sensitivity of the AF points is not all equal, and unfortunately those more likely to be used for eyes (close at the thirds - the edge AF point) are not as sensitive as those in the centre. That makes them less responsive also for any continuous AF. Focus & recompose (using the centre focus point) could to the trick, but with very shallow DoF it fails easily as well. And of course, there are the various continuous AF modes which differ in responsiveness as well. So it could help understanding how you configured the AF on your camera.
     
  7. What focus modes are you using? How many points, and what area?
     
  8. I was using AF- S and AF-C all 39 points
     
  9. I do a lot of portraits in natural light/settings. Not a lot of moving people, but I do a fair amount of shots of a moving toddler! I have a D7100 and use a lot of lenses, usually my two kit lenses: Nikon18-70 and Nikon18-105, but I also use the AF 50mm 1.8 and some manual lenses at times (50 1.4, 55 micro, and 105 2.5). When my subjects are moving, I use the AF kit lenses, wide open at whatever iso I need to get a shot. I use exclusively a single point focus and "lock on" the features I want focused. Check out my people folder for lots of different examples: http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=257117 At a family reunion last hear I got this shot of running boys using the single point focus: http://www.photo.net/photo/17478347&size=lg
     
  10. Most peeps use AF so using manual may appear archaic and not v. efficient. Recently I had to shoot a person on a bike and two people on bikes (two seperate shoots - different days too). I made this easy and in manual: picked the background (frame) and set the biker/ers in the foreground. I gave them specific phys mark to hit....like scratching a line in the dirt or couple of small rocks, etc. (whatever handy). Anyway, I placed the subject within this boundry, set the focus and light-meter the scene...and I had to mark my own spot, as well. During the actual action, I didn't have to focus (that was all preset) and just concentrate on the framing....to get the results I desired. I gave the subjects little leeway (only few inches) to hit the marks and shot it with closing the aperture a bit (F5.6 or 8). I did 3 tries, also using motorized drive....starting just a smidgen before the (preset) correct spot. Consequently, I had several good keepers to choose from.
    That said, if the action is random this would be way more difficult, but with practice it's also possible. For many years (before AF) photographers used manual with excellent results. I'm not saying this to start a AF vs MF debate. Anyway, you do potato and I do poutato :>)
    Les
     
  11. interesting thread. i use the sigma 85/1.4 often on a D3s. it works just as good as any of my OEM nikkors. i shoot a lot of low-light stuff between f/2-2.8 mostly (if i need to stop down more than that i might as well use a 70-200), concerts and what-not. so the subjects are frequently in motion. i got the sigma purposely because the AF speed had good reviews.
    I was using my D7000, I rented a Sigma 85mm f/1.4 and was having trouble with the lens auto focusing on the faces/eyes. I switched to manual focus but even with slow walking around or even just posing it was too slow to get the focus point where I wanted it and then focus meter etc..
    Are there other Nikon bodies that would do a better/faster job at getting focus on the face/eyes?
    it's really not surprising that your subject-in-motion portrait didn't nail focus, although it would have been helpful had you posted an example of a missed shot instead of the tamron pic.
    short answer to your question is, it depends. it has a lot to do with the body/lens combo, but also the focusing mode and shooter's methodology. anything moving should be in AF-C, as the camera will make micro-adjustments once focus has locked. you also want to use "CH" which vastly increases the chances of getting at least one shot in a sequence in focus. the D3s is excellent at this but doesn't have a 100% keeper rate. with a 1.4 lens, i rarely shoot wide open unless the subject is not moving at all. note that with AF-C, you don't want to use focus-and-recompose. with static subjects, you want to shoot in AF-S and use focus and recompose as necessary, although this can lead to focus errors at the widest apertures. stopping down to 2.8 will give you a bit more leeway than 1.4 or f/2, but in the sigma 85 pic you posted, there's no need to shoot at 2.8 at all. there's not enough distance between subject and background to render subject isolation, and not only are you in good light, but you're using flash. so you could have stopped down to 5.6.
    in any event, i'm not going to suggest that you need a new camera just to take portraits. i think it's really just a matter of improving technique and learning the camera's limitations and strengths a bit better, as well as what it does with particular lenses. the D7000 has 39-pt AF and should be good enough for anything except maybe extreme sports/action. i really dont recommend shooting in manual focus for a wide-aperture portrait except maybe in a posed studio shot.
    There maybe, emphasis on maybe, an issue with the Nikon body not playing nicely with a non-Nikon lens. Try a Nikon 85mm f1.8 AFS and see if there are the same probs.​
    this is pretty unlikely, as the d7000 is older than the sigma 85. more realistically, it just comes with the territory of shooting at wide apertures and the realities of autofocus, that it needs contrast to be able to lock on.
    You could try Face-Detect AF and see if it will follow the rider/passenger?​
    the D7000 doesnt have Face-Detect AF. (only the d4s and d810 have this feature, AFAIK). it does have an auto-area AF mode, but face detection on a d7000 only works in Live View mode. in any event, i wouldnt use this mode for tracking subject motion, as it can select a bunch of focus points automatically, not necessarily what you wanted it to focus on.
    anyway, here's a few grab shots with the d3s/sigma 85 combo.
    00clCa-550393984.jpg
     
  12. sorry, that shot was f/2.5. this one is 2.2, 1/160, ISO 6400.
    00clCf-550394084.jpg
     
  13. I gave the subjects little leeway (only few inches) to hit the marks and shot it with closing the aperture a bit (F5.6 or 8). I did 3 tries, also using motorized drive....starting just a smidgen before the (preset) correct spot. Consequently, I had several good keepers to choose from.​

    this is the zone focus method, which is used a lot in street photography. it works best at deeper apertures, i.e. 5.6-11. i wouldn't use it at all if you're any wider. i sometimes do this with wide angle lenses for an over-the-head crowd shot or something like that.
    00clCl-550394184.jpg
     
  14. Eric, try the D90 onwards..:)
    http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/microsite/d90/en/advanced-function/​
    it's a good read from the past. Not up to the D4, but it's been there a while.
     
  15. When shooting in Auto-area AF mode, the camera quickly focuses on the main subject by detecting foreground, background and subject position. When using 3D-tracking (11 points) mode, the camera uses your subject’s color and brightness information to keep it in sharp focus as you change the composition.​
    so it says, but this doesnt really work in practice. i have a d90, d300s, and a d3s, and i don't use this mode on any of them. also the d90 has only one cross-type AF point, and is not known for stellar focus acquisition when shooting action at anything other than the center AF point. i prefer to select my own AF point, because auto-area AF mode will just grab as many AF points as it can. that's something you really don't want when shooting at wide apertures, trying to emphasize subject isolation. my understanding is that they finally got this feature right with the latest generation of flagship cameras (d4s, d810). in any event, i wouldn't recommend this feature even if it worked better because it's not really teaching you good technique.
     
  16. the bike shot you're showing IMO technically is more of an action shot the a portrait shot.
    Where with a 'real' portrait (as in the second picture) the subject is static and AF-S is indeed a valid solution, with an action shot you'll need a completely different approach to your AF settings.
    As already said , to begin with AF should be set to AF-C. Then you should also change the rest of the settings (Dynamic AF, nr of AF points, AF tracking etc) in order to get and keep the moving subject in focus.
    I a.o. have a DF which basically has the same Nikon 4800 AF module as the D7000 (which has the 4800DX version), and even if not on par with eg the D3 and D800, it's very capable enough for use with fast moving subjects.
    Shortly after I got mine, I, after having read all the stories on the 'awfull AF of the DF under bad light, as a torture test, went out to shoot a catwalk show in a local shopping mall (actually the very first shoot I did with it, and consequently made quite some mistakes with the other settings on the camera). Apart from the fast moving models, an extra pain factor was that the lighting (only) consisted of a mixture of the lights of the windows high up in the building, and that of the window displays of the shops, and that I was using a 70-300VR zoom near wide open. So although I wasn't shooting a 1.4/85mm ( I have the AF-D version so have experience with this type of lens) basically I also had to shoot moving subjects with a shallow DoF as I also had to dial in a fast shutterspeed to avoid motion blur. The DF was quite up to it, http://www.pbase.com/paul_k/catwalk_new_babylon and so would I expect the D7000 based on the specs have been.
    IMO manual focusing with a very shallow DoF and fast moving subject really is not a viable, and with modern AF no longer necessary option (done that a lot in my film days in the 80's/90's with eg 4.5/80-200, 2.8& 4.5/300mm manual lenses shooting catwalk. I did have keepers, but a major part would usually be OOF).
    Nor is zone focussing (creating a zone within which everything is sharp, based on the hyperfocal distance of a lens at a certain aperture and distance). Although that technique is very handy when shooting eg big crowds, in particular when using a wide angle, or with longer lenses when shooting panning shots (those shots are usually taken with more closed down aperture and a longer shutter speeds for a blurry background and the impression of speed).
     
  17. nice shots, paul. but obviously, you've shot catwalk before. in the OP's case, he clearly says the shoot was one of his first portrait sessions. i agree the d7k's multi-cam 4800 should be good enough to track moving objects, but the OP's question was, is this a body issue or a lens issue? the answer, of course, is most likely neither, it's a technique issue. it's possible the d7000 had backfocus issues or the lens needed AF fine-tuning, but since the OP hasn't posted any 'what went wrong' shots, there's no way to know for sure why he wasn't able to focus on the eyes. did he try shooting a headshot with shallow depth of field?
    similarly, there's no reason to shoot a panning shot at 1/100 in good light. Most focus errors are caused by too slow of a shutter speed, period. aka human error. 1/500 would have deaded all motion blur in that shot, but 1/250 should have been enough to freeze it.
    if i'm renting a lens, i would at least check to make sure it autofocused correctly before using it. so i'd check focus acquisition at 1.4, f/2, 2.8, f/4, 5.6. i'm probably not going to need to shoot below 5.6 with an 85. resorting to manual focus might only make things worse, especially if i'm at or near wide open, unless i'm on a tripod.
    using the dummy AF-area mode as was suggested is precisely what you don't want to do, i.e., take the control of focus point selection out of your hands. the only time you'd ever want to use this mode is when you literally don't have time to select focus. i remember playing around with this on my d300 a few years back and concluding it wasn't very accurate or precise. sometimes 4 AF areas would lock; sometimes 40. what is more helpful, is knowing when to use AF-S and when to use AF-C. for a posed shot like the second pic, you'd want to use AF-S. for a subject motion pic like the first pic, you'd want to use AF-C. you still need good technique to ensure the focus goes exactly where you want it.
     
  18. Yes, buy the new cameras you mentioned. 99% of the time not getting the results you want can be resolved by buying a
    new camera rather than understanding what you are doing.
     
  19. At f1.4 the DoF is extremely narrow and even slight movements by your subject will quickly change the focus point. I rarely use f1.4.
    Kent in SD
     
  20. Eric, did you follow your own Flikr link leading onto the D7000 manual? (page 50 of the English PDF) It has exactly the same Face-Detect AF as the vaulted D4 and D800/810....just as my D5300 has etc etc. They are also ONLY available in Live View. Interesting if Subject Tracking or Face Priority AF is better?..I suspect the latter.
    Now I guess if they are on such professional cameras as those, it should probably work sometimes??
    However, in keeping with the educational tone of this thread (rather than Auto AF Targeting etc) I'd have thought something like 1/250 f4, 9-Point AF-C 'aimed' at the pretty girl's head and panned gently to keep them centralish should have found focus OK. I'd guess the camera might grab the door-frame as being a good high-contrast marker if it loses the people. The D7000's predictive nature of AF-C in half-press should keep up OK with Menu a4 set to Normal.
    Not sure if I think a tripod is handy here with a video or panning head? maybe!.....not so much for stability, but for smoothness and predictability of tracking. After the first pass the 'driver' can follow the wheel marks!
    Many people use the AF-ON or back button focussing so as to separate AF activation from 'Fire' with the shutter button!
    If they did 4 passes, I'd expect 2 or 3 to be perfect. Get a local friend to cycle around you for practise before trying a real shoot.
    _______
    As a slight aside, anyone reading this post with a current generation DSLR has Face-Detect AF in LV as an option, they should just switch it on and see how well it works before denouncing it as a worthless gimmick. It might just surprise you.
     
  21. It has exactly the same Face-Detect AF as the vaulted D4 and D800/810​
    no, nikon improved FD in the 810 and D4s. not the same as earlier cameras. mike, i have to ask, since you are so gung-ho, have you ever used this feature?
    LV is too slow in Nikon's to use for many practical shots.
     
  22. There's a first! Never been called Gung-ho before...:)
    But yup, quite often. I tried it on faster action like trotting horses (Rider's face....not the horses!), but it was indeed too slow. However, for people wandering about, it was quite capable of a) finding a face and b) keeping focus on it in quite a dim room. Maybe the D5300 has improved LV AF? It's certainly way better than my D90, D300 and a bit better than my D5100. I don't have a 'recent' FX to try it on.
    The aperture's 'behaviour' in LV is a bit unpredictable, but using f4 should allow adequate AF speed.
    Slow cycling-by wouldn't be a problem for it, especially in light like that.
    Eric, I gotta ask, have you actually tried it on a current generation DSLR?
     
  23. " I rarely use f1.4."
    Kent in SD
    My intended purpose for the wide aperture was to blow out the back ground on some shots, but I think I got caught up in the moment and forgot to adjust it on others.
     
  24. my most 'current' DSLR is a D3s. it's actually quite pointless to talk about features which neither of us seem to have used. LV is only suitable for seated portraits, so i'm not sure why you are going on and on about its use. the bottom line is, the OP needs to firm up his technique. the d7000 is clearly not the limiting factor in his issues with portraits...
     
  25. For slow cyclists, I'd say try it and see, that's all. It's a tool like any other to try in the armoury. To just assume it won't work is a very negative approach to new tech.

    LV focussing is far more accurate than phase detect anyway....just a bit slower. It would also do away with any front or back AF issues this camera-lens combo may have.
     
  26. To just assume it won't work is a very negative approach to new tech.​
    well, i actually have used area-AF focus, and it didn't work for me, for reasons i already stated. it's not FD, at least not on the three nikon DSLRs i have. it doesnt work the same way FD does on a point and shoot, that is, just grab a face in the center of the composition. instead, it just seems to lock on to AF points at random. maybe it's better in the 5300, but the OP doesnt have one of those, so it's quite pointless to even mention that. regardless, my point is that trying to fix a technique issue with an automatic mode is not going to help improve the OP's actual technique. also not sure why you are recommending LV focusing as it's slower than manual focusing and not really suited for non-static subjects.
     
  27. Really, has any of the most avid posters in this thread actually done any serious action photography, as I only see a lot of theory about how things should out on paper work?
    To begin with, the bicycle shots of the OP may have been part of a portrait photography session, but in essence simply are pictures of people riding a bicycle, and therefor the focusing and shooting technique should be approached accordingly. To get a sharp picture, the OP should look at his focusing technique and camera settings. It's really not a question that his present camera isn't up to the task. But the camera simply is just a computer, it will do whatever instructions/settings have been dialed into it, and if those are insufficient, it will fail.
    I have not only shot plenty of catwalk http://www.pbase.com/paul_k/catwalk_archief using modern (and not so modern) DSLR's but also plenty of surf http://www.pbase.com/paul_k/surf , so very fast moving, relatively small objects in very messy backgrounds, using a.o. lenses ranging between 400 and 840mm at near fully open aperture, so I think I can speak with some real life experience.
    So based on my experience I dare say AF-S is no realistic option (absolutely not fit for moving subjects), nor is face detection, nor is live view. Nor for that matter are Auto Area AF or 3D Tracking AF, however intelligent the camera manufacturer claims the software is he is using, as the camera independently of the shooter decides where it will focus on, and not the shooter. And don't forget to switch the Focus tracking (custom function A3 on the D800) off (also slows down the AF speed)
    My AF technique, though I don't claim to be the absolute authority in that field, in my experience is valid for shooting any kind of action photography, from surf to catwalk, walking models in the street, football (or soccer as they say across the water) baseball, tennis etc (all disciplines of action photography I have shot off over the last few years) and basically is simple.
    As a Nikon shooter I personally always have the AF on the release button, with priority on release ( I only use the AF-On button to prod the AF into action in anticipation of a possible shot, so it will already be more or less in focus when I push the release button for the actual shot, thus shortening the reaction time). For the AF settings for action I always go for AF-C with Dynamic AF (39 AF fields with DF, 51 with D3 and D800, even if according to some less AF points would be better. Guess that is indeed a matter of personal preference) with one AF point (the one closest to he face of the model for catwalk, central or near center one on the subject for surf) manually selected.
    When I start to shoot, I have the AF point on the face of the model (or on the figure of the surfer, or in the case of the OP of the person on the bicycle) and shoot in shorter or longer bursts with depending on the subject slow (catwalk) or very fast (surf, or in the case of the OP cycling people) of anything between 7 and 9 fps (or as fast as the camera will go eg with my D70S 3fps, with my D1H 5 fps etc). After my deliberately focused first shot, I put my faith in Nikon's Dynamic AF and AF tracking, but with the knowledge that I have decided what starting point the system will use to make its calculations for AF and tracking on (and over the years it has fortunately not let me down). And when shooting surf I pan my camera along with the movement, so it's not a series of static shots with a little puppet moving from one side to the other.
    It's not just a theoretical resume of how I think it could work out, among my surf pictures I have plenty of sequence shots that show it really not 'shoot, spray and pray', but a well thought through process with the results to show, eg http://www.pbase.com/paul_k/quick_silver_pro_20101002, series starting with picture 066 to 078, 124 till 134, 183 to 201
    I have shot with anything from a D70S, D3, D800 etc., and the above AF settings can be applied to shooting with any of those camera's.
    My two cents
     
  28. If you want to make sure that you get a focused image of objects in motion, set the camera to AF-C (Continuous focus) and set the shutter priority through the camera menu to "FOCUS" that way the shutter will only release if the subject is in focus. You can use a single focus point and make sure it covers the subject face (if they have one).
    This works for anything that is moving ....
    The default setting for Nikon cameras is to have the shutter priority set to "RELEASE" in AF-C mode. This means the shutter will release and and take an image regardless if anything is in focus or not.
    Different Nikon models have different menu settings to achieve this - check your manual.
     
  29. the camera independently of the shooter decides where it will focus on, and not the shooter.​
    my point, exactly. i shot about 500-600 frames of a turf dance competition about a week and a half ago; had i used AF area focus or LV to "try and see" if it worked, i would have been sorely disappointed. instead, i got hundreds of keepers, some of which i'll be publishing and/or printing.

    as a working photojournalist, it always amazes me how some people think that armchair opinions equal actual field experience. i don't really shoot surf as i dont have long enough lenses, but i've shot fashion/catwalk, concerts, protests, events -- even shot cyclists from a bicycle -- etc., etc. i initially jumped in on this thread because the OP was discussing a lens i use extensively, the sigma 85/1.4. i've also used the tamron 17-50, the 24-70 AF-S, the 70-200, etc. what i can tell you is that the more you shoot action, the more intuitive it becomes. i also use AF-On and focus priority.

    but lest we digress, this thread is only partially about action photography. it's also about portrait settings and focus techniques. as i mentioned earlier, without more examples from the OP of missed focus with the Sigma, we can't really troubleshoot or diagnose what his issue may have been. it could have been back focus, not enough contrast, or too slow of a shutter speed, combined with using a wide aperture. in my experience, the Sigma 85 is a gorgeous lens capable of exquisite portraits and action shots, which plays well with Nikon bodies. its focus acquisition is faster than the 85/1.4 AF-D and it's capable of very nice bokeh/subject isolation at wide apertures. but if you're going to shoot from as far back as the OP did in the shot he posted, you're simply not getting the full benefit of that lens. and if you are going to shoot from that far back, there's no reason not to stop down, since shallow DoF doesn't make any difference in that photo.

    00clMb-550419584.jpg
     
  30. I shoot portraits in available light with 50mm on a D300 or with 85mm on a D600.
    I select continuous AF, modest FPS so the camera can adjust focus between shots, single point AF, and frame loosely. Then I put the single AF point on the subject's eye and keep it there while shooting. I tighten the framing in post.
    I have tried Manual Focus with the green dot and it's simply hopeless for anything other than a static shot on a tripod. I want my attention on the subject, not on the lower left corner of the viewfinder.
     
  31. And don't forget to switch the Focus tracking (custom function A3 on the D800) off

    After my deliberately focused first shot, I put my faith in Nikon's Dynamic AF and AF tracking, but with the knowledge that I have decided what starting point the system will use to make its calculations for AF and tracking on
    Paul K, is tracking on or off?
    Dynamic AF and AF Tracking put the camera in complete control of the range the lens will be set at when the shutter opens....not the photographer. The phrase 'Put my Faith in' sums that up rather nicely.
    ditto...
    the camera independently of the shooter decides where it will focus on, and not the shooter.​
    Yup, that's what Dynamic AF and AF Tracking do!
    I'm not saying you're wrong...quite the opposite infact. That's what I use to make a living shooting event horses.
    As I said much higher up this thread, I thought I'd see if the camera could spot and track the rider's face, and it couldn't, but they're going about 20mph over a 4ft jump, and lets face it, those 2 on the bike are not exactly Tour de France material! I'm just saying I'd give it a go. I rarely 'experiment' on paying jobs either....that's saved for other times.
    The only bit of duality here is some shooters saying 'Don't let the camera decide anything for itself, it can't be trusted', and then saying they're using..Dynamic AF and AF Tracking which are, by their very nature, computer generated and predictive....and patently not under the photographers control.
    Taking 500 shots on a 'try and see' is just being daft. If it doesn't work after half a dozen, try something else...;-)
    In the great Turf Dance shot anything that tried to spot a Face would go crazy!
     
  32. Focus tracking is something different from AF tracking
    Focus tracking boils down to when the camera has focused on something, it, when something else happens to come between the subject and the photographer, will retain the focus on the original subject for a shorter or longer time (or not depending on the chosen custom setting), rather then refocus on whatever interfered (eg when shooting field hockey and another player crosses in front of the one you were aiming to take a picture of).
    AF tracking leaves the camera to calculate, based on where ever the subject is at the first shot, and on the movement perceives it makes, where it thinks the subject will be next and focus on that spot in advance for the next shot (and yes, the camera makes that decision independently)
    As far as my choice for AF tracking and Dynamic AF, I full heartedly admit it's, considering my aversion of the camera masking the decision, a bit of a compromise and a something of a very slippery area.
    In an ideal world I would indeed prefer to have the decisive voice for every shot. But when shooting a fast moving subject at 7 or more fps with a 600mm + TC 1.4, manual focus or continuous (re) selection of the AF point while shooting is not a realistic option (even with a 200mm that in my experience already is near if completely impossible) and embracing modern electronics is the IMO best option, be it based on years of having worked with it, not simply because it's in the specs of the camera.
    The way I'm shooting, I as said make the initial choice on which the camera will start to focus with the first shot.
    When shooting a fast moving subject like a surfer at a high fps for the above reason I IMO and experience ( I started first experimenting with Dynamic AF on my F100 film camera, on which I BTW failed miserably the first couple of times) have no other option left then to make the calculated choice/gamble to trust the camera ( my excellent experiences with Nikon where the reason I stuck with the brand, even in the dark days of the F4 vs the superior AF EOS 1n film cameras).
    But again, the important thing is that I decide for the camera where to focus on with the first shot , which will then serve as the starting point for whatever smart calculation the camera makes. And I won't let the camera make that choice (apart from the possible wrong choice it also delays the AF with the very possible and in my experience likely possibility of a OOF shot).
    With a slower moving subject like a model on the catwalk or in the street, I could try to further improve my settings, but admittedly, I'm lazy, and after all why change what has already proven itself ? I initially dial in the described AF settings as a standard on every new body I get, and adjust them along the way if I discover additional advantageous options the new body might offer.
    With regard to the pictures of the OP, I don't think that using a 1.4/85mm is as much decisive for his OOF shots as using the wrong AF and shooting technique is concerned (although of course using that lens fully open for the intended kind of shots adds an extra hurdle, maybe not the best choice when doing this for the fist time)
     
  33. Seems like everyone is answering the question re how to focus on a moving subject at f1.4, a difficult task at best. It's difficult enough with a stationary subject when you only have an inch or so dof. You added 2 problems, 2 subjects needing their eyes on the same plane and then movement. I would add a suggestion, if you want the bg soft, move the subjects further from the bg and close down to 2.0 or 2.8 or even 3.2. The added distance will increase the oof bg. Also get further away from subjects and you will have more depth of field to work with. It will increase your chance of success and still give you good oof bg. What would I have done, move them away from bg, get the increased distance to subject with a 135 2.0 or 70-200 and at the same time compress the appearance of distance subj to bg. I would recommend taking a look at a dof calculator to understand how shallow dof really is with 1.4 at 8-10 feet. I like the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid type shot. Was that the inspiration? If I recall he struggled with balance as they rode slowly and the front wheel might be turned. Also, would have cropped behind him eliminating modern stuff over rear wheel and left space ahead for them to ride into. As one poster mentioned, set up a mark for them to hit and you to shoot. Just my take on it. Fun shot.
     
  34. The only bit of duality here is some shooters saying 'Don't let the camera decide anything for itself, it can't be trusted', and then saying they're using..Dynamic AF and AF Tracking which are, by their very nature, computer generated and predictive....and patently not under the photographers control.​
    well, let's clarify that. obviously, when using AF-C and AF tracking, you are putting faith in the servo motor and predictive focus. But the key is setting the initial point of focus acquisition yourself. Auto-Area AF doesn't let you do this.

    The reason face detection works better on point and shoot cameras is entirely because of the smaller sensor, which gives much greater DoF. Focusing on anything moving at 1.4 is gonna be tough, regardless of whether you are using an FX camera or a DX camera. i have much more of a comfort zone at f/2-f/2.2. but one thing i've found is that keeping a high shutter speed with moving subjects is an optimal factor in obtaining sharp results. if i can shoot at 1/200 or 1/250, i get infinitely better pictures than 1/60 or 1/100. for static portrait shots, i rarely shoot wide open, but i may stop down to 1.6 or 1.8 just to improve the sharpness a bit if i want to emphasize shallow DoF. with 2.8 zooms, i'll shoot wide open if i have to, but every 2.8 zoom i have is much sharper at f/4. and if i'm not trying to separate the background and in good light, i'm probably going to stop down to 5.6 or f/8.
     
  35. Focusing on anything moving at 1.4 is gonna be tough, regardless of whether you are using an FX camera or a DX camera. i have much more of a comfort zone at f/2-f/2.2.​
    Just to clarify the first bit, if you've got a f1.4 lens, you'll be focusing it at f1.4 even if you're going to shoot it in your comfort zone of f2/2.2....
    .....or do you mean your or the camera's inaccuracies in focus will be masked somewhat by having a slightly greater depth of field?
     
  36. if you've got a f1.4 lens, you'll be focusing it at f1.4 even if you're going to shoot it in your comfort zone of f2/2.2....
    .....or do you mean your or the camera's inaccuracies in focus will be masked somewhat by having a slightly greater depth of field?​
    this is starting to get a bit nit-picky. but in case it wasn't clear, focusing at 1.4 means shooting wide open with a f/1.4 lens. at that aperture your focus plane is just a sliver. you'd need excellent technique, perfect physics and perhaps a bit of luck to nail a shot of a moving target at normal shooting range. if you stop down to f/2-2.2, you have a wider target area, although the focal plane again depends on distance. when i shoot live shows in dim lighting--which causes me to have a fast aperture and a high ISO to maintain shutter speed, i've found that f/2-2.2 is a very usable aperture. no 1.4 lens is tack sharp wide open, and generally there's pretty good center sharpness at those apertures with my 35, 50, and 85 primes. in those situations, lighting is variable depending on where you are, so i might stop down further to 2.5-2.8, if i feel i can get away with it without making the exposure too dark. the other thing i should probably mention about action shots at wide apertures is where i'll place the focus depends on the type of action. for musicians, this might mean the eyes, but when shooting dance, especially fast-moving, unpredictable dance like flamenco or turf dancing with a lot of sudden head, arm, and leg movements, i might focus on the torso instead. if they move their center of gravity faster than you can reframe, you can miss the shot. it's a bit of a cat-and-mouse game. takes a lot of practice and a fair amount of trial and error. i don't really feel comfortable with any lens until i've shot at least 1,000 frames with it.
    00clUr-550447884.jpg
     
  37. I don’t understand what you were trying to achieve on the first pic Kyle ? Why did you use f/2.8 ? Were you trying to panning ? Were you trying to have a sense of motion in that pic ? Were you trying to get a sharper pic ? What is it that you were trying to achieve ? Can you explain please because I don’t understand your approach at all. Why did you think that you needed a fast lens to take those pics ? Even with a kit lens like the 18-55, a person who knows what to do, will get better results and I so sorry to tell you this.
    F/2.8 is too shallow depth of field. Also, I do not understand why you had to use f/2.8 on a stationary pic like the second one ? Why do you believe that f/2.8 will give you better results than f/4 or f/5.6 ? Why you didn’t use a tripod to get sharper results on the stationary pic or why you did not use a speedlight, or why you did not use f/4 or f/5.6 ?
    You only talking about if there is a better combo but not analyzing your mistakes or what you were trying to get. Camera + lens is not the problem in my opinion but your technique. I don’t think you need a better combo but to read books and practice so you can improve your shots.
    I don’t understand why a lot of people believe that f/2.8 is always the best aperture for all kind of pics !
     
  38. I look at the mirror less bodies like GH4, EM-1, with touch focus and wonder?​
    The touch AF allows you to quickly change focus point and/or take the photo by one touch to the screen with the meter seemingly switch to spot focus mode to properly expose the object in focus. It works well. However this won't work for the panning shots.
    These mirror less cameras also have face-detection AF with the ability to focus on the nearest eye. This works remarkably well when about 2/3 of the face is facing the camera. Not sure about GH4, but the Olympus cameras will default to focus on the nearest object, the head, when it cannot find the face. If there is enough DOF, an advantage of the m4/3 system, your shots will get the face in focus well enough. The signal AF in these mirror less cameras, or even in my lowly EPL5, is fast and accurate even in very low light, assuming you have a high quality lens, like the 12-35/2.8. I don't see my D7100 doing better than EPL5 in this regard. The D7100 comes alive when you need to AF-track something. Its VF does not black out making it easy to follow the subject, and AF can track the object with a high degree of accuracy. I have not tried the same with GH4, which is rumored to come much closer to the dSLRs.
     
  39. I look at the mirror less bodies like GH4, EM-1, with touch focus and wonder?​
    touchscreen focus is a nice thing to have, but it's never going to be a substitute for good technique. as others have pointed out, the d7000 is a capable camera in the right hands. i still havent seen any "portrait"-type shots from the OP which would have required the use of anything other than the kit lens.
     

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