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Group Portraits..Where to Focus?

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  • Group Portraits..Where to Focus?

    I have been having some difficulties lately photographing multiple people. 3-5 people for example. My shots aren't coming out as sharp as I'd like.

    I'm setting my aperture to around f/8-11, using the center focus point, and focusing on the rear eye of the furthest person in the scene, then recomposing the shot.

    I'm getting decent pictures, but not 100% of the time. Until now I have been doing mainly single portraits, before that was strictly landscape, so this type of thing is very new to me.

    Any help on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    If you have three rows of people don't focus on the back row, focus on the faces of the front row.

    At f/11 I can't imagine that the DOF could be off that much but who knows. I assume you are using a shutter speed of 100 or more to prevent camera shake?

    Benji

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    • #3
      Great question! I need help in this as well!!
      MY GEAR: Nikon 300s + D90 with these babies---> 70mm-200mm, 16-85mm, 18-200mm & 85mm 1.8,favorite---> 50mm 1.4

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Benji View Post
        If you have three rows of people don't focus on the back row, focus on the faces of the front row.

        At f/11 I can't imagine that the DOF could be off that much but who knows. I assume you are using a shutter speed of 100 or more to prevent camera shake?

        Benji
        Ditto what Benji said. At a give aperture, there is more area in focus behind the focus point than in front of the focus point. So you should focus on the people up front.
        Nikon D80, 18-200, 105 macro VR, 18-55, 50 f/1.8; Tokina 11-16 f/2.8
        SB600 x 2; Canon A570 IS; Bonica XP Neon Underwater Strobe
        Film Cameras: Lomo LC-A+, Diana+, Canon AE-1

        OK to edit and repost pics for DPS forums!
        flickr; ihardlyknowher; My most interesting pics on flickriver

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        • #5
          I once read, and I think it was on DPS, that best aperture setting for a group should relate to how many people are in the shot. So, if you have 3 people, at least use an f-stop of 3, five people, at least an f-stop of 5, and so on.

          I tried that theory out and it worked like a charm. I had super clear shots and I focused on the front or middle row...never the back.

          Your distance from the group is also going to effect your aperture, so make sure you are at the proper distance.

          Here's my proof that the theory worked for me. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2633/...be09b68f_o.jpg

          F-stop: 3.5
          Lens: 50mm
          ISO: 200
          Shutter speed: 1/50 sec.
          Last edited by uridiscence; 12-14-2009, 08:53 PM.
          - Kristen
          Canon Rebel (350D), 50mm Canon lens, and a Sigma 70-300mm lens.
          Canon Mark II 5D (Hoping for a Canon 70-200mm lens this year!)

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          • #6
            I once read, and I think it was on DPS, that best aperture setting for a group should relate to how many people are in the shot. So, if you have 3 people, at least use an f-stop of 3, five people, at least an f-stop of 5, and so on.
            That doesn't make much sense. Number of people in a shot has no relationship to the f stop to be used. In terms of getting everything in focus, all that can be said is that the greater the distance between the closest and farthest person, the smaller the aperture (larger number) required.

            Using f/3 to shoot 3 people standing beside each other will not produce the same focus results as shooting 3 people standing one in front of the other.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the tips

              Thanks for all of your help.

              Now that you mention it I have heard the 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind focus rule.

              Does anyone happen to know if there is an online chart or something that clearly illustrates what will be in focus at what apertures?

              There is one for lens sharpness here:

              Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens - Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Lens Comparison - ISO 12233 Resolution Chart Results

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              • #8
                Originally posted by GathCity View Post
                Thanks for all of your help.

                Now that you mention it I have heard the 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind focus rule.

                Does anyone happen to know if there is an online chart or something that clearly illustrates what will be in focus at what apertures?

                There is one for lens sharpness here:

                Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens - Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Lens Comparison - ISO 12233 Resolution Chart Results
                Try this website: Online Depth of Field Calculator
                "A cat's eyes are windows enabling us to see into another world." - Irish Legend

                OK to edit and repost my photos for DPS only

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by abchip View Post
                  Thanks Abchip, there's some great info in there!

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