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Group Photos: Getting Everyone in Focus.

Anesh P , Jul 15, 2005; 10:35 a.m.

Not all people in my group photos are in sharp focus. I've set my focus point to central. How do I get everyone razor sharp.

Responses


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Peter White , Jul 15, 2005; 10:39 a.m.

Use a smaller aperture. If your lens has a maximum aperture of f:2.8 you may not have much depth of field. If you can use a setting that allows you to choose a smaller aperture, say f:11, you'll get a lot more in focus.

Mendel Leisk , Jul 15, 2005; 10:42 a.m.

Try Automatic Depth-of-Field AE mode, page 82 of the instruction manual. It's described as being expressly for this sort of thing, trying to compromise focus as much as possible.

Or Aperture Priority AE (page 78), and set smaller f-stop?

Guido Gazzino , Jul 15, 2005; 10:46 a.m.

The best way to get everyone in focus is to use a tilt and shift lens. With these lenses you can adjust focusing plane/sensor plane angle, so you can focus subjects at different distance.

Andrew Hinkle , Jul 15, 2005; 10:50 a.m.

Like everyone said above, use a small aperture. Also, remember to check the sharpness given by the small arperture using your depth of field preview button. If you don't have such a button, use the depth of field scales on the lens or just use the smallest AV you can get away with given the situation. If you're using flash, make sure to check the exposure confirmation light on the back of the flash after firing to make sure that the exposure "took." Also, if you're using flash I would use the camera in manual mode since a lot of canon cameras seem to default to "slow sync" flash when used in Aperture priority.

Ellis Cory , Jul 15, 2005; 11:12 a.m.

As well as the other ideas, when you can, set the group in a semi-circle around you as the centre point. That way everyone will be the same distance away from the camera. HTH Ellis

Peter White , Jul 15, 2005; 11:18 a.m.

Ellis,

Most lenses, while not having a perfectly flat field, will be closer to a flat field than a curved field. You're generally better off with everyone in the same plane. But it's easy enough to test.

Ilia Varlachkine , Jul 15, 2005; 12:01 p.m.

How big is the group and what focal length of the lens you used?

As regards to small apperture - beware of diffraction at too small appertures (on small format film I often use f/11, on 20D this is already too small so diffraction kicks in).

Focus about 1/3 of depth beyond first row, but it's better that focus plane falls on someone face, else you get an effect "hey, his buttons look sharper than his eyes".

Because it's group photo so you need some time to setup anyway, I'd use tripod even if shooting on bright sunny day - you do see the difference. Try not to use slow speeds even with tripod (some people might still move).

Nadine Ohara - SF Bay Area/CA , Jul 15, 2005; 02:50 p.m.

Read about depth of field in articles here on photo.net. Then download a freeware program called dofmaster. Figure out your DOF for the distances, focal lengths and apertures you want to use to find out what combinations would give you the needed depth of field for your razor sharp photos. Ilia has very good information, especially about focusing 1/3 of the way into the depth of the group.

Then, review your shutter speeds (too slow to prevent motion blur?) and stability (tripod necessary?). Whether or not you are using flash and dragging the shutter also comes into play. You haven't given us much to go on. Perhaps an example or at least description of your focal length, camera settings, and whether you used flash would be good.

Eddie Gonzalez , Jul 15, 2005; 07:22 p.m.

use f/10 and use the focus distance markers to focus at 10feet and also use a focal length of 24mm. With those three variables set that way, everything beyond 5 feet will be in focus on a 20D. You can also use this handy hyperfocal calculator found here


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