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group shot??

brandi mccain , May 13, 2008; 09:59 p.m.

Hello, I just purchased a Nikon D40X and I love it. So, I took it along to the family reunion with me just trying to get great family pictures of everyone. The problem: well, when I got home and downloaded alot of the family group shots (with 8 or more people) didn't look so hot! The family members on the ends all looked blurry...their faces were blurry and not in focus. But the other members were good. I had my Nikon lens 55-200, I used auto mode on some and I know I used portrait mode. Should I have used another mode? I have the standard lens that came with it (the 18-55) should I have used it? All I want is everyone in focus. can anyone help? Thanks so much!

Responses

David Bookbinder , May 13, 2008; 10:32 p.m.

To get group shots where everyone appears to be in focus, you need to learn the concepts of depth of field and using the hyperfocal distance. Then you'll be able to do, manually, what I am pretty sure point-and-shoot cameras with "face detection" algorithms do automatically: find the focal point and aperture that is the best compromise for getting everything in focus.

In this case, you likely would have been better off using your 18-55 kit lens for group shots, as it is easier to get a deeper depth of field (more things in focus) with a wider lens.

Michael S. , May 13, 2008; 11:10 p.m.

<< ... I know I used portrait mode. Should I have used another mode? ... >>

Portrait mode generally causes the camera to shoot "wide open" if possible. By "wide open" I mean at a larger aperture. Larger aperture means less depth of field (i.e. smaller in-focus area), with the object of creating a blurred background, thought to be desirable in portraits.

If you focused on someone in the middle, and family members near the ends were at a different distance, a different focal plane, it would've been easy to create unintended blur.

Also, wider lenses offer greater depth of field (greater in-focus area) at the same aperture, so I agree with David that your wider lens (18 - 55mm) likely would've been a better choice.

If there's enough light, a smaller aperture such as f/8 or f/11 with a wider lens gives you considerable depth of field.

You've got a very good camera. To make the best of it, I think it would be worth some time to do a bit of reading and, if possible, take a beginning class. Not many years ago as I was getting started I took one. Best $85 I've ever spent on photography. No kidding.

keerthi s r , May 13, 2008; 11:21 p.m.

I agree with Michael.I shoot in the manual mode.For situations like yours,it is f 8,matrix metering and the appropriate white balance setting, I use the 18-55 kit lens.The results are pretty good.Happy clicking,enjoy.

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