Aperture for group photos - burned again

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by imahawki, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. imahawki

    imahawki Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 12, 2014
    I'm not sure how I haven't learned yet because I've been burned before, but I put too much trust in the back screen of my camera when checking shots and I got burned again but shooting some portraits of my kids with too shallow depth of field so one of the kids faces is severely OOF.

    Does my E-M10 support any kind of aperture bracketing that I could use to avoid this kind of thing? Or, one thing I figured out on my own after reviewing the shots and being disappointed by a few misses is to turn on AF and MF and turn on focus peaking. That way for shots like this I can quickly double check focus manually and if I can't get all the facial features to light up, I know I'm too shallow and need to close down the aperture.

    How do you all avoid situations like this? Completely blurring out the background can be great for portraits but nothing is worse than having the best keeper from a pose and facial expression be unusable due to a technical error.
  2. Bif

    Bif Mu-43 Veteran

    May 28, 2012
    San Angelo TX
    Real Name:
    Bruce Foreman
    Learn what apertures give you sufficient depth of field (zone of acceptable sharpness) to provide adequate depth of focus for the groups you often shoot. This aperture will also be dependent on your shooting distance, lens focal length, and to some extent lighting conditions. With wide angle optics this will be less critical, with the Lumix 20mm f1.7 I would guess (you have to test this) f8 or f11 would work depending on group size and working distance. Longer focal lengths will get more critical.

    When checking focus on something you've just shot, learn to quickly scan all faces and eye using the image magnification on the LCD or in the EVF. Practice this relentlessly and you'll be surprised at how quickly you can do this with enough practice.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Sounds like a splendid idea, could it really work?

    Or how about switching it to Auto : that way it may select an aperture which gets each face in focus ... or am I imagining this? I think my Lumix cameras do this, don't know if my Olympuses do too.
  4. BeyondTheLines

    BeyondTheLines Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 23, 2012
    Real Name:
    Maybe assign DOF preview to a button. If you're using a prime lens you could look at a DOF calculator for typical distances to give you an idea of what aperture to use
  5. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Get them all to stand in a line ....
    • Like Like x 2
  6. imahawki

    imahawki Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 12, 2014
    Yeah, sometimes I do try to make sure the faces are all on a plane, but that often doesn't make for the best posing either.
  7. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Real Name:
    Ray, not Oz
    • Like Like x 1
  8. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    Just get some DOF calculator app for your computer or smartphone.
    e.g. http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
    f8 for 20mm is overkill - it gives infinite focus from 2 meters.
  9. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    Auto shooting mode alone will not do this, you'd need to include the auto face detect mode as well.
  10. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    Winner, winner, chicken dinner!! :D

    Also, if the focus or other items like this are that critical, consider shooting tethered (I know that you cannot with the EM10, but you could use the wifi to transfer the images to a larger screen device to validate you nailed the DOF).
  11. RichardB

    RichardB Snapshooter

    Nov 19, 2012
    Maryland, US
    Real Name:
    You paid for a camera that can detect faces and set an aperture that puts them all in focus, so let the camera do its job. Shooting manual can be a fun hobby, but it doesn't get the best photos (for most of us).
    • Like Like x 1
  12. sgreszcz

    sgreszcz Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 7, 2012
    I will have to test this in program mode as iAuto enables some settings that you can't change (like iEnhance).
  13. imahawki

    imahawki Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 12, 2014
    Doesn't iAuto still capture a RAW file though? It looks like it does.

    How does iAuto handle aperture? Will it always select the lowest value that will get everything in focus?