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Auto focus settings for Street Photography

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by DHart, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    I was curious what others have found successful in auto focus settings for capturing quick, non-setup candid images, street photography in particular.

    It would seem that Panasonic's 23-Area setting, where the camera selects the focus spot automatically might give generally good results. I am so accustomed to specifying the precise focus spot, that I've never relied on the camera to do that work for me. Obviously, with street photography, especially hip shooting where you're not in precise control of composition and focus point, auto focus can be really helpful - especially coupled with deep depth of field.

    What settings and techniques have you folks found effective for auto focus with street photography?
     
  2. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    532
    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Mark
    This is an interesting read about the use of face detection for street situations. I haven't got around to trying it out yet but it works for him.
     
  3. kiynook

    kiynook Mu-43 Regular

    70
    Aug 16, 2010
    I did the same as John and my hip shoots all came out ok, ie faces are sharp. however, I chose only single point focussing rather than multi point and limit Auto ISO to no higher than 1600 as I needed highest speed.
     
  4. dapipoy

    dapipoy Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Mar 31, 2011
    midlands, uk
    Very interesting. I never use face detection when street shooting. I'll give it a try and see if it works for me. Thanks.
     
  5. Iansky

    Iansky Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 26, 2009
    The Cotswolds, UK
    I use central spot focussing for all my GF1 images.
     
  6. DekHog

    DekHog Mu-43 Top Veteran

    579
    May 3, 2011
    Scotland
    Does anyone know if the E-PL2 just does basic face detection or does it actually try to focus on the eyes like the '3' series PEN range?
     
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Center spot. I turn face detection on, but when I've been looking at the screen, its VERY rare that the face detection actually finds a face in street shooting. It happens, but I wouldn't rely on it as much as trying to have the center on something pretty close to the right focal plane...

    -Ray
     
  8. dapipoy

    dapipoy Mu-43 Regular

    76
    Mar 31, 2011
    midlands, uk
    i use center spot as well, focus and recompose, OR pre-focus on moving subjects.
     
  9. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    What size spot are you guys who use center spot using?

    I find my compositions usually wind up being 1/3 2/3 compositions with the subject often left or right of center. Like this

    P1010726.

    I'm wondering if the largest size center spot might be good at picking up both left of- and right of-center subjects.
     
  10. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    Just a thought... dare I say it... anybody try iA for street photography? Something tells me the results would be very good... except no RAW in iA, I don't believe, dang it. iA seems to be incredibly well done to achieve generally good results totally "on the fly". I never use iA, though, so I'm not sure how it would be. I greatly prefer capturing in RAW and controlling my settings, so I tend to avoid iA for those reasons.
     
  11. brianvickers

    brianvickers Mu-43 Regular

    123
    Jul 1, 2011
    MF

    Not done a lot of street photography...but I like to set manual focus on say 10 metres and shoot subjects at about that distance - no autofocus delay; I also set the exposure manually - all the camera has to do is fire the shutter
    Setting the camera like this is very liberating as you are concentrating on the shot and not on holding a button down.
     
  12. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I wouldn't want to try it. I really want to know what aperture I'm shooting at to achieve enough DOF, a fast enough shutter speed to stop action (or slow enough to blur it, if that's what I'm after), and to know when I have to start playing with the ISO to keep the other two where I want them as the light starts to fade. I haven't shot IA for anything in a looooong time, but I'd trust it well enough for lanscapes and maybe architectural shots, but not for street shooting...

    -Ray
     
  13. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    I think it would be good to try iA, just to see how it performs. But I too prefer to control my depth of focus, blur or lack of it, and ISO noise.

    I hope more street shooters chime in here... we have so many amazing images of street work, but much less discussion of street photography techniques and settings.

    One thing I stumbled on last night, as a technique, that I really like is turning 90 degrees away from my intended subject(s) and using the articulating LCD screen to compose while the camera/lens is turned 90 back toward my subject. With the articulating LCD screen flipped up and turned 90 degrees away from the camera body, composing and shooting from the hip, while appearing uninvolved with the intended subject, is a piece of cake.

    In this way, turned away and looking down at the camera, I tend to appear to be reviewing play back of previously shot images on the camera and not so much like I'm actually capturing images.

    I have found that I can maneuver quite close to people without drawing much, if any, attention to what I'm doing.

    Now that I've done some street shooting this way, I think the G3, due to the articulating screen, will most certainly become my "street" camera. My wife was shooting along with me last night using my LX5 and she quickly saw how I was able to capture images that were much more difficult for her to do with the LX5. Guess what... now she wants a G3 too... to replace her ZS3. I see ever more m4/3 gear and lenses in my household. :rolleyes:

    I'm hoping the LX6/LX7 comes with an articulating screen! That would make an awesome street camera. :smile:
     
  14. swmlon

    swmlon Mu-43 Rookie

    14
    Aug 22, 2011
    I've always used the central focus spot then recompose, habit from shooting with my old film cameras that's carried over to digital. Once I get a viewfinder for my GF2 it will be easier for me to get shots quickly like I used to.