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Best Autofocus Mode/Settings for Portraits?

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by noahtruth, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. noahtruth

    noahtruth Mu-43 Rookie

    15
    Jun 11, 2014
    I've been experimenting with outdoor portrait photography and have been having issues with autofocus on my GX7. At first I was simply using shutter AF/23-Area to focus on subjects but have recently discovered the AF Lock button and have been using that along with Pinpoint mode. The camera seems to focus okay in good and not so great in medium/low light.

    I tried experimenting with face detect but it only seems to register faces 50% of the time. I have not tried using 1-area mode.

    Which AF mode do you find works best for portrait photography? Do you use AF Lock for portraits? When do you find it's best to switch to manual focus?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    481
    Oct 18, 2012
    Dublin
    Ciaran Reilly
    I generally use pin point AF with a medium box size, and touch to move around the focus point. I wouldn't use AF Lock, as a slight change in position of photographer or subject between focus lock and pressing the shutter can throw focus off. I'd guess the same would be true with manual focus unless you were quick.

    In low light, a fast lens is a big help, not sure what you are using.
     
  3. noahtruth

    noahtruth Mu-43 Rookie

    15
    Jun 11, 2014
    I'm using a Leica 25mm 1.4.
     
  4. numberpro

    numberpro Mu-43 Rookie

    21
    May 3, 2014
    Why not use the face recognition option? Seriously, I've taken portrait shots in the studio, and it works really well. I tried other focus methods, but FR does a very good job of keeping the eyes in focus. Of course if it fails to recognize, it defaults to the 23 point focus which is not a good idea. So I will alternate between FR or pinpoint center focus and recompose.
     
  5. noahtruth

    noahtruth Mu-43 Rookie

    15
    Jun 11, 2014
    I have tried using it in the past but like I said it only seems to register about half the time, which sort of makes it a pain in the *** to use during shoots where I need to capture things spontaneously. I'd rather not have to worry about constantly switching back and forth between focus modes if I don't have to. But I'm sort of new to photography so this could be a common practice for all I know.
     
  6. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Vin
    Single point focus.
     
  7. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    The GX7's focus peaking is so good, why don't you just use that?

    Whenever I have any problems with the AF, I just switch to manual. It is far faster than screwing around trying to coax the AF software into doing what I want. I love it that the AF/MF switch is right there under my thumb.
     
  8. noahtruth

    noahtruth Mu-43 Rookie

    15
    Jun 11, 2014

    Good point. Question for you: Do you use focus peaking at the high or low setting more often? If both, which situation do you find works best for each setting?

    I'm honestly still getting accustomed to those little dots when focusing. It's sort of weird because they distract you from the actual image sometimes which can be a bit irritating.
     
  9. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I have it set on "High" but, truth be told, I tried that and it worked for me so I have not done any real experimentation. I do have the automatic magnification turned off. I experimented with that a little bit and it did not seem to make any difference in focus accuracy but using it was a PITA when shooting with a long lens.

    If you are disciplined enough to do some testing, please report back.
     
  10. metalmania

    metalmania Mu-43 Veteran

    244
    Jul 19, 2012
    NYC
    totally agree. Just choose one point and that's it.

    Sent from my Nexus7 using Tapatalk 2
     
  11. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    200
    Mar 14, 2013
    Too bad you cannot combine single point with face recognition like in the omd em5... It's single point unless it recognizes a face. Defaulting to 23 area focus is kinda silly as this isn't a smartphone camera sensor where the depth of field is huge and focusing is less critical for anything more than 2 meters away...

    Sent from my W200 using Mu-43 mobile app
     
  12. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    481
    Oct 18, 2012
    Dublin
    Ciaran Reilly
    For what it's worth, when I got the Olympus 45mm, "High" mode would hardly register the edges, when I changed to "Low" focus peaking worked as it should. On the other hand, "High" produces better defined edges on the Panasonic 14mm, 20mm and Olympus 40-150mm.
     
  13. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I just tried it quickly with a 14-140 and a 45. The amount of visible peaking fringe seems to be correlated to focal length My guess is that it is telling us the obvious: There is less depth of field at the longer focal length, hence there is less stuff in focus so the amount of visible fringing is also less.

    In the Old Days, shooting Nikon Fs and screens with split-image centers, the split-image became almost useless beyond 200mm and it was necessary to focus using the ground-glass ring/non-fresnel area around the split-image prisms. I don't know why that was, though. I suppose whatever caused that could also be affecting the focus peaking detection in a similar way. Any lens designers out there?.
     
  14. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    481
    Oct 18, 2012
    Dublin
    Ciaran Reilly
    That makes perfect sense actually, I thought it might have had something to do with the rendering of each lens but your explanation is definitely more reasonable.
     
  15. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    991
    Jun 12, 2012
    Sweden
    gus
    Single point here too. If u stand atleast 3m away and shoot wide open with your pl25 I suppose that fov will cover the whole face anyway. Thats one benefit from the m43 sensorsize:)
     
  16. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    The pin point and smallest single point are slower to focus (or not focus) than other modes. It's a compromise.
     
  17. zucchiniboy

    zucchiniboy Mu-43 Regular

    135
    Oct 13, 2010
    San Francisco
    I use single point focus about 1/3 down from the frame, and move it around with the touch screen to lock on to an eye. This is better than center point an recompose because the focal plane shifts slightly if you do that. I find this also better than just plain 23-point focus (or whatever my GX1 has), because I found that sometimes focused on a shoulder or an ear, and with the PL25 at 1.4 to 1.8 or so that can mean disaster with regards to DOF.


    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43
     
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