Tips for getting razor sharp portraits with Micro 4/3

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by dlhomesolutions, Dec 26, 2015.

  1. dlhomesolutions

    dlhomesolutions Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    Hey everyone,

    I want to get into doing some portrait shots on the high end. I see some pics like from Martin Schoeller of Nat Geo and Others who get these amazingly sharp photos of their subjects. Mine tend to be slightly blurred. I am a bit of a novice when it comes to settings etc.

    I would appreciate any tips you could give me.

    Here is the equipment I have:

    OMD EM-5
    25mm 1.4 Pan
    45mm 1.8 Oly
    45-200mm Pan
    12-42 kit lens Oly
    Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye
    Minolta Rokkor-x 50mm 1.4 with Fotasy m43 adapter (manual focus)

    Flash FL-600r
    Flash FL-LM3
  2. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Tripod or no tripod? If using a tripod, are you remembering to turn OFF the image stabilization system?

    Do you have a sample photo (with exif) we can see?
  3. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    Look at JRSILVA, VINCE, DRAMATURG's post for razor sharp portrait shots.
  4. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    If you are not using a solid tripod with a good solid head and some form of remote release, you simply won't be able to match the sharpness of those shots.
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  5. ApGfoo

    ApGfoo Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 10, 2012
    Bay Area
    make sure you nail the focus maybe use the magnify tool, make sure you are stable by using a tripod and make sure you choose a fast enough exposure.

    For instance, if with the 25mm I'd shoot at least 1/50s hand held, anything longer might cause motion blur depending how still you are hand held. Minimum 1/90s for the 45mm and 1/100s for the 50mm, etc.

    Also make sure your subject is still as well during the shot. if you shoot wide open you can stop down just a bit to help get focus correct.
  6. dlhomesolutions

    dlhomesolutions Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    Turn stabilization OFF?
  7. dlhomesolutions

    dlhomesolutions Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    Is this a 4/3 vs full frame thing or will I be able to get the same results as a full frame if I learn to do it right?
  8. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    You will see terrible shots with FF cameras, and tack sharp shots with M4/3 - AND VICE VERSA. it is the person behind the camera. The gear is good enough.
    • Agree Agree x 5
  9. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    You will not be able to get the same image quality as a full frame IF all else is equal. 4/3 just has a smaller sensor and cannot make the same basic quality images, particularly if you will be printing and enlarging. Note that I said "all things being equal." A perfectly made 4/3 image can certainly equal or surpass a full-frame image that is not as well made. The trick is to work on your technique until you can get the absolute best results your equipment is capable of, regardless of what equipment you use. I have seen iPhone6 images that amaze me. You just have to maximize your equipment with skill. Tack sharp images are certainly possible with m4/3.

    In answer to your other question above, yes, when the camera is on a tripod or other completely stable support, turn the IS to "Off." The problem there is that the IS will try to find some movement to cancel. In some cases, the hunting by the IS actually introduces some slight movement when it can't find any on which to work. Many cameras default to IS=Off when the self timer is activated but when using a cable or radio remote release on a tripod you have to remember to turn it off. The bigger trick is to remember to turn it back on when you go back to hand-holding. Many of us have a "Myset" setting for that purpose.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2015
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  10. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    One of the people who I think gets great portraits is Robin Wong and guess what, all his portraits are handheld with IBIS on and lenses of different qualities. You have the gear to make tack sharp portraits.
    • Agree Agree x 6
  11. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    When shooting handheld the most important thing is shutter speed. With good light (outdoor) you can easily go up 1/1000s and that should freeze any subject and camera movements.
    Indoor usually means to rise the ISO (as little as possible) and open the aperture until you get at least 1/60 or 1/100s. This probably means to use the 25 or the 45 wide open or one stop down.

    When you shoot at "slow" speeds it becomes important to use the EVF, check your arms position, to notice how your breath move your camera, press the shutter gently, etc. in particular with long lenses (45mm+). The longer the lens the easier is to get camera movement in the shot. Google for "shooting technique/position".
    When you shoot wide open, from f1.4 to f2, focus becomes critical, especially for long lenses, so it's better to use the small focus box placing it exactly where you want (usually on the closest eye). Focus and recompose with wide apertures is a bad idea (IMO).

    Set noise filter to "Off" or "Low". Leave "Noise reduction" to Auto.

    The most important thing is light, so you should consider understanding how simple lighting works. Starting here for example:

    Strobist: Lighting 101

    (you do not always need a flash but I think it is a good way to understand a lot of things about portraits)

    Here is another thread with portraits sample: My portrait work with m43. Part 2

    I agree that Robin Wong has a lot of great outdoor handheld portraits. Google for "Robin Wong technique" and "Robin Wong portraits".

    Do not obsess too much about what you see at 100% magnification: nobody will ever look at your pictures at that size, focus on how they look at the final size.
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  12. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Focus on the nearest eye, and set the lens for sufficient depth of field. (By 'sufficient', I mean the amount you desire)

    Use the smallest focusing square size that the camera allows.

    Control the background. The more distant it is and smooth, even and low-contrast, the more your subject will stand out.
  13. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
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  14. Alan Yuen

    Alan Yuen Mu-43 Rookie

    Nov 9, 2015
    Stop down lens to achieve better sharpness and more depth of field, set shutter speed sufficiently to prevent camera shake/ motion blur (perhaps 1/250th if the person is standing still and posing)
  15. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Use flash so that shutter speed has little to no impact, you're probably going to need lighting for a good portrait anyway - may as well use flash.
  16. dlhomesolutions

    dlhomesolutions Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    Good to know. I was getting worried for a bit.
  17. dlhomesolutions

    dlhomesolutions Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  18. dlhomesolutions

    dlhomesolutions Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    Very good info. Thanks so much.
  19. dlhomesolutions

    dlhomesolutions Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 30, 2013
    Peoria, IL
    Thanks so much for the tips.
  20. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    I think if you post a portrait that you're not happy with we can help you a little better. There is no reason why you can't get sharp images with m43, portrait or not.
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
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