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Category: New Questions

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Photography Question 
Amanda 

member since: 12/16/2005
 

Photographing a Group


At Easter, I took a pic of the family (6 people), and unless they are all lined up on the exact same plane, some were out of focus. This was with a 28-70 F2.8-4 lens. It was in a living room w/plenty of natural light but even at that I had a Quantary zoom flash on the hot shoe. I was shooting fully auto, but with that flash, it should've been able to get a small enough aperture to have them all in focus. Any suggestions? I also have a 70-300 F4-5.6 ... should I start using that lens for group shots?

6/3/2006 7:36:46 AM

 
Bret Tate
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/12/2005
  What was your lens length and f-stop for the shot? The longer the lens, the less depth of field you have. Also the wider the aperture the less depth of field you have. If you tried to shoot at f2.8 with the lens at the 70mm end of the zoom, you would have people out of focus. For a group, I would recommend shooting at at least f8 or f11.

6/3/2006 7:43:07 AM

 
Amanda 

member since: 12/16/2005
  I know that I want a smaller aperture with a group, but can you explain the effect the lens/zoom has on it? For instance, if I'm shooting w/the 28-70 (which is what was on that day - but I don't recall aperture and exact lens length). If it's fully extended (zoomed-in), will that make more or less people in focus? Sorry, layman's terms help me to get a grip on what I'm talking about.

6/3/2006 7:56:17 AM

 
Bret Tate
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/12/2005
  The longer the lens, the less depth of field. The f-stop is a ratio of the physical length of the lens to the diameter of the aperture. For example, f5.6 on a 28mm lens is a much smaller opening in the lens than f5.6 is on a 135mm lens. The smaller the opening, the more depth of field.

6/3/2006 8:16:26 AM

 
Amanda 

member since: 12/16/2005
  Ok, so if I'm wanting more people in focus=less DOF? Right? So with groups, I'd want a longer lense (70-300) and whether or not I'm zooming makes no difference. Do I have that right?

6/3/2006 8:53:37 AM

 
Bret Tate
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/12/2005
  If you want more people in focus you want more depth of field, so use a shorter lens (28-70).

6/3/2006 9:10:39 AM

 
Bob Chance
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/19/2006
  DOF is affected by three things:
1) The focal length of the lens. 2) The aperture of the lens. 3) The distance between the camera and the subjects.
Greater DOF requires one or more of the following: Shorter focal length (wide angle). Smaller aperture (f8 instead of f2.8). More distance between subject and camera.

Shallower DOF requires the opposite: Longer focal length (telephoto). Larger aperture (f2 instead of f16). Less distance between subject and camera.
We can almost always affect one of these three to control DOF. Usually lens aperture.
Most of the time, we can affect lens aperature and our distance to the subject.
Or if you are unable to move far enough from your subject due to space limitations - especailly indoors or when using a small flash - then switching to a wide-angle lens will help.
In your case, shooting with the short zoom should have solved the problem. First of all, using the shorter focal length equals greater DOF, plus by using a shorter lens, you should have been able to get closer to your subjects, which would also facilitate using a smaller aperture with your flash.

6/3/2006 12:57:31 PM

 
Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  Amanda,
This question is difficult to answer without knowing what camera you were using. However, since you stated that you were shooting in 'Auto Mode', I would imagine that your camera would select the widest aperture available. If you were shooting in a livingroom, you were probably shooting at close to 28mm and therefore at f2.8 -- resulting in very shallow DOF. Try the same type of shot using 'Aperture Mode' and set your aperture at f5.6 or f8, and let the camera choose the shutter speed. Using 'Manual Mode' would even work better if you understand exposing for ambient light with a flash.

God Bless,
Greg

6/6/2006 10:52:51 AM

 

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