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Thread: Focusing

  1. #1
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    Focusing

    When you guys shoot do you use higher F Stops and focus to infinity to make sure the rider is in focus? Was fiddling around with some downhill jumping yesterday and not happy really with the results. Overcast day and pretty good light but guess with spot focusing and AI Servo I missed the focus a little


  2. #2
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    Did some research. I think maybe next time I'll work on Depth of Field. Should probably use F/11 or similar to get a wider DOF range. Maybe a faster shutter speed also. take it up to 1/400 or so

  3. #3
    Sandy Eggo
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    If you're shooting fast action (bikes or any other sports) you really should try to get your shutter speed to around 1/800 or faster. I've found even 1/640 never really look quite as sharp as they should.

    F-stop isn't as important, it really depends what type of shot you're trying to produce....

  4. #4
    offroader
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    I use a low f-stop and fast shutter to freeze the action. What lens and body are you using?

    Edit got the info here:

    EXIF IFD0

    * Camera Make = Canon
    * Camera Model = Canon EOS 7D
    * Last Modified Date/Time = 2011:12:04 18:20:43

    # Exposure Time (1 / Shutter Speed) = 1/200 second ===> 0.005 second
    # Lens F-Number / F-Stop = 28/10 ===> /2.8
    # Exposure Program = manual control (1)
    # ISO Speed Ratings = 160
    # Original Date/Time = 2011:12:04 12:54:12
    # Digitization Date/Time = 2011:12:04 12:54:12
    # Shutter Speed Value (APEX) = 7643856/1000000
    Shutter Speed (Exposure Time) = 1/200 second
    # Aperture Value (APEX) = 2970854/1000000
    Aperture = /2.8
    # Exposure Bias (EV) = 0/1 ===> 0
    # Max Aperture Value (APEX) = 3/1 ===> 3
    Max Aperture = /2.83
    # Metering Mode = partial (6)
    # Flash = Flash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
    # Focal Length = 80/1 mm ===> 80 mm
    # Colour Space = sRGB (1)
    # Exposure Mode = manual exposure (1)
    # White Balance = auto (0)
    # Scene Capture Type = standard (0)

  5. #5
    offroader
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    The shutter speed is at 1/200. Like ablation said bump it up for really fast action. And shoot in bursts (especially since you have a 7D) You'll find some shots will be sharper than others as the AI Servo locks on. I loved my 7D for fast action when I had it.

  6. #6
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    Right, but here's the thing. With a bicycle, there's not a lot of room to hit a focus spot. I'm working on my "aim" but hitting the riders face I miss sometimes and get the trees behind him (or her). With a wide open lens the rider will be completely out of focus because of the thin depth of field. At 70mm and f/2.8 you've only got about 6' of focus and focusing on the trees behind are way more than 6' from the rider

    That's why I thought about shooting at f/8 or f/11 or something and if I miss the focus point I might get better results until I aim better

  7. #7
    offroader
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    Quote Originally Posted by gamb View Post
    Right, but here's the thing. With a bicycle, there's not a lot of room to hit a focus spot. I'm working on my "aim" but hitting the riders face I miss sometimes and get the trees behind him (or her). With a wide open lens the rider will be completely out of focus because of the thin depth of field. At 70mm and f/2.8 you've only got about 6' of focus and focusing on the trees behind are way more than 6' from the rider

    That's why I thought about shooting at f/8 or f/11 or something and if I miss the focus point I might get better results until I aim better
    With a 7D you have the option to make the focus spot bigger. If you use the focus point expansion option you should have a big cross instead of a small dot. That should help with catching the focus. If you really need to and you can expand the focus spot further, but you would have to have a clean shot of the subject without anything in front of you and the rider since the auto focus will latch on to the closest object usually.

    IMO the last thing you want to do is play with the DOF of your picture to gain focus. That's what expensive DSLR's are made for.

  8. #8
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    I'll pick up the shutter speed and expand the focus this weekend and see what I get

  9. #9
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    The technique for focussing on fast moving subjects is called zone focussing.

    You pick a point on the ground and focus on that point. Switch off the automatic focusing function of the lens (if that is what your camera does) and just wait for the rider to approach the zone. Anticipating the speed and timing is the skill ... then click!

    The photographer anticipates where the subject will pass over, pre-focuses on that point or zone, focussing on a bit of detail like a rock or a shadow and then ... through practice or luck, has timed it correctly. Shooting and then re-shooting improves your kill rate.

    Photography is a numbers game, absolutely. The more you practice the better the hit-rate. The more one shoots, the slicker one get with their timing and anticipation.

    Some shots below that were zone focussed, where I chose a point on the ground or before hand paced out a distance, then set the lens and waited.

    Always make sure that the eyes are sharp if you are shooting a person. The depth-of-field (that's the zone of acceptable focus, closest to and furthest from the camera) can be absolutely minimal, just inches deep at times, but as long as the eyes are sharp ... your've nailed it. I'll bet all, that the first thing that is looked at in the photos below are the rider's eyes?







    If you can get the highlights in the eyes sharp ... you have totally nailed it.

    Warren.
    Last edited by Wild Wassa; 12-07-2011 at 12:53 PM.

  10. #10
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    Nice photos Warren!

    I have the same problem as the OP. Often because of the low-light conditions (in heavily wooded areas), I end up shooting at the limits of the camera. It's a tricky balance of ISO, speed, and aperture. I end up throwing out a lot of photos, but I'm increasing my success rate. Here are some of the things I am trying:

    I like to keep ISO below 1000 (on a Nikon D7000) if possible as grainy eyes don't look sharp.
    With my 50mm f1.4 lens, I try to keep aperture at or above f2.2 and I try to keep speed above 160 (or higher if I'm dealing with people going really fast.)

    If I'm shooting someone coming toward me, I'll use continuous focus and shoot several shots and pick the best one. Sometimes the lens doesn't focus fast enough. Sometimes I get a good shot. If focus on a spot and wait for them to get to that spot, it's difficult to get them at exactly the right spot and then I only have one photo to choose from.

    With panning shots (from the side), I'm playing with focusing on a spot and snapping as the rider goes by. That's because the rider doesn't change distance from the camera that much so this technique is more forgiving. Also, if a tree gets in the way as I pan and use continuous focus, that totally messes up the focus.

    Another technique I'm using is getting a wider lens so the depth-of-field is more forgiving. I experimented with good results with my 15-30mm f4 lens. I just purchased a 20mm f2.8 lens and hope to be able to shoot around f3.2 or higher. We'll see how that goes.

    With my little point and shoot Canon S95, I always pre-focus on a spot as the lag if you don't do this is too much. I have pretty good results doing this as the depth-of-field is pretty deep on this camera.

    I'm also playing with a fill flash to keep faces from being too dark, but I don't like the results if I use the flash to compensate for low lighting. It makes photos look like I'm shooting at night and to me, it's too unnatural and 'flashy' looking. I don't like photos that look like you used a flash.

    If I wasn't dealing with low light, I'd be dancing with joy! I'd shoot around f8 and 1/600 sec and ISO 400 or below.

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