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Optimal aperture for portraits of couples
Hello, this is my first post, so please bear with me.I need some suggestions for the following setting:.

I am going to shoot portraits in a party with low light (hopefully without using too much flash).Portraits with one person is no problem (just using largest aperture)..

Problems arise when 2-3 people are standing close together. If I choose the largest aperture, only one of the person will be in perfect focus, and the others will be slightly out of focus. So I guess I will have to ajust the aperture and cross my fingers that I choose the correct depth of field. "Slightly out of focus" will only be visible when I later return to my big screen..

So what do I do? Is there such a thing as an optimal aperture for portraits of multiple people (as long as they stand close together)?.

I am planning to use my D80 with 50mm 1.4...

Comments (5)

Hi Eiva, You might want to try using the "Depth of Field Preview" feature this will show exactly what is in focus. If your camera doesn't have this feature the I would suggest bracketing your shots and take several of each. To give you a specific aperture would be a pure guess not knowing what lighting you would be shooting with. If you end up using your flash try defusing it or perhaps bouncing it rather then full on. I'm not a pro but this works for me. Hope this helps. Don'Longshot'..

Comment #1

Remember that your camera has a DoF Preview button (I think). Experiment before you go to find out what minimum aperture to use. If necessary you will have to use flash.Chris R..

Comment #2

And find a DOF chart for your lens at dofmaster.comGive me something to shoot..

Comment #3

Chris R-UK wrote:.

Remember that your camera has a DoF Preview button (I think).Experiment before you go to find out what minimum aperture to use.If necessary you will have to use flash.Chris R.

Much more practical than using the DOF button is just taking a shot and reviewing it magnified on the LCD..

You should focus about 1/3 of the way from the closest to the farthest points you want in focus...

Comment #4

No one can tell you what the optimum aperture is because, like pretty much everything related to taking a photo, it depends on a lot of things. You are on the right path since you obviously understand what DOF is. Now you need to understand what affects it..

Yes, aperture affects it, but so does the distance to the subject as well as the focal length. For example, a 35mm lens at f2.8 on a 1.5x camera with 10 feet to the subject results in a DOF of 2.84 ft..

At 5ft camera to subject distance decreases the DOF to .69 ft. At 20ft the DOF increases to 12.1 ft..

Change to 85mm and those distances become 0.46 ft. , .11 ft. , and 1.89 ft. respectively. (All distances came from DOFMaster. http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html).

So you see there can be no optimum aperture without also having an optimum distance to subject and optimum focal length. Play with the linked program to get a better feel for it, but it truly comes down to experience. As you come to understand the interrelationships of all the aspects of a photo, choosing the best aperture for the situation will become second nature. Plus you won't have to memorize a bunch of settings for every possible situation..

By the way, the DOF preview function is not all it's cracked up to be. It's hard to tell minor DOF differences in the viewfinder unless you have really good eyes.Chefziggyhttp://www.pbase.com/chefziggy/lecream.

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Comment #5

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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