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Thread: Sharp foreground and sharp background

  1. #1
    Member harnamsc's Avatar
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    Default Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Greetings to all,

    Just wanted to ask if anyone had tips or guidelines for shooting group photographs with both the background and foreground in sharp focus? I've seen so many photos in this forum, but somehow when I try, when my camera is in Auto mode its ok, but when I choose Aperture Priority or Manual, my photos are either sharp background or sharp foreground.

    Worse is that my E420 screen is so small that I can't see if the photos are blurred or not until I return home and view them on my laptop. By then its a little too late?

  2. #2
    Senior Member dorts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Quote Originally Posted by harnamsc View Post
    Greetings to all,

    Just wanted to ask if anyone had tips or guidelines for shooting group photographs with both the background and foreground in sharp focus? I've seen so many photos in this forum, but somehow when I try, when my camera is in Auto mode its ok, but when I choose Aperture Priority or Manual, my photos are either sharp background or sharp foreground.

    Worse is that my E420 screen is so small that I can't see if the photos are blurred or not until I return home and view them on my laptop. By then its a little too late?
    Please read up on DOF and how to control it by adjusting the aperture.

    Which focal lengtha and aperture are you using?

    You can zoom in on a photo when viewing, so as to get an idea of how sharp it is. But nothing beats viewing on the computer, or prints.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    you can read up more on aperture settings. usually for a sharp background and foregorund (large depth of field, you generally take it at smaller apertures, such as F9, F11, etc. )

    It might be a lighting issue when you choose auto mode.
    For example, if you take in a dim lit area, the auto mode of the camera might choose F2.8 (wide aperture) to ensure the photo is properly exposed (enough light). Try to jack up ISO to 800 or 1600 instead to control the aperture to be smaller instead.

    Another way will be not to stand too close to the foreground (your friends) as it will make the background out of focus too.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Quote Originally Posted by dorts View Post
    Please read up on DOF and how to control it by adjusting the aperture.

    Which focal lengtha and aperture are you using?

    You can zoom in on a photo when viewing, so as to get an idea of how sharp it is. But nothing beats viewing on the computer, or prints.
    really depends on the lens you use but usually around F/11 and F/22 for most setups depending on the effect you want to achieve so to be safe take as many as needed.
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    Senior Member Anson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Actually compared to other dslr system... the 4/3 system on E420 make it easier to get both a sharp back & foreground....

  6. #6
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    go and read up the relationship between aperture and depth of field, (just google "aperture and depth of field")

    and also read about "hyperfocus".
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Or you could just use a compact camera. Even at f2.8, depending on the distance of the background and your subject, everything could be still in sharp focus. =)
    incywincyspider climbup the waterspout...

  8. #8
    Senior Member Anson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Quote Originally Posted by karnage View Post
    Or you could just use a compact camera. Even at f2.8, depending on the distance of the background and your subject, everything could be still in sharp focus. =)
    That's why PnS are very good for landscape shots...

  9. #9

    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    use AV mode and select the highest f-stop...
    Playing with M43.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Anson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Quote Originally Posted by Akatsuki View Post
    use AV mode and select the highest f-stop...
    Be careful... it may turn out to be a dark picture..... if the lighting is not good...

  11. #11
    Member Lord Soth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Here's a simple practical method which works most of the time.

    Use Aperture Priority mode and select f/8 or smaller.

    Point your focus to about 1/3 of the frame in the foreground.

    This is only a quick method.

    For more precision, you really have to read up about the technical aspects of hyperfocal distances.
    | Nikon D700; AF-S 14-24 f/2.8GED; AF 20 f/2.8D; AF 50 f/1.4D; SB400| Tamron AF 28-75 f/2.8 A09NII|

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    Member harnamsc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Lord Soth: Pardon my asking but when you say "1/3 of the frame", are you referring to the distance from the camera to the farthest object in the background?

    Also while googling I found this website, is this any good?

    http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

  13. #13
    Member harnamsc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    No replies for quite a while, so pardon me if I revive this thread?

    For the benefit of other beginners in photography who may be reading this thread, after using the link I posted earlier, am I correct in saying that to get a sharp foreground and sharp background, I should try to find the "hyperfocal distance" whenever I shoot?

    Am I also correct in saying that the hyperfocal distance is typically a point somewhat behind the subject, so I should focus on that point (or distance) so that my subject in the foreground will be clear and I do not get any "bokeh" in the background?

  14. #14
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Quote Originally Posted by harnamsc View Post
    Lord Soth: Pardon my asking but when you say "1/3 of the frame", are you referring to the distance from the camera to the farthest object in the background?

    Also while googling I found this website, is this any good?

    http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
    Quote Originally Posted by harnamsc View Post
    No replies for quite a while, so pardon me if I revive this thread?

    For the benefit of other beginners in photography who may be reading this thread, after using the link I posted earlier, am I correct in saying that to get a sharp foreground and sharp background, I should try to find the "hyperfocal distance" whenever I shoot?

    Am I also correct in saying that the hyperfocal distance is typically a point somewhat behind the subject, so I should focus on that point (or distance) so that my subject in the foreground will be clear and I do not get any "bokeh" in the background?


    isn't it the FOCUS HERE is at one third of the whole Depth of Field?
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  15. #15
    Member Lord Soth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Quote Originally Posted by harnamsc View Post
    Lord Soth: Pardon my asking but when you say "1/3 of the frame", are you referring to the distance from the camera to the farthest object in the background?
    Sorry, I did not monitor this thread, hence my late reply.

    This is my rough personal "agar agar" method which seems to work for me.


    _____________________ Viewscreen
    X2 Region
    -----------------------------

    ----------------------------- <------ Focus there (place subject)
    X1 Region
    _____________________ Viewscreen



    What I mean is that you divide your viewscreen (frame) into 3 horizontal portions as per the above diagram.

    Place your foreground subject on the the line between the 1st and 2nd portion.

    Punch in a small aperture such as AP f/8 or f/11.

    Most of the time, your foreground and background (X1 to X2 region) will be sharp due to the small aperture used. When you use a small aperture, the area in front (X1) of the focal point and behind (X2) will therefore be sharp.
    Last edited by Lord Soth; 21st February 2009 at 08:58 AM.
    | Nikon D700; AF-S 14-24 f/2.8GED; AF 20 f/2.8D; AF 50 f/1.4D; SB400| Tamron AF 28-75 f/2.8 A09NII|

  16. #16
    Moderator Octarine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Keep diffraction in mind. Simply using f/22 or even higher is not the solution.
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...hotography.htm
    The pixel size of E-420 should be around 22.5 m^2 (10MP @ 17.3 x 13.0 mm - please correct me if I'm wrong).

  17. #17

    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    zoom your picture captured to 6.0 or to 6.1. then see whether they are sharp, if u can see any straight lines, means they're sharp! =P
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  18. #18
    Senior Member TheChef's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Quote Originally Posted by harnamsc View Post
    Greetings to all,

    Just wanted to ask if anyone had tips or guidelines for shooting group photographs with both the background and foreground in sharp focus? I've seen so many photos in this forum, but somehow when I try, when my camera is in Auto mode its ok, but when I choose Aperture Priority or Manual, my photos are either sharp background or sharp foreground.

    Worse is that my E420 screen is so small that I can't see if the photos are blurred or not until I return home and view them on my laptop. By then its a little too late?
    To achieve this, you should use a good compact camera like the Canon G9, which is extremely sharp under good lighting and the Fujifilm F31fd, which is good in low light conditions as well. Somehow, I find the Fujifilm F30 even better in low light conditions, but unfortunately I had sold it recently. Another good choice would be the Panasonic LX3. If you only have a DSLR, then adjust the aperture to F8 or F9. But, nothing beats a compact camera if you want the background to be as sharp as the subject.
    S5Pro|S3Pro|D50|16-85VR2|70-200VR|80-400VR|S50f1.4|105f2|135f2|SB900|SB80DX

  19. #19
    Member harnamsc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    Thanks everyone for your comments and advice, and pardon me cos I forgot to mention that I've actually sold my E420 and have migrated to the micro 4/3 format, i.e. I'm now using a Panasonic G1.

    Regarding the focusing point, I think I should give an example of what I hope to achieve. I'm quoting a photograph from another thread, in the photo the person in the foreground is not blurred while the island cliffside in the background can be seen clearly and there's quite a lot of detail too. From my own judgement the person in the boat is only 5 metres away whereas the island is probably 0.5km further at the very least. I'm fairly confident Panasonic's iA mode could cope, but what if I had to shoot using manual settings? That's why I opened this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by sethgoh View Post

    P.S: I agree with TheChef on his comments about using a prosumer P&S, I had a Canon G7 sometime back and that took pretty decent photos. But I found that the poor low light performance and inability to take decent photos at fast shutter speeds was a constant problem and hence I upgraded to a DSLR.

  20. #20
    Moderator Octarine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharp foreground and sharp background

    For this situation: Use f/8, take the center focus point, aim at the blue boat left, lock focus, recompose and shot. Micro 4/3 format will result in deeper DOF, f/8 supports this further and a sunny day like this will give enough shutter speed even at ISO 100. If you still can handhold try f/11, but not further to avoid diffraction.
    There are plenty of opportunities here in the city where you can try and exercise. Keep the 1/3 rule in mind (see catchlight's post) and see how it turns out. Better to exercise here than to miss a shot when traveling. In addition, once you have locked the focus you can also switch to manual focus. As long as the distances are still the same you are safe and you avoid accidental changing of focus settings. Use the calculator to verify a few settings.

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