Adobe just released an update to their imaging software including Lightroom CC 2015.5/6.5, Camera RAW 9.5, and Photoshop CC. There are a quite a few software bug fixes in tehse updates including some significant fixes for tethering, especially with Canon cameras like the 5DM3, 5Ds, 1DsM3.
The bigger news however is Adobe now has support for a bunch of new cameras like the Nikon D5, Nikon D500, Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon Rebel T6, Canon EOS 80D and the Sony Alpha a6300. This marks the first time I can remember that Adobe and Nikon/Canon/Sony worked together to allow shooters of these new cameras the capability to process RAW photos before the cameras are released to the public. Kudos Adobe.
On the Adobe Camera Raw side, Adobe changed the default color schema in ACR to gray. This better matches other software interfaces and is a welcome change.
To update your software, use the Creative Cloud application/utility from Adobe as shown here.
Alternatively, you can download the files directly here:
Lightroom CC Installations
Please select Help > Updates to use the update mechanism in the Creative Cloud app.
Adobe’s Lightroom Journal http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/
Lightroom CC 2015.5 update http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/2016/03/lr-cc-2015-5-now-available.html
Adobe Camera RAW 9.5 update http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/2016/03/camera-raw-9-5-now-available.html
|Android||Huawei Nexus 6P|
|Android||LG Nexus 5X|
|Canon EF||SIGMA 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM A016|
|Canon EF-M||Bower 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Canon EF-M||Rokinon 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Canon EF-M||Rokinon 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS|
|Canon EF-M||Rokinon 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS|
|Canon EF-M||Samyang 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Canon EF-M||Samyang 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS|
|Canon EF-M||Samyang 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Canon EF-M||Samyang 85mm f1.4 AS IF UMC|
|Canon EF-M||Samyang 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS|
|Fujifilm||Bower 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Fujifilm||Rokinon 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Fujifilm||Rokinon 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS|
|Fujifilm||Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AS IF UMC|
|Fujifilm||Rokinon 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS|
|Fujifilm||Samyang 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Fujifilm||Samyang 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS|
|Fujifilm||Samyang 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Fujifilm||Samyang 85mm f1.4 AS IF UMC|
|Fujifilm||Samyang 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS|
|Nikon F||Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR|
|Nikon F||Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G|
|Nikon F||Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR|
|Nikon F||Nikon AF-S Zoom-NIKKOR 28-70mm f/2.8D IF-ED|
|Olympus||Bower 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Olympus||Bower 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Olympus||Rokinon 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Olympus||Rokinon 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS|
|Olympus||Rokinon 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Olympus||Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AS IF UMC|
|Olympus||Rokinon 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS|
|Olympus||Samyang 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Olympus||Samyang 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS|
|Olympus||Samyang 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Olympus||Samyang 85mm f1.4 AS IF UMC|
|Olympus||Samyang 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS|
|Olympus||SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC DN C016|
|Panasonic||Bower 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Panasonic||Rokinon 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Panasonic||Rokinon 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS|
|Panasonic||Rokinon 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Panasonic||Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AS IF UMC|
|Panasonic||Rokinon 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS|
|Panasonic||Samyang 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Panasonic||Samyang 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS|
|Panasonic||Samyang 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Panasonic||Samyang 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Panasonic||Samyang 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS|
|Pentax K||HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR|
|Samsung NX||Bower 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Samsung NX||Bower 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Samsung NX||Rokinon 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Samsung NX||Rokinon 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Samsung NX||Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AS IF UMC|
|Samsung NX||Samyang 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Samsung NX||Samyang 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Samsung NX||Samyang 85mm f1.4 AS IF UMC|
|SIGMA||SIGMA 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM A016|
|Sony E||Bower 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Sony E||Rokinon 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Sony E||Rokinon 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS|
|Sony E||Rokinon 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS|
|Sony E||Samyang 16mm f2 ED AS UMC CS|
|Sony E||Samyang 21mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC CS|
|Sony E||Samyang 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS|
|Sony E||SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC DN C016|
|Sony FE||Rokinon 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Sony FE||Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AS IF UMC|
|Sony FE||Samyang 24mm f1.4 ED AS IF UMC|
|Sony FE||Samyang 85mm f1.4 AS IF UMC|
|Sony FE||Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM|
|Sony FE||Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM|
Our March 2016 newsletter is posted here: https://visadventures.com/newsletters/2016-03-newsletter/
Articles this month include:
New Instructor and Author – Rick Hulbert
New Workshops in The Wooldands, Texas
Stuff I Like This Month
Book Review: Picture Perfect Lighting
Book Review: Studio Anywhere
Digital Tidbits: A Custom Approach to Panoramas Using Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC
Check out all of our previous newsletters here: https://visadventures.com/newsletters/
Nikon announced a bevy of new compact cameras for CP+ 2016. The cool thing about the higher-end models is they are large-sensor compact cameras. It is clear that Nikon is listening to their user-base and offering professional quality cameras that don’t weigh as much as a DSLR.
In my opinion, two of the cameras are very enticing and worthy of your attention: The DL18-50 and the DL24-85. Both of them have a f/1.8-f/2.8 fluorine coated lens and the 18-50 has the Nano coated lens to help reduce lens flare at the wide-angle settings.
The DL18-50 and DL24-85 have a compact form and are small enough to fit in your pocket. Nikon is claiming the DL cameras have DSLR functionality, which includes fast/accurate autofocus, a blazingly-fast frame rate of 20 FPS, 20.8 megapixel 1″ sensor, and 4K video. If these specs hold up in real-world shooting situations, then these little powerhouse cameras will be tremendous for travel photography, street photography, and multi-media story telling.
As a prolific user of Nikon’s wireless flash system, I was happy to see that these cameras support the Nikon CLS (creative lighting system). I’m looking forward to testing out these enticing little cameras.
Check out these early reviews from Nikon shooters Steve Simon and Drew Gurian:
Steve Simon DL Review at ThePassionatePhotographer
Drew Gurian DL Preview at DrewGurian.com
Purchase Links here:
Nikon DL18-50 F/1.8-2.8 Compact Camera – $846.95
Nikon DL24-85 F/1.8-2.8 Compact Camera – $646.95
Nikon DL25-500 F/2.8-5.6 Compact Camera – $996.95
I’ll be teaching a class for CreativeLive during the industry’s biggest event of the year – Photoshop Week 2016. My workshop will be on producing beautiful panoramas using Lightroom CC, ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) and Photoshop CC. During the week, there are multiple instructors teaching in different learning tracks that you’ll be able to watch live for free. Other instructors include Tim Grey, Ben Willmore, Lindsay Adler, Matt Kloskowski, Jared Platt, Dave Cross and many more.
Tune in to watch the live panorama workshop broadcast at 1:15 PM PST, February 22, 2016. For more information on this specific class, check out the workshop page over at CreativeLive: Creating Panoramas in Photoshop and Lightroom – Mike Hagen
Photoshop Week 2016 Full Schedule: https://www.creativelive.com/photoshop-week-2016
RSVP today to watch live for free. Signing up early also allows you to pre-order the complete Photoshop Week training package for half-price.
Discover the tools you need to remake the world in your image. Learn from some of the world’s most inspiring photographers and retouchers. Unlock the power of Photoshop and Lightroom to transform the images you have into the images you want.
On February 22nd-27th watch the free live stream of the industry’s biggest week. Learn exciting new ways to enhance your work and remake your post-production workflow. Create images that stand out and inspire. No matter how many years you’ve been in the game, find the tools, techniques and shortcuts you need to bring your unique creative vision to life.
This year, you can chose from 4 unique course tracks to find the skills you need. We now have a Beginner’s track and an Advanced track, so you can master the essentials and then graduate to more complex techniques. Get in the habit of shooting with post-production ideas in mind with our Shoot to Edit classes. After you get your skills locked down, keep up to date on the latest Photoshop techniques and designs with the Trends series.
Make the most out of what you learn this week! Our partners at Adobe are offering 20% off the Creative Cloud Photography plan to new subscribers if you join us for Photoshop Week – get access to Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and Adobe’s versatile mobile apps to craft amazing images anytime. RSVP now, and we’ll email you a link to this exclusive offer.
Adobe released a new version of Lightroom today for the Creative Cloud and stand-alone versions. Lightroom CC 2015.4 and Lightroom 6.4 address a number of bugs while also updating the software for new cameras and lenses.
As far as I’m concerned though, the two most important things about this release are the Boundary Warp feature in Lightroom CC and the ability to tether Nikon cameras for photographers using the newest Mac OSX 10.11 (El Capitan).
Here’s the link to the press release at the Adobe website: Lightroom CC 2015.4 Press Release
Boundary warp is a brand-new feature available in the Lightroom CC version aimed at improving panorama merging. It is designed to warp the corners and edges of the panorama so you don’t lose those areas of the image.
This slider works exceptionally well when merging photos taken with extreme wide-angle lenses. You don’t typically get much distortion with focal lengths of 50mm or longer, but you get quite a bit with 14mm and 20mm lenses. Boundary Warp helps solve this problem in a very easy-to-use interface.
Check out this video I created to help further explain the tool.
YouTube Link: Boundary Warp (https://youtu.be/2yt-A6OoZuc)
Another great fix with this release of Lightroom CC/6 is the ability to tether Nikon cameras in Mac OSX 10.11 (El Capitan). Finally!
Unfortunately, operating system updates can be very troublesome for us photographers. We heavily rely on software for our businesses, so any hiccup in the operation of our computers is a major deal. The most recent update to the Macintosh operating system, El Capitan, broke the ability of Lightroom CC/6 to tether with Nikon cameras.
For me, that was a deal breaker to upgrading to El Capitan since I use Lightroom tethering for my portrait and commercial work. Tethering really helps when shooting with clients on set as it allows them to immediately collaborate on images.
The newest version of Lightroom CC/6 now fixes the tethering issue for us Nikon shooters and represents my last obstacle to upgrading my Mac to El Capitan.
– SIGMA 50mm f1.4 ART lens was incorrectly identified as Zeiss Milvus 50mm f1.4
– Import from iPhoto would result in all photos receiving a “pick” flag
– Comments from Lightroom web come in to Lightroom on the desktop as already “read.”
– Lightroom would not display the correct EXIF metadata for some video files generated by Canon, Fuji and Panasonic cameras
– Vertical panoramas created using Merge could appear with the wrong orientation
– The video cache did not respect the maximum size specified in the preferences
– Fujifilm X70
– Fujifilm X-E2S
– Fujifilm X-Pro2
– Leica M (Typ 262)
– Leica X-U (Typ 113)
– Panasonic DMC-ZS60 (DMC-TZ80, DMC-TZ81, DMC-TZ85)
– Phase One IQ150
– Sony ILCA-68 (A68)
– Nikon 1 J4 Camera Matching Profile added
– The panorama merging process should complete roughly twice as fast as Lightroom 6.3
– Improved quality when applying Auto Straighten and Upright “Level” mode
– A preference was added to the Mac to prevent accidental “speed swiping”
– Metadata is added to merged panoramas to support Photoshop’s Adaptive Wide Angle filter
– Customers can now set the location of where photos are stored when downloaded from Lightroom mobile or Lightroom web in the preference panel or – contextually in the folder panel
– Thumbnails update much quicker when copying and pasting settings in the grid view
– Images load faster in the Library module when you are zoomed in and navigating images
– Tethered support added for the Nikon D5500 and Nikon D7200
I make a habit of carrying a camera with me just about everywhere I go, especially when heading out on short errands. I love finding new photographic gems in my hometown of Gig Harbor, Washington.
Last week, I headed down to the Post Office to ship some books and took a quick side trip to photograph the Gig Harbor waterfront with my Nikon D750 and 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. A couple days prior to that, I took a one-hour break from writing to walk across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge with my D750 and 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. In both cases, I decided to create panoramas of the scenes before me.
I’ve been shooting more panoramas lately because I really enjoy the entire process from capture to print. I also love being able to capture the atmosphere of the scene in a way most people don’t normally see. On the technical side, I thoroughly enjoy the discipline it takes to create a good-looking pano. There are a lot of settings and techniques that have to be executed well in order to produce an image that works.
– Exposure control for the darkest and brightest areas of the scene
– Depth of field
– White balance
– Panning technique
– Dealing with subjects that are moving
– Overlap percentage for individual frames
– Lens choice
– Distortion control
– Developing the images in software (Lightroom CC) so all images work together in the final panorama
– Stitching the images together in Lightroom CC or Photoshop CC
– Post-processing the panorama to fix problem areas
– Final presentation and printing
Some panoramas work really well and others are just, well, boring. Sometimes, you don’t know until you’ve gone through all the work and have the final image on your computer screen. In the case of the two images I’ve shown here, I like the image of the boats from downtown Gig Harbor, but don’t really care for the Narrows Bridge image. I think the reason why the Narrows Bridge shot falls flat for me is the clouds lack texture and form. I’ll need to go back on another day when the sky is more dramatic.
Because of my love of panoramas, I have decided to teach a panorama workshop on when I travel to The Woodlands, Texas in April. My partner in crime, Rick Hulbert (http://www.rickhulbertphotography.com), and I are running a series of four different workshops from April 4th – 9th, including one on panorama photography. These workshops are open for all camera users (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Olympus, etc.) and all skill levels.
While in The Woodlands, we are joining The Woodlands Camera Club to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. After their party, we’ll run workshops and photo walks on a variety of topics like autofocus for action, urban and street photography, studio lighting, HDR photography, and more.
You should join us! More information here:
Our January 2016 Newsletter is posted. We have a great series of articles covering everything from book reviews, to backpacks, to new products.
In This Month’s Newsletter
– Stuff I Like This Month
– Workshop Updates
– Our Newest Book: The Nikon Autofocus System
– Book Review: The Digital Negative, 2nd Edition
– Book Review: Jay Maisel, Light, Gesture & Color
– Long Term Gear Report: Naneu K5 v2 80L Backpack
– Workshop and Business Updates
Check it out here: Visual Adventures January 2016 Newsletter
Nikon has been busy this last year developing some amazing new camera gear. They have totally knocked it out of the park with the release of two new professional cameras, the Nikon D5 and D500. While the D5 is indeed an impressive new camera, the D500 is truly the new DX flagship camera that we’ve all been waiting for.
Nikon is still innovating in the DSLR market and have so far, at least publically, ignored the mirrorless professional market. I am one photographer who really likes shooting with DSLRs because of their excellent speed and top-notch autofocus. Time will tell what Nikon intends to do with the mirrorless world.
In addition to the two new cameras, Nikon also released a new SB-5000 flash and a new sports-action camera called the KeyMission 360. Read below for more details on all these new products.
This DX (small sensor) DSLR is truly a professional camera in a smaller body. Nikon shooters have been waiting many years for a Nikon D300/D300s replacement and we now have our new DX flagship camera that is a small version of the full-frame Nikon D5.
This smaller camera is approximately the same size as a D750 or a D810 and utilizes the same autofocus system as the Nikon D5. This new AF module incorporates 153 autofocus points for almost full coverage of the entire frame. Additionally, quite a few of the sensors (15 to be precise) will operate at f/8 effective maximum aperture.
The native ISO range has been increased to 100 – 51,200. The D500 also uses expanded ISO options of Hi-1, Hi-2, Hi-3, Hi-4, and Hi-5. Hi-5 is an equivalent of ISO 1,640,000!
In the interest of speed and high ISO performance, Nikon has chosen a 20.9 MP CMOS sensor for the D500. I would have liked to have seen more pixels, but 20.9 is perfectly adequate for almost all shooting scenarios we come across. I’ve become used to the 36 MP sensor on my D800, but I also shoot quite extensively with my 24 MP D750 and find its resolution just fine.
Again, working to claim its title as a professional DX camera, the D500 will shoot at 10 frames per second. Nikon claims the camera will sustain 10 FPS for a total of 79 shots in a row while shooting 14-bit compressed RAW using an XQD card. That’s unheard of in a camera this size. Truly amazing. Kudos to Nikon.
The D500 incorporates one of my favorite features of the Nikon D750; the tilting screen. The screen allows me to place the camera in awkward positions while still being able to compose during live view. The D500 monitor adds touch screen capability, a first in the DSLR world.
Nikon has created a new light meter, increasing the resolution of the light sensor to 180,000 pixels. As many of you know, Nikon uses the light meter to work in tandem with the focus system, so this new light meter will be better suited for subject tracking and facial recognition.
Nikon has created an internal automatic AF fine tune utility. Supposedly, it compares a live image on the CMOS sensor with a captured image, then fine tunes the focus for each specific lens.
Further tipping its hat to professional photographers, the D500 utilizes both XQD cards and SD cards. The XQD format is blazingly fast and allows transfer speeds of 400 MB/s write and 350 MB/s read. That’s over twice as fast as the current super-speed CF cards of 160 MB/s.
For the video enthusiasts in the crowd, the D500 can shoot 4K video at 30p. It also shoots 1080p at a variety of frame rates. While shooting video, it has the ability to send 4K video to the memory card and an HDMI simultaneously.
The D500 is set to retail for $1,999.95 and should start shipping March 15, 2016.
The Nikon D5 is a professional FX (full-frame sensor) camera. At a price point of $6,500 USD, it is out of reach for most casual shooters, but does things that no other camera before it has done.
The brand-new autofocus module is shared with the D500 and boasts 153 AF points. 99 of those are cross-type sensors. The center sensor will that operate down to EV -4, which allows full autofocus on moonlit nights.
The native ISO range of the D5 is 100 to 102,400. With an expanded ISO up to Hi-5, the system will take pictures at an ISO equivalent to 3,276,800. Yes, that’s ISO three million. Unbelievable.
The FX (full-frame) sensor comes in at 20.8 MP. This is a modest increase in pixel count from the D4s’ 16.2 MP sensor, but is sufficient for most everything a professional sports or action photographer might need.
The D5 will shoot 12 frames per second with full AF and AE tracking. The frame rate increases to 14 FPS with the mirror locked up. In that scenario, the camera won’t track autofocus or exposure. The camera has a 200-frame buffer when shooting at 12 frames per second. With this performance, you can shoot for almost 17 seconds straight without stopping.
Along with the D500, the D5 offers 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) video at 30/25/24p. It uses dot-by-dot readout, which means it doesn’t use the full frame when recording 4K video, so the crop factor ends up being about 1.5x. When shooting 1080p, the camera does use the full frame.
The great thing about video with this camera is that you are able to use the full range of ISO sensitivities while recording. This will allow ISO ranges from 100 to 3 million. Imaging shooting video in almost complete darkeness!
Nikon created a brand-new 180,000 pixel light meter for the D5 and D500 cameras. Coupled with the EXPEED 5 engine, this camera’s metering performance should be the best in Nikon’s history.
The D5 uses a new touch screen monitor on the back of the camera. This LCD is 3.2 inches diagonal and 2.4 million dots of resolution. Unlike the D500, the screen doesn’t pivot, but the new touch functionality will dramatically improve navigation through pictures.
The camera ships with one of two options for memory cards; either dual CF cards or dual XQD cards. Most professionals will probably opt for the dual XQD cards due to the increased speed they provide over CF cards. Nikon says the card slots are modular, so I’m guessing that you’ll be able to send the camera back to Nikon and swap out one module for the other.
The D5 will retail at $6,500 USD and will be available March 15, 2016.
This new flash packs more power than the SB-910 into a smaller form factor. Also, it adds radio control in addition to the standard infrared light-pulse system of the legacy creative lighting system (CLS).
The cool thing about the new SB-5000 is it will now work with up to six groups while the previous CLS allowed three groups. It allows control up to 18 flashes within those 6 groups, so you’ll have no more excuses for not having enough flash control.
The SB-5000 is backward compatible with the previous CLS control system, allowing it to use three groups in legacy CLS control with three groups in the new radio CLS control.
The operation of the new wireless radio control requires a Nikon D5 or D500 to send the signal with the optional WR-R10 wireless transceiver. Radio control allows the off-camera flashes to be positioned around corners and even outside the room. The previous system was IR light controlled, so all flashes had to be line of sight in order for the system to operate.
Because the flash is smaller and more powerful, Nikon designed an internal cooling system to prevent overheating. Previous flashes like the SB-800, SB-900, and SB-910 would overheat or even shut down after firing multiple flashes in a row. Now, Nikon says the SB-5000 will shoot 120 continuous frames at 5-second intervals without overheating.
The SB-5000 will retail for about $600 and will be available in March of 2016.
This is an action camera built in a similar form factor as a GoPro, but with significant differences. The KeyMission 360 uses two cameras pointed in opposite directions. Each camera has a super-wide-angle lens so that the system captures a full 360 degrees of coverage while recording in 4K. You can edit the video so you have continuous spherical coverage of the action.
The camera is waterproof to 30 meters (100 feet) and shockproof to 2 meters (7 feet). It also has in-camera electronic image stabilization.
Each week we post a new theme to our Instagram account. Here’s the summary of Leopard week.
Its leopard week here at Visual Adventures. Our safari photography group came upon this young leopard right at dusk in the central Serengeti region called Seronera. He was waiting for his mother to come over from another tree and wasn’t quite sure if he should stay put, or risk heading down to the ground. #leopard #cat #serengeti #Tanzania
Searing Stare. I think leopards have the most intense eyes in the animal kingdom. Their eyes seem to burn right through you to let you know who’s boss. This young male was resting in an acacia tree after a night of hunting with his brother and mother. #leopardweek #cats #Tanzania #safari A photo posted by Mike Hagen (@mikejhagen) on
What Goes Up. Its leopard week here at Visual Adventures. This large male leopard is descending from a very big baobab tree in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. Leopards are excellent climbers and spend most of their days in trees. #leopard #Tanzania #wildlife #cats A photo posted by Mike Hagen (@mikejhagen) on
Note: Part of this article is an excerpt from our new book titled The Nikon Autofocus System, Mastering Focus for Sharp Images Every Time. It has been modified to include information on both Canon and Nikon DSLRs.
The holiday season is coming up and we’ll be taking lots of portraits of friends and family over the next two months. It is time to brush up on your autofocus skills for holiday portraiture.
The most important thing to focus on when you shoot portraits is the subject’s eye. Humans learn a lot about a person by looking into their eyes, so in a photograph, the eye must be critically sharp. Therefore, I generally like to use single-point AF area for my portraiture. This allows me to accurately select my focus point (eye) where a different autofocus setting like auto-area or group-area might pick a different point of focus.
If you shoot with a fast lens, like the 85mm f/1.4 lens with the aperture wide open, then you need to be particularly careful about critically focusing so you don’t accidentally focus on an eyebrow or the ear. At f/1.4, your DOF (depth of field) is so narrow that if you don’t focus directly on the eye, then it will be out of focus and the viewer will reject the shot.
When you shoot groups, use a smaller aperture like f/8 or f/11 to gain more DOF, and focus about one third of the way into the group to maximize the DOF. In group portraiture, you don’t necessarily focus on any specific person; rather, you focus into the group to maximize DOF. One third of the DOF occurs in front of the focus point and two thirds of the DOF occurs behind the focus point.
When shooting portraits, you frequently need to focus, then recompose so the subject is on the left or right of the frame. Therefore, you’ll need to set your autofocus motor to single servo. On a Nikon, this is called AF-S, and on a Canon, this is called One-shot. If you if you are a back-button focuser (you know who you are), then you’ll set the camera to AF-C or AI-Servo for Nikon and Canon respectively.
I keep my camera in continuous high (CH on Nikon, Continuous on Canon) frame rate so I can shoot bursts if necessary. Even in portraiture, there are times when it makes sense to shoot a quick burst of images in order to get the shot. If you use flash in your portraiture work, I suggest staying in single-shot mode; otherwise your flash units won’t be able to recycle fast enough to keep up with a fast frame rate.
Interested in learning more about autofocus on Nikon cameras? Check out our brand new book titled The Nikon Autofocus System, Mastering Focus for Sharp Images Every Time.