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Old Jul 31, 2002, 8:39 AM   #1
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Default 15 yards

I'm just an armature photographer, lol, if I can even say that! Maybe I had better say I'm a family picture taker.

Anyway, the most difficult pictures for me are of people at a distance of around 15 yards. This kind of picture happens very frequently for me in taking memento pictures of my family.

I know own a Epson 850z, and I'm about to buy the Olympus E20. (thank you Steve for you help in this decision) I think this is the best buy for the money for me, since speed is not that big a deal to me, and that seems to be the biggest down of this camera according to what I'm reading.

I'm looking for a little advice on taking these 15 yard pictures. For example: My daughter is in the band. In the parade she may be the middle person of the second row, and I'm standing along the side of the street. I want a good clear picture of her, but I want the situation as well. So I don't want to zoom in.

Getting the subject persons face clear is the issue. I this is as difficult for a camera as I think it is, I sort of wonder why I never see this type of picture used in sample pictures in a camera review?

Then again maybe someone here can help me and I'll do better.

Thank you
JR
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Old Aug 7, 2002, 2:12 PM   #2
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You seem to have chosen an awfully difficult shot for reasons I'm not clear on. It's a tricky shot for film cameras and digitial with a typical shutter lag will make it even more difficult. I suggest you set manual focus and pre-focus on the location you know she will cross and try to time your shot as not to have someone standing in front of her. With a film camera I might use a 135mm lens. In daylight I could get by with a 1/125th shutter speed @ f16 which will give me lots of depth of field so I could set hyperfocal distance and know she'll be in focus and have no autofocus lag or accidentally focus on the wrong thing. Experiment.
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Old Aug 7, 2002, 2:32 PM   #3
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Default Thank you

Thank you. I've been reading about depth of field but havn't been doing much about it yet. I think I'll try the Appeture priority mode with my camera before I go to full manual. I don't think my cam goes up to f16, but I'll just set it on the highest setting it has and see how I do.

Since this distance is particularly difficult to get faces clear, I do think it would be a good type of photo to use to compare cameras in reviews.

Thanks again for a very helpful reply.
JR
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Old Aug 7, 2002, 3:23 PM   #4
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Few non-DSLR cameras have an aperture smaller than about f8 with the Oly E-10/20 going to f11 IIRC. That's not so bad as the small focal lengh of your digicam gives it a bigger depth of field when compared to a 35mm camera at the same distance and field of view. At f8 you should still be at a reasonably fast shutter speed in sunlight @ ISO100.

The formulas for depth of field are extremely complex and at that are based on an arbitrary definition of acceptable focus. You can do a simple DOF test by putting up paper targets at varying marked distances and photographing them to see what's reallin in focus and where blur sets in. You'll need to review images full size on screen as your camera's LCD won't be of sufficient resolution. I realize this is a low tech approach but sometimes that's good.
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Old Aug 7, 2002, 4:19 PM   #5
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"You seem to have chosen an awfully difficult shot for reasons I'm not clear on."

From what I see, family photography is a whole different thing from professional photography. I see pro photos of beautiful scenery, pretty faces (close up) or family portraits, macro photos. All these pictures are either using close up or fairly close (portraits) or infinity focus settings.

My family pictures mostly come between these settings. At family events like picnics, taking a picture of a group of people across the yard (15 to 20 yards). Pictures of my family swimming in my sister in-laws in ground pool. (10 yards).

I think if I experiment with this depth of field thing, I'll be doing much better.

Thanks again
JR
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Old Aug 7, 2002, 5:53 PM   #6
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I don't think it's a family vs "professional" thing but that you were giving a somewhat tricky action shot as an example. The fact that it's at a middle range has the least to do with it. That's it's not a rugby game is misleading. Slow action can be hard to shoot if you are critical about what you want. If you want just a picture of the band marching buy that's a breeze but you want to make sure your daughter is not obscured by other people you'll need to anticipate the shot. A fraction of a second delay from the camera's normal lag or autofocus could mean the difference between the shot you want and a bad one.

As you mature as a photographer you'll learn how to make photographs and not just ordinary snapshots. You are already on the right track tying to combine the wider perspecetive with focus on a single element. Learning how the camera sees is the first step to getting the shots you want. The camera does _not_ see like your eyes do. Practice, shoot a lot and don't be afraid to throw away most of your shots.
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