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Old Mar 22, 2010, 8:56 PM   #1
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Default Portrait Photography settings

What says the crowd on portrait settings? Kelby teaches me that I want f11 with an 80-100mm lens, at iso100. That seems a difficult setting to attain without renting some ballpark lights for the garage-studio.

What are your favorite settings and why?

Thanks

Jim
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 10:07 PM   #2
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I shoot at f-8.0, 1/200, ISO 200 using two 250ws monolites (not a full power). Works pretty well for me, remember you are very close to your subject, so a little light will go a long way.
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 3:09 AM   #3
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A standard zoom at f8-f11 will be fine. It depends on what sort of shots you are going for, but anything between 28-150mm equivalent can be used to good effect, and if you absolutely had to choose one focal length then something around 85mm equivalent would probably allow a fair bit of flexibility.

An entry level lighting kit with two lights (go for 2x400W if you can, they are very affordable now) and at least one softbox should see you fine.

That kind of kit starts at around $500, and for $750 you have a lot of options. These should last you for many years so it's probably worth spending a bit extra at the start to get good gear.

e.g. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...rella_Kit.html
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 11:15 AM   #4
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Haven't built it yet but I especially like this one (for those w/more time than money):
http://www.diyphotography.net/reader...-alex-campagna

Additionally, if you check the People forum you'll find that those who use fast prime macro lenses (50/f2 for 4:3 or 85/f2 for APS-C) as portrait lenses often use f/4 +/- 1 stop as their basic aperture. This would roughly quarter the light requirement.

A. C.

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Old Mar 23, 2010, 11:39 AM   #5
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AC- I've been thinking about that lately. I wonder if the aperature setting has more effect on the image than the amount of light comming through. I suppose that would be the reason for endorsing an f11. I suppose the question comes down to one of what produces the best photo - iso 400 at f8, or iso 100 at f4?
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 11:43 AM   #6
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Calicajun and Peripatetic- I'm about 8' from my subject with an 80mm lens, and my 1200 watts does ok, but not to the iso 100 f/8 level. It'd be more like iso 400 and f/8, but I haven't tried it yet. What's the advantage of f8 or 11 anyway? Kelby tells me it is the setting to use, but not why.
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 12:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iowa_jim View Post
Calicajun and Peripatetic- I'm about 8' from my subject with an 80mm lens, and my 1200 watts does ok, but not to the iso 100 f/8 level. It'd be more like iso 400 and f/8, but I haven't tried it yet. What's the advantage of f8 or 11 anyway? Kelby tells me it is the setting to use, but not why.
DoF, higher the f-stop number the greater the DoF. Less change of something being out of focus but not always the best for being creative.
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 1:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iowa_jim View Post
AC- I've been thinking about that lately. I wonder if the aperture setting has more effect on the image than the amount of light coming through. I suppose that would be the reason for endorsing an f11. I suppose the question comes down to one of what produces the best photo - iso 400 at f8, or iso 100 at f4?
Aperture does have an effect on more than just exposure as follows:

1) Depth of Field (DOF). The DOF will also vary with subject distance, focal length and format. Juggling all the factors and assuming we have the same angle of view and subject distance arrives at this approximation; f/11 on full frame will have the same DOF as f/8 on APS-C format and f/5.6 on 4:3 format.

2) Other sharpness/contrast issues. Generally stopping a lens down will mask some uncorrected aberrations increasing resolution/contrast to the point that increasing diffraction overwhelms the gains from smaller apertures. An extremely generalized rule is diffraction softness will visible beyond f/16 for full frame, f/11 for APS-C and f/8 on 4:3. Many will shift my numbers on way or the other depend on their experience with their typical subjects and the intended use of their photos. As a very broad generalization macro primes have very low uncorrected aberration and therefore need less stopping down to "hit" their "sweet spot" compared to general purpose or zoom lenses.

3) Because aperture is an exposure control and most situations there is some minimally acceptable shutter speed, aperture indirectly controls the required ISO. I suspect that ISO 100 vs. ISO 400 is completely irrelevant on the top of line full frame DSLRs for almost any conceivable use. It becomes increasingly more relevant as the sensor size is reduced. The exact point at which it become relevant to your situation really needs to be determined experimentally by you.

4) The smaller the aperture the less critical the focusing but as mentioned above a large DOF may not produce the most artistically desirable results.

I suspect Kelby's f/11 recommendation is a full frame recommendation.

Last edited by ac.smith; Mar 23, 2010 at 2:53 PM.
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 2:46 PM   #9
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A lot depends on the studio and the lighting.

If you have a good lighting setup you will almost always be shooting at ISO100 or ISO200 and f8 or f11, and you will adjust your flash output up or down to achieve that.

There is no point in using wide apertures, unless you want a very specific effect, but this is NOT what you would normally do with studio-type work. With a controlled background there is nothing to throw out of focus as such because it looks exactly the same in or out of focus. Also you will likely be exposing the subject and the background differently anyway - hence the need for 2 or 3 lights.

If you are moving away from studio work and trying to shoot on location where you have less control over lighting then you will probably find more use for a fast aperture and natural light, a reflector board often comes in very handy. And of course many things are possible with portable flashes - see strobist.com for more information than you ever thought you would need.

Check out Benjamin's blog for some very cool info. http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/
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Old Mar 25, 2010, 3:14 AM   #10
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So the idea for running at f8 with an APS-C unit is to maximize lens performance under controlled conditions. The lower/faster iso settings produce less noise in the final product, so again under controlled conditions the idea is to generate a studio that allows taking the shot at iso100 or iso200 or as camera performance dictates.

I may give a fast prime a try, with the idea of running at f4 to minimize my light requirements as I learn the craft and develop my equipment. I would benefit from the sofer focus on the background as well. I appreciate the recommendations for buying a quality strobe setup, but I'm still reeling from the purchase of a quality camera hence my home-built softbox. I did upgrade to 1600 watts of 5500k cfl lights with some marked improvement in exposure settings.

So for my situation, I want to run at f8, lower with a fast prime, at a low iso, but all this only so far as I can produce enough light with my Red-Green studio, and will sacarafice the lens sweet-spot aperature for better exposure as needed, along with iso settings up to 400 if need be.

Thanks for putting these setting recommendations into perspective for me!
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