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Old Apr 30, 2011, 7:09 AM   #1
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Default FZ35 - need some advice on closeups

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to do much shooting (220 shots) at a friend's house. She had many tulips, plus some other Spring plants that made for interesting shots.

I missed two situations, both because of lack of focus on difficult subjects. I'll share only one of these, plus another situation that was successful.

Below are five images. #1 and #2 are of a fern, one of the two missed situations. #1 is an overall shot, #2 a more detailed shot of the "fiddle head." I had several shots similar to #2, and this was the best. Others were not in focus.

I was using Spot Focus, P mode, AF Macro, Spot Exposure. The problem seems that the "fiddle head" does not provide enough substance for the camera to get a good focus. The subject is standing in mid-air, and apparently does not provide enough "hard surface" to have the camera to get a read. The second situation, not shown here, was similar, even though the subject matter was different -- not very much substance to get a read on focus.

My question is simple: How to make these shots? One thought I had after dealing with my disappointment in not getting the shots, have another person hold something (cardboard with markings?) near the subject, get the read off the second object, then reframe to make the shot. Is there a better way? These "fiddle heads" are really interesting, and I may go back today. When in this state, they last only a day or so before taking on a new shape.

I know my camera was otherwise doing well. #3 is an overall shot of a bunch of tulips. #4 is a macro shot inside one of the blooms. #5 is a detailed cropping of #4 (or similar), showing how well the camera did on the focus. I had several series of #3, #4, and #5 of other plants, and they were dead on.

However, I also had several shots of a single tulip bloom, high on the stem, and I also had trouble getting focus for these too, just like the fern. A few of these kind were successful, but a few were unsuccessful.

Any suggestions on how to deal with the "small object sticking in mid-air" kind of shots for a better success rate?

Thanks.
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Old Apr 30, 2011, 7:26 AM   #2
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Area focus can help or manual focus isn't that difficult to get the hang of.
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Old Apr 30, 2011, 8:05 AM   #3
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Were you having difficulty getting the camera to confirm focus? In the shots that you are unsatisfied with did the camera confirm it had focus before you took the shot?
In your second photo some parts of the fern are in focus. It looks to me as if, on that shot, you were using a lot of zoom and a wide aperture which has given you a very narrow depth of field. Can we see the exif data please?
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Old Apr 30, 2011, 8:56 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments so far. I have tried manual focus, and it seems very tedious without a tripod. The little joystick is so sensitive and I find it hard to control. Having trifocal glasses makes looking at the screen a challenge when the camera is at an awkward position (not the case here, however).

Yes, I felt I had the green dot, confirming focus before taking the shot. In reviewing the EXIF file, I had a slight zoom, although not intended. The lighting was not very good -- heavy overcast, so I needed large aperture. In hindsight, I could have boosted ISO manually. I was an Auto, and it chose 80, even though the shutter speed was slow. I don't think there is a minimum shutter speed control, unlike ISO ratings.

I have the EXIF, but am not sure how to dump it out as a file for posting here. The window with the info is small, requiring a couple of scrolls. I did a SNIP on three consecutive scroll positions. I hope this information may be readable and useful. If not, how to dump out the EXIF in a single file for posting. I do have these images as a Picasa album, but some of the information is lost during the Picasa upload.
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Old Apr 30, 2011, 12:09 PM   #5
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While I don't have the fz33 / fz38, I can see from your EXIF screen captures that the f stop is low (lens wide open) and ISO set at 80.

You need to allow the camera to use higher ISO and smaller lens aperture.

I also used to limit the ISO to 80, but suffered with problems due to the small aperture, I now allow the camera to use up to ISO 200 and I can't see any noise problems.

I also shot some fern fronds with the above settings and all focused ok.

Hope this helps you out
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Old Apr 30, 2011, 8:21 PM   #6
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I actually think these all look very good, except #2 where, as arrowhead pointed out, you seemed to be focused of different parts of the fern. This could also be attributed to camera movement. When you are very close in, any little camera movement would throw you out of focus. Once your camera locked focus, you may have shifted slightly back or forth. When working with very shallow DOF (small f-stop) and up close, you need a tripod to keep the camera steady.
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Old Apr 30, 2011, 9:03 PM   #7
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Thanks for the additional comments. I was not able to return today to the site where I shot the images of yesterday, but found similar ferns (e.g. fiddle heads) in my backyard.

I upped the ISO to 400 to get additional help with smaller aperture. Also, I shot with Area-1 setting, not Spot Focus. In general the results were better. I was more pleased with the backdrop for yesterday's shots, but my interest today was getting a better focus. Therefore, nothing special with these shots in terms of content, but rather trying to get better results in terms of focus. I did have a few that were not as well focused, which I have discarded. So, the outcome is not a sure thing.

BTW, in these shots one can clearly see why these unfurling ferns are called "fiddle heads." The shape at the top is unmistakable.
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Old May 1, 2011, 12:25 AM   #8
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Looks like you're getting the hang of it - great fern shots
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Old May 1, 2011, 12:57 AM   #9
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Good job, very nice shots.
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Old May 1, 2011, 3:06 AM   #10
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Roger,

very nice shots, at the moment the the fiddle heads are also growing in our local botanical garden an maybe I will also try to make some nice shots.

Just my opinion, a little bit more Bokeh would be enhance the appeal of the fern shots.

Cheers,

Stefan
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