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Focusing and then recomposing...
Old 08-02-2009, 11:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Tonight I wrote a blog post about the possible error in tilting the camera to focus on a subject and then tilting the camera back to recompose the image. We see many do this and those of us who don't still may from time to time.

I wanted to share the idea in the case someone doesn't know this information to which it may improve their images.

Here is the link:Why focusing and recomposing is a not-so-great habit in photography.

...and if you already read my blog, I thank you very very much. Keep shooting friends!

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Re: Focusing and then recomposing...
Old 08-03-2009, 10:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Good post and good points. This effect is more dramatic when using a wide angle lens and lens dramatic at longer focal lengths. Additionally shooting at very narrow apertures like f/9 - f/11 will have less effect since the depth of field is greater.

Good points to think of though. I shoot with a D300 which allows me to move the focus point to the top. I have also heard it rumored, however, that the focus points on the perimeter of the center are less sensitive than the center focus point. In the end it's all a matter of trial and error. I'd rather just move the focus point so I avoid having to recompose.
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Re: Focusing and then recomposing...
Old 08-04-2009, 04:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I agree. I move my red box. Only sometimes I'm in a hurry and slack into the old habit of tilting. Not always bad, but sometimes. Good point on wide angle versus long, I didn't even mention this.
-joshua
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Re: Focusing and then recomposing...
Old 08-23-2009, 01:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Many a photographer has fallen into that trap over the years. There are times when shooting at say F16 in the studio where you might get away with it thanks to depth of field but nevertheless it's a habit which is best avoided.
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Re: Focusing and then recomposing...
Old 08-23-2009, 05:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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When you keep the camera perpendicular to the subject, grab your focus on the eyes, then move your position up and down without moving your camera distance from your subject, the eyes will still be in focus--I focus and compose in this manner, works all the time. You're saying you're tilting the camera up "X" degrees, then moving it back to compose, big difference if the "up and down" is perfectly vertical. FYI--most cameras don't have the focusing spot where you need it, the eyes, for preferred cropping. Some cameras also will tell you in the owner's manual that the sharpest point is the center point, not the other points. Just my two cents worth, all the best, rg sends!
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Re: Focusing and then recomposing...
Old 08-24-2009, 12:23 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You make a good point, even more so if you're dealing with a small DOF. However somewhere I read that you should get the focus on the subject and then back off a bit. How it was put is that the focal plane in the acceptable distance of 'in focus' is 1/3 of the distance. From your illustration rotating (not tilting) back to a more horizontal position moves the DOF back behind the subject.

Of course, with these old(ish) eyes of mine I can't tell and trying to see if the shot was in focus on the screen of my 20D is damn difficult. It's not until I get home that I see most of my shots are 'soft'. Of course I'd like to blame that on the camera and lens.
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Re: Focusing and then recomposing...
Old 09-11-2009, 09:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rolandogomez View Post
When you keep the camera perpendicular to the subject, grab your focus on the eyes, then move your position up and down without moving your camera distance from your subject, the eyes will still be in focus--I focus and compose in this manner, works all the time. You're saying you're tilting the camera up "X" degrees, then moving it back to compose, big difference if the "up and down" is perfectly vertical. FYI--most cameras don't have the focusing spot where you need it, the eyes, for preferred cropping. Some cameras also will tell you in the owner's manual that the sharpest point is the center point, not the other points. Just my two cents worth, all the best, rg sends!
Thats the way I want to focus! Its has gotten me in trouble before.. I would focus on the and recompose and the belly would be focused and not the face... I thought it was the camera. It was most likely me.

So I started using the focus points and its a pain. Its never where you need it (the eyes) and I have to crop every image when I'm done unless I leave the extra space around the picture I needed to achieve the focus point...

So I wanted to know, I have a 1d mkII and a 1ds. and Im using evalulative metering mode, with back focus button (*) to focus lock with usually top focus point when I shoot sidways.

Do you use evaluative metering? and Just set default front shutter half down recompose and go? I think that is so much easier and less confusing.

Thanks
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Re: Focusing and then recomposing...
Old 09-12-2009, 08:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Don't forget, to have your camera checked for focusing errors. The newer cameras have a correction capability for in the field use built in. The older models need to be sent in.

This is especially true when working at shallow apertures.

Michael Tapes has a device to use to test your camera and lens combination. It is called Lens Align.
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Re: Focusing and then recomposing...
Old 09-12-2009, 06:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I believe the second diagram is wrong.

In the first diagram, the person's eyes are 6' (or 72") away. For the sake of this discussion, I will assume that the camera is tilted at 20 degrees up from the horizontal. The 72" is the hypotenuse of a triangle.

In the second diagram, the distance between the camera and the person is shown as 6'4" (76"). I believe that's wrong. The distance should be 72" times cos 20 degrees, or 67.66". The plane that is in focus is behind the person by 4.34" (=72-67.66). So you need to back up 4.34 inches to have the person in the proper plane. Or alternatively, have the person back up 4.34 inches.

In the diagrams as shown everything is out of focus, not just the eyes. Anyway, if you tilt your camera position, you need to compensate.
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Re: Focusing and then recomposing...
Old 09-13-2009, 12:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
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There is a major flaw in your theory. According to your diagrams, recomposing causes a focus shift of 4". This is not true. Once the lens is set to a focus distance of 6', it doesn't matter where the camera is then pointed, the focus plane will still be 6' away. To shift the focus plane, a change in lens focus setting would have to be made.
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