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Some model photography questions

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Hi guys, I'm trying my best to learn how to shoot properly with a digital camera to get images which aren't blurry in some parts. I've already tried cameras of different resolutions.  And why a 42MP camera would seem to have the same resulting image resolution as a 12MP leaves me scratching my head.     Anyway, I have a silly question -- if the depth of field is greater with a smaller aperture, shouldn't I get all parts of the model in clear focus with an aperture setting such as F22?     My mobile phone never lets me down but I really want to make friends with the battle tank kind.

Edited by crackerjazz
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Several factors play into this.


1. The lens you are using to some extent.

2. How far away from the model you are. The further away the more will be in focus.

3. Where you focus on the model. Use one focus point setting and maybe focus 1/3 of the way in to the model.

4. The position (angle) of the model. A side view will most likely be in focus all the way. A 3/4 view will be problematic.

5. You have a very small zone of clear focus.

6. A tripod is a must, as is a lot of light.

7. If you want tack sharp focus along the 3/4 view of a model, it will most likely mean focus stacking.





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Thanks for those tips, guys.  Habu2, I'm using a Canon 5D "Mk 1" (with Canon 50mm f1.4 lens), a Sony A7RII (with a Sony 50mm FE 1.8 lens), and a Sony A7SII.  The Canon has a depth of field preview button and the DOF looks good when checking, but the resulting photo doesn't reflect this.    These cameras are supposed to produce breathtaking photos -- the sample images on the web look really beautiful.   I guess it's true what they say -- when you get down to the nuts and bolts,  it all boils down to the nut behind the camera.  


When they say "boost the exposure" -- does this just refer to upping the ISO? 

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If you want to control depth of field you need to be shooting in aperture priority mode (Av).


wrt  "boost the exposure" it could mean many things based on the context. You basically have three variables:

1. shutter speed controls how long light hits the sensor.

  - fast shutter speeds "freeze" motion

  - slow shutter speeds "blur" motion

2. aperture (f/stop) controls how much light gets through the lens to the sensor.

  - wide apertures let in more light and give shallow depth of field

  - stopped down apertures let in less light and give greater depth of field

3. ISO controls the sensitivity of the sensor to light.

  - low ISO is less sensitive and yields better image quality (low noise)

  - high ISO is more sensitive to light and yields lower image quality (more noise)


So exposure means how much light (aperture) for how long (shutter speed) and how sensitive (ISO)


 A 4th variable of course would be your choice of lens (focal length) since wide angle lenses have greater DoF, telephotos have less DoF for a given aperture.  Choice of lens also affects the distance to your subject and resulting DoF.


For good pics you want to shoot in aperture priority and select a small aperture to maximize depth of field. Set ISO low to reduce noise and let the camera pick the shutter speed.  You will need a tripod as the shutter speed will probably be too slow/long for hand-held shots.  IIRC there was a similar thread a while back that also covered a lot of this.






Edited by habu2
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Thanks, habu2!  It can get quite complex, wow!  And thanks for the explanation about aperture, shutter speed and ISO.   Just three basics but they always make my eyes glaze over everytime I hear about them and they never stick : )   I think I got them down this time.  And that hyperfocal distance article is very interesting .    Hi Bob, just tested with a tripod -- what a world of difference.  Never used it because my hands are pretty steady (or so I thought) and the cameras have image stabilization.   One thing I notice is I can get away with very slow shutter speeds with the tripod and therefore lower ISO.  They're static displays but maybe in effect they become moving subjects in relation to the camera because of hand shake.   Just one other question -- does focusing manually generally produce inferior photos to using auto-focus?  I actually feel like I can take better pictures turning the lens by hand.  Next stop I guess is to try out focus-stacking.

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Manual vs auto-focus depends on your eyes. And mine being what they are...auto-focus every time :) Auto focus systems are very accurate now..


Do yourself a favor...drop over to Lowes and get a 4 pack of 100W equivalent LED daylight balanced (5000K) bulbs. I think I paid about $12.00. They throw a ton of light.


There is a well known landscape photographer around here and he said the first thing he puts on in the  morning is....a tripod!


Also...if you are using a tripod...turn OFF image stabilization. If you don't, the system will be searching for movement/vibration which is not there.


Use the self timer function to further reduce vibration from depressing the shutter button.


You can "boost" the exposure by..upping the ISO and using exposure compensation for starters.


I'm very impressed by the fact that you are listening to the various comments and taking the advice to heart.



Edited by Bob Beary
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1 hour ago, crackerjazz said:

Just one other question -- does focusing manually generally produce inferior photos to using auto-focus?  


Most auto-focus systems work by detecting contrast lines in the imaged area. Given that many military aircraft are painted in shades of gray, they can be a challenge for auto-focus systems.  Add in the fact that you want to accurately focus on a distance/spot that, with your selected f/stop, will ensure your subject is encompassed in the resulting DoF.  If you find that your camera is hunting for focus or choosing a point other than the one you want, then manual focus will help you get the result you want.

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The fact is there’s not a quick and easy way (that produces good results) to properly photograph scale models. You need a basic understanding of the relationship between aperture and depth of field. Without that understanding, it’s kind of a waste of time. The key is having a aperture small enough(that’s right, small) that your depth of field will cover the model from nose to tail. Which means longer shutter speeds. Hence that’s why you need a tripod to keep the camera still during the long exposure. You can read more here, https://anadventureinawesome.com/2021/01/24/photographing-scale-models/


Take care,


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Thanks so much for the inputs, guys! : )    FAR148 - excellent article.  Learned so much from that.  I'm seeing really significant improvement in my photos already.  I'll finally be able to actually put the cameras to good use at long last;  I  thought every camera I bought was crap, haha.  The issue really was between the viewfinder and the floor.   


I'll be experimenting a bit more -- it's an exciting new world : )  By the way, I've been trying out ridiculously slow shutter speeds and the photos still  look great to me so I'm able to get down to really low ISOs, even down to ISO 50 on the A7SII, it's incredible.  Shutter speed almost becomes insignificant now when all you're taking photos of are inanimate objects, doesn't it?   

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On 2/23/2022 at 1:17 PM, crackerjazz said:

Shutter speed almost becomes insignificant now when all you're taking photos of are inanimate objects, doesn't it?   

To certain degree, yes. Longer exposure generates more noise which might not be too bad due to low ISO.


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