Eye AF comparison between Canon R5 , Sony A7RIV and Nikon Z7 by Fro

stevelee

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Jul 6, 2017
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Steve, I think it's usually not that cut and dry since focus disappears gradually but you still want the eye to be the sharpest.
Jack
OK, I can see your wanting both eyes to be the sharpest things in the picture, but I can't recall ever seeing a portrait that I though was decent when the nose didn't look sharp, and the ears at least tolerably so, and I'm somebody who has put a layer of nylon stocking under the enlarger lens. I can see, however, how eye autofocus can help ensure that the eyes are dead on sharp, so that is probably the best answer to my question that makes sense to me. I can't recall ever having taken a picture where the camera locked on to a face, but the eyes didn't look sharp.

Also I guess it gets down to matters of taste and artistic sensibilities. I think portraits with backgrounds so out of focus that they call attention to themselves look gimmicky rather than artsy, and by now rather much a cliché. Most photographers apparently disagree with me.

Anyway, thank you, and others, for helping me see where you are coming from. I don't think I'm being purposely obtuse. I realize that different folks have different tastes, interests, and experiences, and I like having some insight into them.
 

snappy604

EOS RP
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Jan 25, 2017
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OK, I can see your wanting both eyes to be the sharpest things in the picture, but I can't recall ever seeing a portrait that I though was decent when the nose didn't look sharp, and the ears at least tolerably so, and I'm somebody who has put a layer of nylon stocking under the enlarger lens. I can see, however, how eye autofocus can help ensure that the eyes are dead on sharp, so that is probably the best answer to my question that makes sense to me. I can't recall ever having taken a picture where the camera locked on to a face, but the eyes didn't look sharp.

Also I guess it gets down to matters of taste and artistic sensibilities. I think portraits with backgrounds so out of focus that they call attention to themselves look gimmicky rather than artsy, and by now rather much a cliché. Most photographers apparently disagree with me.

Anyway, thank you, and others, for helping me see where you are coming from. I don't think I'm being purposely obtuse. I realize that different folks have different tastes, interests, and experiences, and I like having some insight into them.
with anything artistic there are differences of opinion, style etc... but generally one uses a shallower depth of field to draw the viewer's eyes to focus on a specific object... to tell a story so to speak.

when it's a living creature usually our primary focus is on it's eyes... but it depends on what you're trying to convey.. for sexy pictures sometimes you want to focus on *ehem* other parts. When too much is in focus it can draw away from that or muddy what you're looking.. and a blurry (bokeh) background can give a bit of a dreamy look as well. Try focusing on your fingers ... similar effect with your eyes.

getting what you want in focus when your depth of field is narrow is ok with a cooperative subject, but wildlife, sports, kids, pets etc are cases where that is a lot more difficult because they move around so much... more so if the light isn't so good and you need to open up your aperture to let more light in.
 

JoTomOz

EOS M6 Mark II
Nov 21, 2018
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Couldn’t resist the opportunity to post some shallow DOF photos. Unfortunately, I reckon you need to hit people over the head with photography these days. If you aren’t super super obvious about what is interesting, the focal point, they move on quickly. I’m my case I’m photographing young families documentary style in their living room, in really low light, and they are not often camera aware/ looking towards the camera so it helps. For the most part they want photos of thier family at home, not real estate shots of their home, so blurring out the background can really help to clean up the composition (when needed).

In the first one the eye AF was slightly off, but Is still loved anyway.

Shots of my little man with the Eos R and RF 28-70 (1st) and Ef 50 stm (2nd).

E5B75BFF-5D9B-4559-82F1-3F00B099880E.jpeg

D36E0DDC-D25F-49D4-883B-132A24462834.jpeg
 

AaronT

EOS RP
CR Pro
Jan 5, 2013
260
552
I understand the example. Thanks.

But I don't understand why someone would want a picture of someone with one eye in focus and not much else.
I personally prefer a wider depth of field but people who buy the 85 F1.2 like that narrow depth of field for artistic reasons. I would say that super narrow DoF portrait photography is the main target of this lens. Different strokes for different folks. :)
 

Sharlin

EOS R
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Dec 26, 2015
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I personally prefer a wider depth of field but people who buy the 85 F1.2 like that narrow depth of field for artistic reasons. I would say that super narrow DoF portrait photography is the main target of this lens. Different strokes for different folks. :)
Call me old-fashioned, but to me not having at least both eyes in acceptably sharp focus is a technical error, not an artistic choice. At least when the subject is mostly facing the camera.
 

AaronT

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Jan 5, 2013
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Call me old-fashioned, but to me not having at least both eyes in acceptably sharp focus is a technical error, not an artistic choice. At least when the subject is mostly facing the camera.
Personally, I agree with you. I am of the "F 8 is Great" club. I am not the type of person to whom this lens is marketed. I just pointed out that the portrait photographers that buy this lens tend to use it at f 1.2. It all comes down to personal/artistic choice.
 

Sporgon

5% of gear used 95% of the time
CR Pro
Call me old-fashioned, but to me not having at least both eyes in acceptably sharp focus is a technical error, not an artistic choice. At least when the subject is mostly facing the camera.
Which is why in practice I have found it's always been better to use a long focal length for shallow depth of field portraiture rather than a shorter lens relying on ultra wide apertures. Distance increases dof, but to get the same framing the longer lenses aperture is larger, giving shallower dof. So in theory it's a stale mate. However despite this I've found the "micro" dof is greater whilst the background blur is also greater, so more dof where you need it, less where you don't want it. In my case, now that fast prime lenses have gotten so big and heavy, it makes me question whether I should cash then in and use a 24-70/2.8 II for those focal lengths, and my 135 and 200 for portraits all the time.

The only occasions I think the 85/1.2 lenses shine are when used at a distance, for full body shots, and even then just a single person, not couples or groups.
 
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Ph0t0

EOS M50
Mar 27, 2015
40
20
Call me old-fashioned, but to me not having at least both eyes in acceptably sharp focus is a technical error, not an artistic choice. At least when the subject is mostly facing the camera.
Well, call me old-fashioned, but I only call it a technical error when it is not done purposely - definitely not when it is done by choice.
Anyway, I think you are also allowed to take shots from further away than just a few feet - therefore getting the whole person in the frame and having both eyes in focus, while bluring much of the background. And I would imagine the next day you are also allowed to go back to your studio, close the aperture back to f8 or f16 and shoot some technically perfect headshots for drivers licenses, identity cards, etc...
 

koenkooi

EOS R
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Feb 25, 2015
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Well, call me old-fashioned, but I only call it a technical error when it is not done purposely - definitely not when it is done by choice.
Anyway, I think you are also allowed to take shots from further away than just a few feet - therefore getting the whole person in the frame and having both eyes in focus, while bluring much of the background. And I would imagine the next day you are also allowed to go back to your studio, close the aperture back to f8 or f16 and shoot some technically perfect headshots for drivers licenses, identity cards, etc...
Specifically for the RF85 f/1.2, that one has virtually no CA, so when I rented it for a week I used it to film a swimming lesson for my daughter. It kept her completely in frame, her complete head was in focus, but kids around her nice and blurry. No CA from the harsh reflections and a nice ISO 800.
I wonder how the RF85 f/2 handles CA.
 

CanonFanBoy

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Jan 28, 2015
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Well, call me old-fashioned, but I only call it a technical error when it is not done purposely - definitely not when it is done by choice.
Anyway, I think you are also allowed to take shots from further away than just a few feet - therefore getting the whole person in the frame and having both eyes in focus, while blurring much of the background.
This is the part a large number of people don't seem to understand. They tend to assume that it is always used for close up head shots (one eye out of focus) and that f/1.2 is not good for anything else. That tells me that a lot of people either do not understand the effect that distance to subject has on DOF, or they have never shot at wide aperture in an effective manner.
 

AlanF

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Aug 16, 2012
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Call me old-fashioned, but to me not having at least both eyes in acceptably sharp focus is a technical error, not an artistic choice. At least when the subject is mostly facing the camera.
Remini uses AI to make old, blurred or low quality photos taken with old cameras or mobile phones to high-definition and clarity. Would work well with these f/1.2 oof shots!;)
 
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stevelee

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In the first one the eye AF was slightly off, but Is still loved anyway.

Shots of my little man with the Eos R and RF 28-70 (1st) and Ef 50 stm (2nd).
I love the first photo. I’m not sure that much of anything is in focus, maybe a bit of the hair. The second one is technically better, but not as good a photo, and the difference is not just the smile. Any photo of that subject is going to be cute whatever you do.
 
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stevelee

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Which is why in practice I have found it's always been better to use a long focal length for shallow depth of field portraiture rather than a shorter lens relying on ultra wide apertures. Distance increases dof, but to get the same framing the longer lenses aperture is larger, giving shallower dof. So in theory it's a stale mate. However despite this I've found the "micro" dof is greater whilst the background blur is also greater, so more dof where you need it, less where you don't want it. In my case, now that fast prime lenses have gotten so big and heavy, it makes me question whether I should cash then in and use a 24-70/2.8 II for those focal lengths, and my 135 and 200 for portraits all the time.

The only occasions I think the 85/1.2 lenses shine are when used at a distance, for full body shots, and even then just a single person, not couples or groups.
Facial features are distorted when photographed from too close. That’s why selfies usually look bad, and people prefer 85mm and longer lenses for portraits. it’s not the focal length as such, but the distance from the cam to the subject.

As for depth of field, one can get blurry backgrounds with more distance between subject and background even without an extremely wide aperture.
 

stevelee

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Well, call me old-fashioned, but I only call it a technical error when it is not done purposely - definitely not when it is done by choice.
Anyway, I think you are also allowed to take shots from further away than just a few feet - therefore getting the whole person in the frame and having both eyes in focus, while bluring much of the background. And I would imagine the next day you are also allowed to go back to your studio, close the aperture back to f8 or f16 and shoot some technically perfect headshots for drivers licenses, identity cards, etc...
Similarly leaving the lens cap on or having your finger in the shot can be an artistic choice.
 

Ph0t0

EOS M50
Mar 27, 2015
40
20
Similarly leaving the lens cap on or having your finger in the shot can be an artistic choice.
Wooow... Just Wow. So you equate all shallow DOF shots to black frames shots with a lens cap on?
Are you for real or are you just trolling?
 

stevelee

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Wooow... Just Wow. So you equate all shallow DOF shots to black frames shots with a lens cap on?
Are you for real or are you just trolling?
Not at all. Breaking “rules” on purpose can be an artistic choice. I might not agree with the choice or think of the results as high art. Have you not been to an art gallery and seen a twentieth century painting that was basically just solid black?

I wouldn’t want to go to a whole exhibit of paintings like that any more than I’d want to see a roomful of portraits shot at f/1.2 just because you can. Does the photo express a mood or give us some insight into the subject or tell us how the photographer felt that day or felt about the subject? Or does the photo just say, “Look at me. I’m rich enough to afford a fast lens,” or “I haven’t given this any thought, so I’m just going with a cliché”?
 
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Ph0t0

EOS M50
Mar 27, 2015
40
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Not at all. Breaking “rules” on purpose can be an artistic choice. I might not agree with the choice or think of the results as high art. Have you not been to an art gallery and seen a twentieth century painting that was basically just solid black?

I wouldn’t want to go to a whole exhibit of paintings like that any more than I’d want to see a roomful of portraits shot at f/1.2 just because you can. Does the photo express a mood or give us some insight into the subject or tell us how the photographer felt that day or felt about the subject? Or does the photo just say, “Look at me. I’m rich enough to afford a fast lens,” or “I haven’t given this any thought, so I’m just going with a cliché”?
I don't even know why I'm posting this... If you don't see a benefit of a lens with a wide aperture.. well fine. Some people only shot with above 50mm, some only color, some only B&W.
But I hope you do realize that you can apply different techniques to tell a story, and that you can shoot all sort of stuff wide open, not just cheap headshots from half a meter away, and that even then if someone is going for a tight headshot sometimes focusing on one eye or just a part of a detail can be desired?
I photograph most of my stuff with an aperture above f4. BUT I have also shot a lot of stuff with really shallow depth of field- basically everything from sport, people, commercial to wildlife. Be it because you want to concentrate on a detail, isolate the subject, blur the background to an extent where it just gives you the sense of the atmosphere, when all the important subjects are in the same focus plane, or sometimes because you want to capture a moment and there isn't enough light to shoot with a narrow aperture.

Regarding exhibitions: No I haven't been to a one where every frame is black, but I have seen plenty of good and bad photos with shallow dof. And looking and photos of photographers like Richard Avedon, Nick Brandt and alike I find them engaging even if the they aren't all in focus and perfectly sharp all over the frame.
 

YuengLinger

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Dec 20, 2012
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I understand the example. Thanks.

But I don't understand why someone would want a picture of someone with one eye in focus and not much else.
In fact, this is an interesting point, and we could have great discussions about if/when/how often to go with DoF so shallow that only one eye is in sharpest focus. But beyond this, even shooting stopped down a bit, for portraiture, the eye is, of course, a key compositional reference point.

I've just started experimenting with the Eye AF on my R, and it really does allow me to concentrate more on composition and paying attention to what is happening within the frame and with the EVF readouts. Yes, I still have to pay primary attention to the subject, but with Eye AF tracking small to medium movements of a face, I'm relaxing enough to let peripheral vision kick in a little more. Does that make sense? I can keep shooting, for example, while being aware of the histogram in high contrast situations, while noticing background distractions just a tiny bit more, and in Av mode, paying attention to borderline shutter speeds.

I can only see this becoming more useful as I progress with it, and, hopefully, with the improved version the R5 offers.

We'll see!
 
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