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Focus: The Eyes Have It

In a portrait, nothing is more important than the eyes. They eyes are the very first place we look when looking at an image of a person. As a result, the eyes need to be one of the sharpest elements in the frame. If the eyes aren’t in focus, the viewer’s experience of the photograph can be diminished. It’s important to be very much in control of where the camera is focusing, because despite how sophisticated the autofocus technology of the camera is, it doesn’t guarantee that the eyes of the subject will always be the sharpest element in the frame.

When it comes to making a portrait, this is a perfect time to control how many of the AF sensors are used for focus detection. For example, choosing the single-point AF mode would be a good choice for a portrait because it would allow you to choose a single focus point that would focus on the eyes of the subject. I did this for this portrait of a Passion play actress (Figure 4.6). Controlling which AF sensors are used is particularly important if you’re using a wide aperture that can result in a very narrow depth of field. Otherwise, the camera could focus on the nose or the shirt, which could result in the eyes being slightly soft, which you always want to avoid.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 The use of a telephoto lens combined with a wide aperture resulted in a shallow depth of field. So, I made sure to detect and lock the focus on the eyes in order to produce this portrait of a Passion play actress.

If you’re making candid portraits or if the subject is moving, you may be best served by a more moderate aperture, such as f/5.6 or f/8, which will provide you a more generous depth of field. This may require you to increase your ISO in order to maintain a reasonable shutter speed, but it will help ensure that your subject is sharp.

To Set Up for One-Shot Focusing Mode, Follow these Steps:

  1. Press the AF mode selection/Drive mode selection button.
  2. Rotate the Main Dial to change the focusing mode to One Shot.

To Set Up for Single-Point AF Mode, Follow these Steps:

  1. Press the AF point selection button.
  2. While looking through the viewfinder, repeatedly press the AF area selection mode/Multi-function button to cycle through the AF area selection modes, and choose the single-point AF mode.

To Set Your Focus to a Single Point and Shoot, Follow these Steps:

  1. Press the AF point selection button.
  2. Using the multi-controller, choose your active autofocus sensor. You also can use the Main Dial and Quick Control Dial to move to an active sensor.
  3. To shoot using this focus point, place that point on your subject’s eye, and press the shutter button halfway, until the focus point flashes and you hear the chirp.
  4. While still holding down the shutter button halfway, recompose and take your shot.
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