F stops!

Discussion in 'Photography Techniques' started by christilou, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    Having bought the RX1 last year and now owning the M I have this inkling that I should be using different f stops on full frame. Apart from using shallow depth of field for aesthetic pics I haven't much conviction about using smaller f stops for street and scene shots. Can anyone advise me or point me to a tutorial?
     
  2. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    If the camera/lens combo offers you DOF choices, my preference is to let that be the dominant exposure parameter; ie, so long as the shutter speed and ISO are acceptable, I just try to get the DOF I desire.

    I guess for dynamic street scenes, deep DOF is helpful to get the subject in focus, unless you're incredibly talented and can still focus on exactly what you want when you want it even with shallow DOF. Whether or not it's aestetically more pleasing is a matter of taste. Scene shots are often shot stopped down 1 or 2 stops for optimum sharpness, but again, whether you prefer that look or not is up to you.
     
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  3. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    I agree.

    If you are used to smaller sensors it may take awhile for your head to get wrapped around the "look" different aperture settings will give you, but it keeps coming down to using the setting that gives you the pictures you want. Same general rules apply, it's just that everything is shifted towards narrower depth of field for a given aperture vs. smaller sensors.

    So, nothing to worry about -- you'll have it sorted after you take more photos and look at what you got. You'll soon have "instincts" for full frame!
     
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  4. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    chris theres really no shorthannd answer as its really just a matter of getting acquainted with your camera/lens/scene combinations and what you want from them. what i like is shooting a FF 35 like the rx1 at between 4-8.0 for street scenes, depending on how far away i am and how 'deep' the scene i want in focus. the further away from the subject the closer to 4-5.6 i am; the 'deeper' the FOV i,m trying to capture the more toward 8.

    as you increase FL over 35, you steadily decrease DOF, and so have to shoot at higher aperture to achieve the results you like at 35. so shooting 4.0 at 35mm will yield about the same DOF as shooting 5.6 with a 50mm, 8.0 at 75mm and 11 at 105mm. each 17.5mm you add in lens FL from 35 adds a stop to get the same DOF.

    does any of that make sense/help?
     
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  5. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Only correction/clarification I would make is that DOF increases decreases over all aperture changes -- 35mm is no "break point" or anything. Maybe you meant that and were just talking from 35 on -- but the rule applies to all focal lengths.
     
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  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Lots of cool ways to use the narrower DOF you get with full frame, but it's tougher to get enough DOF for street shooting if you're shooting in a way that requires deeper DOF. Using zone focus, as I do, APS or m43 is a better choice in all but the best light. In really good light, it's easy enough to shoot at really narrow apertures and get plenty of DOF. But as the light starts dropping, I can still shoot at f3.5 or f4 with APS and get both good enough DOF and fast enough shutter speeds. With full frame you give up more in DOF than you gain in low light capability as you open up the aperture. I don't love my RX1 as a street camera to begin with, but I do ok with it in good light. But in low light I always reach for something else that gives me more DOF at a given aperture.

    If you're shooting with AF and looking for narrower DOF, then full frame is the right tool and I've seen some fine street work done that way. But if you need more DOF for how you shoot, that's one of the few downsides to full frame.

    -Ray
     
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  7. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns

    yes, i chose 35mm as reference point because chris has the rx1.
     
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  8. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    i totally agree with rays analysis. however, i would say that what the rx1 lacks in light gathering ability, imo--and this is subjective--i feel it makes up in high iso ability. im actually loving the rx1 as a street shooter, replacing my loved x100, because its tilting and fabulous evf makes it very discreet. shooting at 'waist level', no one knows your taking their picture. that discretion means a lot to me personally, and i feel no issue using the rx1 to 3200.

    neither view is 'right', just a matter of preference and shooting style.
     
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  9. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    Ray, I'm not sure I agree with you there; you seem to be leaving out the ISO part of the equation. FF f/4 = m43 f/2 in terms of DOF, assuming equal equivalent focal length and composition. If you want to keep the exposure and shutter speed the same, the ISO value should be 4 times as high; but since the surface area (ignoring aspect ratio differences) is also 4 times as large, this should, assuming equal efficiency, result in exactly the same quality of sensor output, together with exactly the same composition. So while, for deep DOF, FF offers no image quality advantage over smaller formats, it's also no disadvantage; the results will be exactly the same. If you don't mind the FF camera to have shallower DOF, the larger sensor + less than 2 stop ISO difference will mean better sensor output.

    Again, all of this is assuming equal efficiency, and I've no idea if that's the case. I think it's not unreasonable to assume that the Sony 36mp FF sensor should have about the same efficiency as the Sony 24mp APSC sensor (and perhaps also the Sony 16mp m43 sensor).
     
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  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    It makes up SOME with high ISO sensitivity, but only a stop or so over the best of APS (I shoot the RX1 waaaaaay beyond 3200, usually topping out at 12,800 for street work, but I shoot the Nikon A at 6400, so about a stop), and I'd say it loses a lot more than a stop of DOF, for lack of a better way to characterize it. The RX1 has to shoot at f8 to get close to the DOF I get from the Nikon A at f3.5, so that's about two and a half stops of exposure, which is more than the better sensor can compensate for.

    If you're using the EVF at waist level, you're probably using auto focus and that can work well if that's how you like to shoot - I've done lot's of that type of shooting, but generally with a flip-up rear screen rather than a flip up EVF. But I shoot at waist level basically framing on instinct for most of my street work, so I use zone focus to make sure that regardless of where my subject happens to be in the frame, he or she will be in focus. And for that, I need more DOF than I can generally get from the RX1 in lowish light, even though it's the best low light camera I own for any OTHER type of shooting. It's a great camera, and can be a great street camera for those who's shooting style it works for, but it doesn't work for me for that discipline, at least in lower light...

    Edit - Bart, I think this addresses your post as well...

    -Ray
     
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  11. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    yes i can definitely see that ray, your work is amazing, and way closer to the subject than mine, so i understand why zone focusing is so important to you. i do use f8 quite a bit anyway because i typically like a fair amount of 'context' in my street shots. all this stuff is subjective and i think very dependent on a whole bunch of personal taste variables.
     
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  12. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    I really loved it when all lenses had depth of field scales right on the lens. Yes, I know that they assumed a certain print size and viewing distance, but it was a start, and they always worked well for me. They still do it if I shoot film or put a film lens on my E-M5. Short of that, a preview button is useful if you have a TTL view of things, although on 4/3 the DOF preview has been pretty useless to me. Maybe others have a different experience.

    The best solution, of course, would be to forget all about and mail your RX1 to me. VoilĂ . Problem solved!
     
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  13. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    Thanks gentlemen, lots to digest here. Just watched a youTube video on zone focus too so perhaps that's the way to go for the M as it has all the markings on the lens already. Going to be a bit of an experimental trip so I hope to come home with at least a handful of useable shots!!!
     
  14. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Zone focus is the oldest technique in the book, developed for fast shooting before there was anything like auto-focus around. HCB was doing it with a Leica back in his day, so it definitely is doable with full frame, and that much easier with the distance scale marked on the lens. The good news is it's even easier with smaller format cameras of today because the DOF at an equivalent focal length is that much deeper. I saw an Eric Kim youtube where he talks about keeping the camera at f16 using a Leica. With my RX1 in good light, I'll usually shoot about f11-16 myself, but with APS and a 28mm equivalent, I never use smaller than about f6.3 and with m43 a bit larger yet. And in lower light, I can go even larger, which is where the advantage kicks in. But in decent light, the M should be a pure joy to zone focus with.

    And with your eye, I suspect you'll come back with more than "a handful of useable shots"!!!

    -Ray
     
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  15. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Didn't mean to suggest it was the ONLY tool for that kind of shooting, just that it's arguably the best tool anytime narrow DOF is in play and there's no DOWNSIDE to full frame for that kind of shooting. Whereas for DEEP DOF shooting, full frame is actually a detriment except in bright light, where you can just close down the aperture as far as you need to.

    I saw these shots recently on Flickr or in the Street Thread or somewhere. I've never seen you do this type of close-in street shooting before but you took to it like a duck to water. Great stuff.

    Best to ignore any of my memos anyway... :wink:

    -Ray
     
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  16. rbelyell

    rbelyell SC Top Veteran

    820
    May 14, 2013
    NY Mtns
    i'm not taking any issue with how anyone likes to shoot, especially when it yields the excellent results we've all seen. and i myself often shoot zone or hyperfocused, which works great, always has, always will.

    but, again, i dont think FF DOF is a 'detriment' to street shooting. ray, you cited HCB, he shot FF and with cams that couldnt go to 3200, let alone 12,800. honestly, its just a matter of style, and when one shoots. at iso 400, one can shoot at f8 in 'daylight'--not bright sun, just regular sunny 16--at 1/2000. take that down four stops for dim light--like very overcast or late afternoon, and youre still at 1/250. you still have 1-2 stops more 'darkness' to get out of the cam at 400 and 2-3 at 800. all at f8 on FF, which with a 35mm lens gives you about 5'-15' or 8'-close to infinity DOF. i just personally have found very few instances where this was an obstacle to street shooting. i think its more a matter of what one is comfortable with given how, what and when they shoot.

    yes, apsc will always give you one more stop, m4/3 gives you two, just not sure its necessary. were i OP, I would think itd be pretty hard to think about leaving at home both of the two best cameras out there, totalling thousands in equipment, to get 2 stops when street shooting. there are many really good ways to cook tuna, including not cooking it at all! ):
     
  17. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    great.....now I'm craving sushi
     
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  18. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Agreed, it has worked for a long time and can still work. For my particular style of shooting, it doesn't work as well as other options. But I'm sure if someone wants to make me a gift of an M8 and a Leica 28mm, I'll figure out how to make it work! Or enjoy trying. A big part of why I shoot what I shoot on the street is the way the auto-ISO is set up and the greater depth of field allows me to shoot in good light and low light situations without having to make very many changes on the fly. If the RX1 allowed for a minimum shutter speed with auto-ISO in A mode (and it allowed for a decently fast minimum), I'd likely shoot with the RX1 more than I do on the street. Particularly in good light. In lower light, I'd still go for the APS Nikon A - even if you assume the difference is only one stop (assuming a one stop ISO advantage for full frame), that's still a doubling of shutter speeds for a given DOF, and in low light a doubling of shutter speed can be huge. I don't begrudge anyone what works for them, but I've come to the point of knowing what works best for me through a LOT of trial and error, so I'm not likely to change my mind either. For zone focus in lower light, I'd take APS and, if it had the right auto-ISO setup and silent shutter, I'd probably shoot with m43 and the Oly 12mm all the time...

    -Ray
     
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  19. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    An M8 isn't full-frame ;)

    Interestingly, I have never shot digital using zone focussing... but I have a Leica II from 1929 that is my favourite and most used street camera... I shoot that using Sunny-16 and zone focussing 90% of the time. Actually, the lens is a 5cm Nickel Elmar that predates the adoption of standardised apertures, so I shoot at f9 mostly :D

    Sent from another Galaxy