I wasn't focusing properly? Or wrong lens?

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124
Name
Will
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#1
Canon 70D
Sigma 18-35mm
Flash


Hi guys,


Hopefully my questions are fairly easy to answer, I am new to photography so excuse me if they are silly questions.


I was taking some photos of food the other night and I obv wanted the whole dish in focus and the background blurred.


But as you can see in some photos it focused on the stuff closer. Which I presume it would, but I didn’t want this.


To fix this I thought I’d user a higher F Stop. So I went from 2 to 6…. But this then meant my pictures were blurry cos not enough light was let in.


What settings should I of used to have a crisp image of the good in focus?






I was using this focus point

 
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3,324
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#4
To be honest, rather than being drip-fed some answers to your individual questions as they crop up, it might be better for you to buy a good basic book on photography and read it now the dark nights are almost upon us and there's nothing much good on telly. (y) That should put you on the right track in respect of exposure and depth of field (and all the rest that comes with that). Despite modern camera technology, there's still no substitute for learning the basics when it comes to more challenging shots. The camera might get the exposure right but, as you've found, the rest is usually up to the knowledge of the photographer... and autumn and early winter is a great time to read and learn (that timing is also handy if you're planning on drawing up a Christmas pressie 'photo kit' list, so it's based on knowledge and actual requirements!). (y)

In the meantime, to answer your question above, to get everything (or as much as possible) in focus on those plates from that range and angle you'd have needed a higher f stop (probably f/22 or higher, if your lens has that). As you've found out, that drops the shutter speed to the extent that camera shake comes into play (resulting in blurry photos). That means one of two things to sort that out... either stop the camera shaking (this usually involves using a tripod and remote shutter release) or increase the amount of light to raise the shutter speed high enough to stop the shake blurring the photos (this usually involves using a flash or 'studio' lighting - but could just involve putting the plate of food somewhere brighter if that's possible; and/or perhaps using a higher ISO setting).

However! Each of those come with certain advantages and disadvantages, so you'll need to learn what those are so you can choose the best available (to you) solution to the problem. Learning this sort of thing should point you in the right direction for lots of other photographic situations, not just how to get a good photo of a plate of food. Best of luck and don't give up, as with anything, it's not that difficult when you learn how. (y)
 
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6,355
Name
Ned
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#5
Basically you need to have a much higher f-stop.

This will require more light and/or tripod to keep the camera still and the ISO down.

You might also need to get clever with the angles so you are shooting more on the required plane of focus (e.g. higher angle), using wide angle also helps.

Or, you could focus stack

Or, you could use a camera with a very small sensor (e.g. a camera-phone).
 
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Richard
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#6
As suggested above, you need to understand some simple theory. It's not hard, there's not much to it, and you don't need a whole book - but there's no escaping the fact that you'll struggle and get confused until you've got a decent grasp of the basics.

Try this, from the TP tutorials section: Everything you need to know about exposure but were afraid to ask (y)

https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/t...ure-theory-but-were-afraid-to-ask-101.440126/
 
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Gareth
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#7
[Disclaimer: I'm not a food photography expert :D]

Lots of good advice here.

Do a google image search for food photography and apart from the current trend for 'top down' shots, you'll see that you're not far off in terms of focus - most food shots I've just looked at show the back of the plate out of focus, so I think you're doing ok.
Good rule of thumb, however, is the closer you are to your subject the narrower the depth of field....that's the amount you can get in focus. Try backing up a bit, see what effect it has on your composition.

Get a tripod too, they can be pretty cheap and it'll come in handy for so many things. If you can't use a tripod in a restaurant for example, try propping/leaning etc....anything to minimise hand shake.

Once you've got your angle, use live view (zoom into the image on back of camera) and focus manually (turn off AF). Focus on the point you want to be the sharpest - it seems to be the closest part of the food to the lens needs to be the sharpest, from what I've seen.
I wouldn't go above f16 though....most lenses will go further, but they'll begin to get soft again, but experiment with your kit, see what you like.

Most of all, have fun, and by the way that lasagne looks very tasty.

Good luck :)
 
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197
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#8
Your camera may have a depth of field preview button, but in any case you can always take a shot, review, adjust, reshoot. Dont stop down more than you need to, I think it's fine for the back edge of the food to go a little out of focus, and the plate.
 
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1,816
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#9
As above, it's worth reading about focussing, depth of field, and exposure triangle.

If you need more front-to-back focus, you need to adjust the f/stop (+/- distance from object). If you're stopping down, then to maintain exposure, you need to either decrease shutter speed or increase ISO. Since the food isn't going to move anywhere, a tripod would help stabilise the camera to allow for a longer exposure without blurring.

FWIW, the first pic is fine IMO.
 
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#10
An app like Hyperfocal Pro might help you to understand depth of field a bit better.

The first shot was taken at 35mm at f1.8 at a subject distance I guess of around 1 meter? That gives you a depth of field of 5.1cm which is very thin, hence you are struggling to get everything in focus. Pushing the aperture to f8 would still only give you 23cm of depth of field at a distance of 1m, so you start to see the issue. In the latter situation you'd also need to either up the ISO (increase noise/grain) or lower the shutter (risk camera shake). In fact you'd be better off sticking the camera on a tripod IMO.

As the others have said I think the pics look nice falling out of focus anyway.
 
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635
Name
MG
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#11
Yep, you need to change your fstop to a higher number, obviously depending on you distance to subject and (different foods will give you a different distances) and your end vision can vary on what it needs to be.

Take a look at this site: https://dofsimulator.net/en/ and you can work out roughly what your DOF would be (don't forget to change it to APCS-C for sensor size). So say you were 40cm away from the food, at f1.8 you'd have the whole of 0.8cm of DOF

Might be worth getting a tripod too, at least then you can frame it the same each time, then don't have to worry about hand holding it.

You need to research but i 'think' the 70D allows you to tether, which means you can set it up on the tripod, plug a cable from camera to computer and you can have the images sent straight to the computer for review. Should help a lot if that's a suitable setup for you.

Also some inspiration/helpful videos for you - she's fantastic:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsM3clfP0vfMFlnf2tde41A
 
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1,275
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Brian
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#12
Just my little input. Whilst you wanted the whole of the meal in focus what you have achieved is a very typical couple of shots that you will see on any food programme and is favoured to make the meal look appetising so on that score you did well, the problem is you didn't know how you achieved it at the time LOL, As others have said a higher f stop would put more of the food in focus but that brings in other elements into the equation,
 
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matt
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#13
As well as the above good advise you could also consider a tilt and shift lens, but that's a whole new ball game and way beyond most photographers interest/budget/skill level unless you are considering selling the images perhaps.
I think you have done a pretty good job as I have often read that pro food photographers use all sorts of tricks to make the food look appetising and inevitably if the food looks good enough to eat it's probably inedible, which is not the case here.
 
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Keith
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#14
The closer in on a subject you focus, the shallower the depth of field. As others suggested you may need to stop down a lot more, f/11+ to get more in focus, use a tripod so there will be no blurring with the slower shutter speeds or pull back and shoot a bit wider and crop in post. If the images are only for use online then cropping won't do much harm.
 
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Terry
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#15
Hard to take close ups like that hand held in low light levels.
better to use a tripod and small aperture for maximum depth of field.
you should also read up on focus stacking, where you take a number of shots with different focus points.
I recently did a focus stack using an ancient screw mount Pentax macro lens on my Fuji XE2.
with the results here.
https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/t...e3-owners-thread.433415/page-121#post-8295982

It is far easier to do than you might think.
 
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5,702
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Terry
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#17
I have noticed that many food photographs today are styled to only have a relatively shallow depth of field.
Provided a photograph shows a fresh apertising and desirable representation of the food. Total focus conerage is rarely necessary.

In previous times these shots would have been taken in large format, and taken advantage of the cameras movements, to place the plane of focus to give maximum sharpness and detail.
 
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James
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#18
Books do not always make things clear, here you tube is your friend

Mike Browne has a shed load of vidoes aimed at those new to photography all freely available as does froknowsphoto. Both helped my understand what i was struggling to grasp with the books or online reading.
Both give visual sots of what they are doing and when making a change what that actuallly looks like
 
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matt
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#19
Not disagreeing with the others, but if your focus settings were those shown then your lens is front focusing significantly. For this kind of thing manual focus while tethered is the best option...
What makes you feel the camera/lens is front focusing, no focus point is shown on the image.
 
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5,702
Name
Terry
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#20
What makes you feel the camera/lens is front focusing, no focus point is shown on the image.
He shows that he was using the central focus point
The area of maximum focus in the images is not central, but nearer the camera.
Unless he was focusing and reframing then then it is front focusing.
But who knows?
 
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matt
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#21
He shows that he was using the central focus point
The area of maximum focus in the images is not central, but nearer the camera.
Unless he was focusing and reframing then then it is front focusing.
But who knows?
Surely that only shows he was using the central AF point, not that the focus point was placed on the centre of the food, he could have placed the centre af point on any part of the food or plate. We would need to see where the af point had locked onto to decide if it was front/rear/correct focusing?
On my 5D3 I can select the central AF point but place it anywhere I choose on the subject matter.
 
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6,478
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Steven
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#22
Surely that only shows he was using the central AF point, not that the focus point was placed on the centre of the food, he could have placed the centre af point on any part of the food or plate. We would need to see where the af point had locked onto to decide if it was front/rear/correct focusing?
On my 5D3 I can select the central AF point but place it anywhere I choose on the subject matter.
You can select any single point, but you can't select the central point and move it unless you focus/recompose... which would be a very bad idea here.
And in that case image review with focus point display would not show where in the scene focus was achieved/locked, only which point was used.
 
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5,702
Name
Terry
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#23
Surely that only shows he was using the central AF point, not that the focus point was placed on the centre of the food, he could have placed the centre af point on any part of the food or plate. We would need to see where the af point had locked onto to decide if it was front/rear/correct focusing?
On my 5D3 I can select the central AF point but place it anywhere I choose on the subject matter.
as I said you have to focus and reframe to do that. we do not know if he did or did not? though the closer the subject is, the less accurate that method becomes.
 
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