Show #28–FOCUS, plus a little Nikon D800

Host Mike Howard, Tim Kemperle and Kathleen Bowie are joined by Photographer  Dragos Putureanu to discuss FOCUS, an important subject for all photographers.  We also spend a little time going over the news Nikon broke the day of the show, the 36 mega-pixel D800.  Both Mike and Kathleen are interested, but are taking a wait and see approach.





Sarah Cornish selected number 1…and the winner is Amber Lancaster of the Buy My Store Package – valued at over $500.  Congrats Amber!


Tonight’s topic – Focus



We invited our guest Dragos of Dragos Photography to help discuss the issues we see with focus versus what the manufactures have intended.

  • Two different types of autofocus
    • Active – Typical of Point and Shoot cameras – Infrared beam at the subject which bounces between the subject and the camera and determines the distance between the subject and camera and gets the focus.  The problem is that this works well for a stationary subject and not a moving subject.
    • Passive – DSLR – Uses sensors to determine the contrast in the subject or the light on the subject.  It is a more active type of focusing system
    • Focus Points – Most cameras will have either a vertical or horizontal and some will have both which is called a cross…this is the most accurate because it can pickup contrast both vertically and horizontal.
  • Items that impact Depth of Field which can impact the focus of a subject
    • Focal Length
    • f stop
    • Distance to subject
  • Scott Green added a chart for Depth of Field
  • Metering for a toddler for proper exposure
    • Spot metering is best because you are usually focusing on the eye…the skin is usually a tone of an 18% gray card
  • One of the reasons for out of focus images.  The use of the multi segment focus mode and people hoping the correct subject will be in focus and the camera selects a different subject.  To correct you would be better suited to use one sensor to focus and then recompose.


  • Focus mode for a group of people?
    • Multi segment but ensure the f/ stop is not wide open to ensure there is enough Depth of Field to cover the entire group.  Using a wide angle lens (16mm or 18mm) will also get the majority of the picture in focus.
  • Should you shoot in Manual or Aperture?
    • This is a personal preference.
  • Do you ever use an f stop higher then 9 when doing portrait photography? just wondering if i need to be scared to go higher then that when doing a family session, for example.
    • No, don’t be scared using a higher aperture…depending on the light source.  Rule of Thumb…number of people in the photo should equal the f/stop
  • Should I be focusing on a shadow which has more contrast, such as the shadow under the nose? or eyelid?
    • Focus on the eyeball itself.  A newborn with their eyes closed the focus on the where the eyes close because this is where peoples eyes will be drawn to.
  • Is a Photovision target the same as using a grey card for white balance?
    • Yes, it is a gray card with a white circle in the middle with a white line through the center.  It can be used for both White Balance and Exposure settings
  • Do you ever shoot higher f stop to get more in focus and then add blur to recreate shallow depth of field in post processing?
    • It can be used but it isn’t the best practice.  You would be better suited to use the appropriate aperture and it will not look “fake”
  • What are your thoughts for using a Photovision gray card target vs the Expodisc?  Would you recommend one vs the other?
    • Use the Expodisc at the light source with the f/stop used and it will set the appropriate White Balance



Focus test




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About geephotant

geephotant (Geek-Photographer-Accountant) (aka. Mike Howard) is the creator of Nov Studios and the jpeg2RAW podcast. Mike is an accountant by day as the Controller for a large US based corporation. By night, he is a geek and has appeared on the Home Server Show Podcast & the BYOB podcast ( both found at He has also appeared on the Home Tech Show podcast ( and is now a regular guest on that show. Mike's true passion is photography and shoots when ever he can find time. As an amateur photographer, he is always looking to learn more about the craft.

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