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Old December 22nd, 2015, 10:43 AM
Ondine Ondine is offline
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Focus Mode Question

I'm organizing a shoot where I'll be photographing ballet dancers. It will be a situation where I can direct their movements. What focus mode would you recommend? I can talk myself into different things. I'm shooting with the Sony a77ii, if it matters. Thanks for your recommendations.
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Old December 22nd, 2015, 10:51 AM
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Re: Focus Mode Question

If low light then Manual....if normal lighting spot with auto focus
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Old December 22nd, 2015, 01:22 PM
Russ Russ is offline
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Re: Focus Mode Question

If the subject to camera distance is changing, ie moving dancers, I'd certainly use an AF Servo mode (or whatever Sony calls their autofocus mode that tracks movement and anticipates where the subject will be at time of shutter release). If you have a "spot" that they will perform a peak move over, then you could use manual focus set for that spot. Are you shooting a single performer or a scene with multiple dancers, in which case you'll have to ensure that the focus point is on the subject and not elsewhere, ie secondary dancers (usually nearer to camera). We don't know enough about your situation to really stipulate any one method. Is this during an actual performance (limited access and lighting modifications) or during a practice or dedicated shoot where your ability to move about and modify lighting is less impeded?
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Old December 29th, 2015, 10:56 AM
Ondine Ondine is offline
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Re: Focus Mode Question

Russ, thanks for you input, and sorry for the delay in answering back. In this case, I'll have one, maybe two dancers that I will have the ability to direct their movements. So I'm thinking, given the input so far, that manual mode, possibly pre-focused to a spot, may be the way to go. I'm somewhat concerned that my DOF may be too shallow, so increasing it may be the way to counteract that.
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Old December 29th, 2015, 12:58 PM
Russ Russ is offline
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Re: Focus Mode Question

Changing the aperture to increase DOF is possible, but comes at the expense of having to balance the relatively less light per unit of time by using longer shutter speeds and/or higher ISO (greater sensitivity to light and its inherent noise issue). Longer shutter speeds run the risk of blurring motion....not always a bad thing....but know what effect you want to capture. An alternative is to use more light, either ambient (natural and/or stage lighting) or strobe....which is another whole arena! Re DOF, try to lock focus on the most important part of the dancer, ie the part any viewer wants to see as SHARP, typically the eyes, and let the rest fall where it may. However, that's easier said than done in low light and moving, twirling subjects!
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Old December 29th, 2015, 03:42 PM
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Re: Focus Mode Question

Low light is the main reason I suggest manual focus instead of auto/servo. Low lighting in many cases will cause much more hunting and seeking while engaged trying to track a low lit subject.

With respect to DOF much will depend on your intend composition but I suspect you will want more rather than less so perhaps f7-f9 if you have the ability to bump the ISO up or are using a flash with high speed sync.

Obviously with more lighting you would use auto/servo
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