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07-24-2018, 09:18 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Travel portraits on crop vs full frame

Hi All, I have only used crop sensor cameras so far and usually when i travel and want to be quick in taking portraits i find that shooting between f2.8 and f4.0 usually gives me most of the face in focus and chances of missing focus on the eyes is less as these apertures are more forgiving than say a f1.4 or f 1.8.

While having the ability to shoot f 1.4 wide open is wonderful, practically do the most of you shoot travel portraits at that aperture, or do you all also shoot at 2.8 and above?

Also if I upgrade to the K1, will it mean that i would need to shoot between f 4.0 and f 5.6 to get the same amount of in focus zones? And does that carry a penalty in shutter speed or iso? Would love to know how most of you go about the subject and also experience from the k1 shooters in this context. Thanks

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07-24-2018, 09:53 AM - 4 Likes   #2
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Great pictures!

Depth of field is proportional with distance to subject and f-stop, inversely proportional with focal length. The change in sensor size in and of itself won't noticeably affect it.

IF you're shooting the same focal length on full frame AND you want the same composition, then you'll have to move in closer to your subject. Distance to subject will decrease, and along with that depth of field decreases. SO you'll need to stop down if you want to have the same depth of field as you would have with the same composition on ASP-C (though notice that perspective has changed, so it won't be the *same* picture).

Another situation is that you're shooting from the same distance from subject in either case, but on FF you have say 85mm and on ASP-C you have 50mm. Now your focal length has increased on FF compared to what it is is on ASP-C. Depth of field is inversely proportional to focal length, so you'll need to again stop down on FF if you want to get back to where you were. (One stop gets you pretty close.)

I always find this website extremely helpful when working through my understanding of issues pertaining to depth of field: depth-of-field - Digital Photography

While this is good for actually calculating it:
https://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/dof-calculator.htm

This doesn't answer all your questions, and I'm sure people with a lot more experience than me will chime in too, but hopefully it helps!
07-24-2018, 10:00 AM   #3
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The only 'somewhat' of a penalty using the K-1 is that it's slightly bigger but by now I don't even notice it, especially with a good sling. With a 24-70 on there you have a combination that will be extremely hard to beat. As for specifics to travel shots, it just depends, but I have gone around all day long never taking my camera off of of f8. F4 to F8 tend to give the best results for all around 'keepers' for me mainly because a lot of my shots are not of posed people just sitting around waiting for their picture to be taken. Like you said, it's more forgiving. The lighting conditions matter a lot too.


With the K-1 you will gain quite a bit of low light capacity. F4 at X ISO with a K-1 will give you better results than F4 at X ISO with a crop sensor. That bigger sensor makes a big difference in it's ability to gather and process light. You can also use a lot higher ISO with a lot less noise. This means lower light you can have higher shutter speeds and still get really good results.
07-24-2018, 10:05 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by sjwoodworth Quote
Great pictures!

Depth of field is proportional with distance to subject and f-stop, inversely proportional with focal length. The change in sensor size in and of itself won't noticeably affect it.

IF you're shooting the same focal length on full frame AND you want the same composition, then you'll have to move in closer to your subject. Distance to subject will decrease, and along with that depth of field decreases. SO you'll need to stop down if you want to have the same depth of field as you would have with the same composition on ASP-C (though notice that perspective has changed, so it won't be the *same* picture).

Another situation is that you're shooting from the same distance from subject in either case, but on FF you have say 85mm and on ASP-C you have 50mm. Now your focal length has increased on FF compared to what it is is on ASP-C. Depth of field is inversely proportional to focal length, so you'll need to again stop down on FF if you want to get back to where you were. (One stop gets you pretty close.)

I always find this website extremely helpful when working through my understanding of issues pertaining to depth of field: depth-of-field - Digital Photography

While this is good for actually calculating it:
A Flexible Depth of Field Calculator

This doesn't answer all your questions, and I'm sure people with a lot more experience than me will chime in too, but hopefully it helps!
I think adding to this post... using the term 'field of view' will make it less confusing.


Basically a 50mm lens on a crop sensor camera will be X wide in what you can see edge to edge. Put that exact same lens on a full frame sensor camera and it will be Y (wider) than the crop.


I don't want to get off into a rabbit hole but I can say that my personal experience has been I just need to zoom in a little bit more or take a step closer to the subject to get the same framing when using a K-1 vs any of the other crop sensors. Basically this gives you much more control over what DOF you actually get.

Of course you can just shoot the exact same way and in post production crop the shot then. The files are much more forgiving in this regard using the K-1.

07-24-2018, 10:14 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
I think adding to this post... using the term 'field of view' will make it less confusing.
Yes that's probably true; field of view is what I meant to be tracking with "composition".
07-24-2018, 10:32 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Just as a few examples... all of these are taken hand held with no flash, just walking around, no planning, just snap snap.

This one below was shot in horrible lighting at f2.8 with a K-1 and a 24-70 zoom.



This one below was shot at f5.6 with a crop sensor.



Below was shot f4 with a crop sensor.



At the end of the day I am in love with the K-1. It gives way better low light capabilities and allows faster shutter speeds. You can take good shots with any camera, but the K-1 gives you a lot more flexibility in low light situations.

Here is one (below), full frame K-1, manual focus at f1.4.



Below is one, f8 with a crop sensor.

07-24-2018, 11:12 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jk05x Quote
Hi All, I have only used crop sensor cameras so far and usually when i travel and want to be quick in taking portraits i find that shooting between f2.8 and f4.0 usually gives me most of the face in focus and chances of missing focus on the eyes is less as these apertures are more forgiving than say a f1.4 or f 1.8.

While having the ability to shoot f 1.4 wide open is wonderful, practically do the most of you shoot travel portraits at that aperture, or do you all also shoot at 2.8 and above?
To directly address that, it depends on the situation and what you are trying to accomplish. Usually for me I use a range of apertures. If I am somewhere doing something in a place that there are no second chances, f4 to f8 is it.


If I have a chance to take more liberties I will take a dozen shots all at different apertures. Sometimes when I get back looking at the shots I go 'ooooh look at that one!'.


Whatever gear you use you will adapt to it. It hardly took me any time to get used to the K-1. People will make huge deals about math formulas for DOF---but I say 'forget that stuff. Who cares?'

I rather famous photographer once told me during one of our many talks.... 'don't ask me which sensor makes a better smurf purple because I don't know. I just take the pictures"

I still laugh at that but definitely do NOT over think the DOF stuff. Like I said, you will adapt in no time.


As far as choices go I like to take a range of shots at different apertures. If you have the time to do so by all means adopt that habit. Some of the best portraits I've ever seen were taken with a 70-200 zoom lens stopped down to f5.6 to f8.

It's not like you are wasting film here. Try different things.
07-24-2018, 03:17 PM   #8
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Pictures shot at a shallow depth of field, ie, lower aperture of 2 or below, are really good at separating the subject from the background. The separation of the subject from the background is what makes the picture attractive. And whenever you focus on a person the focus point is the eyes. You don't want to have the eyes out of focus. As long as they are in focus even if other parts of the face are slightly blurred it will look great. So if you focus on the eyes at a shallow depth of field then those shots will be okay. It won't be as hard to focus on the eye for a portrait because the subject is posing. I always try to shoot the subject with the lower F value as possible. Especially if you are taking full body shots. If its only of the face, you can go upto 2.8.

And having full frame for portraits does make a difference. With a full frame to get the same field of view you will be closer to the subject. Since you are closer to the subject, the same F1.8 or 2 will give a better background blur. Its not the full frame body itself which gives you better blur. Its the field of view which you get using a full frame. And a full frame captures more light and there fore will have a better dynamic range allowing you to pull more detail from shadows. Once I moved from APS-C to FF I honestly can't look back ..

---------- Post added 07-24-18 at 05:23 PM ----------

See this post to see the background when shot wide open even at 135 MM

The DC-NIKKOR 135mm f/2D - PentaxForums.com

07-24-2018, 08:59 PM   #9
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Thanks sjwoodworth


Thanks for the information and appreciate your time to reply to my query. That is pretty interesting and worth considering definitely. It will help me going forward. Regards



QuoteOriginally posted by sjwoodworth Quote
Great pictures!

Depth of field is proportional with distance to subject and f-stop, inversely proportional with focal length. The change in sensor size in and of itself won't noticeably affect it.

IF you're shooting the same focal length on full frame AND you want the same composition, then you'll have to move in closer to your subject. Distance to subject will decrease, and along with that depth of field decreases. SO you'll need to stop down if you want to have the same depth of field as you would have with the same composition on ASP-C (though notice that perspective has changed, so it won't be the *same* picture).

Another situation is that you're shooting from the same distance from subject in either case, but on FF you have say 85mm and on ASP-C you have 50mm. Now your focal length has increased on FF compared to what it is is on ASP-C. Depth of field is inversely proportional to focal length, so you'll need to again stop down on FF if you want to get back to where you were. (One stop gets you pretty close.)

I always find this website extremely helpful when working through my understanding of issues pertaining to depth of field: depth-of-field - Digital Photography

While this is good for actually calculating it:
A Flexible Depth of Field Calculator

This doesn't answer all your questions, and I'm sure people with a lot more experience than me will chime in too, but hopefully it helps!


---------- Post added 07-24-18 at 09:07 PM ----------

Hi alamo5000,


Thank you for the information and appreciate your time to respond to my query. Many thanks for the sample pics as well. Nice pics and it was very useful. It helps to get an understanding of what you were trying to say. I agree that good portraits can be made at many apertures and FF and crop as well. Lot of useful information there to consider and implement. Will learn from it going forward. Definitely looking to upgrade to the K1. Regards



QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
To directly address that, it depends on the situation and what you are trying to accomplish. Usually for me I use a range of apertures. If I am somewhere doing something in a place that there are no second chances, f4 to f8 is it.


If I have a chance to take more liberties I will take a dozen shots all at different apertures. Sometimes when I get back looking at the shots I go 'ooooh look at that one!'.


Whatever gear you use you will adapt to it. It hardly took me any time to get used to the K-1. People will make huge deals about math formulas for DOF---but I say 'forget that stuff. Who cares?'

I rather famous photographer once told me during one of our many talks.... 'don't ask me which sensor makes a better smurf purple because I don't know. I just take the pictures"

I still laugh at that but definitely do NOT over think the DOF stuff. Like I said, you will adapt in no time.


As far as choices go I like to take a range of shots at different apertures. If you have the time to do so by all means adopt that habit. Some of the best portraits I've ever seen were taken with a 70-200 zoom lens stopped down to f5.6 to f8.

It's not like you are wasting film here. Try different things.


---------- Post added 07-24-18 at 09:10 PM ----------

Hi Donpjt,


Thanks for responding to my query and appreciate your time. Thanks for the advice on the apertures for portraits. It was helpful. Definitely looking forward to getting a K1. Regards



QuoteOriginally posted by donpjt Quote
Pictures shot at a shallow depth of field, ie, lower aperture of 2 or below, are really good at separating the subject from the background. The separation of the subject from the background is what makes the picture attractive. And whenever you focus on a person the focus point is the eyes. You don't want to have the eyes out of focus. As long as they are in focus even if other parts of the face are slightly blurred it will look great. So if you focus on the eyes at a shallow depth of field then those shots will be okay. It won't be as hard to focus on the eye for a portrait because the subject is posing. I always try to shoot the subject with the lower F value as possible. Especially if you are taking full body shots. If its only of the face, you can go upto 2.8.

And having full frame for portraits does make a difference. With a full frame to get the same field of view you will be closer to the subject. Since you are closer to the subject, the same F1.8 or 2 will give a better background blur. Its not the full frame body itself which gives you better blur. Its the field of view which you get using a full frame. And a full frame captures more light and there fore will have a better dynamic range allowing you to pull more detail from shadows. Once I moved from APS-C to FF I honestly can't look back ..

---------- Post added 07-24-18 at 05:23 PM ----------

See this post to see the background when shot wide open even at 135 MM

The DC-NIKKOR 135mm f/2D - PentaxForums.com
08-25-2018, 10:20 AM   #10
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I think lens change here a lot. On FF is wider angle than crop fx. with 77 limited you can shot in rooms. It is depends what lens you have.
09-10-2018, 11:43 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxt Quote
I think lens change here a lot. On FF is wider angle than crop fx. with 77 limited you can shot in rooms. It is depends what lens you have.
Thanks Pxt, 77 limited is what i use for portraits these days
09-12-2018, 02:02 PM   #12
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The FA 77mm LTD is a wonderful lens. I've had mine since shooting film only, perhaps 15 years. I've used it on many DSLR models since, all of them APS-C. I don't see which APS-C model you are using. I've found there is a difference as to the results delivered between models.
09-13-2018, 10:41 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jk05x Quote
Hi All, I have only used crop sensor cameras so far and usually when i travel and want to be quick in taking portraits i find that shooting between f2.8 and f4.0 usually gives me most of the face in focus and chances of missing focus on the eyes is less as these apertures are more forgiving than say a f1.4 or f 1.8.

While having the ability to shoot f 1.4 wide open is wonderful, practically do the most of you shoot travel portraits at that aperture, or do you all also shoot at 2.8 and above?

Also if I upgrade to the K1, will it mean that i would need to shoot between f 4.0 and f 5.6 to get the same amount of in focus zones? And does that carry a penalty in shutter speed or iso? Would love to know how most of you go about the subject and also experience from the k1 shooters in this context. Thanks
Nice photos.


I think that in the context of travel photos, f1.4 is less often used.
I'd usually shoot 1 stop away from wide open (with a FF).
Often, I find that there needs to be a noticeable bkgroud to give context.
Also, the deeper DOF makes up for errors in AF and subject movement since there are usually no retakes.
The Canon 24-105/4L was one such 'kit lens' for their 5D series of cameras that was very popular precisely because it did travel photography well, 24mm on the wide end for most landscapes or environmental portraits and 105mm (at f4) for isolation or stopped down for reach.


f3.5-f5.6 works well for the K1.
The shutter speed penalty will be made up for by the better high ISO performance.

What I like about FF is that the working distance of some of the more common focal length changes (for the same framing) to become nearer and together with control of the aperture from wide open to stopped down, provides more options.
Also, a stopped down lens is usually better optically than a wide open one (sharpness, sharpness off center, CA tolerance), so a FF lens stopped down to f2 for example has improved properties while having the same DOF as a APSC shot at f1.4 with the same framing.

FA31ltd (from f2.5-f3.5)








FA77ltd (f2.5)




A50/1.4 (at about f2.5)



K85/1.8 (at f2)
09-14-2018, 02:52 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
The FA 77mm LTD is a wonderful lens. I've had mine since shooting film only, perhaps 15 years. I've used it on many DSLR models since, all of them APS-C. I don't see which APS-C model you are using. I've found there is a difference as to the results delivered between models.
I am using my K3 still. Considering a K1 soon, but also tempted by the KP

---------- Post added 09-14-18 at 02:54 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by pinholecam Quote
Nice photos.


I think that in the context of travel photos, f1.4 is less often used.
I'd usually shoot 1 stop away from wide open (with a FF).
Often, I find that there needs to be a noticeable bkgroud to give context.
Also, the deeper DOF makes up for errors in AF and subject movement since there are usually no retakes.
The Canon 24-105/4L was one such 'kit lens' for their 5D series of cameras that was very popular precisely because it did travel photography well, 24mm on the wide end for most landscapes or environmental portraits and 105mm (at f4) for isolation or stopped down for reach.


f3.5-f5.6 works well for the K1.
The shutter speed penalty will be made up for by the better high ISO performance.

What I like about FF is that the working distance of some of the more common focal length changes (for the same framing) to become nearer and together with control of the aperture from wide open to stopped down, provides more options.
Also, a stopped down lens is usually better optically than a wide open one (sharpness, sharpness off center, CA tolerance), so a FF lens stopped down to f2 for example has improved properties while having the same DOF as a APSC shot at f1.4 with the same framing.

FA31ltd (from f2.5-f3.5)








FA77ltd (f2.5)




A50/1.4 (at about f2.5)



K85/1.8 (at f2)
Thanks that is an important point about the working distance. Something to consider. Nice Pics. thanks for sharing
09-14-2018, 04:45 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by donpjt Quote
Pictures shot at a shallow depth of field, ie, lower aperture of 2 or below, are really good at separating the subject from the background. The separation of the subject from the background is what makes the picture attractive.
Stated like this, the interpretation is a bit hazy. Both statements are true, the one missing is "there is more than one way to separate the subject from the back ground or to achieve background separation, shooting ƒ2 or less with a big sensor is one of them.: Looking at the above photos, colour contrast, and tonal isolation are just as important and used more often. In the more environmental portraits subject isolation is usually achieved by lighting and positioning. visual elements of the picture etc.

In asense in travle photgraphy, one could argue that narrow DoF is the least desirable method of subject isolation because the viewer doesn't get to share in a rich exotic environment.

In the four pictures posted, you achieved tonal or colour separation in all four. You really aren't accomplishing anything with the shallow DoF except blurring out elements in the scene that could have been used to add interest to the portraits.

Subject isolation is more than big fat lens, although, if you haven't scouted the area in advance to find appropriate shooting angles to in low light it may be the device of preference. Using a device, like narrow DoF for subject isolation will make your series of photo feel boring real quick. Knowing them all and using the appropriate one to the scene you're shooting is th preferred approach.

Last edited by normhead; 09-14-2018 at 04:52 AM.
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