Three Ways to Nail Focus While Shooting at f/1.4

Shooting portraits with beautiful, creamy backgrounds is a very popular look right now. Using the right gear, you can achieve this look in camera, but one common question that arises from shooting wide open is how do you get perfect focus?

Coming from Manny Ortiz's latest video, he talks about how he is able to get perfect focus while shooting at f/1.4 within his portrait work. The first method he talks about is based on the camera he uses. Ortiz shoots with his Sony camera while using "Eye AF," this is one feature I wish other camera systems would adopt. The autofocusing system is able to focus on your subject's eye.

With continuous Eye AF mode turned on, and while your subject moves in frame, a small green focus box stays locked onto their eye as they move. I personally have tested this feature out a few different times and it works great. While Ortiz may have consistent results using this, the times I have didn't result in 100 percent accuracy, but I am sure I would have a lot less missed focus shots if I was able to use Eye AF. You can jump to the 31:55 mark in the real-world test article's video where Jared Polin also talks about how it has missed a few times for him as well.

If you aren't a Sony shooter, don't worry as Ortiz covers other methods explained in the video can be used to help you lock down that perfectly focused portraits while shooting wide open.

What are some tips you use to help you nail those amazing shots? Leave your answers in the comments below.

[via Manny Ortiz]

Alex Ventura's picture

Staff writer Alex Ventura is a professional photographer based out of the Houston area that specializes in automotive and glamour with the occasional adventures into other genres. He regularly covers automotive related events for Houston Streets & Spekture with some publications in the United States.

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Why should I NOT use back button focusing if the subject is closer to the camera and moving? How/why does back-button focusing work differently based on subject's proximity to the camera?

Well - the nearer you are to the cam and/or the more you move, the higher the risk to lose focus in between back-button focusing and taking the shot, I think.

But with back button focus I can press the shutter release button while the focus button is continually pressed - firing while focusing - which I thought was the whole purpose of separating the focus from the shutter release button...?

I really need to take this advice, my 1.4 shots are ALWAYS out of focus... My hands shake sooooo badly

I'm rather old school so I chose to focus manually. I like utilizing the bokeh of Canon L's and my subjects are not always in the center of the frame and I don't want to keep track of what focus point is hot so I never utilize autofocus. As a result, I have more keepers, longer battery life and shoots are more efficient.