NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
Jonn Quest
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NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
11 months ago

I've been trying to get pictures of my 1.5 year old nephew with my NEX-6 and Kit 16-50PZ lens.  Indoors the shots are coming out really soft, nearly out of focus.  Outside they are fine.

I checked the data on the photos and inside, without flash, using P mode, I'm at ISO2500-3200 aperature usually around 4.5 and shutter speed at 1/60.

What mode should I be using so I get in focus shots?  Should I just forget the notion of no flash and use the flash in bounce mode?  Please advise as I'm ready to sell the camera and buy a small DSLR so I don't have to fight so much.  I'm sure it's something I'm doing wrong though.......

Thanks

Sony Alpha NEX-6
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blue_skies
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to Jonn Quest, 11 months ago

Jonn Quest wrote:

I've been trying to get pictures of my 1.5 year old nephew with my NEX-6 and Kit 16-50PZ lens.  Indoors the shots are coming out really soft, nearly out of focus.  Outside they are fine.

I checked the data on the photos and inside, without flash, using P mode, I'm at ISO2500-3200 aperature usually around 4.5 and shutter speed at 1/60.

What mode should I be using so I get in focus shots?  Should I just forget the notion of no flash and use the flash in bounce mode?  Please advise as I'm ready to sell the camera and buy a small DSLR so I don't have to fight so much.  I'm sure it's something I'm doing wrong though.......

Thanks

It sounds like subject blur.

1/60th requires a person to sit still - try to get at least 1/160.

You can either use a flash, turn on more lights, try AMB mode or get a faster lens.

E.g. f/2.8 will get you to 1/160, and a f/2.0 lens will get you to 1/160 with ISO 1200-1600 or so.

A DSLR won't change the shutter speed - it will also measure f/4.5, i/160 and ISO 2500+. A DSLR will focus faster, if sufficient light, but it appears that the Nex-6 focuses sufficiently fast (outdoors is ok comment).

A bounce flash is your best solution.

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Henry

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fermy
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to Jonn Quest, 11 months ago

It would be helpful if you post a sample image. There can be several reasons: camera shake, blur due to child movement, softness due to high ISO or autofocus being too slow or not locking up where intended. Changing to DSLR will help only with "AF being too slow". I would suggest changing to S mode, setting shutter speed higher (e.g. to 1/100) and adding flash (that will bring ISO down) .

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Tuloom
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to fermy, 11 months ago

Bounce Flash.

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Jonn Quest
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to blue_skies, 11 months ago

Perfect!  Thanks so much.  The shots indoors and outdoors where he is more still are really nice.  Clear, crisp with great color.  Just took a few as he was walking around with an Oreo shoved in his mouth and I was trying to get a good shot...

I will try your advice as I'm sure that's the solution.

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to Jonn Quest, 11 months ago

Jonn Quest wrote:

Perfect!  Thanks so much.  The shots indoors and outdoors where he is more still are really nice.  Clear, crisp with great color.  Just took a few as he was walking around with an Oreo shoved in his mouth and I was trying to get a good shot...

I will try your advice as I'm sure that's the solution.

There will be little to no difference if you were using a DSLR under those conditions. Bounce flash should work really well. If you haven't already, and don't mind the cost (not overly expensive) HVL-20 can serve as an all purpose flash. My NEX-3 can't support it (no hotshoe) but it is a fixture no my A55 when shooting indoors and used pretty much always for bounce. I almost never use built-in flash on my A55 (and when I do, I use a diffuser, another cheaper option for you but bounce works better).

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davect01
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to Jonn Quest, 11 months ago

Jonn Quest wrote:

I've been trying to get pictures of my 1.5 year old nephew with my NEX-6 and Kit 16-50PZ lens.  Indoors the shots are coming out really soft, nearly out of focus.  Outside they are fine.

I checked the data on the photos and inside, without flash, using P mode, I'm at ISO2500-3200 aperature usually around 4.5 and shutter speed at 1/60.

What mode should I be using so I get in focus shots?  Should I just forget the notion of no flash and use the flash in bounce mode?  Please advise as I'm ready to sell the camera and buy a small DSLR so I don't have to fight so much.  I'm sure it's something I'm doing wrong though.......

Thanks

As mentioned this is not really the perfect lens for this kind of shot.  Low light requiring ISO over 2500+, a moving subject, and shooting at f4.5 are just  not good conditions.  
The suggestions above should help out, but you really need a faster lens.

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wb2trf
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Lens recommendations
In reply to davect01, 11 months ago

I'd recommend the SEL 50mm 1.8 or the SEL 35mm 1.8 over all other solutions to your problem.  Try framing at 50mm with your zoom and see how you like it.  If you think you are going to shoot a lot of informal portrait photography of children or adults, the 50mm is a great lens and is the better choice. For more general photography and occasional portrait the 35mm can solve your problem, but is more expensive.

Shoot in shutter priority (S), with the shutter at 160 as others have said, auto ISO.  Also try a few test shots at ISO 6400 to see if that is ok to your eyes. In very dim light you you may need that, and autoISO won't take you there.

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bill hansen
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Re: Lens recommendations
In reply to wb2trf, 11 months ago

With the 1650PZ lens, I think increasing the amount of light is your only solution indoors. Sometimes even turning on enough indoor lights and leaving shades/window blinds up in the daytime can be enough - but flash surely helps. Since you are just beginning this, my vote would be to try the built-in flash of the NEX first, not worrying about "redeye" or bounce flash. Shutter priority at 1/160 will help a lot. Be sure you hear the beep and see the green rectangle so you know the camera has locked focus!

If you (eventually) decide to get a faster lens - for indoor shots of a baby or toddler, I think my choice would be a 30 or 35mm lens. For adults using the APS-C sensor of the NEX, 35 or 50mm would be ideal, but for very small children 30mm works very well.

If you get the 50mm f1.8 - be sure to upgrade your camera's firmware to 1.01 and the lens firmware to v 2. I forgot to do that - very embarrassing error on my part!

Somewhat different thought on lenses -

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cptrios
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Re: Lens recommendations
In reply to bill hansen, 11 months ago

Another vote for bounce flash. Keep in mind that a big part of the perceived softness could also be the rather high ISO speeds you're using. Bar getting a faster lens, bounce flash is the only way to knock that ISO down a few stops.

Really though, even a Sigma 30/2.8 (about $90-100 on eBay these days) would be a big improvement over your current options if you don't want to splurge on a 50/1.8 or 35/1.8. There's a 1 1/3-stop difference in aperture between f/2.8 and f/4.5, which means you could be shooting those photos at 1/160s instead - more than fast enough to freeze motion.

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bill hansen
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Re: Lens recommendations
In reply to cptrios, 11 months ago

Remember that the OP is just learning this stuff. He might be better off using straight flash to begin with, and then moving to bounce flash once he gets some success with straight flash.

As one of my gurus likes to say - "Train for success, not for failure".

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Mr Sellars
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to Jonn Quest, 11 months ago

Jonn Quest wrote:

I've been trying to get pictures of my 1.5 year old nephew with my NEX-6 and Kit 16-50PZ lens.  Indoors the shots are coming out really soft, nearly out of focus.  Outside they are fine.

I checked the data on the photos and inside, without flash, using P mode, I'm at ISO2500-3200 aperature usually around 4.5 and shutter speed at 1/60.

What mode should I be using so I get in focus shots?  Should I just forget the notion of no flash and use the flash in bounce mode?  Please advise as I'm ready to sell the camera and buy a small DSLR so I don't have to fight so much.  I'm sure it's something I'm doing wrong though.......

Thanks

Your nex is fine for the job - no need to ditch it for a DSLR. You just need more light hitting the sensor. Flash, brighter room lighting, faster lens. Any or all of those will solve the problem.

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FuzzyQball
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to Jonn Quest, 11 months ago

Are you waiting for the camera to confirm focus?   You might want to try continuos focus or track.  Back in the old days with my SLR, I used a bounce flash pointed up with a white card on it to reflect a softer light.  Don't be afraid to push the ISO to get the speed up.  Try burst mode as well.

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thetodd34
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to FuzzyQball, 11 months ago

this is what i've done for my two year olds:

- shoot in shutter priority mode, with shutter speed no slower than 1/80s (depending on how active exactly the kids are being).

- use a sigma 19mm or 30mm f 2.8 while indoors, as the large aperture and fast auto-focus are good qualities for what you're trying to achieve. the lack of zoom/range is negated by the fact that my kids' play area is small enough that a prime lens works fine.

- note, sometimes in shutter priority mode, even with a f 2.8 lens, the camera body will default to a smaller aperture like f 4, so in these instances you can switch to manual (shutter 1/80 or 1/100s, aperture 2.8, and set the ISO as needed for exposure)

- turn off face priority and AF illuminator

- use center focus

- you can use a flash if you'd like, but i've found that with the above tips, as long as you have some reasonable level of ambient light available, you won't need a flash in most circumstances. if you must, i've used the HVL-F20AM external flash with ADP-MAA hot shoe adapter with good results.

this is what i would not do:

- don't get the sel50f1.8 for this purpose -- it's too long indoors, and even worse, WAY to slow with auto-focus for toddlers

- don't get a DSLR -- no offense, but it seems you don't understand enough about exposure and the interplay between aperture / shutter speed / ISO to have the camera body make enough of a difference. i switched from a canon 7d to the nex6, and while the auto-focus IS noticeably slower on the nex6, it's not a dealbreaker. what the dealbreaker was, in terms of bringing a camera around everywhere to take pictures of family, was the size of the DSLR.

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waitformee
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to thetodd34, 11 months ago

problem 1. Anything that move will be difficult.

problem 2. Any place that is not bright enough is also difficult.

So it is difficult + difficult = very difficult.

I am not sure how fast nex 6 can focus. but for me my nex is only with CDAF. in low light, the af is actually slow and cannot focus to a point. it will do CD focus on the whole frame.

Bounce flash will help to reduce ISO when taking photo but will not help during AF so if AF is slow, your baby will have moved a bit and focus will be out.

Flash helps with problem 2.

For problem 1. try 2 things,

1. MF.

2. Continuous Light. Maybe a led ring flash. so that nex got enough light for quick AF.

Color will be nicer on 35f1.8 or 50f1.8.

50mm will force u to stand further away compared to kit lens as the min dist is longer.

If you stand further the dof is more.

Actually I did not do any of the above. I will run around with f1.8 (MF) and speed priority shooting mode at 1/30s for my running baby indoor.

it gives low ISO, rich color and background motion blur. Results are very unpredictable, sometimes, I keep a few photos and sometimes, i keep zero

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GaryW
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Re: NEX-6 and focusing on toddler??
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, 11 months ago

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

There will be little to no difference if you were using a DSLR under those conditions. Bounce flash should work really well.

I bought a nice flash for my DSLR. I look forward to getting an adapter to get it to work on the Nex-6.

If you haven't already, and don't mind the cost (not overly expensive) HVL-20 can serve as an all purpose flash. My NEX-3 can't support it (no hotshoe) but it is a fixture no my A55 when shooting indoors and used pretty much always for bounce. I almost never use built-in flash on my A55 (and when I do, I use a diffuser, another cheaper option for you but bounce works better).

I have used a diffuser/soft box on my Nex-5- It helps.

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Gary W.

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