Why isn't my camera smarter - Or is it smart and I don't know how to use it?

Started Dec 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
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MikeInOr Contributing Member • Posts: 892
Why isn't my camera smarter - Or is it smart and I don't know how to use it?

A very typical photograph for me is a family member(s) in the foreground in front of a scenic background at some location we are visiting. I almost always shoot these photos handheld. I have had a few of these photos ruined by parts of the frame (scenic background) being out of focus.

Yes, I know, stop down to increase my depth of field... problem solved.

Ok, So I researched this a bit and what I believe I really want to do is use the hyper focal point of the lens if the main subject is within the hyper focal distance of the lens at the particular F stop I have selected. So I went online and printed out charts covering my most used focal lengths so I could cross reference my f stop to the hyper focal distance of the particular focal length.

WAIT! This is 2014! Computers are much more efficient that I am at looking up things in tables why on earth should I have to look up a hyper focal distance and guestimate whether my subject falls within that distance?

OK, I am still very new to my A77 and not even close to finishing the Gary Friedman manual (No less comprehending it!). Maybe there is a mode on my A77 that takes into account the hyper focal curve (slope) of my lens and automatically chooses the largest f stop that will keep my subject in focus while also keeping the entire background in focus?

Another thing I don't understand, when I shoot a portrait I usually want my selected subject to be the focal point. Then I can choose a large aperture that will make the foreground and background melt away. When I want my subject and the scenic background to all be in focus I really dont want my subject to be my focal point... what I really want is for my subject to be an "in focus point". I.e. I don't want my lens focused on the subject, I just want the subject to be within the depth of field of the focused lens. In most cases I want the actual focus point that the lens is focused some where behind the selected subject so that the subject is in focus, the back ground is in focus and the biggest aperture setting that will accomplish this to minimize exposure time and ISO. Don't I?

Also when I have two subjects in a photo at different distances from me I have only one focal point. What I would really like the camera to do is to be able to recognize the two subjects at different distances then set the focal point half way between the two subjects so both subjects are in focus but the background and foreground is blurred.

At the very least it seems to me when I focus on something my camera should be able to show me in the viewfinder what the current depth of field is given my current focal length, f stop and point of focus. I don't know but I though "D" lenses would feed back distance to the camera? I.e. the lens is focused at 15 feet? If the camera knows this distance and the F stop shouldn't it really easily be able to tell me what my depth of field is? I know prime lenses used to have this information printed as a scale on the lens but it is impossible to print this scale on a zoom because of the variable focal length of the lens.

Also, shouldn't I have a button that automatically focuses my lens to the hyper focal length based on its F stop and focal length so I don't have to guess?

Please help me understand!

 MikeInOr's gear list:MikeInOr's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Sony SLT-A33 Sony SLT-A77 Sony DT 55-300mm F4.5-5.6 SAM Sony 20mm F2.8 +6 more
Sony SLT-A77
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