Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

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Any out of box idea to manually focus on the eyes, for a self portrait? I do have a tripod and the camera has a timer too.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX210 IS

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

This is a bit tedious to set up, but it should work:

  1. Put the camera on a tripod.
  2. Place a stool or chair or a broom or really almost anything where you will want to be in the photo.
  3. Focus the camera on that object.
  4. After you have focused, switch the camera to manual focus so that it won't change where it's focused.
  5. Set the camera to use a self-timer. You'll probably want at least 10 seconds.
  6. If you're comfortable with manual exposure settings, use the smallest aperture (larger f-numbers like f/5.6 or f/8) that you can get away with. This will put more in focus which will give you a greater margin of error. (It also helps that your compact camera will have a larger depth of field compared to, say, a DSLR). Using a flash will let you use a smaller aperture also.
  7. Remove the object that you focused on, but mark on the floor where it was. The idea is that you've focused the camera at a certain distance, and you're going to place yourself there.
  8. Trip the shutter release.
  9. Quickly get in position, standing on the mark.
  10. Smile!
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TBH, before seeing your reply, I actually tried whatever you said "on my own", and it almost worked. Since I had to shoot my face, I kept an object on the table as a focus point (and kept the focus point slightly "above" that object), and then placed my face close to it, it nearly worked. For it to work perfectly, I'll have to try it at least 15 time more. :) – TheIndependentAquarius Sep 23 '11 at 15:06
Yes, step 11 is "Repeat multiple times" :-) Good luck! – unexplainedBacn Sep 23 '11 at 15:16
I agree exept for the "larger f-numbers" bit. Though it might make it easier to get the eyes in focus, with a closed aperture, the image is not really focused on anything. I recommend you use an open aperture (lowest f-number) to archieve the maximum separation from the background, which is what you typically opt for, when doing portraiture. Of course this might make it more difficult, but I think it is worth the effort. – niklasfi Sep 25 '11 at 7:30

Well I'm thinking the point and shoot will have face detection in portrait mode so will automatically focus on your face. Because the sensor is so small you won't need to worry about depth of field having your nose in focus but not your eyes etc. It should be that simple... crosses fingers

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Most cameras do not AF with the self-timer active, so it will not work as is. Using the Face-Timer though is exactly meant for that, it even supports group shots by waiting for the addition of one face. – Itai Sep 23 '11 at 14:38

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