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I have been getting inconsistent results with focusing on the face using a Fujifilm X-T10 set to eye-detection focus. When the face takes quite a large area of the photo (like for a head and shoulder portrait) this seems to give me very reliable focus even when the subject is moving around. When I move back like for a thee-quarters or full-body portrait of the person siting down it almost always focuses on the texture of the fabric of the clothes.

This is very annoying as the photo looks really good and sharp on location in camera but "soft" (with very good clothing texture) when viewing the photo on anything bigger. It is especially bad when shooting profile, in lower light, and when the subject is moving but it has also happened other times ex. with a completely still subject with closed eyes. Is there any way or technique I can use to get consistent face sharpness?

I usually shoot with the Fujifilm 35 mm f2 at f2.8-f4 for these kinds of portraits.

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I'm pretty sure the face detection takes cues from the selected focus area. This is based on my subjective experience with the X-T10 and X-T2 — use the zone focus with a small square (3×3) and put that on the face — the face detection seems to me to then prefer faces/eyes within that square (although it will occasionally grab something else). I can't prove that this isn't superstition, but it seems to work for me.

  • Thats interesting, I see how that could work. I'll try to see in practice if that solves the problem. – Chris Novak Jul 5 '17 at 7:14
  • This doesn't work 100% of the time but it does seem to work, additionally if it fails it still focuses on the face. – Chris Novak Jul 9 '17 at 9:24
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That's because the X-T10's eye detection focus just isn't that good. Things to do to make it focus better includes (but I think you know them already):

  1. Have the face take up a larger part of the photo, hence a bigger eye area for the camera to focus to
  2. Make sure the face is better lit
  3. Make sure the subject stays very still
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My now ageing dslr has similar struggles. The only sure fire way to achieve perfect focus is a still subject, a tripod and using manual focus with a zoomed in live view on the screen (I don't have focus peaking). Not really the recipe for relaxed or informal portraits.

Alternatively, using the advantage of digital, shoot lots of images with auto focus and pray one hits at the same time as your subject manges not to blink.

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Is there any way/technique I can use to get consistent face sharpness?

Sounds like the automatic eye detection just isn't working well for you and you should therefore use regular old autofocus or even manual focus. Setting the focus on the point of interest yourself should solve the problem.

If you're more comfortable using the eye detection mode despite the fact that it's not doing what you want, or if switching to regular autofocus or manual focus still doesn't give the result you want, then consider switching to aperture priority and going with a smaller aperture (larger f-number). Using the largest aperture (which the camera would likely select for you in low light) gives the least depth of field, and if you're close to the subject it's very easy to get the focus wrong. A smaller aperture will give more depth of field and is therefore more forgiving of small errors.

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1) On focusing:

I find with the X-T10 the best way to get reliable focus is the DIY approach. The nice thing about Fuji cameras is that "manual focus" doesn't have to be manual at all. It just means "I'm in control" as opposed to the S and C modes where the camera:

1) Makes a lot of decisions for you 2) Makes them as you press the shutter

In the world of cameras there is a very common technique called "back button focus and the X-T10 is already set up for this. The technique is common because many people like to completely disconnect the process of focusing the lens and taking the shot.. but the default trend for cameras now is to treat people as dumb, and focus the shot as someone presses the shutter.

All you have to for back button focus on the X-T10 is switch the front focus selector to M. At that point the AFL button on the back focuses the camera, and the shutter release button just takes the shot.

So if you're taking a portrait:

a) put the focus point over the eye b) press the back button to focus c) reframe the shot d) press the shutter e) press it again if you want.. it won't change the focus

It takes a bit of getting used to but it's often the way to go. Personally I prefer the position of the AEL button over the AFL button, so I go into settings > Dials & Buttons where you can switch them.

2) Aperture While it's awesome and all that Fuji is doing a great job of making big max aperture lenses, just because it's got a big hole doesn't mean you have to use it. It's great to have the ability to use the widest aperture for that blurry background, but with something like the 56mm fuji lens, at max aperture the depth of field is minute, and very easy to not get focus on the eyes. No shame in stopping down a stop or two, where the lens is sharper across the board anyway.

K

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