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I recently received a Nikon D3100 as a gift. My main interest is capturing images of parts of my body for dental imagery, personal 'snaphots' (yes I know a bit unusual with an actual camera), human faces etc..

I have always been very displeased with passport photos as I could never see my facial expression when taken in a studio but this time I have an opportunity to choose what image i take. I have read that this camera can be 'live' controlled from a PC. This might be necessary to see the image i'm capturing.

What I'm mainly concerned about is the basic features that I would need to know to create an appropriate passport photo in terms of focus, lighting and quality.

NOTE: This question is regarding the basic aspects needed to take an appropriate close up photo of the face. The other thread (which is not mine anyway) purely discusses connecting the camera to a laptop display. Also that question was asked 4 years ago and I have just received my camera.

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The main requirements for a passport photo, in terms of photographic qualities, are that your face be evenly lit (no shadows) and that your whole face be in focus.

For even lighting, assuming you don't have studio lights, taking the photo outside, in the shadow of a building, in the daytime works well, as does taking it in a room with bare white walls and big windows with the shades open to let in as much daylight as possible. You just need your face to be lit from all directions with diffuse lighting. Do not try to take a dramatic photo with parts of your face in shadow: it will be rejected by the government.

To get your whole face (including the ears) in focus, you'll want to use a small enough aperture. Probably around f/8 or f/11 would be enough, if you don't use a very long lens. You'll be using a plain white background, so you don't have to worry about having the background be distractingly in focus.

You also need to take the photo from far enough away that your ears are visible. If you take it from too close up, your ears will be hidden behind the curve of your head, just like a ship hidden behind the curve of the earth. (In this analogy, increasing the distance from the camera to the subject is a little like climbing a tower to see the ship again.) A distance of 10-15 feet should be sufficient. If your lens isn't long enough to fill the frame with your head and shoulders at this distance, don't worry: you can just crop the photo. Your camera has enough resolution that you can crop a lot and still be left with plenty of resolution for the purpose of a tiny passport photo.

  • All of that is pretty much a moot point with the question as it is now written since the D3100 does not support tethering. – Michael C Jul 26 '17 at 1:07
  • Specifying camera–subject distance is premature when you don't what the focal length of the lens is. – scottbb Jul 26 '17 at 1:57
  • Focal length does not determine perspective; distance does. – chulster Jul 26 '17 at 7:13
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I have always been very displeased with passport photos as I could never see my facial expression when taken in a studio

A passport photo is not a portrait. It's a formal image taken to facilitate verifying your ID by officials.

They want you to have bland, neutral expression. This helps them verify your ID. Any other expression can be rejected by issuing authorities as it can make verifying your ID problematic.

Your country (whatever it is) will have a specification for minimum requirements of a passport photo. Failing to follow these will be a problem.

but this time I have an opportunity to choose what image i take. I have read that this camera can be 'live' controlled from a PC. This might be necessary to see the image i'm capturing.

What I'm mainly concerned about is the basic features that I would need to know to create an appropriate passport photo in terms of focus, lighting and quality.

This will vary from country to country. You need to check your own country's requirements.

I'd suggest this is too important a document to try DIYing. There are dedicated machines that produce exactly what the authorities want and you should use these to avoid problems.

  • You're making it into a bigger deal than it is. I took my own passport photo with my DSLR, my 85mm lens, and available light. It was accepted. – chulster Jul 26 '17 at 7:16
  • Getting away with doing something is not the same as it being a good idea. – StephenG Jul 26 '17 at 7:19
  • If you're in a hurry, of course it makes sense to go to a studio that specializes in passport photos. If not, you have nothing to lose by doing it yourself, and you get infinite retries to get just the photo you want. I took my wife's passport photo too. – chulster Jul 26 '17 at 8:05

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