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Nikon D7200 with 18-140 lens

How do set up this camera so that the foreground and background are in focus. Example taking a picture of a person with mountains in the background

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  • edited June 2017
    You are seeking maximum depth of field. Depth of field depends on three things: distance (greater distance = greater DOF); focal length (shorter focal lengh = greater DOF); and aperture (smaller aperture = greater DOF). Unfortunately, some of these factors work against each other, but you can usually find a good compromise.

    The lens in question is pretty much ideal for this, as it goes to a fairly wide setting and its relatively slow aperture is no handicap here. It is famously sharp, and well matched to the camera.

    So I'd opt for either manual or Aperture priority exposure, since you must control aperture. Set the lens at about f16. Smaller than that will give more depth of field, but will begin to lose sharpness to diffraction. Keep the focal length short - 18 might be a bit too short, but try to keep it under 35. You may need to experiment with how close you must get your subject. The further the better, but wide angles make distance look great. There is a kind of cancellation between distance and focal length, since to get the same view of a subject, you must decrease distance (less DOF) when you decrease focal length (more DOF). But focal length changes DOF a bit more than distance, so you'll get more DOF with a shorter focal length even though you must move your subject closer.

    There is a limit to this, however, because along with everything else, very wide angles are not complimentary to faces. When you get too close, it emphasizes the features, especially nose length. You may have to experiment depending on how you want your subject to look.

    Depth of field also is greater behind the focal point than in front of it. For this reason, you will get better results if you focus on the person, or only a little behind him, rather than focusing on the mountains. If you must settle for a little blur, let it be with the background, not the subject. If the person's eyes aren't sharp, the picture will be a dud even if the mountain is beautiful.

    For auto focus setting, I'd stick with single point single servo for this. Aim for the person's eyes, and recompose as needed after getting that point sharp. The D7200 has great ISO range, but you will still do best to keep it fairly low if you can. If the face of the person in question is not in direct sunlight, beware of silhouetting if the background is bright. You can bracket exposures easily, or try a little fill flash. On this camera, popping up the flash when in A mode should provide fill automatically. That will light up the face a little, while still exposing the background correctly.

    edit to add: there's a very handy depth of field calculator on line called "Dofmaster." You can look it up, and fill in information to see what sort of results you can expect. You can use any DX format Nikon camera as your example. I think the D7200 is not there, but the D7000 is, and the field of view is the same. You'll see how shorter focal lengths can give you extraordinary depth of field.
  • Thank you for your help. I'll give it a try this weekend. Getting ready for my trip to Alaska.
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