Technical Solutions
| D800/D800E TIPS

Shooting Techniques / Portrait Subjects

This section introduces a technique that achieves sharp focus on a selected point when framing portrait subjects through the viewfinder.

  • ■ Lens: AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
  • ■ Exposure mode: Manual
  • ■ Shutter speed: 1⁄200 s
  • ■ Aperture: f/4.5
  • ■ White balance: Keep warm lighting colors
  • ■ ISO sensitivity: 640
  • ■ Picture control: Portrait

Note: This photo was shot in 14-bit NEF (RAW) and processed using Capture NX 2.

Vibration Reduction (VR)

When a VR lens is used, setting the VR switch to ON is recommended. Vibration reduction is activated when the shutter-release button is pressed halfway, stabilizing the view through the viewfinder and making it easier to frame pictures and focus.

If the lens has a vibration reduction mode switch, choose NORMAL for hand-held photography or when using a monopod. Vibration reduction should generally be turned off when the camera is mounted on a tripod (exceptions may be made for the AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II and other lenses with a TRIPOD option).

Lesson 1: Choose the Proper Focus Settings

A tripod is rarely used for portrait photography. Though portrait subjects can and do move a little, they generally remain still long enough for effective use of single-point, single-servo autofocus. The photo shoot introduced here shows that the photographer must be able to focus reliably on a selected point; hence the use of single-point AF, which, unlike auto-area and dynamic-area AF, ensures that the camera always focuses on the point selected by the photographer.

To choose an autofocus mode, press the AF-mode button and rotate the main command dial.

To choose an AF-area mode, press the AF-mode button and rotate the sub-command dial.


Even slight changes in composition may result in the camera focusing on something other than the intended subject. Choose the focus point after composing the photograph.

Lesson 2: Choose the Proper Exposure Settings

Use a wide aperture for a softer feel.

An aperture setting of f/4 captures facial expressions.

Depth of field is sufficient to clearly reproduce the range from the lips to the outer corners of the eyes, but focus gets softer from the earrings back.

Shutter speed:
Choose a speed slightly faster than the minimum required to prevent blur caused by camera shake.

The superior resolution of the D800/D800E makes even slight blur resulting from camera shake appear more obvious. Choose a shutter speed slightly faster than would be selected when photographing the same subject with another camera.

A fast shutter speed has captured details of the lace veil and brought out individual eyelashes.

Lighting and ISO Sensitivity:
Adjust lighting and ISO sensitivity appropriately.

Once the shutter speed and aperture settings have been manually specified, lighting or ISO sensitivity may require adjustment to achieve optimal exposure.

Soft, natural light, rather than flash or studio lighting, was used for these photos. When shooting outdoors, lighting can be adjusted by repositioning the portrait subject or yourself in relation to the light source (above).

When shooting indoors, blinds can be raised or lowered.

Learn from Mistakes: Same Shot, Different Focus Point

Slight shifts in focus are more noticeable in photos captured with the D800/D800E than with other cameras under the same conditions. Thus, greater attention must be paid to focusing with the D800/D800E. As the following sample images show, changing the focus point even slightly may blur important details.

Earring is in focus, iris and eyelashes are blurred


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