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Tips for getting perfect skintones on Sony A6000

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by Archer, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. Archer

    Archer TalkEmount Regular

    66
    Aug 19, 2013
    London, England
    Can people share their tips for settings that help get the most natural looking skin-tones possible on the Sony A6000 under most circumstances?

    I like to get as much fine detail in skin as possible, so I like to see pores, freckles and tiny hairs.
    Mostly I like to shoot single person portraits and headshots and the Sigma DN F2.8 60mm Art Lens is my favourite lens for portraits.
    I also have 3 manual flash units YN560's
    I normally shoot in RAW + JPEG and normally use lightroom.
    I know the camera has portrait modes, but not sure if these do much compared to standard mode?

    Also what F Stop would most people use this lens on for a headshot? I like a nice Bokeh but I'd like at least both eyes to be in focus for most shots.
    Does anyone make good use of the Eye Focus on the A6000 for headshots? I've assigned it to the AEL button on my camera but is there a way to get the camera to focus on the eyes automatically?
    I know it focuses on the face in the right setting but not sure if automatic eye focus is possible without having to hold down a custom button first.

    Also is there any software that I can use to shoot tethered to a laptop but see the image on the screen and take the photo from the laptop?
    I know there's ways to using the remote shutter app and then watch a hot folder, but I want a live preview so I can see the fine details in a face before I hit the shutter.
     
  2. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
  3. mcvu

    mcvu TalkEmount Regular

    90
    Sep 24, 2014
    Bay Area, CA
    Minh
    That's a tough question to answer because there's no single correct answer and there's no single camera settings that can give consistent result under all lightning conditions.
    The best way is to learn how to apply correct White Balance for different scenarios: daylight, shade, incandescent, fluorescent, etc. Also for consistent result, use a grey card. At beginning of each session, ask subject to hold a grey card under same lightning condition, take a shot, then in LR, apply the same custom white balance you got from the grey card to all other images in the same session. You can also shoot a grey card as a custom WB frame and use it in camera.

    In general, I use following settings. Note that most of those settings only apply to JPEG, not RAW, and they are just starting points. Best way is to practice and adjust accordingly.
    1. Use either Neutral or Standard profile under Creative Stype. Neutral color is a little flat and dull for me, so I prefer Standard.
    2. Outdoor: use AWB. Adjust to cloudy or shade if needed.
    3. Indoor: use the correct WB: tungsten or fluorescent. If mixed lightning, set WB to the dominant light source on the main subject. Again, grey card will give you the best result here.
    4. When using flashes, and if flashes are the main light sources, then set AWB to either daylight or flash. If you want to balance flash and ambient, then depending on time of day, you'll need to gel flash to match ambient light and set AWB accordingly. Go to Strobist to learn about lightning. http://strobist.blogspot.com/
    While shooting portraits, I usually stay in Aperture priority mode to control DOF. DOF changes depends on many factors. Aperture and camera to subject distance are 2 of them.
    For headshots, if shooting straight on, i.e. both eyes are pretty much on the same plane, then wide open apertures might suffice. But if you shoot profiles, then to get both eyes in focus, you'll need smaller apertures. Take multiple test shots at different apertures and pick the one you like.
    Most studio shots where everything is sharp are generally shot using smaller apertures: f8, f11, etc.

    Regarding Eye AF, I have another post here: https://www.talkemount.com/showthread.php?t=8495
    It seems face detection usually focuses on the eye and we don't need to use Eye AF button. One way to check that is to set focus mode to DMF, turn on Peak level, then use face detection focusing and look for the Peak hightlights. They are usually dead on the eye.

    Practice, practice, practice...;)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Archer

    Archer TalkEmount Regular

    66
    Aug 19, 2013
    London, England
    My A6000 has a Portrait setting, is that not recommended?

    It's really hard to find detailed explanations from Sony of all the various settings and why one is better then the other.
     
  5. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    1- Many baulk at the idea of using presets. While most the time the camera WILL get it right, but every so often it will get it wrong. Those with a bit more practice will be able to select just the right settings and not get odd colors.

    2- RAW versus JPEG. Many of the presets only allow for JPEG and many refuse to shoot in JPEG.


    My personal preference is this. When shooting family events I usually choose one of the presets for ease of use, however when just goofing around for personal shots I always use one of the manual modes.
     
  6. mcvu

    mcvu TalkEmount Regular

    90
    Sep 24, 2014
    Bay Area, CA
    Minh
    Unfortunately they don't publish detailed settings in each preset. In Portrait mode, the camera generally picks wider apertures and we don't know what else it does to color, WB, etc.
    If you used presets and are happy with results, then good, use it and save time fiddling with settings.

    I want consistency and control over DOF, so I usually don't use Portrait mode.
     
  7. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    I don't think Sony preset JPEG colors are very flattering for portraits, to be honest.

    I tend to use Photo Ninja as I found it to produce the best pink skin tones with least effort. Cutrently also trying to learn to get decent tones in Capture One that is free for Sony users. Honestly LR is my last choice, as it's the hardest for me to get proper skin tones without amplifying orange.

    I tend to shoot f2.8 lenses stopped down just a bit, or wide open if the lens is good (your Sigma should be). It's probably sharpest at f4 and the DOF should still be good for bokeh. If you are shooting posed portraits, then nothing beats MF with magnification zoom assist, you can use the largest aperture and still get eyes in focus.

    I think Sony's PlayMemories in remote control mode allows real time tethered shooting. Believe Capture One has that too, but in the pro version ($30 for Sony users).
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. MizOre

    MizOre TalkEmount Regular

    84
    Jan 18, 2014
    Nicaragua
    I don't believe the A6000 is supported for live view tethered shooting.
     
  9. mcvu

    mcvu TalkEmount Regular

    90
    Sep 24, 2014
    Bay Area, CA
    Minh