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  1. #1
    seekbeauty is offline I'm new here!
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    Question How to achieve a shallow depth of field with a point and shoot?

    I use Canon SX10 IS. After reading Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson, I realized that it is hard to achieve a shallow depth of field and a blurry background. But still, is there a way to do it? How?

    I am actually disappointed about my new camera... I wish I had bought a dSLR instead... Implying motion while zooming is also one of the things that a point and shoot is unable to do.

    Any advice?

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    Samanax's Avatar
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    I've seen quite a few P&S shots that had shallow DOF.

    Try putting the camera in M (Manual) mode or Av (Aperture Priority) mode and then set the camera to it's smallest aperture setting (largest aperture opening). You can even try using the Portrait mode. Zoom the lens out and then get fairly close to your subject. Make sure that the subject/object isn't close to the background. Use a tripod if necessary.

    Also, see this tutorial for more info.

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    Your camera, while it isn't an SLR, is a lot more capable than you might thing it is! It can shoot up to f/2.8, which while it isn't great, isn't bad either. Shoot on apeture priority wide open at f/2.8 and I think you'll be surprised.

    I have an earlier version of your camera (much earlier) and I've taken a few shots with shallow DOFs, like these (I think both of these are using the macro setting):

    petals

    numbers

    Or this one:
    http://flickr.com/photos/inexorablyloved/1535235805/

    But obviously, there's a difference between any SLR and non-SLR...and it isn't just $$.

    Also, what do you mean by "implying motion by zooming"?

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    Oh my, don't be discouraged. I've got a Canon Powershot A650IS, not as expensive as yours and I'm all about the bokeh and dof! I shoot in Macro mode ALOT and always in Aperature Priority mode on the lowest number it will give me. Here's a couple of examples:

    Aster Dinner Mints2

    Best viewed large. Click here.


    Here's another example:

    Dewy Fluffies - Bird's Eye View

    View large here.

    There are plenty of great photos on flickr taken with your camera. Go here to check 'em out!
    Debbie
    Canon Powershot A650IS (Bridge Camera)
    Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best.

    OK to edit and repost only on DPS forums.
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    Think of it this way--at least you don't have to lug a camera bag full of lenses, lighting gear and a tripod and your bank account still has a couple thousand dollars in it.

    Depth of field depends on several factors, not just aperture. The size of the sensor (which is where your main handicap lies), the distance from the subject, the distance between the subject and the background, the focal length you use, and the aperture all play a part.

    If you want to increase out of focus blur, then:

    1. Open up the aperture (use a smaller f-number)
    2. Increase the focal length/zoom in.
    3. Move closer to the subject (this is why macro shots always have background blur)
    4. Move the subject farther from the background.

    The only problem you're going to have is that 2. and 3. may conflict. Typically the more you zoom in, the bigger your minimum focus distance (the distance you can be from the subject and still focus) gets. You may also want to try switching to macro mode.

    Also, if you're reading about photography in books meant for SLR users, the depth of field corresponding to specific f-numbers can be deceiving. A 1/2.5" sensor is one sixth the size of a frame of 35mm film. It's DoF is correspondingly six times as deep at a given f-number as it would be on a full-frame digital camera. f/2.8 on a p&s is like f/16 on a full-frame, or f/8-f/11 on a crop-body.
    Last edited by inkista; 12-31-2008 at 02:34 AM.
    I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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    seekbeauty is offline I'm new here!
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    Thank you so much everyone! I really appreciate your advice! Very helpful indeed!

    Actually this is my post on the forum, I am new both to photography and DPS. DPS is amazing!

    To inkista:

    The Understanding Exposure book says f/2.8 on a P&S offers the same DoF as f/11 on a dSLR. Then I guess the author is probably talking about a crop-body, rather than a full-frame. Please correct me if I am wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    Also, if you're reading about photography in books meant for SLR users, the depth of field corresponding to specific f-numbers can be deceiving. A 1/2.5" sensor is one sixth the size of a frame of 35mm film. It's DoF is correspondingly six times as deep at a given f-number as it would be on a full-frame digital camera. f/2.8 on a p&s is like f/16 on a full-frame, or f/8-f/11 on a crop-body.

    Wow... well said. I would have loved for someone to tell me that about year ago when I was about to throw out my canon p&s! With that said... i love the dslr that i purchased dearly!

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    Quote Originally Posted by seekbeauty View Post
    The Understanding Exposure book says f/2.8 on a P&S offers the same DoF as f/11 on a dSLR. Then I guess the author is probably talking about a crop-body, rather than a full-frame. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    Well, I was guesstimating and fiddling around with a DoF calculator, rather than doing the actual math, so I couldn't tell you for sure.
    I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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    Quote Originally Posted by seekbeauty View Post
    The Understanding Exposure book says f/2.8 on a P&S offers the same DoF as f/11 on a dSLR. Then I guess the author is probably talking about a crop-body, rather than a full-frame. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    This may be true (I'm not disputing, I'm just not that sure!) but you also need to take into account focal lenght. P&S focal lenghts are often quoted as their 35mm equivalent which is fine when looking a field of view but not when looking at DoF. A P&S lens with a stated 35mm-95mm focal range will actually have a focal range more like 5mm-15mm. The very short focal lenght makes DoF even greater.

    Have a look at my Depth of Field blog post which also has a link to the DoF master site.

    The good news as the shots above have proven is that it is possible to get Bokeh with a P&S, you just need to think outside the box.
    Fletch

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    Well... technically that's not true. Focal length doesn't actually change the DoF. But in the image it looks like it does, so it's generally taught that way. You'll notice I was weasely and wrote "to increase out of focus blur," not "to decrease DoF".

    You'll note, however, that 6x is also the crop factor for a 1/2.5" sensor.

    The best explanation I've seen of sensor size and its effects on noise, field of view, dynamic range, DoF, and diffraction effect is the one on Cambridge in Colour.
    I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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