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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 8:17 pm 
Hi all,

I've bought a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 camera a few years ago and I chose it at that time due to its compact size/weight and because it had a full manual mode.

The problem is that when I shoot portraits and I'm looking for a shallow DOF, I set my camera at f/2.8 and the zoom to 3X (114mm)... at these settings, the background becomes a little bit blurry, but it's almost as if it was all in focus... so not exactly the effect I want.

I've looked at on-line DOF calculators and they all say that at these settings the DOF would be very shallow but in practice it doesn't happen (in my camera).

I've seen a lot of professional photos at exactly the same settings as mine where the background were very very blurry..... so I gather it's due to the small sensor on my camera and therefore it's time to change my equipment.

OK, the problem is that I'm not sure if I want a DSLR because it's just too heavy and too big to carry on my holidays..... but I would be willing to go for a superzoom like the Panasonic Lumix FZ38.

My question is: Do the superzooms have the ability to get shallow DOF? How shallow would that be? How would it compare to a DSLR?

Thanks in advance for your help!


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:14 pm 
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DoF calculators only indicate how much is in focus. They don't tell you how blurry out of focus areas are. Fundamentally, keeping the same shooting distance and subject for the same field of view, a bigger sensor results in more blur. Pretty much all compacts have similar sized sensors so wouldn't make much difference.

Also note, most DoF calculators work on the actual lens focal length, not the effective focal length.

Ways to get more blur include:
Get as close to the subject as possible (without zooming out in the process)
Get the background as far away from the subject as possible
Use the longest focal length possible (more zoom)
...and the one you're avoiding, get something with a bigger sensor.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:44 pm 
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....So, you'd want a superzoom with a large sensor, small minimal focus distance and long zoom. A large aperture of course also helps.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 10:32 pm 
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If you loook at the gallery pages of my superzoom reviews, you'll see my attempts to take a portrait with a shallow depth of field, and while the background is more blurred than a normal compact, it's still nowhere near what you can achieve with a DSLR. So it depends how much you want that blurring effect!

Alternatively, you could go for any camera with a DSLR-sized sensor and longer lens, such as one of the new micro four thirds models - see the Panasonic G1 and Olympus E-P1 for example.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:44 am 
When I had my canon sx-10 I could get decent portraits with blurred background if I stood way back and zoomed in all the way (~500mm) in aperature priority. Obviously not the most practical way to go but it worked.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:29 pm 
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This is down to the laws of physics: cameras with larger sensors produce shallower dof - when magnification and aperture is identical.
E.g. a full-frame body has a dof that is like opening the aperture on the lens of an APS-C body by one stop! With the differences of sensor size between compacts and DSLRs it's almost impossible to produce a similar dof. For an example looky here.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:39 pm 
Hi Milton,

as a workaround to buying new equipment, you could consider supplementing your photographic toolbox with the program called Alienskin Bokeh (www.alienskin.com).

This piece of software is designed to emulate the bokeh of some of the most prominent "portrait lenses" out there.

You have to have Photoshop (don't recall if it is compatible with other software as well) and you have to be able to do some basic masking.

In the right hands, it can produce excellent results.

Cheers :-)


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