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Old Jun 5, 2006, 8:18 PM   #1
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I have soften or burred out the backgrounds of flowers and faces before. I have never done it on a large subject like a car or motorcycle. I just can not do it or is it possible? I have been up and down the focal lengh with the zoom with the aperture at 2.8 but I can not soften the background of a car. With the 12x zoom all the way out I am about a good 50 or 60 feet away from my car. I can not get any closer. The background is about 300 feet away. Is there something I am missing or do not understand about doing large subjects like this. Can you help?

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Old Jun 5, 2006, 8:50 PM   #2
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If you're 50 feet away and the background is 300 feet, you may have reached the limit of your camera, so it sees both as close to infinity. I suggest you do what print Ad companies do... blur it in Photoshop!

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Old Jun 5, 2006, 8:56 PM   #3
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It sounds like you're probably using one of the "Ultra Zoom" models like a Panasonic, since you mentioned having f/2.8 and 12x available.

Unfortunately, because these models use very tiny sensors in comparison to a 35mm camera, you'll have more depth of field.

As a result of their smaller sensors, the lenses on most digicams can have a much shorter actual focal length to get any given 35mmequivalentfocal length. Look at the front of your lens and you'll probably see the actual focal length printed (along with it's aperture ratings for the wide angle and full telephoto zoom positions).

So, your subject occupies a much larger percentage of the frame at any given actual focal length, compared to a 35mm camera at the same distance to subject with most non-DSLR digital cameras.

For any given 35mm Equivalent Focal Length, you'll have dramatically more Depth of Field compared to a camera with a larger sensor (or film) size. This isbecause Depth of Field is computed by the actual versus 35mm equivalent focal length,focus distance,and aperture.

Your ability to blur the background for any given aperture depends on your subject size, the percentage of the frame you need it to occupy (which you can use focal length or the distance to your subject to change), and the distance to the background that you want your subject to stand out from. Of course, using the largest available aperture (represented by the smallest f/stop number) is needed-- but this is usually not enough to achieve the desired results for larger subjects with most non-DSLR models.

Your best bet is to frame as tightly as possible (fill the frame by getting in closer or using more zoom). In other words, go for a tight head and shoulders, versus a full length shot. You'll want to use the camera's largest available aperture (smallest f/stop number), and put as much distance as possible between the subject and background.

You could also try focusing in front of the subject (so that your subject is barely in the area of acceptable sharpness).

Load this Depth of Field Calculator and selectyour camera model. Then, plug in the *actual* focal length of the lens, focus distance and aperture to calculate Depth of Field.


Of course, keep in mind that when you use more optical zoom, you'll need to be further away from your subject for it to occupy the same percentage of the frame (hence, cancelling out thebenefits of longer focal lengths in some shooting conditions where you'd want less Depth of Field.

Using a longer focal length can still help, though. Theway the perspective changes (more compressed background from shooting further away) can give the illusion of a shallower depth of field, since blur in out of focus areas will be more obvious (even if the real depth of field isn't changing, since you need to take the photo from further away if you use more optical zoom for the same framing).

For many scenarios, unless you can budget for a DSLR model (which have much larger sensors compared to non-DSLR digital cameras), your best bet is to try and use software to simulate a shallow depth of field with larger subjects. You may want to check in theEditors forum to get some tips. Here is a thread with a couple of different methods mentioned:


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