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Old Jan 2, 2013, 9:09 PM   #1
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Default Fade background with Nikon d5100 and 18-55mm kit lens

Hi Friends

I made a recent purchase of Nikon d5100 with the kit 18-55mm lens. I was trying to take some snaps with face background but in aperture mode "A" the highest aperture is f/5.6. So to take a snap with fade ground I had to put the lens to max zoom, f-number to f/5.6 and I had to shift very close to the subject (see the attached image). Is anything I'm missing? If I can not move so close to the subject, is it still possible to take snaps with fade background with my lens?

Also, how to change the shutter speed in program "P" mode ? When I move the small dial button the aperture gets changes.

Thank you.


Last edited by CrazyTechie; Jan 2, 2013 at 9:20 PM.
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 4:23 AM   #2
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What you're referring to is commonly referred to as a shallow Depth of Field. You've already identified the two simplest ways to decrease the DoF (increase the background out-of-focus blur): increase the Aperture (use a numerically smaller f-number), and increase the ratio of subject distance to background distance.

There are other factors that affect DoF, like the size of the image sensor, and there are other methods of adjusting the out-of-focus blur after the fact, like Focus Stacking, but the simplest is to use a lens with a larger aperture. In the same class as your 18-55/3.5-5.6 VR, there's the Sigma 17-50/2.8 OS, and prime lenses are available with even larger apertures, like the Nikon 50mm f/1.8.
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 4:24 AM   #3
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G'day CT

There are 2 things that will affect the depth-of-field along with background blur
1 = the mm's of the lens in use, and 2 = the aperture in use

With your 18-55mm lens, the 'best' sharp focus with blurry background will be at 55mm and whatever the maximum aperture is when the lens is at 55mm ... I guess that this aperture is about f3,5 or f4,0

For 'really good' background blur, try a lens of 135mm to 200mm ~ maybe even go out to 250mm ~ and see the magical difference between it and the 55mm. Remember tho, that by zooming out to a bigger lens, you will also have to "vote with your feet" and move out a bit too

BTW - is this the sort of fuzzy background you're after??


This was shot with the lens at about 250mm using Aperture of f5,0

Hope this helps a bit ...
Regards, Phil
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 5:39 AM   #4
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Hi,
In addition to what's been already suggested, you should be aware that
Program mode is not designed to do what you're asking it to do.It is designed to control both the aperture and shuttter speed for you. It's main purpose is for snapshots and times when you have little time to think about settings.

You should be using either Manual mode or at least Aperture mode
Here is an excerpt from the reference manual that came with your D5100. It can be found on page 63.
Mode A (Aperture-Priority Auto)
In aperture-priority auto, you choose the aperture while the camera automatically selects the shutter speed that will produce the optimal exposure. Large apertures (low f-numbers) reduce depth of field, blurring objects behind and in front of the main subject. Small apertures (high f-numbers) increase depth of field, bringing out details in the background and foreground. Short field depths are generally used in portraits to blur background details, long field depths in landscape photographs to bring the foreground and background into focus.
The reference manual will provide you with the answers to issues that confront you in everyday shooting situations.
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 6:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyTechie View Post
Also, how to change the shutter speed in program "P" mode ? When I move the small dial button the aperture gets changes.
P Mode selects values for both Aperture and Shutter Speed. You can make adjustments to those values with the Command Dial, and both the Aperture and Shutter Speed will change, in order to preserve a proper exposure. That is, as the aperture increases (numerically decreases) the exposure time will decrease (the shutter speed will increase), and vice versa. If you continue to adjust it to the limit of what the camera and/or lens can do, then further adjustment in the same direction won't change anything.
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 6:39 AM   #6
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Thank you all friends for your valuable inputs.

Seems I did a mistake with the kit 18-55mm lens
As someone said, "decide the lens first then search for a suitable camera" was absolutely correct.

Last edited by CrazyTechie; Jan 3, 2013 at 6:41 AM.
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 8:22 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by CrazyTechie View Post
Thank you all friends for your valuable inputs.

Seems I did a mistake with the kit 18-55mm lens
As someone said, "decide the lens first then search for a suitable camera" was absolutely correct.
Hi,
I wouldn't necessarily say that. The 18-55mm is a kit lens that when bought alone sells for around 190dollars. When packaged with the camera it probably cost you less than half that.
As a general purpose lens, it should serve you well during the time you get fully comfortable with the various functions of the D5100 as well as learning how to get the most out of the camera.

What would be a mistake would be to go out and buy another lens based on one or two situations.

My suggestion to you is to get comfortable with the camera and learn how to get the most out of it by asking questions on this forum, reading the reference manual and also joining a camera club in your area(if possible).

Getting a good understanding of depth of field, lighting, exposure, camera settings, lenses and how they all contribute to the final image will benefit you greatly.

You may find that you develop a totally different photographic interest which may require a totally different lens than the one you think you need now.

Congrats on getting a good camera. It will serve you well provided you're willing to take the time to get the best out of it.

Zig
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 11:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie_Traveller View Post
BTW - is this the sort of fuzzy background you're after??
Yes, like this and one that I have attached above.
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 12:15 PM   #9
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If you want to cheat, you can always use some Gaussian Blur for the background in post processing. The results can be good, but it is painstaking to get it to look natural.

Here's a quick hatchet job from PSE 11 vto give you an idea.



Jehan
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 6:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
What you're referring to is commonly referred to as a shallow Depth of Field. You've already identified the two simplest ways to decrease the DoF (increase the background out-of-focus blur): increase the Aperture (use a numerically smaller f-number), and increase the ratio of subject distance to background distance.
This statement is significant. Along with the obvious open aperture, If you want to blur the background get closer to your foreground, thereby increasing the ratio. Taken to the extreme, Imagine you get close enough to be in macro mode... the background will be very blurry.

But it's not always that easy, and sometimes there is a balance which must be struck. Sometimes you can't get closer to the object (if it's on top of a telephone pole). It's a little freaky to take portraits right in someone's face, and the features get distorted anyway. Also as you get closer to it, you'll back off the zoom a little, and once you get to wide angle lens, that tends to increase depth of field. So sometimes it takes a balancing act. The one good thing is that with open aperture, "what you see is what you get". You can see the depth of field through the viewfinder and decide what to do about it.

That brings up the opposite question... how do you preview stopped down depth of field now-a-days? On the cameras I had 25 years ago, if you were trying to *increase* depth of field some lenses had a button you could push so if you were at f8 or f11 it would temporarily close down the aperture you could preview the depth of field. That mechanical button isn't on modern lenses, and I've never noticed a feature on the camera to close the lens electronically. I guess you take the shot and view the display to see how it came out?
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