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Old May 14, 2010, 2:12 PM   #1
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Default Manual Focusing question

Hi,
I am novice to photography, although I like to play around with my camera. I'm shopping around for a camera now and I have a question that will greatly help my criteria list.

I previously used a Canon s5 for a couple of weeks and I liked to play with the manual focus and take pictures with a subject in the foreground while the background is out of focus (I'm not sure if there's a name for this type of shots). I'm wondering if it's possible to take such photos on a camera without a manual focus function. Would using a center focus option create such an effect?

Thank you very much for indulging in this ignorant novice
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Old May 14, 2010, 2:51 PM   #2
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What you're talking about is capturing a shallow depth of field. You don't need to focus manually to do that. You just need to control what the camera is focusing on and what the aperture is. A large aperture (numerically small) will give the shallowest depth of field that a lens is capable of.
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Old May 14, 2010, 2:58 PM   #3
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in addition to what tcav said. if you want to do more of this, then you will want a bigger sensor camera, like a dslr with a fast (large aperture or low f-stop) lens.
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Old May 14, 2010, 3:07 PM   #4
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If this is what you are trying to make your shot look like. It will be very difficult with any point and shoot, as the small sensor greatly decrease the shallow dof effect the Tcav and Hards is talking about. You will need a dslr with a big aperture lens to achieve this. If you can not get very good seperation between your subject and background the only way to get this effect is a big aperture lens, with say f2.0 or better up close.

If you are looking for an inexpensive dslr option to do this, The canon xs or xsi with the canon ef 50mm f1.8. The lens is 90 dollars. And the xs is canon's least expensive dslr. This shot was taken with that lens I mention.
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Old May 14, 2010, 10:15 PM   #5
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You can do this with a small sensor camera. It just takes a bit more work. You are on the right track with using manual focus, but it can also be done with auto focus, if you focus on something closer than the primary subject, then reframe the picture while keeping shutter button half-pressed. Some cameras have focus lock separate from exposure lock, for just this purpose. Check your camera's manual.
You won't get as shallow a DOF as with a large sensor, but the effect can be accomplished. It becomes more pronounced with longer focal lengths (more zoom) and wider apertures, and less so with wide angles and small apertures, so using close-up mode or macro setting will enhance it. Also, the more separation there is between the subject and background, the better it will look.

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Old May 14, 2010, 10:43 PM   #6
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You need to be able to separate your subject from the background. If you can not, it is next to impossible with a point and shoot. MF can work in some cases. But the key is separation between the subject and the background. As VT said macro mode will help. But you will you will get some blurring, but do not expect the level that a large sensor and aperture lens can produce.
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Old May 14, 2010, 10:49 PM   #7
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Actually you will see the difference in shallow dof from a large sensor of a 4/3 dslr vs a megazoom in macro mode in this thread. Just look at the blurring before looking at the answer from this thread.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fu.../169842-a.html
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Old May 15, 2010, 12:57 PM   #8
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Thank you all for the information, it has been very educational. Yes, shoturtle, that is the kind of shot I was trying to describe.

I am looking to purchase a camera for a trip to Germany (lots of castles, landscape and architecture shots), but probably not a dSLR. This information will help me in my camera selection when I post a thread in the "what camera to buy" section.
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Old May 15, 2010, 1:20 PM   #9
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Do you want shots like this for your trip to Germany
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Old May 15, 2010, 1:24 PM   #10
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Or this

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/ar...ankfurt-m.html
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/ar...h-germany.html
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/la...chill-day.html
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Last edited by shoturtle; May 15, 2010 at 1:38 PM.
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