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Old Dec 19, 2004, 12:09 PM   #1
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Hi

I'm new to these forums and digital camera's in general. I've just got the Canon Powershot S70 and have a few difficulties with my pictures.

Basically I have a friend who is really into photography who has an older film camera, and takes wonderful portrait photo's without using the flash (indoor and outdoor), where the person is in focus in the foreground and the background is really out of focus, kind of a blur and they look stunning.

now i cannot, whatever i do achieve the same kind of photos I have a book which states that in order to achieve this look you have to use a high aperture setting (low number) I tried this by putting it on Av setting and 2.8 and switched off the flash, but it doesn't work. I also noticed that when i zoom in the aperture number goes up.

I even tried similar photo's using the camera's auto portrait setting, but no luck. I've taken all the pictures so far indoors with a lamp on.

Is this certain camera not capable of achieving these types of photos?

I would really appreciate any help or tips becuase i'm really struggling.

Thanks.
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Old Dec 19, 2004, 3:34 PM   #2
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Digital cameras with small sensors generate very short focal lengths for a given 35mm equivalence for a given aperture. The shorter the focal length the greater the depth of field or DOF. Your aperture number goes up when you zoom because the camera is telling you that is the widest aperture available at that zoom setting. Your A70 goes to f4.8 max aperture at full zoom.

Besides being aperture and focal length limited to large DOFs, it is hard to use the good photographer's system of focusing so the subject is on the far extreme of what is considered to be sufficiently in focus to be considered sharp. There are indications of that on most SLR/DSLR lenses and it can be refined through the excellent viewfinders. Your camera doesn't even let you focus where you want, and even little optical viewfinder digicams that have manual focus don't give you a good enough view to really do that accurately. Some people sort of make their own DOF charts by taking notes on each shot, but it generally isn't that practical. I do take my first shot at the focus dictated by the camera and manually focus a little closer each shot, taking several to try to hit the balance between background blur and subject sharpness right. But it is hit and miss and not exactly scientific without a DSLR.

If I can get some increase in blur with distance I can usually accentuate that in Photoshop. You can end up with the results but it takes some work.


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Old Dec 19, 2004, 6:28 PM   #3
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Slipe is right: the shorter actual focal length means a greater depth of field. The best you can do with the camera is shoot at the longest zoom and at the largest aperature (smallest f/number) you have. As Slipe notes, you can blur the background with a photo editor. That can be a lot of work - much the same set of problems as changing the background.
PianoMan wrote:
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... I have a friend who is really into photography who has an older film camera, and takes wonderful portrait photo's without using the flash (indoor and outdoor), where the person is in focus in the foreground and the background is really out of focus, kind of a blur and they look stunning. ...
Is your friend shooting with a medium format camera? That has a larger sensor (film) than a 35mm so uses a longer lens for the same field of view. Much less depth of field.
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Old Dec 20, 2004, 7:20 AM   #4
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I'm not sure the about the answer to this question.
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Old Dec 20, 2004, 7:22 AM   #5
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slipe wrote:
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Digital cameras with small sensors generate very short focal lengths for a given 35mm equivalence for a given aperture. The shorter the focal length the greater the depth of field or DOF. Your aperture number goes up when you zoom because the camera is telling you that is the widest aperture available at that zoom setting. Your A70 goes to f4.8 max aperture at full zoom.

Besides being aperture and focal length limited to large DOFs, it is hard to use the good photographer's system of focusing so the subject is on the far extreme of what is considered to be sufficiently in focus to be considered sharp. There are indications of that on most SLR/DSLR lenses and it can be refined through the excellent viewfinders. Your camera doesn't even let you focus where you want, and even little optical viewfinder digicams that have manual focus don't give you a good enough view to really do that accurately. Some people sort of make their own DOF charts by taking notes on each shot, but it generally isn't that practical. I do take my first shot at the focus dictated by the camera and manually focus a little closer each shot, taking several to try to hit the balance between background blur and subject sharpness right. But it is hit and miss and not exactly scientific without a DSLR.

If I can get some increase in blur with distance I can usually accentuate that in Photoshop. You can end up with the results but it takes some work.

Just to clear up a point, I have the Canon S70, not the A70 and I am able to focus where I want. I actually had a little bit better set of results last night while focusing to the right on the lense and then switching to manual focus.
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Old Jan 1, 2005, 11:46 PM   #6
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i have noticed that shoot ing in Macro or even super macro mode on my pro1 works fine for me... although i havent tried this with a real person.... (lol that sounds waaay too geeky) it does work for still lifes!

-zacker-
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Old Jan 2, 2005, 1:10 AM   #7
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Canon S70 - The real lens in this camera is 5.8mm-20.7mm.

At these real min/max settings:
Wide: 5.8mm, F2.8, focused @ 10feet, acceptable dof=infinite from 3.95 feet from camera, impossible to blur/defocus background.
Tele: 20.7mm, F5.3, focused @ 10feet, acceptable dof=5.32feet from 8 feet from camera, background blur should start to be noticeable around 20-25feet from camera.

It can be done but you need to use your max tele(20.7mm) and min F stop (F5.3)focused as close as possible, and have the background quite far away.

In comparison aSLR with a real 100mm lens(your 20.7 equivalent) @F5.3 and focused at 10 feet has a dof of .63 feet, everything past about11 feet starts to go soft and out of focus.
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Old Jan 3, 2005, 2:11 PM   #8
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Lots of technical stuff in this forum.... I have a digital SLR Canon Rebel, I use the 55-200mm tele lens set to f5.6 zoomed to about 135 and about 15-20 feet away. I get really nice blurred backgrounds with the paper or Muslin backgrounds being maybe 3 -5 feet behind model. But I do't just use lens to blur background, I also use light drop off to darken it more than model. I set my main strobe to be F8 at models face and maybe a 5.6 or less at backdrop.
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Old Jan 4, 2005, 12:54 PM   #9
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:-)You can use DofMaster to work out the distances either online version or with their down-loadable printable standalone version.

Very handy tool.
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Old Jan 7, 2005, 11:17 AM   #10
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PianoMan wrote:
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I'm not sure the about the answer to this question.
Just use larger apertures (ie wider irises) and more zoom. Write down each aperture setting before you take a photo of the same subject, and note what the background and foreground looks like for each case as you progress through the settings.
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