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Old Feb 16, 2005, 1:17 PM   #1
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Hello everyone,

I just purchased a new Nikon Coolpix 8800, and am in the process of teaching myself how to use it, and what all of these settings mean. After having played around with it, I have found it takes absolutely incredible pictures, but it brings about two questions.

1)The first question I have is how do I create image effects, where the center subject is totally crisp and clear, and everything behind is blurry. You know, the center subject in a picture, completely stands out and is clear, and the remaining things in the background are all blurry. Can I do this with my camera, or does this require a special lens?

2) How do I speed this camera up, in order to take some acton shots? I was at a college basketball game the other night, and could not take any actioon shots, because by the time the camera closed the shutter, the ball and the player were completely out of the screen.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, in advance, for any assistance you can provide,

Brett
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Old Feb 16, 2005, 2:15 PM   #2
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1)
Your problem comes because of the camera, but can be overcome. If you have any experience with shooting 35-mm film, you'll find that the depth of field (how much is in focus) is larger with that digital (and almost every digital.) I can go into why this is true if you care. That is the fact, now the solution.
- Use the smallest fstop (largest aperture) you can.
- separate the subject from the background more.
- blur the background in post-processing.

2)
Well, you can't speed it up much. That is one of the things you get when you buy the non-professional camera. I know that camera wasn't cheap, and I know that camera makers could do a better job on this front... if they wanted to. In my opinion this is becoming more of an issue than more mega-pixels. I don't know that camera, so these are only general rules:
- prefocus, or focus as close as you can and let the AF finish the job.
- pre-meter (1/2 press the shutter) and anticipate the action. Not easy, but if you shoot similar stuff all the time you get better at it. (if you have some form of focus tracking, try that.)
- shoot in manual mode. Figure out the proper settings for an indoor controlled environment and leave them at that. Might work, might not. Depends on how even the lighting is.

Eric
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Old Feb 16, 2005, 3:20 PM   #3
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Hey Eric, thanks a lot for the reply. In seperating the subject from the background more, do you man while focusing? Also, in the post processing, do you mean to use a program like Photoshop, or something, or is this something that I should be able to do on the camera itself? As far as the action shot, I will read up, and see what I can do about settng soome of the manual settings, so I can ppossibly try and get a little better results. It is funny, because I was tryinig some of the things you mentioned, even pressing the shutter before the subject got into the field of view, and it was either too early, or still to late, I guess it takes a lot of practice. I know I could take some pretty nice photos with an old SLR I had, and I agree with you fully, you would think that they could have gotten this part down a little better by now, especially at this price.Thanks, again!!
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Old Feb 16, 2005, 3:42 PM   #4
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BA0701 wrote:
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... In seperating the subject from the background more, do you man while focusing?...
Do some reading on "Depth of Field". Other terms are used, but that phrase will get more hits on a search engine than most others. "Circle of Confusion" is a good search phrase if you are interested in the technical issues.

In addition to eric's comments on camera settings, add:
- use the longest focal length your camera has.

Look for a good EXIF viewer that will give you information on the settings (f/stop, exposure, focal length, saturation, contrast, ...) used for each shot. Experiment with various settings and shoot a lot - that boring wall outside your window will do nicely as a subject if nothing else comes to mind. See what the camera settings do while you read the manual.

Keep experimenting, keep reading, have fun, and you will figure it out.
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Old Feb 16, 2005, 9:36 PM   #5
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Yes, I mean an editor like photoshop. There are others, much cheaper and still quite good (picture window, Paint Shop Pro are cheaper, irfanview is free.) There is still some skill with bluring it with an editor... but it can be done to good effect with some practice.

And yes, the first two are done when you take the picture. I'm not sure what you mean by "when focusing". And BillDrew is right, I forgot that one. Using a longer focal length (more zoom) will separate your subject from the background more.

Eric
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Old Feb 18, 2005, 6:47 AM   #6
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BillDrew: Thank you, very much. I have done some searching for those two terms, and it is slowly making more sense..



Eric: Thank you, as well. You information was most helpful, and I now have a starting point, which I can use to try and create the desired effect. Thanks again!!
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