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Cherokee Outlaw May 17, 2010 12:18 PM

FZ35 Settings for Blurred Background
Can someone help me with FZ35 settings for a blurred background on close-ups both indoor and out?

I love that look but can't seem to figure it out. :confused:

JohnG May 17, 2010 12:29 PM

A blurred background is the result of what is called a shallow depth-of-field (DOF). For a given camera, there are 3 factors which contribute to shallow depth of field:
1) aperture
2) focal length
3) distance to subject

As far as blurring the background though, there is a 4th component to how blurred the background looks: Distance from subject to background.

You can get the most blurred background by using a wide aperture (set camera to aperture priority and select widest aperture value - represented by the lowest f-number).
Then back up from your subject as much as you can to use more focal length - i.e. back up and zoom in. Those two things will give you the least amount in-focus. If you can control your subject's relation to the background then get them away from it. For example, if the close up is of a person you can move them away from the background. If it's a flower or insect you don't have as much control over moving them.

Cherokee Outlaw May 17, 2010 2:50 PM

Thank you, John!

I will try that.

Tullio May 18, 2010 10:01 AM

Unfortunately, things are not that simple when it comes to obtaining a shallow DoF with P&S cameras. The primary reason is the fixed lens construction. As John mentioned, there are several "technical" factors that will affect DoF but in general, it is obtained by setting the lens to its widest aperture. The wider the aperture, the shallower the DoF. The thing is, P&S camera lens apertures do not correlate to DSLR lens apertures. An aperture of f3.5-f4.0 on a P&S is "roughly" equivalent to f6.1-f8.0 on a DSLR. A fast P&S camera will have a lens that starts at f2.8 (with a few exceptions, such as the LX3 or S90, which start at f2.0), which is equivalent to f5.6 on a DSLR. As a result, a normal P&S with a lens that starts at f3.5 will never be able to produce the shallow DoF that a DSLR with a f1.4 lens produces. That's one of the greatest assets of DSLRs vs. P&S. To help compensate for this limitation caused by lens construction, one can use the zoom (the super zoom cameras have a great advantage here over cameras with short zooms). Move away from the subject and zoom in (rather than being close to the subject shooting close to the widest aperture). This technique will create a much shallower DoF. Of course the aperture should always be set to its widest value as well to help maximize the affect.

Cherokee Outlaw May 19, 2010 3:29 PM

Thank you, Tullio. That explains a lot. I'll keep working on it.

I've seen some decent close-ups with great backgrounds with the FZ35 before. Obviously, I don't expect to match a dslr, but I can do better.

I've had the camera for a bout a month and have been experimenting. I will get the courage to post some pics soon!

Mark1616 May 19, 2010 4:02 PM


Originally Posted by Cherokee Outlaw (Post 1096467)
Thank you, Tullio. That explains a lot.

Unfotunately it isn't correct information so don't take it as read as it will likely lead to confusion in the future.

Aperture values (f stops) are purely a relationship between the focal length of a lens and the size of the opening/aperture at the rear of the lens. Saying that apertures don't correlate between different lenses or different camera formats isn't correct. A lens that is 50mm f4 on a P&S is the same (in respect to aperture and focal length) as a 50mm f4 on a dSLR or medium format for that matter. They will let in the same amount of light, the will have the same characteristics with bending light etc as each other etc.

What the actual difference is between a dSLR and a P&S is that the P&S has a smaller sensor, this means that to get the same field of view as a dSLR with its larger sensor you don't need such a long lens and it is lens length (actual mm, not 35mm equivalent which you often see mentioned) that makes the difference. So where you might be using 10mm on your FZ35, I could be using 50mm on one of my dSLRs, this hugely reduces the DOF on the dSLR if we have everything else set the same.

In my above example of the 10mm and 50mm I found it is actually 8.9mm and 50mm to get the same field of view, but I won't worry too much lol.

What does this mean in the real world rather than the hypothetical world. Using these settings and plugging them into (making sure to select the correct cameras) we get the following results.

FZ35/38 with 8.9mm and f4 shooting a subject 5ft away we get.

Depth of field
Near limit 3.62 ft
Far limit 8.1 ft
Total 4.48 ft

Canon 5DmkII (full frame dSLR) 50mm f4 shooting a subject 5ft away.

Depth of field
Near limit 4.67 ft
Far limit 5.38 ft
Total 0.71 ft

With the 2 cameras the field of view will be the same, so framing will be basically identical (forgetting that one is 4:3 and the other is 3:2 aspect ratio), but the way the background will look is going to be vastly different.

Anyway, that's hopefully a better (not sure if clearer though) explanation of what is really going on so you don't have misconceptions of apertures if you later switch to dSLR or if you just hear people talking about them etc.

Play around with that depth of field calculator, it's helpful to see how things change, especially when you start using the longer end of the lens on the FZ35.

chillgreg May 19, 2010 9:58 PM

Thanks Mark! That is very helpful.

Greg :-)

Cherokee Outlaw May 20, 2010 6:59 AM

Thank you, Mark, for clearing things up a bit!

Mark1616 May 20, 2010 7:23 AM

You are welcome, it's a very confusing subject but relates to an effect that many people want to achieve so it is worth getting the basics correct.

If you have more questions please ask away.

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