Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums >

LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jan 9, 2006, 12:12 PM   #1
Senior Member
frenchy's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 466

Aaagghhh!! I just wrote a whole essay, then the file size was too big! I'm not going through that again...basically I'm disappointed with the shallow depth of field my FZ5's offering with sports photos. I love the fast burst mode and the 12x zoom + optical stabilisation but the depth of field isn't as shallow as I'd hoped. I shot these on ISO 400 and Aperture Priority (2.8 or3.2 depending on the zoom used). The macro shots and portraits produce a depth of field I'm happy with but the sports photos don't. Is there anythingI can do to improve this?


Attached Images
frenchy is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Jan 9, 2006, 2:15 PM   #2
Senior Member
klfatcj's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 198

I'll give this question a shot; any errors are mine and some of the more experienced posters may have better info.

DOF is affected by the aperature and relative closeness of the subject vs the background, but also by the true focal length. While many digital cameras are sold with zoom "equivalents", listed, this tells you how wide your field of vision is and how close the image will appear relative to the regular SLR's. The DOF for the lens will be related to the actual focal length, in the case of the FZ5 6-72mm (not the 35-432 equivalent).

It works well for close up and portrait work because, just like a 50 or 70 mm lens, the subject is relatively close to the camera while the background is not. Once you get past a certain distance with a 50 or 70 mm lens, you are focusing at infinity and everything beyond a certain distance will be in focus. Your football shot is probably focused at fairly close to infinity.

On a lens with a true 200 or 300 mm focal length, an object 200 feet away will not be in focus at infinity producing a difference between the subject and the background. Of course, the farther the subject is from these lenses, the closer to the infinity focus you get and the less the background blur too. Shots where the players are very close to the camera produce alot of background blur, when they are at the other end of the field, there will be less.

Therefor, to get the background blur, get closer to your subject, obviously not always possible on the field. The trade off is that with the shorter focal length, you will have many more shots in focus. With a true 200 mm lens you would have had more background blur, but at f2.8, not even all the players would have been in sharp focus. I have started shooting with a 70-200 on a rebel XT and while the background blur is great, 70%+ of my sports shots contain a subject that is out of focus. I admire the pros who get great shots with even longer lenses - I wonder how many they toss.


klfatcj is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 9, 2006, 8:12 PM   #3
Senior Member
terry@softreq.com's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,540

If you want to blur the background, shoot shutter priority and open the shutter WIDE OPEN.

Also, the more you "zoom in" on the athletes, the longer your focal length will be, which will also create more blur.

So stand back, zoom in, and shoot WIDE OPEN.

And then see how it goes.. Terry
terry@softreq.com is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 10, 2006, 4:13 AM   #4
Senior Member
Africa's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: El Paso, TX
Posts: 171

Terry is not "da man" in this case.

Sorry to inform you Terry has given you very bad advice or maybe he just got his terminology wrong.

He said, "shoot shutter priority and open the shutter WIDE OPEN."

"Wide open" is a term photographers use when referring to the f-stop not the shutter speed. You cannot shoot in shutter priority and assure you will be shooting "wide open".

The good news is that you seem to know what you are doing - you shot in aperture mode, kept the lens wide open (2.8 or 3.2) thereby giving you a SS high enough to stop action and keeping the DoF as shallow as possible. I don't know why noboby gave you credit for doing it right (usually we get people who kind of get close or don't have a clue) so congratualtions!

klfatcj has it right, there are three things that affect DoF:
1. the f-stop
2. the focal length of the lens
3. the distance to the subject

You've done the best you can with #1. You have few options with #2 as even the longest your lens gets is 72mm and that gets the same DoF as a 72mm lens on a 35mm camera. A lot of people think you get the DoF of the 430mm equivalent but sorry to say it doesn't work that way.

Terry also said "stand back, zoom in, and shoot wide open". Lets take these one at a time:
1. Shoot wide open - it will help.
2. Zoom in - problematic at 72mm.
3. Stand back - Wrong! "Standing back" makes the problem worse, as klfatcj explained.

The real problem is #3 - your macro shots are so close to the subject the DoF is very small. Similar circumstances for the portraits, albiet your subject is a little further away. But the sports stuff is near or at infinity so everything appears relatively in focus.

But there is another effect no one has mentioned - compression. Longer lenses compress images, that is they make things look closer together than they really are or appear to be to the human eye. In the case of your pic the longer end of the zoom has "pulled" the background closer to the subject than a shorter focal length would have. This compounds the focal length problem making for the distracting backgrounds.

With the camera you have I can't think of much you can do to make the situation better accept to shoot towards backgrounds that are far away (if posible) and that are not distracting (the building in your photo is about as simple as they get). So I thnk you've done about as much as you can.

If you really get a pic you like you might use some software to blur the background but that's time consuming - time better spent (IMHO) having a beer with your soccer friends or hugging your children.

Good Luck - Africa

BTW I don't find the background in your photo that distracting.
Africa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 10, 2006, 6:48 AM   #5
JohnG's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529

So far, Africa seems closest to the truth. But, what is missing is that the sensor size also has a very large affect on things. Here is a good article that explains DOF. At the end, he addresses this particular question:
[align=left]A common complaint about digital cameras is that when using one it's not possible to get nice out-of-focus backgrounds. Why therefore do digital cameras have greater Depth of Field? The reason for this is that the imaging chips on most consumer digitals is very small, around the size of ones smallest finger nail. This means that a normal lens for a format that small is as short as 15mm. A 15mm lens at f/5.6 has Depth Of Field from about 2.5 feet to infinity. Not too much opportunity for selective focus, is there?[/align]
So, for most ranges outside macro digicams will offer very poor background blur.The larger the sensor or media, the better the background blur. If you take the same 200mm 2.8 lens and shoot on a 1.6 crop camera like the Canon 20D and take the same photo on a 1 series body the 1 series body will produce a better blur because it has a larger sensor.

JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 10, 2006, 8:18 AM   #6
Senior Member
frenchy's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 466

Wow, I didn't expect that much of a response! Thanks for all the input guys. It seems that I'm pretty much stuck with what I've got for the moment so I'll keep plugging away with that. Maybe when I've improved somewhat I'll upgrade to a DSLR but for now I'll content myself with the FZ5 and its phenomenal zoom and lack of DOF control.

Thanks again.

frenchy is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 2:04 AM.