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Old Jun 17, 2010, 1:15 AM   #1
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Default Can you take decent portraits with a P&S?

In another post, I mentioned that I want to upgrade my camera from my old Canon G3 to something more current because a baby is on the way. I think I decided that I am probably going to get a compact camera such as the ZS6 for now because I want one I will always have with me, and then maybe get a DSLR a little later because I want something very fast and want to learn more about photography. But in the meantime, is it possible to get good looking portraits with the compact? You probably can't blur the background with one can you? Is that something you can do well in editing though? From what I gather on here, you would need the DSLR for that, and something like 50mm f1.8 lens?
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Old Jun 17, 2010, 1:19 AM   #2
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You can, but if you are looking for dof control it will not be as good as a dslr with a big aperture like a 50mm 1.4 or 1.8.
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Old Jun 17, 2010, 12:37 PM   #3
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JM667-

P+S cameras have a lot of depth of field that is inherent to their design and construction. The can take a portrait like the one attached that was taken with a Fuji P+S camera. You will notice the background is not blurred. P+S camera, generally speaking, cannot under the circumstances found in the attached photo, produce a blurred background.

A blurred background is a characteristic of DSLR cameras. If something like the attached photo is acceptable, the a P+S camera can handle the job nicely.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jun 17, 2010, 12:51 PM   #4
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Is that a pic of you Sarah?
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Old Jun 17, 2010, 4:06 PM   #5
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Yes, that is indeed a photo of me.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jun 17, 2010, 9:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JM667 View Post
But in the meantime, is it possible to get good looking portraits with the compact? You probably can't blur the background with one can you? Is that something you can do well in editing though?
Hi JM667,

Getting a blurred background for portraits can be done well in editing.

Since portraits are posed, place the subject in front of a solid colored background that has maximum contrast with his/her hair. Light hair, dark background and vice versa. It might even be necessary to have a light on the floor behind the subject illuminating the background for best results.

Step-2 is to take a picture of the background you want and blur it either in camera or during editing. To blur the background in the camera, set focus to spot but exposure to pattern. Hold a small object in front of your lens and place the spot on it. Half press the shutter to lock focus on the object but exposure on the background. Then remove the small object and the background should be blurred with about the proper exposure. Take the picture. A small object on a stick would give the best chance of getting the proper background exposure.

Use a graphics editing program to extract the person from the solid colored background. This should be much easier because of the high contrast between the hair and the solid colored background. Then paste the person on the blurred background.

The above is theory and not as good as using a DSLR but if done right, it should be extremely difficult for most people to tell the difference. I used to do slideshows professionally and extracted quite a few people from photos to get this effect. When they were against contrasting backgrounds, the task was much easier.

Sky

Last edited by skylark; Jun 17, 2010 at 10:00 PM.
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Old Jun 18, 2010, 4:26 AM   #7
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I use a carry everywhere compact and find taking portraits ok for my taste, granted a DSLR would do better, but find for a pocket camera it is acceptable.

Camera: Sony DSC-W300

Name:  DSC00837 copy.jpg
Views: 396
Size:  182.9 KB

Exposure Time = 1/4"
F Number = F5.5
Exposure Program = Normal program
ISO Speed Ratings = 200
Exif Version = Version 2.21
Date Time Original = 2009-06-18 17:56:51
Date Time Digitized = 2009-06-18 17:56:51
Components Configuration = YCbcr
Compressed Bits Per Pixel = 3
Exposure Bias Value = -0.3EV
Max Aperture Value = F2.83
Metering Mode = CenterWeightedAverage
Light Source = Daylight
Flash = Flash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
Focal Length = 22.8mm
Flashpix Version = Version 1.0
Color Space = sRGB
Exif Image Width = 600
Exif Image Height = 800
Interoperability IFD Pointer = Offset: 780
File Source = DSC
Scene Type = A directly photographed image
Custom Rendered = Normal process
Exposure Mode = Manual exposure
White Balance = Manual white balance
Scene Capture Type = Normal
Contrast = Normal
Saturation = Normal
Sharpness = Normal
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Old Jun 18, 2010, 9:12 AM   #8
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That looks great, Ian-

Sarah Joyce
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