Depth Of Field on Compact Digicam

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by Gav, Oct 23, 2006.

  1. Gav

    Gav Guest

    I have a Canon S50 digicam and I'm experimenting with DOF on portrait shots,
    trying to get a narrow DOF. I'm taking them in Av mode with the aperture set
    to 2.8 which is as wide as it will go, with the subject approx 5-6 feet
    away. Thing is although the background is not as sharp as the subject it is
    still sharper than I would like. Is it possible to get a relatively narrow
    depth of field on this type of camera or am I wasting my time trying? If it
    is possible can anybody offer any advice on how to achieve it? Does the
    distance of the subject from the camera make a difference?


    Gav, Oct 23, 2006
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  2. Gav

    Mark Dunn Guest

    The sensor is very small, so it requires a short focal length to cover it,
    hence lots of DOF. Using the long end of the zoom will help, as will having
    the background as far away as you can manage.
    But generally, your standard lens is about 6 or 8mm., as against 50 for
    35mm. tere's the problem. DSLRs have a somewhat bigger sensor so the problem
    is less marked. But your sensor is not much bigger than a fingernail.
    Mark Dunn, Oct 23, 2006
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  3. Gav

    Tony Polson Guest

    Basically, you are wasting your time trying. Sorry!

    The small size of the sensor dictates that you will always get far
    greater depth of field than with a larger sensor or 35mm film. This
    makes it extremely difficult to obtain a shallow depth of field with a
    point and shoot digicam, even with a wide aperture such as f/2.8.

    Your main option is to use a digital camera with a much larger sensor
    such as a DSLR. The shallowest depth of field will be obtained with a
    DSLR using a "full size" sensor such as the Canon EOS 5D or 1Ds Mk II.
    The APS-C size sensors in the Nikon, Pentax and Minolta/Sony DSLRs
    will give greater depth of field, roughly equivalent to that obtained
    with an aperture one f-stop smaller. The Olympus, Panasonic and Leica
    DSLRs using the smaller Four Thirds sensor give an even greater depth
    of field, equivalent to an aperture two f-stops smaller.

    For example, for the same angle of view, using a lens at f/2 on any of
    the Four Thirds DSLRs will give about the depth of field you would
    expect at f/4 on 35mm film or a Canon EOS 5D.

    The sensors in compact point and shoot digicams are tiny even compared
    with the Four Thirds sensors, so there is enormous depth of field even
    when using a relatively wide aperture such as f/2.8.
    Tony Polson, Oct 23, 2006
  4. Gav

    Gav Guest

    Thanks for the detailed response. I'm planning to get a DSLR next year so
    until then I'll give up with the DOF experimenting with the S50. Still got
    some films to use on my Film SLR so I'll have a play about with that

    Gav, Oct 23, 2006
  5. Gav

    Tony Polson Guest

    You're very welcome. Glad I could help.
    A 50mm f/1.4 is a good buy for your SLR/future DSLR. On an APS-C DSLR
    it becomes a useful equivalent 75mm f/1.4 and gives the short depth of
    field that you need to get defocused backgrounds. 50mm lenses also
    tend to be very good performers, and the demand for zoom lenses means
    that 50mm lenses are often available for very little money.
    Tony Polson, Oct 23, 2006
  6. You're wasting your time.

    You can fix it up in photoshop after, but you'll struggle to get it in
    the camera with such a small sensor.
    Richard Polhill, Oct 23, 2006
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