Digital cameras

  the hick 23:32 05 May 2008

I have used a Canon PS 520 camera for couple of years now, with manual overide on the controls. Do all digitals have great depth of field at all apertures, I have trouble getting backgrounds out-of-focus, with the subject in-focus. Seems impossible, in fact. Never a problem with my old Spotmatic Pentax! Would a digital SLR be better in this respect?

  Stuartli 08:29 06 May 2008

You need a digital camera with the ability to manually set the aperture - the more wide open the aperture (i.e. the smaller the F-stop number) the more narrow the depth of field.

However, digital cameras probably/almost certainly have a greater depth of field throughout the apertures due to the smaller sensors and shorter focal length lenses.

Incidentally I also have a 1.8 Ashai Pentax Spotmatic, one of the first to go on sale at the time I bought it in the mid 1960s...:-)

  Stuartli 08:31 06 May 2008

Do note that depth of field and depth of focus, often confused, are not quite the same. See, for instance:

click here

  hssutton 08:39 06 May 2008

Yes all the none "full frame" digital cameras suffer from "extended" DOF

click here

The answer to the second part of your question is yes.

DSLRs have a larger sensor than compacts, so will give shallower DOF, but if you want emulate the very shallow DOF of a 35mm camera you will need to buy such as the Canon 5D (a superb camera) cost approx £1300 but with £150 cashback from Canon

  anchor 09:10 06 May 2008

From the review below, I see that your camera has a "portrait" setting.

click here

This would be better for reducing the DOF; try it and see.

  ravingdave 10:27 06 May 2008

Another option if you don't want to go down the digtial SLR route is to buy one of the current breed of 'super-zoom' digital cameras (for example Canon IS S5). These typically have zooms in the range of 10x to 18x, and if you take portraits with these on a telephoto setting it is possible to get the backgrounds out of focus (but you need to stand a good distance away from the subject, and will need good light).

  the hick 20:43 06 May 2008

Thakyou for the replies. I have used it on manual, f2.6, and still have backgounds not as out-of-focus as I would like. Have to start saving for DSLR, but must be something lttle cheaper than Canon 5D, say £500-ish? Otherwise the Spotmatic-F still has a film in it, Fuji I think!

  anchor 15:13 07 May 2008

Another way you might consider it to slightly blur the background, using something like Paint Shop Pro, with Gaussian blur. You select your main object with the lasso tool, then invert the selection.

To give you an idea of the effect, see an example I have just quickly made:

click here

Obviously, you can change the amount of background blur to whatever you want.

  the hick 06:29 14 Aug 2008

Still have the PS 520! Noticed recently, seems to be unable to cope with areas of light next to dark - the lighter area seems to 'wash over' the darker area, on the viewing screen and in the recorded image. Do digital cameras deteriorate over time? I had not noticed this before.

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