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Old September 22nd, 2004, 12:44 AM   #1
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Fear of a Massive Depth of Field

I'll admit it. As one of the thousands of slaves to the "film look," I like my depth of field small.

Tonight I performed a test. I lit myself sitting in a chair. Iris open (or f2.0); ND1; and a 100-watt Verilux bulb (2800K) blasting at me from a clip-on with reflector some 5ft away. (Not that you care that it was a 100w Verilux. But I enjoyed telling you.)

I had to pull the camera 12ft away and zoom in to frame myself mid-chest to head in order to get enough blur on the background (which was 12ft from me, or 24ft from the camera).

Yikes!

How often do you have 24ft to play with? (Not counting soundstages and warehouses. Or anything outside of the Five Bouroughs.)

If I want to narrow depth of field--outside of what I describe above--how do I get the best bang for the buck? A macro adapter? A 2x tele adapter? A vaseline matte?

Michael
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 01:00 AM   #2
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I'm not sure this is right or practical, but what about keeping the subject as far away from the background as is comfortable, and thus making a stark distinction between focal planes?

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Old September 22nd, 2004, 01:08 AM   #3
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Michael, try doing a search under "depth of field" or "DoF"--we've beaten this particular issue into the ground many times over!

Other things to look at/search under: "softscreen" and "mini35".
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 01:13 AM   #4
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Argh. Read 'n' search before you post.

The excellent article here:

http://www.vanwalree.com/optics/dof.html

is referred to in this excellent thread.

At any rate, I'll ponder on this. And maybe park some of these fussy questions until after I've shot some more narrative stuff.

Michael
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 01:57 AM   #5
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Michael, it's good to talk . . . thanks for bringing this to the front and centre again . . I've just been filming some DoF stuff: Subject1 real close to camera .. 3' and Subject2 across a busy road about 40' away . .. excellent! . . Rotated the focus ring and now I'm sitting back "marvelling" at my footage . . looks real neat! - camera? my Canon XM2 . . .

Grazie
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 12:14 PM   #6
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The cheapest way is to use a Softscreen, which is just a screen you hang behind the subject and makes the background look blurry.
The only really real option for shallow DoFis to rent or buy a mini35 adapter.
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 12:25 PM   #7
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Fear of heights is known as "Vertigo"

Fear of massive depths of field is known as "Vidigo". Same physical symptoms. Treat with mild tranquilizers and watch nearly any current dramatic television program, as they feature a monotonous parade of medium and extreme close-ups with shallow dof.
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 01:20 PM   #8
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The SoftScreen apparently can be had for about $500 from IndieToolbox, although their website has a few broken picture links.

B&H do not list it on their web page, so perhaps it's available only from Indie Toolbox.

Thanks for the idea.

Michael
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 01:32 PM   #9
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Is SoftScreen nothing more than Matte surface Acrylic sheet
(Acrylite FF P-99) used mainly for picture framing?
If so a 4'x8' sheet should cost about $100.
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 03:46 PM   #10
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Michael,

You are going to want to have a wide-open iris to start with. That means controlling your exposure mostly through ND filters and faster shutter speeds, and using lots of light. Basically, abandoning the built-in exposure control. This is a pain, but you can get good results.

You are already aware of backing off and zooming in, and placing the subject as far from the background as possible.
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