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Old March 12th, 2014, 01:37 PM   #1
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How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

I'm a noob and am having a hard time achieving a shallow depth of field! I have the Panasonic AG-AC130P and it seems like the only way to get a shallow depth of field is to zoom all the way in and the background has to be pretty far away... This makes achieving a shallow depth of field for interviews extremely hard for me since most offices aren't big enough to get the camera that far away. Am I a total noob and am missing something? Some tricks? Or is it just the limitations of the AG-AC130?

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Old March 12th, 2014, 02:42 PM   #2
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

It's a limitation of the camera because of it's small sensor, like you said opening the iris all teh way and zooming in is the only way to get a smaller dof, that's the main difference with any larger sensor camera, even with my gh3 which has a much smaller sensor then a 5d full frame I can get a much shallower dof then your agac130 when I use a f1.4 lens.
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Old March 12th, 2014, 03:25 PM   #3
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

Shallow depth of field is possible with 1/3" chip cameras, but it is difficult. As you already observed shooting with a longer focal length is necessary (zooming in). Also shooting with your iris wide open will help, use ND filters to control your exposure. And, as you are already aware, increase the distance between your subject in the background.

Shallow DOF is just one tool to help your subject stand out from the background. Proper lighting is also extremely important, especially with smaller chip cameras. Try lighting the subject so that you can flag off the background, keeping your subject bright and your background a bit darker. Use a key light to create a nice rim of light around your subject and help lift them out from the background. Using complimentary colored gels on your lights can also help, such as a bluish gel on your background lights and a warmer gel on your subject will further help your subject pop out.
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Old March 12th, 2014, 03:41 PM   #4
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

Thanks for the input! I may sell this AG-AC130 and look at getting the Canon C100 or something... The AG-AC130 is awesome but for what I need it for, there might be a better solution... But I'm not sure how hard it will be to sell it... ;(

Thanks!
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Old March 13th, 2014, 07:20 AM   #5
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

Sometimes when shooting interviews in small offices I'm able to set up my camera out in the hall and zoom in and get shallow depth of field that way. But really, my clients don't really seem to notice depth of field all that much. Proper lighting, excellent audio, having the subject in proper focus and color balance are all things clients will notice "off" if you mess up any one of them.

But depth of field, they don't seem to notice at all. Only other people in the video biz seem to notice it. For instance, if my client is a producer on a corporate shoot, sometimes he will want shallow depth of field. But I doubt the end client, his client, notices it any more than when I'm working independently as a one man band videographer for an end client.
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Old March 13th, 2014, 10:14 AM   #6
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

In addition to the open-iris and long lens techniques, you can sometimes "fake" a shallower DOF by using close-up diopters. They'll shift the entire focus zone closer, which can sometimes achieve a "blurred background" effect at closer distances than a smaller sensor camcorder normally could.
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Old March 13th, 2014, 12:40 PM   #7
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

Adam's got the best ready to go alternative for you, create the separation by darkening the background
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Old March 14th, 2014, 03:15 AM   #8
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

Hi Michael

I used to have 2 x AC-130's and as the guys say the tiny 1/3" chips are never going to achieve real shallow DOF ... You can get pseudo shallow DOF by zooming and having the background a fair way behind the subject but often it just isn't practical!

I moved to Sony EA-50's which have APSC sensors but even with that you need a pretty wide aperture to get where you need to so with even a big sensor camera if you shoot at F5.6 you will get much the same as the 130 gives you ... Hybrid cameras are actually great like the Canon C series and Sony FS and EA series mainly because you can change lenses and once you have a wicked F1.4 lens on the camera shallow DOF is easy... however just beware that it's not all good and shallow DOF can become boring or even a nuisance when you actually need more DOF and the light is low. It can often be overdone. I often use my stock lens on my EA-50's because I need more DOF and I'll get a better and more in focus image at F4.5 !!

What are you shooting that brings out the need for shallow DOF??

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Old March 14th, 2014, 07:01 AM   #9
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

I presume you NEED shallow DOF? Or is it just cool?

The AC130 is great for run & gun, ENG-type or documentary type work. I've just polished off a 30 minute documentary with interviews etc., and never considered extreme shallow DOF once. The C100 from Canon and other cameras will involve cash. Will the AC130 not do? Additional cost to you is $0!

Maybe weddings need to be all out of focus?

To me (not being in weddings etc.), shallow DOF is a bit like wanting a matte box just to make your camera look cool!

I'm not being funny, I'm just trying to work out why shallow DOF is an absolute requirement, and why you bought an AC130 if you want it? It's an expensive mistake!
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Old March 14th, 2014, 07:08 AM   #10
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

I find shallow dof very useful if you are shooting an interview and the background is distracting or maybe just plain ugly, so with the option of nicely blurring that out completely you are putting the focus on your subject which is what shallow dof should be used for, to guide your viewers eyes to a part of the frame you want them to look at. with large sensor camera's you also have the choice to have a very shallow dof or front to back sharpness depending on what effect you are after. It also can give a much more pleasing look to have a slightly blurry/creamy looking background which most people associate with "cinema", not saying that this will make your film a movieblockbuster, it's just a look you see a lot in a real movie where it also often is used to isolate the object they are shooting or to direct the viewer to what they want to show.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 08:00 AM   #11
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

I bought it originally to film whiteboard presentations... But I'm starting to shoot more interviews indoors, so shallow DOF is really nice to have... The AC130 is a great camera, but now I'm wanting a larger sensor to produce higher quality interviews, shallower DOF, etc...
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Old March 14th, 2014, 08:21 AM   #12
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Re: How do I achieve shallow depth of field with AG-AC130?

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