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Old July 29th, 2011, 10:32 AM   #1
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Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

What techniques can you employ to reduce DOF with 1/3" CCD cameras?

I already know about using telephoto ranges, low f-stops, and switching on the ND filter. Any other techniques? Would using 24p versus 60i make any difference?
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Old July 29th, 2011, 10:44 AM   #2
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Re: Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

Frame rate will not make a difference.

Another way you can get more DOF control with a small imager cameras is to use one of the DOF adapters which create an intermediate image with the attributes you are looking for. Like the other techniques you list its not a magic bullet but another way to get to the end result.

If DOF control is needed on a regular basis with your shoots it is best to buy a camera that gives that control. You will save yourself a lot of frustration trying to make the wrong tool work. The camera options offering that control are more affordable than ever.
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Old July 29th, 2011, 11:05 AM   #3
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Re: Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

Just buy a GH1 for $400 and a lens and be done with it. Makes an excellent b-cam, getting ready cam, etc etc. Buy a 20mm F/1.7 lens use it for getting ready, etc and you'll have a shallow enough depth of field. Then set it up in back for a gorgeous wide shot, hit record and forget about it for until the ceremony is over. For the reception put it up high in a corner, or wherever you want, and use it as a wide cam. Use it for interviews/well wishes with a shotgun.

You don't have to "go DSLR" to use one, just use it as an additional tool. If I went back to all videocameras, I would still use at least one of these as a rear/backup camera. They are too inexpensive and easy to operate as such, and the chips are nearly 1" in size.

For other uses, it gets more complicated, like the getting ready, but over time you'll learn it.

You could also do the same using other DSLRs, but as a wide cam, and for nothing else, it doesn't get any easier than the GH1. No hack required for extended recording such as with the Canons. Put in a 32 GB card and you're good for around 4 hours or so. Piece of cake.

Again, if you start using these cams as primary cameras, that changes things, but as a backup, very easy and a no brainer.
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Old July 29th, 2011, 06:35 PM   #4
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Re: Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

Hi Bill

The best genuine small DOF you will get will be open iris on the camera and select the appropriate shutter speed in manual mode. 1/3rd" chips will give you a very small usable DOF range but nothing really like, as Jeff says, a GH2 and a decent lens.

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Old July 29th, 2011, 07:45 PM   #5
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Re: Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

@Bill
Don't be put off by the title of this article ... understand what you can do beyond focal length and aperture to accomplish what you want:
Depth of Field Myth
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Old July 30th, 2011, 04:56 AM   #6
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Re: Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

Excellent Les; this should be required reading for everyone who intends to buy a DSLR solely because of the DoF characteristics.

May I add that to fulfill the thread one should also add the plugin option. I have the NewBlue option; no doubt there are others.
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Old July 30th, 2011, 05:25 AM   #7
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Re: Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

If you're shooting small objects like rings, put it close to the front of the lens and go into macro mode. The closer your object is to the front element, the shallower the depth of field will appear.
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Old July 30th, 2011, 07:31 PM   #8
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Re: Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

Increase the distance from the camera to the subject.
Open the iris.
Zoom in.

But you already knew that. That's about all you can do with a 1/3" chip camera. Personally, I'm glad to be able to consistently deliver proper focus, framing, and exposure, along with good audio. Maybe one day I'll be concerned with a shallow depth of field, but probably not. Clients don't seem to really care either.

In the live action events I shoot, I'm thinking more about being in proper position for the next shot. Things happen quickly. I don't have time to mess with depth of field. The only exception for me would be talking head interviews.
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Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; July 30th, 2011 at 07:37 PM. Reason: typo
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Old July 30th, 2011, 09:32 PM   #9
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Re: Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

It's been my experience that maintaing a shallow DoF with the 1/3 inch cameras is difficult with moving subjects. Stationary no problem, but I, like Roger don't have time nor the inclination to play around or worry about shallow DoF nor do my clients demand it, ask about it or even care. At least no one has ever and I mean never said anything about it in over 2000 weddings in my career. Corporate work, another thing entirely, but weddings? Nope, not a one. I try to do some shallow DoF stuff when appropriate and when I have the time to play around with it but otherwise, not.
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Old July 30th, 2011, 09:48 PM   #10
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Re: Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

Generally for wedding work, as Don has said, it really is almost not feasible to mess with attempting shallower DOF with these small sensors, most of the time there isn't time to get those lovely shots you want. On the other hand, if you are alone with the couple, outdoors, etc and the chance presents itself, if you have practiced and know what you're doing, cool, you can pull a few shallow dof shots off, but really, who cares?

There's so much being done by the guys with larger sensored cameras, it would just pale in comparison anyway, so I'm thinking for the most part you might be better off focusing on the storytelling aspect of your shoot rather than the DOF, but that is just my uneducated opinion.

At the park, etc, you can do some things easily that would look nice. For example have your couple, bride whatever 20 or 30 feet feet in front of you, with some hanging leaves of a bush or tree between you that you would shoot through, and then you could manually adjust focus to go from the leaves to the couple, etc
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Old July 31st, 2011, 09:58 AM   #11
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Re: Achieving shallow DOF with 1/3" CCDs

Hi Don

I tend to find the same thing..as long as you make them look stunning and use their most romantic song on the video shoot after the ceremony they tend to be over the moon!!

I think one has to be very careful to keep it all about the bride's wants without delaying them for an extra 30 minutes getting that perfect shot. I love doing a focus shift shot but is the bride happy to walk 100 yards to that spot with the over-hanging branches??? Probably not. I usually try to do a semi-circle around the couple kissing on stedicam and catch the sun flare coming thru the leaves BUT you have to be in the right place and sometimes time runs away or the photogs are nervously looking at their watches and tapping their feet!!

I had a nice long shoot yesterday..plenty of time, my favorite photog nice trees and manicured lawns...easy to set up for a great sequence of shots ...and then the storm hit!!!! The majority of the shoot was huddled under a gazebo while the rain thundered down.

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