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Depth of Field


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#1 Robert Fearon

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 11:30 PM

Hi there,

While I'm not really a first time filmmaker, I am new to cinematography, which is why I'm starting this topic because I get confused by a lot of the technical terms used in the other stuff I've read.

I also realise that this will have been asked a thousand times before, but please don't hurt me!

I've got an Everio G MG-505 camera, and I want to achieve a 'film-look' with it (but seriously, who doesn't?). My main concern is with the depth of field. The camera, like most of the consumer level ones, keeps everything in focus, which to me is really ugly. I want the background out of focus, my subject in focus etc etc, you know the drill.

I've heard a bit about different lenses you can buy to attach to the camera which will give you a shallower depth of field, but I'm not an expert, so I need some advice. Unfortunately, I'm not rolling in cash either, so I doubt I'll be able to spend any more that about $500 (Australian dollars) on whatever I need to strap to the camera to achieve 'the look' - in other words, what can I get cheaply that will give good results? What would you recommend? I'd really appreciate your help. Thanks so much!

Robert.
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#2 Troy Warr

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 12:06 PM

Hi Robert,

The best ways to achieve a shallow DOF look with the equipment that you have are:

- Shoot at a wide aperture - f/1.8, f/2.0, etc.
- Back up and zoom in on your subject(s). This will reduce the apparent DOF - more about that here.

However, as you probably have experienced, that will only get you so far on a small-CCD video camera. When you talk about attaching lenses, I think you're probably referring to DOF adapters. These work by focusing the image of a 35mm SLR lens onto a (usually spinning) ground glass, then filming that image with your video camera. You lose a stop or two of light, but you get the benefits of 35mm depth of field properties.

Most of these adapters run at least $700-800, not including SLR lens(es), so a manufactured solution might be a bit out of your price range (although I'm not sure what the Australian dollar conversion rate is); however, numerous DIY solutions exist and are documented online. Do some searching for something like "DIY DOF adapter" or "homemade depth of field adapter" and you should get some results. I've seen some write-ups where people have made them for as little as $50 in parts. As for lenses, you can find a lot of cheap, used, high-quality 35mm SLR lenses from places like KEH.com and eBay.com. Look for Pentax screw-mount (m42) or K-mount, Canon FD, or Nikon AI or AI-S lenses, as these will generally have an aperture ring that will allow you to manually adjust the aperture.

Best of luck!
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#3 Robert Fearon

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 03:14 AM

Hi Robert,

The best ways to achieve a shallow DOF look with the equipment that you have are:

- Shoot at a wide aperture - f/1.8, f/2.0, etc.
- Back up and zoom in on your subject(s). This will reduce the apparent DOF - more about that here.

However, as you probably have experienced, that will only get you so far on a small-CCD video camera. When you talk about attaching lenses, I think you're probably referring to DOF adapters. These work by focusing the image of a 35mm SLR lens onto a (usually spinning) ground glass, then filming that image with your video camera. You lose a stop or two of light, but you get the benefits of 35mm depth of field properties.

Most of these adapters run at least $700-800, not including SLR lens(es), so a manufactured solution might be a bit out of your price range (although I'm not sure what the Australian dollar conversion rate is); however, numerous DIY solutions exist and are documented online. Do some searching for something like "DIY DOF adapter" or "homemade depth of field adapter" and you should get some results. I've seen some write-ups where people have made them for as little as $50 in parts. As for lenses, you can find a lot of cheap, used, high-quality 35mm SLR lenses from places like KEH.com and eBay.com. Look for Pentax screw-mount (m42) or K-mount, Canon FD, or Nikon AI or AI-S lenses, as these will generally have an aperture ring that will allow you to manually adjust the aperture.

Best of luck!


Awesome! Thanks so much for the great advice. That's really helpful.

Thanks again!

Rob.
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