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Angelica
03-21-2006, 02:16 AM
this may have been brought up before but I'm in the market for a good Digital camera my uncle was a very good photographer and used to do it for a living when I was little and was going to teach me but he died a few years ago, so I was hoping you guys could help me out his old photography books are to confusing for me and are probably older than I am and i'm turning 20 soon.

I want a camera that can have the person beign photographed in focused and the background out of focus but I also want to be able to change it so it both model and back ground are in focus and can give a really nice professional look to my photos.

I know it has somethign to do with different lenses... I think though I'm not really looking for a camera that really expensive but I do know these kinds of things don't come cheap any advice you all can give me?

jtnishi
03-21-2006, 02:26 AM
I'll point out two things:

As far as gettting the subject in focus and background out of focus, that's based on the idea of the depth of field of a camera. Related to aperture, so you need to read up on that topic. I will not go into specifics of aperture, since that's a topic that requires a lot of fundamental knowledge that should really be learned elsewhere. I will tell you that it's usually harder to get subject in focus, and background out of focus on modern equipment, than it is to get both in relative focus, especially with compact digital cameras. I will also tell you that it is still somewhat possible to do so, but it relies on getting background moved relatively far away from the lens, relative to how close the subject focus point is and is related to the relative zoom length. There's a whole bunch of basic rules of thumb for this type of thing, such as "for the same aperture, two shots composed exactly the same will have the same depth of field (but potentially varying perspective, depending on zoom length)". There's at least a few threads somewhere in here on that.

I'm oversimplifying things, but I hope that can at least create a good place to experiment from.

As for cameras, look at sites like DPReview, which specialize in digital cameras, and then go try some models at a store for yourself.

Mods, I'd like to recommend something: this forum probably requires a FAQ post for things like this, since this is generally the same advice that everyone else gives out.

Ollie
03-21-2006, 06:27 AM
this may have been brought up before but I'm in the market for a good Digital camera...

I sense a strong google-fu within you! Use your powers wisely, and you will be rewarded. (Hint: "photography depth of field" and then just go wild.)

The short answer is that you'll need to drop around a grand on a digital SLR and a high-aperature lens, or a very long focal length lens. Set it to manual, turn up the aperature, turn down the exposure time, and good luck. Point-and-shoots generally won't cut it.

There's a lot more to getting a good looking photograph out of your camera, though, that just having the right equipment. You have to experiment around a lot to get a feel for what you want, and even then you need a good setting to get it to work right. Don't be disapointed if the results don't come out the way you expect them right away. (You can join a site like photosig.com if you want honest critiques.) I've had my dSLR for half a year and 5000 shots, and am just now getting the hang of how to take nice pictures instead of just snapshots.

This is a good place to ask, but a FAQ or sticky would be a good idea.

SolarTempest
03-21-2006, 08:16 AM
The short answer is that you'll need to drop around a grand on a digital SLR and a high-aperature lens, or a very long focal length lens. Set it to manual, turn up the aperature, turn down the exposure time, and good luck. Point-and-shoots generally won't cut it.

I made the short answer a little longer! :toothy:


The production of "blurry backgrounds and sharp foregrounds" is really a pretty complex optical phonemenon. But don't fret! It only comes down to a few things.

Depth of field is a measure of how much of your picture is in focus. A large depth of field means that almost everything in the picture, from objects close to the camera to objects very far away, are sharp.

A small depth of field means that everything at a specific distance away from the camera is really sharp, while anything that is away from that distance is really blurry.

Example 1: "Small depth of field"
http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=74258813&size=o

Example 2: "Large depth of field"
http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=50954648&size=o


There's a few ways you can achieve a small depth of field:
1. Large aperture. The larger the aperture, the smaller the depth of field!

Aperture is a measure of how open your lens is. There are little plastic blades (usually) inside all camera lenses that let in a certain amount of light in. They work like your pupils, so that if you want to block more light out (looking at a bright light) your pupils constrict and get smaller. The same for a camera. If the picture is too bright, you can close down your aperture to limit how much light gets through your lens.

The actual aperture numbers are kind of backwards. A "large aperture" would be a number like F2 or F2.8. Large means camera lens is going to let a lot of light in. In example one above, the aperture was F1.4.

A "small aperture" would be a number like F16 or F22. Small means the little blades are going to block lots of light coming through the lens. In example two above, the aperture was F11.

This page has a pretty picture in the middle showing the aperture blades:
http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/fototech/apershutter/aperture.htm
This page also does a decent explanation of depth of field, although it's a bit cluttered.

Lenses with large apertures get very expensive.
You mentioned that you wanted pictures with everything in focus as well.
Of course, lenses have variable apertures, which means that you can set any aperture smaller than a lenses maximum. So if I had a F2.8 lens, I couldn't set it to F1.4 because that's impossible, but I could set it to F16 quite easily!


This brings us to our second method of getting a small depth of field.
2. Longer focal length.

Focal length is analagous to the "zoom" on a small digital camera. The longer your focal length is, the smaller your depth of field gets. Focal length is measured in millimeters. A long focal length would be something like 300mm, which is like a "8.6x zoom". A shorter focal length would be something like 35mm or 50mm. Those would be like 1x and 1.4x zoom lenses.

At an aperture, say F4, a 300mm lens would give you a very blurry background. At the same aperture, a 50mm lens would give you a background that's pretty sharp!

Example 3: "Small depth of field with long focal length"
http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=49442653&size=o
That was taken at F32 with a 300mm lens.

Example 4: "Large depth of field with short focal length"
http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=49442656&size=o
This picture was taken in the very same room at F11 with an 18mm lens.

If you just took aperture alone into consideration, example four should have a MUCH smaller depth of field, but since the lens I used has a very short focal length of 18mm, everything was super sharp.

You can buy lenses with longer focal lengths for pretty cheap, although when you do portraits you will have to step WAY back to take the picture. Sometime 20 - 30ft+!

Lenses with long focal lengths are more difficult to control depth of field, simply because you will need a much smaller aperture to achieve the same effect on a lens with a short focal length. Remember when I said that a smaller aperture means the blades start blocking off light? That means you're going to get less light in your picture and start requiring things like a tripod for non-blurry shots.


And that's my brief summary on ""blurry backgrounds and sharp foregrounds". Hope it helps!

Super No 1
03-21-2006, 12:11 PM
I know it has somethign to do with different lenses... I think though I'm not really looking for a camera that really expensive but I do know these kinds of things don't come cheap any advice you all can give me?
...and this is where the problem lies. Cheap cameras won't achieve the effect that you are looking for.

SolarTempest
03-21-2006, 12:49 PM
No kidding eh?
They really need to come out with some F1.4 disposables =P

jtnishi
03-21-2006, 03:11 PM
No kidding eh?
They really need to come out with some F1.4 disposables =P
Well, at least, people who are on a tight budget, and don't have heavy duty shooting requirements, and are willing to pay for film processing, can probably go to an average swap meet, find a half decent old film 35mm SLR with a 35mm or 50mm old f/1.4 lens, and use that. The more pics you take, the more it costs in the long run, but with a little practice, these old workhorses stll work very well. I still prefer what I can do with my dad's old 35mm SLR to pretty much anything except what I can do with my D-SLR.

Angelica
03-21-2006, 03:57 PM
Thanx for your help um I have a camera that my Uncle left to me I don't know if it''ll work for what i'm lookign for ... it's a Canon it say FTb on the front, it's not digial but... here I took pictures with good ol' crappy lol my stupid Digital camera that eats up batteries faster the I eat Pocky >.< though it has been kinda and gotten me some pretty good pictures

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v116/xXAngelicaXx/DSCF2041.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v116/xXAngelicaXx/DSCF2040.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v116/xXAngelicaXx/DSCF2039.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v116/xXAngelicaXx/DSCF2038.jpg

SolarTempest
03-21-2006, 05:49 PM
I have that camera too!
Let it be no mistake, it has wicked potential.

It's actually the camera that really spurred my love for photography!

Right now, it looks like you've got a Canon 50mm F1.8 lens on the front of it - a lens that would be perfect for cosplay photography. It's just wide enough get full-length portrait shots without having to back up too much. It's also just tight enough to get some good half-portraits and the like.

Just set the aperture to F1.8 and get shooting!
(Well, maybe you have to learn how to use it first...)

Did your uncle leave any other lenses for you as well? Most photographers of that day also had a 35mm and a 105mm lens to go with their 50mm. A 105mm lens would be really good if you want to do "closer up" cosplay shots.

Even though film can get a expensive after a while, you should try your hand at the camera and see how you like it for now. Once you get used to it, I doubt you'll be disappointed with the results.

gmontem
03-21-2006, 06:03 PM
I made the short answer a little longer! :toothy:
Nice long post. You should gone for the gold and included tilt lenses and the focal plane in your reply! :toothy: Tilt the plane of focus and suddenly you have a large DOF even at a large aperture.

Ami Yuy
03-21-2006, 06:16 PM
I love my digital camera, but my 35mm film class was what really taught me a lot about photography. I'd say you have a great camera to start off with there. (I used an old Pentax for my class and was soooo glad that it was 100% manual, no digital displays even, so that I had to really learn everything instead of letting the camera do it for me.)

I'd say take a basic foundations course in photo (if you're at a college or at one near you) and get a real handle on everything and have a teacher right there who can answer all of your questions first hand. They're generally 35mm courses and you develop your own film in the dark room.

Angelica
03-21-2006, 06:28 PM
Hmm no I don't think he left any other lenses most of his stuff was just the family dividing it up but he stated for sure that the camera go to me ^^ can I still buy lens for this camera? I also think it may need a little cleaning as it hasn't been used in a few years.

so with this camera... if I have the lens focused right can I get the backround out of focus and the person in focus? (sorry I REALLY like those style of photos)

and can I still get lenses for this camera?

sorry I dont' know anything about takign photos I just point as shoot >.<

Ami Yuy
03-21-2006, 06:38 PM
I don't know about lenses (although I think you still can), but as for cleaning, I wouldn't recommend doing it yourself so if you just take it into a camera shop, they can clean it right up for you, as it probably does need it.

skypirate
03-21-2006, 08:20 PM
I want a camera that can have the person beign photographed in focused and the background out of focus but I also want to be able to change it so it both model and back ground are in focus and can give a really nice professional look to my photos.

Professional photographers, forgive my heresy, but most cosplayers' primary craft is sewing and photography, a means to get their work seen by their peers. Many cosplayers don't have the income for professional level equipment. So, let me take a risk and offer some encouragement for those on a budget.

The Panasonic FZ20 (with a Leica lens, constant f2.8 through the entire zoom range, 36mm-432mm equiv.), with practice, can produce a decent shallow depth of field and can be had for about $440. The effect will not be as dramatic as a DSLR and there are some limitations. But it will be better than most consumer level cameras.

It's a great little camera, with a lot of "can do" spirit, to develop your skills on and determine if later on, you might want to take things to the next level.

Certainly, a DSLR will have an edge in quality, capability and options, but not everyone has or wants to spend a grand on a camera.

SolarTempest
03-22-2006, 12:19 AM
Nice long post. You should gone for the gold and included tilt lenses and the focal plane in your reply! Tilt the plane of focus and suddenly you have a large DOF even at a large aperture.
Hahaha, thanks =P I think between the both of us, we've got it down pat!

I also think it may need a little cleaning as it hasn't been used in a few years.
So with this camera... if I have the lens focused right can I get the backround out of focus and the person in focus? (sorry I REALLY like those style of photos)
and can I still get lenses for this camera?
If the mechanics are working, you probably won't have to get the camera cleaned inside by a store. It looks like the camera has been kept happily in a case of sorts so it is likely to be alright. If you use a cheap first roll of film to test out the camera, once you get your prints back you'll know if you need to get the camera cleaned or not ($3 film roll vs. $$$ possibly unnecessary cleaning job). If you have any friends who are experienced with film or digital SLR, they should be able to help you with checking out the cleanliness condition of the camera.

Yes, with this camera you should be able take pictures that look like that :skidude2:

As for lenses, I *think* you need FD mount lenses. Might be hard to find... probably buy them used... That 50mm lens should serve you well though. It's a very good focal length for Cosplay portraits and the like.

Ami Yuy
03-22-2006, 12:43 AM
I would say that just in general starting off with a nice clean camera would be something I'd rather do, that way you know when it was last cleaned. It never hurts to get the dust out. ^_^

Angelica
03-22-2006, 01:52 AM
well i'll talk to my co-worker she likes photography and Anime so maybe she'll even be willing to teach me a few things or at least give me a few pointers. i'm just happy this camera can get me the look i'm going for this makes me happy and with the other camera's we got I can make 3D photos they look like as if time as stopped... there are so many of me when I was little all the ones with my dad I swear there's a beer in every shot XD

any way if you guys have any last pointers for me that would be great ^^

btw thanx you guys for all your help I may not be ready to make great photos but at least you all put me on the right track *hugs* you're all the greatest maybe i'll find my thing since i'm not a very good model... though my friends do say i'm to hard on my self check them out if you want and tell me what you think any again thanx so much for your help

SolarTempest
03-22-2006, 08:02 AM
I would say that just in general starting off with a nice clean camera would be something I'd rather do, that way you know when it was last cleaned. It never hurts to get the dust out. ^_^
I do admit I clean my camera almost everytime after I shoot and always before I do an important shoot, hehe. At least with film there's no worry about dirty sensors :eek:

jtnishi
03-22-2006, 12:25 PM
any way if you guys have any last pointers for me that would be great ^^
I just have two: have fun, and be willing to be experimental. In the long run, those two elements will help more than anything else.