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Camcorder with depth of field

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Ryan Santos
Camcorder with depth of field
on Feb 4, 2007 at 4:28:29 am

I'm looking for a camera with a shallow depth of field so I can easily blur the background. I'm told that the DVX100B has a short lens and so that is not a good choice for my purposes. What do you think about the FX1, is the lens long enough to have a shallow depth of field. Are there any other camcorders with long lenses at the price range of the DVX100B and FX1? Thanks


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scottieh
Re: Camcorder with depth of field
on Feb 5, 2007 at 6:53:55 pm

You can use a Canon XL-1 and purchase a lens that is fully manual.

I have seen the Fujinon 14x in action and it creates very noticeable depth of field.

Are there any other digital camcorders that allow interchangable lenses with as much selection at the Canon line, without having to buy an adapter and aren't in the tens of thousands of dollars?


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rmherd
Re: Camcorder with depth of field
on Feb 5, 2007 at 8:13:54 pm

Here's some products you may be interested in:
http://www.redrockmicro.com/products.html

RH


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bruce alan greene
Re: Camcorder with depth of field
on Feb 8, 2007 at 6:45:50 am

q[Ryan Santos] "I'm looking for a camera with a shallow depth of field so I can easily blur the background. I'm told that the DVX100B has a short lens and so that is not a good choice for my purposes. What do you think about the FX1, is the lens long enough to have a shallow depth of field. Are there any other camcorders with long lenses at the price range of the DVX100B and FX1? Thanks"


Ryan,

I think you're out of luck using any of the cameras similar in size to the DVX100. You'll need to use a professional camera with a larger imaging chip(s) to reduce the depth of field.

That said, a smoke machine might seperate your subject from the background and give the illusion of shallow depth of field, or you can adjust the lighting style to seperate the subject from the background.

Or you can shoot your film like Citizen Kane and brag about your deep focus! :)


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Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Re: Camcorder with depth of field
on Mar 7, 2007 at 9:01:32 pm

Sadly, there really isn't a way to get great shallow DoF with a small off the shelf stock camcorder. The chips are just too small.

It's really just physics/optics... the greater the image size, the shallower the depth of field can be. That's why 35mm film generally has much shallower DoF than 16mm film...because the image area on the negative is almost five times as big. Big HD camcorders with 2/3" chips can do it a little better, but even then a 2/3" chip is about the same size as a 16mm film frame, so even those cameras can't give really shallow DoFs except with long lenses.

If you are going to use that camera, the best bet is to use a depth-of-field converter in front of it and put real superspeed (so you can shoot wide open) lenses in front of it.

We use the P+S Technik Mini35 converter, and it works like a dream. We have almost stopped shooting film, it works so well. Unfortunately it is rather pricey at about $10K, and a decent set of superspeed primes is going to start somewhere in the $15K neighborhood. But there are much cheaper options. Someone in this thread linked the Redrock Micro converter, which basically does the same thing. It is just not quite as professional a unit as the P+S Technik, and it has some drawbacks (such as the image you record is upside down, which must be flipped back in post prodution), but it still does the job.

If you are an occassional shooter who needs shallow DoF, you could go with the Redrock converter and put still-camera SLR lenses (I'd recommend Nikkors) on it... you could put the package together for a couple thousand bucks or so.

If you are a hard-core everyday shooter doing higher-end projects I'd consider investing in the P+S Technik converter and really good primes. We've been doing it that way for about a year and it's absolutely the best investment we've ever made.

Hope that helps,
Todd



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Ryan Santos
Re: Camcorder with depth of field
on Mar 8, 2007 at 8:05:46 am

Thanks. We'll be saving for that lens converter. But for the moment, what off the shelf camcorder do you think has a better depth of field than others? I know it's not as good as the converter but I'd like to know which among the camera's in the DVX100 price range has the best DOF.


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Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Re: Camcorder with depth of field
on Mar 8, 2007 at 5:03:14 pm

Again, not to rain on your parade, but there really aren't any.

Sadly, ALL small camcorders are going to have about the same DoF, which is almost infinite. If that weren't true, there wouldn't be so many people trying to develop cheaper versions of the fairly-expensive DoF lens converters. Sorry.

Depth of field probably has 98% to do with image size, and 2% to do with the lens itself. The only real thing that lenses have to do with controling DoF is the longer the lens and the more "wide open" it is will make the DoF shallower. There is a "maximum" of how shallow the DoF can be, and that is purely a function of the image size.

Unfortunately ALL the small off-the-shelf camcorders have tiny 1/3" sensors... and except for a lens converter there is simply no way to get true shallow DoF with them. The principals of optics simply won't let you.

If you MUST use that setup, the best you can do is always make sure you are using the longest (most telephoto) lens possible. Put yourself as far away from the talent as practical, and zoom in to frame (this may not give you the perfect frame composition you want and may visually "compress" the scene too much, but will give the shallowest DoF). Then, make sure the lens is as "wide open" as possible. Start with the very biggest f-stop and use ND filters to stop it down instead of the iris.

Sometimes you can "fake" shallow depths of field in post production. If you have a foreground subject that is not moving (or not moving very much), you can mask out that subject with a very soft-edge matte so that you can keep the subject sharp and then blur the background a little. If you have a moving subject though it can get very tedious with a lot of rotoscoping and track-matting.

Sorry there's no easy answer for this problem. If there was, I would have been using it years ago.

T2





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Ryan Santos
Re: Camcorder with depth of field
on Mar 13, 2007 at 5:43:56 am

thanks. Things are much clearer now.


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