I'm having a problem with Particular that seems to be plug-in related. (I also tested element 3D without problems.)
I can't seem to focus on particles that are within 100 pixels or so of the camera. The particles will become more focused as I decrease the focus distance, but eventually they become completely unfocused again, never achieving a focused distance in between. I know the particles are capable of becoming more clear because I have achieved this with particles a little farther away. I have tried all sorts of different camera properties without any success. I have attached a 10 second video that kind of shows the best focus I could get on close-up particles... I thought maybe this was a world transform problem, but I checked my settings and they are all set at 0. Any suggestions from your experience?
Particular seems to have its own method of generating depth of field. Weirdly enough, near particles are more in focus when the focal depth is in the distance! I don't see any way of getting particles closer than 55 pixels to stay in focus. The effect is also somehow linked to the camera field of view: the larger the field of view, the closer you can get. With a tricky combination of DOF, FOV and particle visibility settings, I managed to get this close with in-focus particles. They go out of focus fast, so I fade them out fast near the camera with visibility settings.