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Photography Question 
Emma Clinton
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/7/2005

Selective Focus: Sharp Vs. Blurred

How do you focus on the main object in the frame and leave everything else out of focus (so the main object/person stands out)? I have seen this in photos before and would like to learn how to do it.

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3/7/2005 12:49:48 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  This technique is called Selective Focus and can be done relatively easily with traditional cameras. Setting a wide f/stop will minimize the depth of field. Focus on your subject and shoot. Note: You can check your image if you have a depth of field preview button.

With digital, things aren't so easy. Lenses for less-expensive digital cameras, point-and-shoot digicams are often found to have minimum f/stops in the range of f/8. Sometimes you're stuck with ranges of f/2.8-4.0. As a result, selective focus is often difficult, if not impossible. If you have a digital SLR and can use one of your "old" auto-focus lenses, you should be able to use selective focus.

Be sure to check out your results in the LCD display; don't expect too much unless you've have "lots of camera."

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3/7/2005 5:06:04 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Selective Focus is also called shallow Depth of Field. You limit the range of effective focus in front and behind the in-focus subject by: (a) selecting wide aperture (smaller f-number);(b) using longer focal length lenses; (c) getting closer to the subject; (d) moving the subject farther from background elements.

The problem with digital point-and-shoots isn't that the aperture is limited to f/8. Many/most have lenses with relatively wide maximum aperture of f/2.0. The problem with these cameras is that their lenses are very short focal length. Even though it might be advertised with an "equivalent 28-200mm" lens, it's actual focal length may be only 5.5mm-40mm focal length. Such short focal length lenses have relatively great depth of field, even at f/2.

On the other hand, with digital editing, you can add "Gaussian blur" or other similar techniques to portions of the scene that you do not want in sharp focus. This creates the shallow depth of field effect in the final image that the lens could not capture.

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3/7/2005 5:23:28 AM

Emma Clinton
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/7/2005
  Hey, guys, thanks for your answers. At the moment, I'm using a Fujifilm Finepix s5500 ... do you have any more tips on selective focus with this camera?

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3/7/2005 5:46:57 AM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  I have a Fuji s7000, and here's how I create blurred background and foregrounds:
Set your lens to the largest aperture you can (my range is f2.8 to f8 digital). Set it to f2.8. Then move back a little, and zoom in on your subject (maximum zoom), making sure the background is a long way away from your subject. This should give you the desired effect. Cloudy overcast days can also help. Alternatively, the "Gaussian Blur" filter inside Photoshop is invaluable.

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3/7/2005 6:24:53 AM

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