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Fast lens vs. shallow DOF ?

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    dalowsons  1089 forum posts Australia
    9 Feb 2007 - 12:58 AM

    Hi there,

    Not sure if this is the right place to ask, but it is lens related ...

    For low light (mainly indoor) photography, e.g. functions, weddings, gigs - everyone seems to use / recommend a fast lens.

    This obviously makes sense to make the most of the light, but what about the resulting shallow DOF ?

    I was taking some photos in a bar the other evening, and I used my 50mm 1.8 at 2.8 (2.8 being the faster end of the kind of lenses I am hoping to get).

    Problem I found was that any shot with more than one person involved, you simply cannot get them both in focus at 2.8 ...

    Is that just something you have to accept ? Any input / advice would be welcome ...

    Thanks !


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    mikesavage  12248 forum posts England2 Constructive Critique Points
    9 Feb 2007 - 1:16 AM

    The only thing you can do is try & compose your shots so that the people are approximately the same distance from the camera - but this could lead to some rather boring compositions. I take it you're already using the highest ISO setting you can get away with?

    ade_mcfade e2 Member 1014844 forum postsade_mcfade vcard England216 Constructive Critique Points
    9 Feb 2007 - 1:43 AM

    use a flash and a smaller aperture where possible

    9 Feb 2007 - 7:23 AM

    Another way is to close down two stops and take the shot using f/5.6 [from f/2.8 you quote]. This assumes that flash is not an option open to you.
    You likely will not see anything much on LCD review but when you get home to your computer you use the Levels tool to lift the shot. You loose some quality and gain noise but no worse than if you had used the higher ISO.

    Two stops is about the most you can gain this way, more and you get real degradation. I suggest you try it for yourself and decide if the results to you justify the technique. Also try three or four stops so you know what you can do if you need to. I've gone up to 64,000 equivalent ISO in my tests.
    The test was done with my Nikon 5700 which is quite good a suppressing noise even at 800ISO, other digicams are nothing like as good. The Fuji F10/20/30's have a good reputation for good results at high ISO, you could check them out at www.dpreview.com

    If you normally shoot with a DSLR you could see if a digicam gave acceptable results for your needs. There is really no point in changing to a shorter focal length lens on the DSLR becuase to get the equivalent subject matter you have to come closer and so loose whatever DOF you have gained by the shorter lens.

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