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Thin depth of field isn't always a good thing

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by addieleman, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    Found this thoughtful article on the "bokeh quest" that leads to a quest for silly fast lenses in the opinion of the author Karel van Wolferen. I think I agree with him. I was also astonished to see that at f/8 an old Minolta macro 50/3.5 could keep up with the famous Zeiss Otus 55/1.4. Maybe it's time we establish an f11 group, in analogy of the f64 group of Edward Weston and Ansel Adams and their peers? For landscapes at least I tend to go to smaller apertures again, sometimes a lot of blur just isn't right.

    Fortunately Sony seems to have chosen to come up with slower and smaller lenses for the FE line-up. The FE 35/2.8 is small and good and the upcoming 70-200/4 is heavy enough as it is; a lens like a Rokinon 35/1.4 wouldn't be in my bag only due to its weight and size. Ideally we will have a choice between various options in the image quality/speed/size/weight universe, but that will take years if at all.
     
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  2. HabsFan

    HabsFan TalkEmount Veteran

    258
    Apr 10, 2013
    Ontario, CAN
    Good read. For most people's use, a super fast lens can be a hindrance. It's very tempting to use f1.4 or f1.8 if you have it for low light photos but if you take a picture of 2 people, one of them will be out of focus. Personally I find that f2 or faster is usually only useful for static subjects. I have no chance of getting my kid in focus as he just moves too fast.

    I think blurred backgrounds is what many people equate to 'the professional' look and when starting out, that is one of the easiest things to do. I know when i first got the ability to change lenses, I gravitated to this.
     
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  3. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    I would agree. Most shots are just fine with 2.8.

    There are times when you really want the wider aperture, but those are more the artistic shots.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. mattia

    mattia TalkEmount Regular

    143
    Dec 13, 2013
    I like having the option - but I think my 55/1.8 is plenty fast and really appreciate the quality and sharpness of both that and the FE 35/2.8 even wide open. I have my C/Y 50/1.4 if I really need a touch more, and a CV 35/1.2 for more extreme stuff.

    Most of what I will shoot with the A7R will be landscape, so f9 to F11 is it. I also find the upcoming Zeiss FE 24-70 more attractive than an f2.8 would be because of its smaller size. I'll probably hold off on buying that, as I'm hoping they'll at least announce a wide prime (21/2.8 please?) soonish, as that's my personal gap in the lineup. Have adapted glass to tide me over though.
     
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  5. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    Thin depth of field isn't always a good thing

    Nor sometimes is a massive depth of field. The DOF should match the subject. A single wild flower isolated from the background (when the background is just a distraction) probably needs a thin DOF. A crowd shot where you're trying to show where the crowd is screams for a huge DOF.

    DOF, like many things photographic can be, and frequently is abused.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  6. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    That's the thing. I shoot a lot at f/8. But there are times when only f/1.8 will do. So I want it all! ;)
     
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  7. serhan

    serhan TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2011
    NYC
    I like my bokeh and small lenses:)
     
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  8. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    876
    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Jeff
    I must confess, when I used to shoot full-frame back in the days when no one ever called it that, I never thought much about subject isolation. Now I am having fun exploring it but the biggest challenge (as often seems to be the case) is to not overdo it.

    Sometimes I would like to tell certain speed freaks, it wouldn't kill you to stop down a bit every now and then! :D

    As a point of fact, fast lenses aren't always just about shooting wide open - I find my FL 55/1.2 does f/1.4 better than my 1.4s do and they all do f/2 better than the [Leica 1:2] Summicron.
     
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  9. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    Interesting read

    For low light portraits that you don't want flash a fast lens is a must IMHO. The MD 50 1.4 is the lens that always holds a place in my bag - having said that I'd love to own an MC 58 f/1.2 someday :D Fast lenses must be expensive for a (genuine) reason...
     
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  10. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    339
    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill
    It does get out of hand. I've seen quite a few (human) head-shot portraits where the eyes are sharp, but the tip of the nose is a blur.
     
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  11. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    I think it is only natural, coming from a phone or small sensor compact, to go a bit overboard when you first get a "proper" camera:

    Wow! Such Bokeh. Much Professional.

    If you are shooting a portrait... its usually better to see a portrait subject's face, not just one of their eyes.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator

    Aug 15, 2012
    China
    Colin
    Oh I don't know, with some people only having one eye in focus is their best look.
     
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  13. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    916
    Aug 22, 2012
    Thanks for that article. Yes, I learnt that thin DoF is not a panacea but it took me the purchase of the 55/1.2 to learn that :p I find f2.8 to be a great length on FF for that balance - and now I see why the honking great DSLR with f2.8 zoom is as much a hit with serious amateurs as it is with pros. And also I now see the wisdom in Sony not releasing f1.4 APS-C lenses from the get-go: f1.8-2 is actually just about 'right' for thin DoF purposes (as long as the lens can be shot wide open), the thing is that I couldn't know this before that without owning a fast lens (or bigger sensor camera)...

    Now I just need to repeat all that 100x the next time a Summilux smiles and winks at me. :p
     
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  14. Jethro10

    Jethro10 TalkEmount Regular

    48
    May 28, 2013
    I'm quite new to this camera thingy, and the first serious use of an APS-C nex at a wildlife park had some excellent shots but was also the first problem with shallow DOF that started a journey to me eventually getting a Pentax Q7 also, just to get a larger DOF for some instances.
    Nowerdays, the wife carries one camera, I the other and we merge our pictures of a holiday etc. together.
    J
     
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  15. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    There are lots of good reasons not to make very fast lenses. When you have one stop faster lens its diameter will double (for same quality with same optical formula and technology) and weight quadruple. You can get away with better materials and better technology but this will make lenses more expensive.

    In the old days the driving force behind fast lenses was mainly need to take photographs in low light and those taking the photographs were pros and could afford fast lenses. Other need was focusing. Focusing with fast lens is more accurate and faster with reflex systems. Now the only reason for fast lenses is artistic control of DOF.

    Thin DOF needs accurate focusing too. It is pretty hard for a camera focus within 1 cm. That may be needed with some fast lenses in portraits so that nose and earlobes are both in focus.
     
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  16. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Getting a camera with a smaller sensor just to get a deeper dof is not worth it. You can always stop down a lens and increase the ISO to compensate to get the same exposure and dof on a camera with a bigger sensor - the quality will be the same in most situations.
     
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  17. Jethro10

    Jethro10 TalkEmount Regular

    48
    May 28, 2013
    Except when you need to rush and your forever changing tactics in your head depending on the situation.
    It still takes time to change, for instance if your on shutter priority for fast moving animals and have to now gauge an aperture.
    We now can do both. Easily, and also have a super small decent camera for putting in a pocket.
    worked for me anyhow.

    J
     
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  18. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Except for that most people don't switch from two so different situations that often, sounds like you're the perfect candidate for a second NEX camera. ;)
     
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  19. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    876
    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Jeff
    I am making frequent use of the new "memory recall" settings. I go from my "tripod mode" (for stopped-down shooting at base ISO) to "nightclub mode" (handheld shutter speed, auto WB & ISO) with a quick turn of the mode dial & aperture ring.

    Hopefully more of the next generation of Alpha cameras will have this awesome feature.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    I do exactly the same thing, indeed a very useful feature.