Hi Steve;

Can you please explain how to get a blurred background with a small digital camera?  I do not need to understand what I am doing, only what settings to use.




Randy –

The answer isn’t going to be what you want.  Allow me to explain:

What you’re asking in photography terminology is “how do I achieve a shallow depth of field (DOF).”

Depth of Field (DOF) is a function of four main variables.

  1. Aperture (the more open the aperture, the more shallow the DOF)
  2. Focal Length (the longer the focal length (say 150mm vs. 24mm) the more shallow the DOF)
  3. Focal Distance  (the closer you get to the subject, the more shallow the DOF)
  4. Sensor size  (the larger the sensor, the more shallow the DOF)

Small compact cameras are lacking in two main areas that allow you to easily achieve a shallow DOF.

  1. Aperture (most compact cameras have small apertures)
  2. Sensor Size (compact cameras universally have very small sensors)

The sensor size limits compact cameras from achieving a shallow DOF.  This works out well for manufacturers for two reasons.  Most compact camera users want sharp focus throughout the frame (deep DOF), and smaller sensors are much cheaper to manufacture.

Knowing this, in some circumstances with some compact digital cameras, you can get some blur (bokeh) if you know which settings to use and use the settings at their extreme ends.  Try this, set your camera as follows:

  1. Set in Aperture Priority mode..
  2. Set the aperture to the largest aperture.  This will be the smallest number, i.e. F4 vs. F11.
  3. Extend your lens to its maximum zoom setting.
  4. Get as physically close to the subject as you can and still achieve the framing you desire.

This is the best you can do with a compact camera.  Give yours a try and see how it works out for you.  Some compact cameras with longer zoom lenses and faster lenses can overcome the small sensor deficit if used at their limits.

I hope this helps.


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