01 April, 2011

Mid-night Experiements

It is almost 2 days over since I got the book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. After reading so many recommendations over internet I ordered it from amazon.com. I am very excited to read my first book on photography, with my lovely Fujifilm Finepix s8100 fd camera. I deeply immersed in the book and I am not feeling like going to bed. Why? I am getting lot of info on photography.

In one section Bryan was explaining about aperture and its effect on depth-of-field. So what is depth of field? Basically its the band of field-view which will be in clear focus, keeping the rest in out-of-focus. The range or depth of this band highly depends on the lens aperture and also on the focal length of the lens.

At some point in the book, there were some photos explaining the effect of aperture for a given focal length. The bottom line - the lowest f-stop number (like f1.2, f1.7 etc) produces a very thin depth of field, keeping the rest of the field in out-of-focus, creating an effect called bokeh. Vow thats a lot of info for me. Lets try that now (the time was 12:15PM in the cold night of December in Stuttgart).

I switched on my Fuji, arranged some objects on the dining table to shoot and switched on all lights. I turned the mode dial to Av (Aperture priority mode), chose the smallest f-stop number in that camera f2.8 and started shooting the objects on the table, expecting a pleasant out-of-focus bokeh of the background subjects.

I was asking my self when I looked into the photos on the LCD, "What the hell is this? Where the hell is the bokeh that Bryan was writing about?". I was disappointed and I got the proof that Bryan was wrong, atleast in this case. (What a joke it was).

When I was almost ready to write an email to Bryan (I don't think it can go to him) about his 'error', I continued reading the book the next morning. Few pages later, he explains something interesting. The bottom line is that I can not get that pleasant bokeh with my point-and-shoot camera. Why? Why not? After all I paid money for this camera to take good photos.

The reason? The aperture values on point-and-shoot cameras convert to a bigger f-stop numbers in comparison to a DSLR. Typically a f2.8 on my Fuji is equavalent to almost f9 or f11 on a DSLR. So the result - I get a tremendous depth of field, everything in focus. The chance for a bokeh is very very less.

I felt cheated with my camera. Does it mean I have to live with this everything-in-focus, boring camera? Why do they sell these cameras then? Atleast why the f2.8 on point-and-shoot is equal to f11 on a DSLR?

I am disappointed. :-(

(It was only in my later days I found that the the case may be true with the aperture. The lens diameter on a typical point-and-shoot is far smaller than the f1.7 aperture opening diameter. So I concluded my self that it is impossible to have a true f2.8 aperture on a point-and-shoot and the least possible aperture on p&p cameras is almost that of f11 on a DSLR lens)

Did I never get a bokeh with point-and-shoot? I got. Only at an equivalent focal lengths of 500mm or such.


You can buy this wonderful book from amazon here.

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