Depth of Field with Camcorders

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   The biggest problem with most prosumer and domestic camcorders is that they have no control of Depth of Field which is the amount of the picture that is in sharp focus. Hollywood moviemakers use this to their advantage with their big 70mm cameras and if you take a careful look at the next big-screen movie you watch you will see that the subjects are in sharp focus whilst the backgrounds are out of focus on closeup shots. This small DOF gives the images presence and they jump out at you. Sadly both prosumer and domestic camcorders cannot produce a small DOF. Take a look at the comparisons below and see the difference.

 

  

Large Depth of Field - Everything in in focus

 

 

Small Depth of Field - Subject only is in focus

 

  

   It's all to do with the size of the target that the lens projects onto and domestic and even pro-camcorders with their tiny chips can only offer the lens a tiny target which results in a large depth of field where everything is in focus. Stand the subject in front of a background even 6 feet away and you can see that both the foreground and background are sharply in focus, yet a background just a few feet behind the 35mm still or movie camera is blurred creating that small DOF effect that all big movies use!!!  Sadly the solution is NOT to place the subject further away and zoom either. Although the background appears to have less DOF it hasn't!! The images have just both been flattened by the lens magnification.

The only way to get short DOF is with a large target and the project you were looking at achieves this by using a 35mm still camera lens and projecting the image onto a large taget area and capturing that image using the MACRO facility of your camcorder.

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