Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.

Photo

Food-Friendly Camera?


  • Please log in to reply
47 replies to this topic

#1 onetoughcookie

onetoughcookie
  • participating member
  • 125 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 02 November 2007 - 05:59 AM

I just heard about a new Olympus camera that apparently is very good for
photographing food! I went to the Olympus website (www.olympusamerica.com) but
couldn't find the specifics on this.

Has anyone heard any more detail about this new kind of camera? For those of us who
take pix of our own products for websites, clients, etc., it might be really interesting!
www.onetoughcookienyc.com

#2 Tepee

Tepee
  • participating member
  • 1,804 posts

Posted 02 November 2007 - 06:37 AM

A camera that's very good for photographing food?? In what ways? Do you remember how these features were sold?

I shoot a lot of food (self-plug), mostly using a 50mm f/1.4 lens (but I use other lenses as well) or playing with the aperture (for the desired depth of field) or lighting. Most cameras (well, all dSLRs) do this, no? I'm all ears and would love to know why it is emphasized that this new Olympus is perfect for food photography?
TPcal!
Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

#3 onetoughcookie

onetoughcookie
  • participating member
  • 125 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 02 November 2007 - 06:45 AM

"FOOD PHOTOS FOR AMATEURS
Ever swooned so much over a perfectly plated meal that you've just had to snap a shot before taking the first bite? You're not alone. We were thrilled to learn that Olympus <http://www.olympusamerica.com/> has a "cuisine function" on seven of this year's point-and-shoot digital cameras. The function is basically a macro setting that works especially well for food photography. "

This was a blurb that came to me from Gourmet Magazine's weekly email.

For an amateur such as myself, it's very enticing. I don't know if it's a just a marketing ploy, or
if it really works!

Can't speak to macros and plug-ins....but can to chocolate and vanilla :laugh:
www.onetoughcookienyc.com

#4 MGLloyd

MGLloyd
  • participating member
  • 630 posts
  • Location:Mill Creek, Washington USA

Posted 02 November 2007 - 07:34 AM

This is not new. Olympus has had the 'food' mode on several Stylus models for a few years now. If I recall correctly, it sets the camera to a wide aperture and slower shutter speed with some onboard flash for fill in. It gives a nice depth of field.

I have a couple of the water-resistant Stylus cameras that I use when backpacking and don't want to haul the Canon 20D outfit.

Regards,

Michael Lloyd
Mill Creek, Washington USA

#5 jsmith

jsmith
  • participating member
  • 138 posts
  • Location:Toronto

Posted 02 November 2007 - 07:49 AM

I don't have experience with this camera, but my general experience with preset modes on cameras is that one is better off getting one that lets you set the aperature, shutter speed, and focus manually and then just set it to what the situation calls for.

The settings aren't very complicated. A smaller aperature number makes the picture brighter, but less of the picture will be in focus (not always a bad thing). A slower shutter speed will also make the picture brighter, but will be more susceptible to shaky hands.

#6 nakji

nakji
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,659 posts
  • Location:Shanghai

Posted 02 November 2007 - 08:56 AM

I think I have one of these cameras - the FE-230?...it has a "cuisine" setting. I don't find it much different from using the regular macro setting, but I'm completely clueless about photography anyway. The problem with my food photography is that I usually take pictures at night, which requires a flash. When combined with a macro setting, it often casts a shadow over the bottom of the photo.

Like jsmith says, I have a hard time getting shots in focus. If you want to see the photos taken with this camera, check out my pictures in the "Dinner...what did we cook?" thread.

#7 onetoughcookie

onetoughcookie
  • participating member
  • 125 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 02 November 2007 - 02:29 PM

I think I have one of these cameras - the FE-230?...it has a "cuisine" setting. I don't find it much different from using the regular macro setting, but I'm completely clueless about photography anyway. The problem with my food photography is that I usually take pictures at night, which requires a flash. When combined with a macro setting, it often casts a shadow over the bottom of the photo.

Like jsmith says, I have a hard time getting shots in focus. If you want to see the photos taken with this camera, check out my pictures in the "Dinner...what did we cook?" thread.

View Post



WOW.....very sharp detail! While I'm a 'point and click' kinda gal, I do have the blue
lights and the grey background paper that I rig up when I want to photo my cakes.
I'd like to be able to take really good photos of my work for my website.
Please feel free to look at the site and tell me what you think can improve my photo-ability...
other than hiring a professional photographer!
http://www.onetoughcookienyc.com
www.onetoughcookienyc.com

#8 Susan in FL

Susan in FL
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,838 posts
  • Location:Daytona Beach

Posted 04 November 2007 - 01:06 PM

Does anyone have updated information or a recommendation for a good little pocket camera for digital food photos (and for good snaphots in general)? I am going to remain on the amateur level and I am giving serious consideration to selling my Canon Digital Rebel XT and all the stuff I bought to go with it, and returning to a point-and-shoot. It's too much to carry around, and that's the main reason I'm not getting my money's worth of this camera. I would appreciate hearing what you have, if you use a camera in this way and are happy with the results, or if you know of something to stay away from.
Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

#9 MGLloyd

MGLloyd
  • participating member
  • 630 posts
  • Location:Mill Creek, Washington USA

Posted 04 November 2007 - 02:51 PM

I bought the SO a Canon SD850 IS, with a 2 gig memory card, for $ 300 at Costco.com. She absolutely loves it. I do the major photography with my Canon 20D and umpteen lenses and what not, but she takes some very, very good shots with hers. It is simple enough to use as a point and shoot but has some finer control if she ever wants to do that.

Edited by MGLloyd, 04 November 2007 - 02:54 PM.


Regards,

Michael Lloyd
Mill Creek, Washington USA

#10 Susan in FL

Susan in FL
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,838 posts
  • Location:Daytona Beach

Posted 04 November 2007 - 04:57 PM

That sounds like something to consider. I don't think my photos with this camera I have now are much better than with the little thing I had before (custody of which went to my ex husband). Thanks.
Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

#11 prasantrin

prasantrin
  • legacy participant
  • 5,468 posts

Posted 05 November 2007 - 03:15 AM

That sounds like something to consider.  I don't think my photos with this camera I have now are much better than with the little thing I had before (custody of which went to my ex husband).  Thanks.

View Post


Are you using the camera primarily at home for food pictures?

One of the reasons I chose my camera (Canon A620, purchased about 2 years ago) was because it used AA batteries. I travel a few times a year, usually for 2 weeks or more each time, and I find AA batteries to be the most convenient. I don't have to worry about getting a convertor for recharging the camera, and should both my sets of batteries run out of juice, I can pick up some alkaline ones very easily. But if you're using it mostly at home, that's not really an issue.

I also liked my camera because it could be used on auto setting, or I could set the aperture and speed myself. That would be a nice feature for you, since it's more like an SLR. It's nice to have options.

It also has a great macro feature. I really like the close ups I can take with it--they're very clear (when I remember to use macro).

However, this particular series of Canons isn't really "pocket-sized" unless you have big pockets. Some of the newer models are a bit smaller and lighter (only using 2 AA batteries, rather than the 4 mine uses), but quite honestly, I've been thinking of getting a smaller, lighter camera with similar features. Pretty much any camera that uses AA batteries will be a bit larger and heavier, though, so I might be stuck for options (for me, AA batteries is a must).

A great website for reviews is Digital Photography Review. They offer much more information than I need, so I usually just look at the specs and the "Conclusion" page of each camera for the recommendation (strongly recommended, recommended, not recommended, etc.).

#12 onetoughcookie

onetoughcookie
  • participating member
  • 125 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 05 November 2007 - 07:44 PM

That sounds like something to consider.  I don't think my photos with this camera I have now are much better than with the little thing I had before (custody of which went to my ex husband).  Thanks.

View Post


Are you using the camera primarily at home for food pictures?

One of the reasons I chose my camera (Canon A620, purchased about 2 years ago) was because it used AA batteries. I travel a few times a year, usually for 2 weeks or more each time, and I find AA batteries to be the most convenient. I don't have to worry about getting a convertor for recharging the camera, and should both my sets of batteries run out of juice, I can pick up some alkaline ones very easily. But if you're using it mostly at home, that's not really an issue.

I also liked my camera because it could be used on auto setting, or I could set the aperture and speed myself. That would be a nice feature for you, since it's more like an SLR. It's nice to have options.

It also has a great macro feature. I really like the close ups I can take with it--they're very clear (when I remember to use macro).

However, this particular series of Canons isn't really "pocket-sized" unless you have big pockets. Some of the newer models are a bit smaller and lighter (only using 2 AA batteries, rather than the 4 mine uses), but quite honestly, I've been thinking of getting a smaller, lighter camera with similar features. Pretty much any camera that uses AA batteries will be a bit larger and heavier, though, so I might be stuck for options (for me, AA batteries is a must).

A great website for reviews is Digital Photography Review. They offer much more information than I need, so I usually just look at the specs and the "Conclusion" page of each camera for the recommendation (strongly recommended, recommended, not recommended, etc.).

View Post



Thanks for the new site to peruse. I have always used "Steve's Digi-cams", and am excited
to see a new website. I should post something in "Pastry and Baking". Patrick, a frequent contributor, is not only an excellent baker, but a really excellent photographer! I wonder what
camera he uses? :hmmm:
www.onetoughcookienyc.com

#13 Marlene

Marlene
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 8,123 posts
  • Location:Alberta, Canada

Posted 05 November 2007 - 07:58 PM

I recently acquired this camera for taking food pictures. I had the Canon A630 and I found it had trouble in low light settings. This one is somewhat bulkier than a pocket point and shoot, but you don't have to switch lenses and cart a bunch of stuff around with it. I've been really happy with it.
Marlene
cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.
Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

#14 onetoughcookie

onetoughcookie
  • participating member
  • 125 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 09 November 2007 - 07:28 PM

I recently acquired this camera for taking food pictures.  I had the Canon A630 and I found it had trouble in low light settings.  This one is somewhat bulkier than a pocket point and shoot, but you don't have to switch lenses and cart a bunch of stuff around with it.  I've been really happy with it.

View Post


Are you referring to the Olympus? Which model?
www.onetoughcookienyc.com

#15 Marlene

Marlene
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 8,123 posts
  • Location:Alberta, Canada

Posted 09 November 2007 - 07:43 PM

No. If you click on the link, it's a Panasonic DMC-FZ18 Lumix.
Marlene
cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.
Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

#16 onetoughcookie

onetoughcookie
  • participating member
  • 125 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 11 November 2007 - 06:16 PM

No. If you click on the link, it's a Panasonic DMC-FZ18 Lumix.

View Post



Whoops.....my eyes missed the link...Thank you so much!
www.onetoughcookienyc.com

#17 Marlene

Marlene
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 8,123 posts
  • Location:Alberta, Canada

Posted 11 November 2007 - 06:19 PM

It also has a "food setting" and I tend to switch between it and the auto intelligent setting for food pictures, depending on the light, and how close up I want to get. The food setting, for example works really well in low light such as restaurants, without having to resort to a flash. It also has a telescopic lens, so I was able to shoot pics of the deer at our cottage, down by the lake, from our deck and get a clear, non fuzzy shot. No changing of lenses, a food setting and a really good macro setting. Plus it has a built in "shake proof" feature, so that I don't need a tripod to set the camera on, and I'm coming away with a lot fewer blurry shots.

Edited by Marlene, 11 November 2007 - 06:20 PM.

Marlene
cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.
Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

#18 Susan in FL

Susan in FL
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,838 posts
  • Location:Daytona Beach

Posted 12 November 2007 - 11:22 AM

Are you using the camera primarily at home for food pictures?

I was, but now I want my camera to be more all-purpose. I don't do as much food photography as I used to, but I want it to be good when I do. I want a camera more convenient for travel, so that's a very good point about AA batteries.

One of the reasons I chose my camera (Canon A620, purchased about 2 years ago) was because it used AA batteries.  I travel a few times a year, usually for 2 weeks or more each time, and I find AA batteries to be the most convenient.  I don't have to worry about getting a convertor for recharging the camera, and should both my sets of batteries run out of juice, I can pick up some alkaline ones very easily.  But if you're using it mostly at home, that's not really an issue.

I also liked my camera because it could be used on auto setting, or I could set the aperture and speed myself.  That would be a nice feature for you, since it's more like an SLR.  It's nice to have options.

It also has a great macro feature.  I really like the close ups I can take with it--they're very clear (when I remember to use macro).

However, this particular series of Canons isn't really "pocket-sized" unless you have big pockets.  Some of the newer models are a bit smaller and lighter (only using 2 AA batteries, rather than the 4 mine uses), but quite honestly, I've been thinking of getting a smaller, lighter camera with similar features.  Pretty much any camera that uses AA batteries will be a bit larger and heavier, though, so I might be stuck for options (for me, AA batteries is a must).

Pocket-size might have been a bit of an understatement. :smile: Big pocket or purse-size will be a lot better than all I have to carry around with me now.

A great website for reviews is Digital Photography Review.  They offer much more information than I need, so I usually just look at the specs and the "Conclusion" page of each camera for the recommendation (strongly recommended, recommended, not recommended, etc.).

View Post

I am heading to that site now. Thanks so much for all the information.


I recently acquired this camera for taking food pictures.  I had the Canon A630 and I found it had trouble in low light settings.  This one is somewhat bulkier than a pocket point and shoot, but you don't have to switch lenses and cart a bunch of stuff around with it.  I've been really happy with it.

View Post


It also has a "food setting" and I tend to switch between it and the auto intelligent setting for food pictures, depending on the light, and how close up I want to get.  The food setting, for example works really well in low light such as restaurants, without having to resort to a flash.  It also has a telescopic lens, so I was able to shoot pics of the deer at our cottage, down by the lake, from our deck and get a clear, non fuzzy shot.  No changing of lenses, a food setting and a really good macro setting.  Plus it has a built in "shake proof" feature, so that I don't need a tripod to set the camera on, and I'm coming away with a lot fewer blurry shots.

View Post

Thanks, Marlene. Your food photos are good; that's a testament for sure! I am hoping for something that works well in low light settings.
Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

#19 Gifted Gourmet

Gifted Gourmet
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 9,587 posts
  • Location:Atlanta, Georgia

Posted 12 November 2007 - 11:36 AM

Decided to skip the DSLR cameras and was thrilled with Canon's newest camera which came out in October of this year: the Powershot G9 ...

Small enough to carry into restaurants, unobtrusive, no batteries to buy (rechargable one now), anti-shake, and 12 megapixels ...

the G9

some of my better food photos can be seen here
Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"


#20 Fibilou

Fibilou
  • participating member
  • 174 posts
  • Location:Brighton, England

Posted 19 December 2007 - 02:16 AM

Our trusty digital has bitten the dust and I'm after a new camera. Maximum spend of around £250 - $500. I want something that is going to produce nice pictures for my cake business and to post on here.
www.diariesofadomesticatedgoddess.blogspot.com

#21 feedmec00kies

feedmec00kies
  • participating member
  • 461 posts
  • Location:New York, NY

Posted 19 December 2007 - 09:17 AM

I like my Canon Powershot S3 IS very much, and will shamelessly promote it to you. It's a great overall camera. It has a good bit of zoom (which might not be important to you) and of course a macro (and super-macro) setting, which might be of more help to you in food photography. They have a new version of the camera, the Powershot S5... here's the specs and a review on digital photography review.

It's not slip-in-a-pocket small, but I grew up using my dad's old Canon AE-1, and just the lens on that thing weighs more than my camera. Also, I can't imagine using manual settings on one of those tiny little things.

Unfortunately, as it isn't a DSLR, ISO 400 and up tends to become extremely grainy; this is a problem for me because I hate using a flash. Good lighting is key.
"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."
- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

#22 dougal

dougal
  • participating member
  • 1,279 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 19 December 2007 - 04:53 PM

Our trusty digital has bitten the dust and I'm after a new camera. Maximum spend of around £250 - $500. I want something that is going to produce nice pictures for my cake business and to post on here.

View Post

The camera is still going to need help "to produce nice pictures".

Controlling the lighting allows you to make a big difference.
A compact camera with inbuilt, directionally-fixed flash *only* is kinda limiting. Its a snapshot camera.
The ability to connect other flashguns (typically via a 'hotshoe') is an important attribute for a studio (even a home studio) camera.
Even 'bouncing' flash off the ceiling makes a big difference to the 'modelling' (use of light and shadows to show shape)...

For still life subjects (like food) a tripod can be advantageous.



Your budget of "around £250" is awfully close to PCWorld's advertised £269 (after cashback) deal on the Nikon D40... a proper digital SLR. I can't see you needing more camera than that. (No idea though if there might be even better deals on offer for it.)

Edited by dougal, 19 December 2007 - 04:53 PM.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#23 feedmec00kies

feedmec00kies
  • participating member
  • 461 posts
  • Location:New York, NY

Posted 20 December 2007 - 11:09 AM

The camera is still going to need help "to produce nice pictures".

Controlling the lighting allows you to make a big difference.
A compact camera with inbuilt, directionally-fixed flash *only* is kinda limiting. Its a snapshot camera.
The ability to connect other flashguns (typically via a 'hotshoe') is an important attribute for a studio (even a home studio) camera.

View Post


The Powershot S5 does actually has a hotshoe connection (unfortunately, the S3 doesn't). I would like to reiterate that it is a very good overall camera for the price, even if it's "compact". Its street price is also listed on digital photography preview to be about £183, which is certainly cheaper than your spending limit. And you could probably find it for less.

After mentioning something to my boyfriend, he suggests that if you buy a DSLR, to get the Canon Rebel XT plus the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens. He said the lens is less than $100, and the Rebel XT can be found online for $400 - about £250 total. He suggests the DSLR because the Powershot S3 can't really get depth of field, which could be pretty important. And I quote the boyfriend: "That said, they'll be very limited in what they can do at least in terms of zoom but they'll get beautiful pictures." You'll have to get other lenses for zoom and that stuff (you might want to consider that when thinking about your purchase, depending on how tight your budget is and if you're going to really want to use the camera for a lot of other things...).

A tripod, as dougal said, is important. And you don't have to spend that much, especially if you're only using it for the cakes and won't be transporting it significantly.

I don't really have any food photography to show you right now, but my boyfriend proposed that he and I set up some food this weekend and try and take pictures with our respective cameras (he has a Canon 30D, if I'm not mistaken), and let you compare.

Edited by feedmec00kies, 20 December 2007 - 11:34 AM.

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."
- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

#24 dougal

dougal
  • participating member
  • 1,279 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 21 December 2007 - 03:40 PM

The Nikon D40 is about as cheap as a digital SLR gets, right now.
With the basic zoom lens included, at £270 (that PCW deal), its £200 cheaper than a year ago. But its still £270... with the basic lens.
And who knows what it might be next year...

The Canon 350d ("RebelXT" in the US) is a better camera.
But its also more expensive.
With its basic lens £370 on amazon uk.
And £340 without any lens looks a keen online price.
Its definitely a full step above the D40.
And while the "fast" (ie wide-opening to f1.8) non-zoom (fixed) medium telephoto is a nice choice for 'studio' photography, adding that to a body-only deal looks to me like its going to end up at £400 UK tax-paid in Dec 07. Unfortunately.

Edited by dougal, 21 December 2007 - 03:41 PM.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#25 feedmec00kies

feedmec00kies
  • participating member
  • 461 posts
  • Location:New York, NY

Posted 21 December 2007 - 10:53 PM

Woo depth of field..

My boyfriend decided on cheez-its because he figured if even they could look decent, well....

Posted Image

Posted Image

He says: "The point of this is to show the difference in kinds of pictures you get with a digital SLR vs a normal digital. The first one represents what you'd get with a non-slr -- full depth of field and almost no bokeh -- the blurring effect seen in the 2nd picture.

"Both with the same lens, same camera... just different f-stops to represent different depth of fields.
(A little different than I thought he meant about the cameras. This makes more sense anyway).

"Gourmet food photography benefits strongly from a small depth of field (lots of blurring). Stick a wide aperture lens (such as the 50mm f1.8 mentioned above) on an SLR and you can get the effect quite easily. Pretty much the only food photos I've seen that doesn't employ the effect are McDonalds hamburger pictures."

------------

And as for the price of the Canon Rebel XT, dougal: I didn't look up the price in the UK, and (wrongly) assumed it wasn't going to be $400 in the US and £400 in the UK. I just converted the cost in dollars to pounds.

Maybe someone should take advantage of the weak American dollar... :raz:

Edited by feedmec00kies, 21 December 2007 - 10:54 PM.

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."
- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

#26 sanrensho

sanrensho
  • participating member
  • 1,647 posts
  • Location:North Vancouver, BC

Posted 22 December 2007 - 01:01 AM

He says: "The point of this is to show the difference in kinds of pictures you get with a digital SLR vs a normal digital. The first one represents what you'd get with a non-slr -- full depth of field and almost no bokeh -- the blurring effect seen in the 2nd picture.


However, you do not necessarily need a DSLR to control depth of field. You simple need a camera, either point and shoot or DSLR, with manual controls and the ability to shoot in aperture priority mode.

An example of a point and shoot camera with aperture priority mode (and full shutter/aperture manual control) is the Canon PowerShot A570IS, which is available for the paltry sum of around US$150 or cheaper. Yes, own this camera and would recommend it someone on a budget (and not concerned about small form factor).

Edited by sanrensho, 22 December 2007 - 01:02 AM.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#27 Davydd

Davydd
  • participating member
  • 155 posts
  • Location:Minnesota

Posted 22 December 2007 - 11:21 AM

Most of the Olympus point and shoot cameras have the "Cuisine" setting. I have the Olympus Stylus 500 which I mostly used for shooting photos in restaurants. I generally took a picture with the auto setting and the Cuisine setting and it was about 50-50 as to what was the better picture. It just depended a lot on lighting. I recently upgraded to a Canon SD850 IS camera and it takes much better pictures. Bottom line. The Cuisine feature might help in instances but is not a sure fire solution.
Davydd
It is just an Anglicized Welsh spelling for David to celebrate my English/Welsh ancestry. The Welsh have no "v" in their alphabet or it would be spelled Dafydd.

I must warn you. My passion is the Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Now blogging: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Blog

#28 feedmec00kies

feedmec00kies
  • participating member
  • 461 posts
  • Location:New York, NY

Posted 22 December 2007 - 10:30 PM

However, you do not necessarily need a DSLR to control depth of field. You simple need a camera, either point and shoot or DSLR, with manual controls and the ability to shoot in aperture priority mode.

An example of a point and shoot camera with aperture priority mode (and full shutter/aperture manual control) is the Canon PowerShot A570IS, which is available for the paltry sum of around US$150 or cheaper. Yes, own this camera and would recommend it someone on a budget (and not concerned about small form factor).

View Post


I'm not so sure about that. I use my Canon PowerShot S3 IS in aperture priority mode pretty much exclusively, and I can tell you that I can only achieve that kind of depth of field by zooming in all the way; I'd be surprised if the A570 IS could do it. I love my camera, and did suggest it upthread, but if someone is looking to get that small depth of field, it's not going to come with the S3 IS. It's one of the reasons that, when I have the money, I'm going to get a DSLR. I'd keep the S3 IS because it's a great camera with the added convenience of not having to change lenses for zoom and macro and such. But it does have some limitations.

Now, if a shallow depth of field isn't desired, there's no reason to buy a DSLR - I agree with that. If the pictures are straight on, for example... well, DOF isn't going to matter much, now is it?


Now, if you're interested, here's the boyfriend's "technical" response: "Such is unfortunately not quite the case. Digital SLRs have sensors that are slightly smaller than 35mm, whereas non-slr digitals ("digicams") have sensors that tend to be around 10% of the size of 35mm. What this means is that the focal length needed to achieve the standard range of zoom for digicams is a very low number -- usually 6mm corresponds to 35mm. As depth of field (area of subject in focus) scales inversely with focal length, digicams have difficulty reducing it as shown above in any but the highest levels of zoom on the ultra-zoom models.

In fact, the highest focal length of the S3 IS -- which has a ton of zoom -- is physically only 72mm. It corresponds to 432mm in the 35mm world, which is enough to take pictures of birds 40 feet away. FWIW, the example shots given above are from a roughly 72mm equivalent. Thus, to get the (lack of) DOF above with the S3, you would need to be zoomed in so much that you'd need to stand 50 feet away just to get the whole cake in the frame. Not very practical.

It should also be noted that very, very few digicams get even down to f2.8 at full zoom, let alone f1.4. The lower the number, the less DOF/more blurring you have."
"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."
- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

#29 sanrensho

sanrensho
  • participating member
  • 1,647 posts
  • Location:North Vancouver, BC

Posted 23 December 2007 - 07:49 PM

I'm not so sure about that. I use my Canon PowerShot S3 IS in aperture priority mode pretty much exclusively, and I can tell you that I can only achieve that kind of depth of field by zooming in all the way; I'd be surprised if the A570 IS could do it. I love my camera, and did suggest it upthread, but if someone is looking to get that small depth of field, it's not going to come with the S3 IS. It's one of the reasons that, when I have the money, I'm going to get a DSLR...


Excellent post, and I absolutely agree that a DSLR gives a different level of control over depth of field, among other advantages.

I just don't want beginners to come away with the impression that DSLR = Control over depth of field (Point and shoot = No control over DOF). :smile:

Edited by sanrensho, 23 December 2007 - 07:52 PM.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#30 dougal

dougal
  • participating member
  • 1,279 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 04 January 2008 - 09:35 AM

However, you do not necessarily need a DSLR to control depth of field. You simple need a camera, either point and shoot or DSLR, with manual controls and the ability to shoot in aperture priority mode. ...

View Post


I'm not so sure about that. I use my Canon PowerShot S3 IS in aperture priority mode pretty much exclusively, and I can tell you that I can only achieve that kind of depth of field by zooming in all the way; I'd be surprised if the A570 IS could do it. I love my camera, and did suggest it upthread, but if someone is looking to get that small depth of field, it's not going to come with the S3 IS. It's one of the reasons that, when I have the money, I'm going to get a DSLR. I'd keep the S3 IS because it's a great camera with the added convenience of not having to change lenses for zoom and macro and such. But it does have some limitations.

Now, if a shallow depth of field isn't desired, there's no reason to buy a DSLR - I agree with that. If the pictures are straight on, for example... well, DOF isn't going to matter much, now is it?


Now, if you're interested, here's the boyfriend's "technical" response: "Such is unfortunately not quite the case. Digital SLRs have sensors that are slightly smaller than 35mm, whereas non-slr digitals ("digicams") have sensors that tend to be around 10% of the size of 35mm. What this means is that the focal length needed to achieve the standard range of zoom for digicams is a very low number -- usually 6mm corresponds to 35mm. As depth of field (area of subject in focus) scales inversely with focal length, digicams have difficulty reducing it as shown above in any but the highest levels of zoom on the ultra-zoom models.

In fact, the highest focal length of the S3 IS -- which has a ton of zoom -- is physically only 72mm. It corresponds to 432mm in the 35mm world, which is enough to take pictures of birds 40 feet away. FWIW, the example shots given above are from a roughly 72mm equivalent. Thus, to get the (lack of) DOF above with the S3, you would need to be zoomed in so much that you'd need to stand 50 feet away just to get the whole cake in the frame. Not very practical.

It should also be noted that very, very few digicams get even down to f2.8 at full zoom, let alone f1.4. The lower the number, the less DOF/more blurring you have."

View Post


Yes, focal length influences depth of field.
BUT it gets much more complicated when considering different image sizes (such as 35mm film full frame vs different image chips in different cameras).

The effect of out of focus blurring is actually measured in terms of the size of the "Circle of Confusion" (COC), which is usually thought of as being a simply measurable size.
However, when dealing with different *image* sizes, one has to think of the size of the COC as a proportion of the image size!

Simply put, I believe that putting a 35mm camera and a digital camera (whatever chip size) side by side on tripods, focused identically and then zooming their lenses so that their frames were filled identically (same focal length to image size ratio giving the exact same field of view) and set both to the same aperture (in f-stop terms, which is used specifically to relate it to focal length) - and - I think that you'd get identical out-of-focus blurring (as a proportion of the whole picture) with both.


In short:

-- I agree absolutely that the wider ("faster") the lens is set (in f-stop terms, thus the lower the f-stop number), the shallower will be the depth of field, and the better that detail can be made to stand apart from its background. Naturally the wider the lens' maximum aperture, the more potential there is for this. And so an f1.8 lens (as attached to a dSLR) will be able to better isolate stuff in this way than a 'compact' with only an f3.5 lens.
-- I also agree that changing the lens focal length (on the same camera) makes a difference. In this way, zooming the compact towards telephoto (longer focal length) will narrow the depth of field - but, to retain the same field of view, the camera will need to be moved away. This may make slightly less difference than hoped because most modern zoom lenses have smaller effective apertures at longer focal lengths, which is why they are quoted as, for example "f/2.7 - f/3.5" for the Powershot S3.
-- But I must disagree, utterly, that the small image chip size of a compact camera comes into play at all. Rather, its the other factors discussed above that are limiting. One should not rule out a camera on the basis of the physical size of its image chip. Pixel resolution perhaps, but physical size is simply irrelevant.
And I must echo Sanrensho's comment that you don't need a dSLR to control depth of field!

For a "still life" subject, like food, one will benefit from having control, and then understanding and using the control.
But the typical dSLR advantages of changeable lenses and much better (ie less) shutter release 'latency' barely come into play.
Control is the important attribute. And extending control to artificial lighting is where a flash attachment (rather than built-in) starts to matter.



BUT as to just what excellent results can be obtained with a "compact" digital camera and daylight illumination, (with a little software assist maybe), have a look at the really splendid photos posted on eGullet by 'Chufi'. Skill matters more than equipment!

One recent example -
Posted Image
and if you check the EXIF metadata, you'll see that it was taken on a humble Canon A620 compact...



And returning to Fibilou's original £250-ish budget, the 50mm f1.4 Canon EF lens (for the 350d), as mentioned in the quote above, would blow the entire budget on the lens, leaving nothing for the camera!
The f1.8 is however generally considered excellent value at 1/4 of the price of the f1.4 ...
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan