Do you see a trend today in pursuing very thin depth of field

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Chan Tran

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Do you notice it too or just me. Reading posts in many photo forums, it seems that today there is a trend in very thin depth of field. A lot of people talking about it and make it a very important feature of their equipment. In the old days I think people tried to get more depth of field as I remember. Neither way is wrong but do you notice that there is a trend toward narrow depth of field today?
 

benjiboy

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I notice that many people who have paid a small fortune for ultra fast lenses insist on using them wide open even in most unsuitable circumstances to ensure they.get their money's worth, I get sick of portraits shot with 85mm f1.2 lenses where only the sitters nose and eyes are in acceptable focus.
 

Alan Klein

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Narrow DOF portraits are terrible with one eye in focus and the other not. People are caught up with the capabilities of the technology rather than the aesthetics of what they should produce. Head should all be in focus. Back in the old days, (am I really that old?), big fast lenses with large openings were often required because film was slow. Not so much a problem today with high ISO's. Also, the other advantage with large glass lens is that they transmit more light before the aperture closes down. That makes it easier to see the subject in reduced light and focus better (manually, of course back in the old days). With AF and now digital viewfinders, that's not necessary. But people are willing to spend whatever and shoot likewise because they think it makes them better photogs or at least more important. Me? I shoot landscape mainly so I like little openings for DOF. I also bracket because I don't trust myself. (Gosh I am getting old!)
 

Dr Croubie

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Narrow DOF portraits are terrible with one eye in focus and the other not.

I'll tell you what's worse, is one subject in focus and one not. Took a photo of one of my best mates from high school at his wedding, with his brother (the best man). Light was fading (sunset wedding outdoors), so I was shooting wide open. His brother was perfectly in focus, my friend wasn't. And that was 120/2.8 on 6x6. Good thing I was just there as a guest and not the official, I still haven't shown him the crappy result a year later...


But people are willing to spend whatever and shoot likewise because they think it makes them better photogs or at least more important.
Maybe you shouldn't read this. Good old Ken likes stirring controversy (purposeful or not, it just happens), with comments like this:

"Today when every other amateur photographer is probably using the same camera (or better) than you are, one way to stand out and win more jobs is to master a lens like this and give your images something that weekend amateurs can't copy. "

"Will this lens make you a pro? Of course not, but if you are a pro, it will help set your work apart from the weekenders who offer to do your job for free... Digital makes it far tougher to stay ahead of the pack who probably already use the same camera you do. It's not like 1970 when you, as a pro, had the Hasselblad no hobbyist did. This lens is one way today to regain your edge. "

(except that I don't think many Pros really read KR reviews, so it's just really telling cashed-up amateurs to get this to stay ahead of other amateurs)
 
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hdeyong

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Yeah, those portraits with 90% of the face out of focus look weird to me. I guess it's like somebody buying a fast car, and deciding that since he's got it, he may as well drive fast.
 

Nuff

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Everything has it's purpose. Just like the trend of having everything as sharp as possible and as much detail as possible in everything.
Different photos, different subjects, different vision... DOF is just a tool that can be used in many different ways. By the way, I do like narrow DOF, as long as it isolates the subject I'm interested in from clutter and unnecessary elements that I find distracting for that particular photo.

I wish I could get a dollar for everytime someone says they would like to see more details in the shadows or have the photo sharper in certain place to see detail which didn't matter etc... The photo was intended to be certain way and if you don't like it, just move on.
 

summicron1

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i think it's a reaction (over?) to the point and shoot digital camera trend -- folks are so used to seeing everything, near and far, in sharp focus because p and s digital cameras are pinhole cameras, pretty much...or at least have the same DOF of a Minox camera.

So when they see actual depth of field effects -- selective focus! -- they think it is something nifty and cool and want to do it more.

So they do. I've even seen NY Times camera reviews refer to selective focus as a "professional" effect, as if it weren't something that everyone was able to do at one time.

I like using it to shoot portraits with my Rollei and a Rolleinar #1 -- makes a nice effect.

ron ross_0002.jpg
 

thegman

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I notice that many people who have paid a small fortune for ultra fast lenses insist on using them wide open even in most unsuitable circumstances to ensure they.get their money's worth, I get sick of portraits shot with 85mm f1.2 lenses where only the sitters nose and eyes are in acceptable focus.

I think this sums it up pretty well.

I think it's more about gear than it is a style. I expect it'll go away like any other fashion.
 

mauro35

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"Today when every other amateur photographer is probably using the same camera (or better) than you are, one way to stand out and win more jobs is to master a lens like this and give your images something that weekend amateurs can't copy. "

"Will this lens make you a pro? Of course not, but if you are a pro, it will help set your work apart from the weekenders who offer to do your job for free... Digital makes it far tougher to stay ahead of the pack who probably already use the same camera you do. It's not like 1970 when you, as a pro, had the Hasselblad no hobbyist did. This lens is one way today to regain your edge. "

(except that I don't think many Pros really read KR reviews, so it's just really telling cashed-up amateurs to get this to stay ahead of other amateurs)

Cameras don´t make photos, neither do lenses. Photographers are making photos. And the trend of lower and lower f-numbers and extremely thin depth of field, if not used as a creative tool for a specific purpose, is like the war of the megapixels in the digital world. Just a way to sell more and to show off "who´s best" by how thin is the plain of focus.
 

Prest_400

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A bit OT but related. It just cracks me up how some people say "This format has more DoF control", when it's just because of the format size it has got more or less DoF.
"Hey man, 4x5" is soo much better than 35mm because it has a huge DoF control"
"Use a ND so youcan shoot a f1.2 on full sunlight, that is DoF control!" :laugh::whistling:

i think it's a reaction (over?) to the point and shoot digital camera trend -- folks are so used to seeing everything, near and far, in sharp focus because p and s digital cameras are pinhole cameras, pretty much...or at least have the same DOF of a Minox camera.

So when they see actual depth of field effects -- selective focus! -- they think it is something nifty and cool and want to do it more.

So they do. I've even seen NY Times camera reviews refer to selective focus as a "professional" effect, as if it weren't something that everyone was able to do at one time.

I like using it to shoot portraits with my Rollei and a Rolleinar #1 -- makes a nice effect.
Indeed. There was an article published in Mike Johnston's TOP about this topic. A general consensus is that now, as the snapper uses small formats, it's very difficult to have little DoF. There was even a mention of times by when it was the opposite: Pros wanted as much DoF as they could.

Even though selective focus is a nice tool to use. I did fall into the "bokeh craze" a few years ago.
Nowadays I prefer Depth. Try to do the best on low light conditions at <f4 and with little DoF choose and compose well.
f1.2 lenses are very useful for shooting cats under moonlight, but I haven't got the $ yet.
 

Nuff

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Pffft, some people like the look, some don't. Who am I to judge

Seriously, this place is becoming more judgmental then most religions...

I couldn't agree more. Maybe it's people shooting 35mm who are having this issue? It's hard enough to get large DOF with medium format camera and standard lens, I will not even mention LF.
 

thegman

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Pffft, some people like the look, some don't. Who am I to judge

Seriously, this place is becoming more judgmental then most religions...

If we're not here to exchange points of view, what are we here for?

Shallow DOF can look nice, and often does look nice, but the OP asked if we saw a 'trend' in this, and I certainly do. The problem with trends is that it's based on what other people do, not what an individual wants to do. I have no problem with shallow DOF, but I do find fashions slightly grating in a field which is supposed to be creative, rather than reactive.
 

hoffy

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If we're not here to exchange points of view, what are we here for?

Shallow DOF can look nice, and often does look nice, but the OP asked if we saw a 'trend' in this, and I certainly do. The problem with trends is that it's based on what other people do, not what an individual wants to do. I have no problem with shallow DOF, but I do find fashions slightly grating in a field which is supposed to be creative, rather than reactive.

No problem with debate. It just so happens that this place becomes quickly into "them folks shooten those damn fangled 'lectronic cameras...."

Remember, once apon a time, not a single portrait of a woman could be taken without a strong back light and Vaseline smeared all over the lens. I suppose its a trend as you have rightly suggested, and like Shallow Depth of field, its just a technique. (And yes, I actually quite like shallow depth of field).
 

jjphoto

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Do you notice it too or just me. Reading posts in many photo forums, it seems that today there is a trend in very thin depth of field. A lot of people talking about it and make it a very important feature of their equipment. In the old days I think people tried to get more depth of field as I remember. Neither way is wrong but do you notice that there is a trend toward narrow depth of field today?

It's always been there, to varying degrees. You've just noticed it now.
 
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I agree that it is ugly on portraits, but there have been a few times that I shot other types of things with little depth of field to achieve a look that I wanted, like here:

feighner-farm4.jpg




THe photo has sold well, and was even used for the cover of a Canadian novel published a few years ago:

oldghosts.jpg


The photo was shot with an Olympus 50mm f1.4 lens on Tmax 400. I think I shot it at f2 or f2.8, can't remember for sure.
 

cjbecker

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cjb027_copy.jpg

kevin_mad.jpg

8_copy.jpg

I like to use it to isolate the subject when there are distractions, like in the last 2 images.
 

removed account4

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the important thing isnt that "they" are using it it is that they are having a good time.

ps. great photo chris, you've posted it before, and i liked it then too :smile:
 
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fotch

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It has always been available to the photographer to get the look they want. Just like anything else, example, filters, exposure, etc. I don't know what all the fuss is about. I use it whenever I want to isolate something from everything else. By choosing the correct setting, I can control the depth of field. Maybe some over use it, that is their choice. Maybe their skill level caused them to use to little or to much. The viewer can either like it or not, that is their choice.
 
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