Achieving the bokeh look with my Canon G30

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    • #82716

      Hi everyone,


      I've recently bought a Canon HF G30 camcorder and so far I'm loving it.  I'm a bit of a noob (hence this question) but soaking everything up like a sponge and learning quickly.


      Anyway…  I want to get the bokeh look with the blurred background while shooting an interview style video.  I can achieve this using the camcorder but only when I'm zoomed in a lot, and that of course ruins the shot as I have to zoom in way too far.


      I've dropped the f-stop and increased the shutter speed to try to help, but it's not really all that effective which may be because that's simply the wrong approach.  I've done a LOT of searching on the net however every darn tutorial I find relates only to DSLRs – very frustrating.  I realise that the mechanics of achieving bokeh should generally be the same, but I'm still not having any luck getting it.


      Can anyone give me any pointers on how to get the bokeh look using this camcorder?

      If you need any other info to help point me in the right direction just let me know.


      Cheers all,


    • #211179

            The reason that all the tutorials that you find relate to DSLRs is because they are the cameras that are best suited to ahieve what you want to do.  Your problem is that you're using a camcorder, which has a smaller image sensor.  DSLRs typically have larger image sensors, which give them the advantage when it comes to creating that out-of-focus background that you want, while keeping your subject in focus.  Interchangeable lenses also give them the ability to adapt to different situations.  The best thing you can do is what it sounds like you've been doing:  Keep you aperture as wide as you can.  Zoom in as far as you can, but then move your camera into a position so that your subject is framed the way to want him or her, and then hopefully your background will be far enough behind your subject that it will be out of focus.  If this doesn't work for you, there may not be a whole lot else you can do, unless you want to play some games with it in post.  But then you might end up spending way more time on it than you want, trying to rotoscope or a similar process.

           I hope this helps.  Good luck.

    • #211183

      It sounds like you've already figured out the way to do it is by zooming.  The shutter speed won't help much, other than to adjust the exposure to compensate for opening the aperture (which you did by lowering the f-stop) but going too high with shutter speed will end up with jumpy video.  Also, you need some good distance between your subject and the background.  For bokeh, you need a shallow depth of field.  The only things affecting the depth of field are: aperture (the f-stop), focal length (control this on your cam by zooming), and the distance to the subject. 


      I can see from this video that the G30 is perfectly capable of having some nice bokeh when zoomed in.


      Of course, I agree with mcrockett that the best looking shots in your budget will come from a DSLR.  You can add lenses with low f-stop capability and get some great bokeh even in a small room.  With any of my DSLR's I can get bokeh with the camera 2 feet from the subject and with the background 2 feet behind the subject. 


      If you have enough space, put the camera far away, record audio on a separate device, and use the zoom.  If you are in a tight space, it's not a perfect solution but make sure the subject is well-lit, the background is dimmer-lit than the subject, and there's plenty of backlight (hair light, etc) on the subject to isolate it/him/her from the background.  In post you can also add fake bokeh using blur, keying, rotoscoping, etc.


      Lowell Niles

      Creative Director, Sunword Studios

    • #211194

      Thank you very much for the replies guys, you've given me a lot to go on and research!


    • #211199

      A shallow depth of field is hard to achieve with the smaller sensors on camcorders which is why you see tuturials for DSLRs with their large sensors. Outside of the techniques that you have tried, which you don't seem to be satisfied with, about the only way to get your background out of focus is to force the depth of field away from it. Start out with your apeture opened up all the way and zoom in as much as you feel comfortable with if you don't like it at maximum. If you have manual focus, turn the ring until the focus is as close to the camera as possible (let's say the depth of field is from the cameral lens to five feet). If your subject is at six feet, adjust the focus until it starts to get into focus (let's say it's from six inches to six feet), everything behind the subject will be out of focus. Keeping the background as far away from your subject will only help. If you only have autofocus then focus on something close to the camera first and try to lock that down (turn it off?) and place your subject at the outermost area of the depth of field. I hope this was of some help.



    • #211201

      Great ideas hal9000

    • #211203

      G30 Bokeh. Would that be considered an oxymoron?


      But seriously, those are several great tips to try for users of small sensor cameras.



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