Time to be with your loved ones

Time to be with loved ones

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My teenage son needs to take some forced perspective shots this weekend as part of a camping/hiking trip. He has a Panasonic DMC-FX01 point and shoot camera.

He wants to be able to hold up something like a plastic dinosaur toy close enough to the lens that it looks kind of like it's attacking his friends standing a distance away.

We've tried a number of the presets, but the toy is always out of focus, I'm really no expert on this kind of thing but I know you can do this with manual DSLR. So my question is do you have any suggestions of how to trick this little P&S camera into letting him take this kind of shot please?

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I just want to comment that this is a pretty awesome example "..dinosaur..attacking his friends..". +1! –  dpollitt Jun 22 '11 at 13:56
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Thank you, it's for this thing called the "Duke of Edinburgh Award"; you plan a ~20-30 miles hike but you have to have some form of 'activity' along the way. Their team is called "The Lost Perspectives" and they'll be being beamed up by UFO's, reenacting the flag-raising at Iwo Jima with some plastic toy soldiers helping, riding a camel, being chased my a land-shark etc. Should be fun but I don't want him ruining an expensive camera. –  Chopper3 Jun 22 '11 at 14:02
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It is actually easier to do so with a small camera because the can produce a much greater-depth-of-field.

The only catch is that yours is a point-and-shoot, so you have no direct controls. Instead, you must trick it using a small aperture.

You can try landscape mode which often selects a small aperture. If that does not do it, you can increase the ISO too. That will reduce the quality of your images though.

Of course, you may be trying something impossible and it would probably be impossible with a DSLR unless equipped with a tilt-shift lens. Try to shoot at the widest angle and create as much distance between the camera and the closest object.

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I'm going to try that right now - thank you. –  Chopper3 Jun 22 '11 at 14:02
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Since you're using a point and shoot with a smaller sensor, it has greater depth of field generally which should make this easier - but you lack the controls to do this manually on your camera. In addition to some EXCELLENT suggestions already, you can try increasing the distance setup of the whole thing from the camera. The further from the camera it has to focus, the greater the overall depth of field.

You can play around with some values here to see if you can get something acceptable.

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It's likely that you're getting a narrow enough depth-of-field (DOF) that either the near object or the far object are in focus, but not both. Increasing the f-number of your aperture setting (making the aperture smaller) will increase the size of the DOF, hopefully allowing you to get both near and far objects in focus.

Most cameras should have an Aperture-priority (Av) mode that's ideal for fixing the aperture the way you want and still allows the camera to set shutter speed and (maybe) ISO to expose the photo correctly.

Check out one of the many online DOF calculators or download one for your iPhone or Android phone, and you can compute this value on the fly.

[edit] Another thought -- depending on the DOF you can achieve, a slightly larger "dino" held a little further from the lens would be easier than a very small one very close to the lens. Maybe something drawn on a posterboard, or something like that? The idea here is that since the large DOF is needed to "force" perspective, you might have to settle for a little less "forcing" than you'd like.

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Unfortunately the FX01 has no manual aperture or shutter speed control. –  ElendilTheTall Jun 22 '11 at 12:27
    
Thanks for your answer but ElendilTheTall is right, this is a very 'consumer'-type camera. I have a (kind of old) DSLR that I'm sure would do the job but I'm not going to trust him with that while trudging around a Dorset bog :) –  Chopper3 Jun 22 '11 at 12:31
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Yikes! Based on a quick cruise through the manual, I'm not sure about this, but it might be possible to adjust some settings with the four-way controller on the back. I'd check that out, or possibly look into the "slow shutter" mode, which should force a small aperture. –  D. Lambert Jun 22 '11 at 12:50
    
It also looks like the aperture range itself is pretty small -- f/2.8-5.6 on the wide end to f/5.6-f/11 for telephoto. One of the DOF calculators should tell you if there's enough room there for you to do what you want to do. –  D. Lambert Jun 22 '11 at 12:53
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The other option is to put two or 3 shots together in Photoshop/GIMP. –  ElendilTheTall Jun 22 '11 at 13:39
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