Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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For static or semi-static scenes, there are many ways to "simulate" certain features actually not feasible on single photo using the technology the photographer has. For example,

  • wider field of view by taking multiple shots in adjacent directions and stitching them into a panorama;
  • deeper DOF by focus stacking;
  • lower ISO by averaging multiple frames;
  • higher dynamic range by merging differently exposed frames into a HDR image.

This makes me wonder, is there any way to use multiple exposures for creating shallower DOF at a given field of view, normally achievable with a faster lens or a bigger sensor. How to do that?

I know it's kind of stupid to start out with a hammer and then invent how to carry water with it... but I stil wonder.

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I think this is actually What is Bokeh panorama (AKA Brenizer method)?, but I have no idea how you'd find that if you didn't know the answer already. –  mattdm Jun 22 '11 at 17:57
    
yeah my first thought was this is a duplicate, but people searching for the answer to this exact question wouldn't find it otherwise! –  Matt Grum Jun 22 '11 at 18:01

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes indeed, in fact your first bullet point does that. By stitching a panorama you are simulating a larger sensor.

The effect works best when you use a telephoto lens and create a multi-row panorama with approximately the same aspect ratio as a regular photograph. This is sometimes referred to as the Brenizer method (after the person who popularised the technique) or a "Bokeh Panorama".

To convince yourself this works, thing of the last time you saw a telephoto shot (say 200mm) with a sharp background? Never (unless the BG was within the DOF, unlikely unless you shoot 1/128). By stitching several telephoto shots together you get the field of view of a wide lens, but a blurred background in every shot, hey presto shallow depth of field! Stan gives a very good more detailed description of the technique in the answer to this question:

What is Bokeh panorama (AKA Brenizer method)?

The opposite also works, if you want to simulate the deep depth of field of a small sensor camera use a very wide angle lens (like a 10mm) and crop a tiny bit out from the centre of the frame and you'll get the equivalent of a slight telephoto on a crop body (albeit at a much lower resolution).

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