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I'm trying to get some bokeh using a compact (almost premium) camera, a Nikon Coolpix p300 (although the question is general).

Since the camera hasn't got a manual focus option, I'm trying to use the macro mode to lock the focus on a close subject and then keep it locked for the "real" shot. But no matter how close I lock the focus to, I can't get the bokeh. When I autofocus on the actual subject though, I see that during the focusing process the bokeh appears. How can I get the right focus setting?

Here is an example of the scene I'm trying on:

enter image description here

The light poles must be at about 40-50 m distance.

I also tried with a close subject in the frame, when I see the bokeh also the foreground is blurred. Can it be that I get more blur when focusing at infinite?

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Based in the appearance of other elements in the frame, the camera isn't holding the very near focus that you need. Are you changing the focal length (zooming to a wider Field of View) after you focus? –  Michael Clark Nov 16 '13 at 17:22
    
@MichaelClark No, I'm just keeping the shutter release button half pressed and moving the camera. The camera is in manual mode, and the focus is set as Single AF (not continuous). However, I can try with a close object in the frame –  clabacchio Nov 16 '13 at 17:24
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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You are correct in that you have to focus on a close object in order for far ones to be out of focus. To do that, macro is mode is a good start because it lets the camera focus closer but that camera, as most like it, will still focus to infinity in macro mode if that is where it decides to focus.

The way to lock focus with is to focus on something close object while keeping the shutter-release pressed halfway. Then, complete the shot with the framing you want. Note that you must be in AF-S mode for this to work. In AF-C, the camera will continue to adjust focus.

If that still does not work, you should know a few things to maximize your chances:

  • Pick the brightest aperture you can. That is F/1.8 on your camera and is only available at the widest zoom setting.
  • Maximize the ratio of distances between what you focus on and what you want out of focus.
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Thank you for looking into it. Check the edit, I tried to get the close subject in the scene and it seems that I should focus farther instead. –  clabacchio Nov 16 '13 at 17:33
1  
@clabacchio - While I am not sure what you see, the key is to keep the ratios high with the focus in front because depth-of-field becomes more extensive with longer focus distances. By focusing as close as possible and moving further away that the out-of-focus effect should be maximized for what your camera is capable of. –  Itai Nov 16 '13 at 18:14
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