Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)
I am really glad to have stumbled across this wonderful site. Thanks to all the forum members who have shared their wealth of information with the rest of us, 'newbies'.
Though not new to photography, I am new to DSLR photography and would appreciate a little help from the knowledgeable members here.
I have recently purchased a new D5000 with the Kit Lens(18-55/1.8-5.6 VR)and the 55-200VR additional lens along with it.
I am trying to take portraits( with a blurred background) at the moment using the kit lens only in quite(but not excessively) 'dim-light' conditions. Indoors with two normal fluorescent lights.
With the following settings I cannot get the background to blur no matter what I do(with the kit lens) . I get the effect with the 55- 200( on a higher zoom length) but not with the kit lens. I want a similar kind of effect with the kit lens. Is it possible? Any setting recommendation would be greatly appreciated. I do not mind experimenting with the Manual mode as well so setting provided for that would also be welcome. Thanks in advance.
My setting for 15-55(kit lens) are as follows:
ISO - 800
Flash Power- 0.0(default)
Exposure Compensation - +0.5
Zoom - 55
Mode - Aperture Priority
Picture mode- Vivid ( I want the contrast to stand out)
Aperture- 4 ( the camera does not let me go below this, no matter what the zoom length is, why ?? )
Shutter Speed - 1/60( automatically set by the camera).
Focus - Autofocus.
Once again, thanks for all the help.
#1. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 0
gkaiseril Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005Wed 19-May-10 02:09 AM
Your aperture is too high to get the narrow DOF you are looking for. Have you tried a different focal length?
You might want to invest in the 55mm f/1.8 lens. But it does not have SWM so you may need to manually focus.
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#2. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 1
Wed 19-May-10 02:30 AM
Thanks for your help. Yes, I have tried different zoom lengths. No matter, what the zoom lens is the D5000 never lets me go below 3.5-4 in A ( Aperture Priority Mode). Why???
Even going down to 3.5 does not really give me the blurred background effect that I am looking for? So, are you suggesting that the only way to get that effect indoors would be to get a 50/1.4?
I don't mind investing in another lens but it would be great if the kit lens would be able to do the job. Any other suggestions that might be worth a shot with the kit lens? Thanks.
#3. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 2
gkaiseril Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005Wed 19-May-10 03:17 PM
It appears you have the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR AF-S DX Nikkor Lens so you will only be able to stop down to an f 3.5.
The blurred background is caused by the use of shallow DOF The larger the f stop is the smaller the DOF. So if you have a subject at 10', 55mm focal length, and an f stop of 3.6 your near focus point is 9.34', the far point is 10.8', and a total depth in focus of 1.42'. Changing the f stop to 1.8 will result in a near focus point of 9.66', far focus point of 10.4', and a total in focus distance of 0.71'.
You should be able to make this work by setting your focus point manually and then locating the subject at or near the far in focus point and not the focused distance. How well the background is blurred is a function of you lens. Zoom lenses are not know for their bokeh, but the Nikon Normal AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Autofocus Lens is a good price and known for its bokeh, and it is a very good lens on the DX cameras but the edges are poor on the FX cameras.
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#5. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 3
MEMcD Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007Wed 19-May-10 03:50 PM
Since the D5000 does not have an AF motor built into the body. Be Aware that Auto Focus is not possible with the Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D mounted on your D5000. You will have to use Manual Focus.
If you want to maintain AF operation you will have to get the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G AF-S or the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX HSM.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!
#7. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 5
Thu 20-May-10 01:08 AM
Thanks for pointing the AF function(missing on the 50/1.8) out. Although I am tempted to get the 50/1.4 so that I can have the AF, unfortunately it was out of my range or what I am willing to spend on a lens right now. The price of the new camera and the additional zoom that I bought along with it has left a decent sized hole in my pocket, at least for some time.
Hence, keeping economical conditions and prudence in mind, I think I will probably purchase the 50/1.8 as George suggested. I have looked it up and read quite a few user reviews on it. I understand that the 1.4 is a lot sharper than the 1.8 for f/stops up to 4 but I guess that's something I can live with. Thanks all the same for pointing out the difference and another alternative.
#6. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 3
Thu 20-May-10 01:02 AM
Hello again, George,
Please accept my apologies for providing you with the wrong specs for my kit lens and wasting your time. How silly of me! What was I thinking (probably wasn't).
I get what you are trying to say and now looking at the f-stop range on the 18-55, 3.6-5.6 , an f-stop of 4 at 55 under poor lighting conditions makes sense. Am I correct to say that if I were shooting in bright light the shutter speed would be better at a given f-stop or conversely for a given shutter speed the f-stop would be higher( lower f-number)?
I will go along with your advice and will get the 50/1.8 to get the effect that I want for indoor portraits. May I once again thank you for your help and for helping me make sense of this issue. Thanks you.
#10. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 6
Thu 20-May-10 03:23 PM
I cant thank you enough for the terrific suggestion of getting the 50/1.8 prime. I got it today and tried it out this evening. My most 'unwilling' models are my cats which is why I was insistent on getting a lens that gave me a decent enough bokeh under dim conditions without using flash. I don't want to use flash on my cats because they don't seem to like it.
Anyway, long story short, the pics that came out with the prime are excellent and exactly what I was trying to obtain from the kit lens. I am really happy with the results and so are my cats since I don't need to use the flash anymore. Once again, thank you.
#4. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 0
Welcome to Nikonians!
Both the 18-55mm and the 55-200mm are variable aperture zoom lenses.
Therefore the maximum aperture (smallest f/#) is only available at the widest zoom setting for each lens. The 18-55mm is f/3.5 at 18mm and f/5.6 at 55mm. Your 55-200mm is f/4 at 55mm and f/5.6 at 200mm.
The larger the Aperture (smaller f/#) the narrower the DOF (Depth of Field). This means that 55mm your 55-200mm (f/4 @ 55mm) will have a narrower DOF than your 18-55mm (f/5.6). Longer focal lengths tend to compress the DOF at close ranges theryby providing better bokeh.
In addition the distance from your subject to the background may not be helping you with a slow lens.
>Aperture- 4 ( the camera does not let me go below this, no matter what the zoom length is, why ?? )
Your 18-55mm is f/5.6 at 55mm for the reasons stated above (Variable Aperture lens).
Your 55-200mm is f/4 at 55mm.
To get the effect that you are looking for with the 18-55mm you will have to increase the distance from your subject to the background.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!
#8. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 4
Thu 20-May-10 01:18 AM
Point noted. I understand what you are trying to say. I will keep it in mind while I try and play around with the 18-55 some more. In the meanwhile, I think I will be getting the 50/1.8 prime , 'in the pursuit of better bokehs'. Thank you.
#9. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 0
>I am trying to take portraits( with a blurred background) at
>the moment using the kit lens only...
> Any setting recommendation would be greatly appreciated...
You may be able to do a little better with your lens by putting as much distance between your subject and the background as possible. The greater that distance, the more background blur you will get.
#11. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 9
Thu 20-May-10 03:36 PM
Sorry this comes a little late. I wanted to get the settings to you earlier but I was away at work and did not have my camera nor my computer with me.
I have been extensively trying to get portraits with a blurred background with the kit lens and I have taken 200+ pictures with different settings.
However, most of my portraits were of my cats and I like to shoot them up close( really, really up close) so I am assuming that in case you are shooting people your focal distance will be quite a bit longer than mine.
Anyway out of all the pics that I took , about 10 or so were decent enough(or so I think).
Let me provide you with the settings for those pictures. The setting for the ones that came out respectable are identical. Give it a shot and let me know how the results turn out.
Lens: Kit Lens (18-55/3.5-5.6)
Conditions- Fairly dim, one fluorescent light( no flash used)
Mode: Aperture Priority
ISO: 1600( no noise detected)
F-stop: 5.3 ( the camera would not let me go below this.
Shutter Speed: 1:60 (set by the camera)
Focus: manual focus
Zoom: max(55) and then some(zoomed in further with 'the legs' for a really really close shot)
Picture mode: Vivid ( I am shooting my cats so I set it to vivid to make their colors really stand out).
I hope this helps. Let me know how it went.
#12. "RE: Portraits with the D5000 kit lens(18-55VR)" | In response to Reply # 11
Floridian Nikonian since 11th Feb 2007Fri 21-May-10 01:17 AM
What we're saying, Mr. Nuttyrodent, is that to get your background as blurred as posssible with that lens, open the aperture as much as possible in aperture priority, which you are doing, and maximize the distance between your subject (your cat) and the background you want blurred.
Perhaps your problem is that you are not a person, I'm just inferring from your last name. Though I see you are from Singapore, Nuttyrodent is one of the more unusual last names I've seen on Nikonians.