Blurry backgrounds with the 18-55mm kit lens

edited May 2012 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
Is it possible to capture blurry backgrounds using the 18-55mm kit lens lens? I tried, but it's not giving me good results. :(


  • edited May 2012
    You need a lens with a wider aperture to achieve the effect you are looking for. Something between f/1.4-f/2.8 is best. The wider the aperture (lower f-number), the shallower the depth of field.
  • edited March 2013
    @timthetortoise - Thanks mate!
  • edited May 2012
    @merryclark - I have made some great bokeh shots using the D3100 and the 18-55mm lens. The key is understanding the relationship between the lens and depth of field (DOF).

    DOF is a function of aperture in the exposure triangle. It is related to distance, f stop and all kinds of technical la-de-da.

    Bottom line is the closer you are to your subject, the more blur you will get. Back off guys, I know I'm over simplifying. ;)

    Your lens can take great blurred (bokeh) portraits. Go to Aperture priority, zoom in on your subject, open it up (select a low f-number) and shoot. God I love this camera.
  • edited May 2012
    Just be aware that longer focal lengths equal smaller aperture's (higher f-numbers). If you can get a prime lens with a maximum aperture near f/1.8, you will get much better results.
  • edited May 2012
    Howdy @merryclark - I agree with @timthetortoise and @mjaydakid. It would be best to shoot with a "bright" lens that can obtain a maximum aperture between f/1.2 to f/2.8, like the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 (see here). Lower f-numbers shorten the depth of field, which allows you to focus on your subject while blurring everything else into deliciously smooth goodness.

    If you don't have the budget for a "bright" lens, then you'll need to create a shallow depth of field by first zooming all the way to 55mm and creating as much space as possible behind your subject.

    As for settings stick with Aperture priority (A on the mode dial) and rotate the command dial to the left to select the lowest available f-number. Happy shooting! :)
  • Moose and everyone here, thanks for the great tips! Can't wait to test my D3100. =)
  • @gelosoriano - Of course, welcome to the forum! :)
  • edited May 2013
    Sorry to thread bump, but I cannot afford the 35mm f/1.8 just yet. With the tips on the forum I achieved some great depth of field and bokeh shots using the standard 55mm lens. I basically went in as close to the subject as I could without ruining the shot and had the zoom at its capacity. I managed to get 4-5 shots that I and the wife thought were worth printing and framing of our boy.

    Woody from Toy Story managed to get on the act too! :) Very photogenic that doll is!
  • Try putting some distance between the subject and the background (if possible). Move closer to your subject (if possible).
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