I know there are quite a lot of camera buffs here, so I need some help with a nasty, confusing problem that keeps resulting every time I try to get decent settings on my camcorder.

First off, I’m using a Sony HDR-CX405. It is a cheap camera, but I bought it specifically because it has the type of settings I should need to do what I want. It has a 3.1mm sensor and a high f/1.8 setting, along with 60fps 1080p video, which sounds great! ...except it just isn’t doing it.

Specifically, I want to blur the background in my recordings and photos, or “bokeh” as all the utterly useless tutorials out there tell me it is called. Here is an example of what I want to do:

Yes, smile Mr. Tutorial man, because your video was completely useless to me. Your advice does nothing. You are nothing.

I can get an aperture size of f/1.8, which is more than enough from what I’ve been reading to do something like this.

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However, no matter what focal distance I use on that aperture, everything looks clear. At it’s blurriest, you can still make out the lines on a poster 30 feet away. There’s no “obscuring to oblivion” like what I expect.

At a distance of 30-40 feet from the background, All of the following seems to look identical:

1. Object 30 feet away at f/1.8
2. Object 1 foot away at f/1.8
3. Object 30 feet away at f/3.0
4. Object 1 foot away at f/3.0

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At f/5.0 the background starts to get into a little more focus, but I cannot make it more blurry.

Another thing of note: f/1.8 doesn’t seem overexposed. In fact, changing the aperture setting defaults the exposure setting to “auto” as well. It does the same with shutter speed. Manually changing aperture seems to automatically change shutter speed and exposure to “auto”.

My focal distance settings are 0.1m, 0.2m, 5m, and infinite. Auto doesn’t seem to use those settings, but makes everything in focus.

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I can either get a little blur on everything except for 2-3 inches away (which doesn’t help, since I need to be speaking on camera) or I can get moderate blur (not enough, still) on the whole image. Or I can get clear distance overall. The camera just simply will not get blurry under any circumstances, at any distance.

Because this is indoors, I have about 30 feet of distance to play with. I can use any combination of zoom, positioning, etc. within that distance. So I can’t just go outside and be an exorbitantly large distance away from my background.

What do I do? Give up? Would it be easier to blur the background in after effects?

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