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Understanding Depth of Field by photo-class Understanding Depth of Field by photo-class

Depth of Field is one of the most important - and probably most complicated - aspects of photography.
This article is an attempt to simplify it, explaining how and why it changes and what to do to control it.

Enjoy, and please leave us a comment if you found this helpful, or if you have advice/corrections/questions.

Thank you!

Article by `In-Apt

Intermediate level article. All beginners are recommended to read Making of a Photograph article first.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2004-04-01
The latest in a line of tutorials by ~photo-class, Understanding Depth of Field is detailed but easy to understand lesson in one of the most important concepts of photography. Be sure to check out the whole series. ( Suggested by ost2life and Featured by blackice )
lostwthno Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Good job . Did you know that the old 35m.m. had a built in depth of field scale on the lenses. You set a fixed focus short distance around around 2 to 4 depending on the lens than if the infinity symbol was within the paramiters of the depth of scale everything was in focus at and beyond the 2 to 4 foot distance if the iris f-stop that was recomended by the scale was used.
SpiritFem Featured By Owner May 10, 2013
My head hurts now (I'm a novice at this), but this tutorial was fascinating and very informative. Thank you!
Puuronen Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
Very good tutorial!
yatesmon Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2011
perfect lesson, I've tried to explain it myself & failed :|...wish I'd seen this before ;)
Kebeca1690 Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2011
Really nice!
OctoFlash Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2010
your deviation has been featured in this article: [link]

thanks a lot!
aalmuashi Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2010
Very nice lesson. all what we need to do now is just to apply your great lesson in reality so we can get the best DOF. Now I am very happy cause I got one lesson for today :)
Creative--Dragon Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2010  Professional Photographer
very nice tutorial. I had a pretty clear understanding of DOF already, but this filled in some of the blank spots :)
Thank you very much! :D
JessicaValerie-n-Co Featured By Owner May 9, 2010  Student General Artist
Hey there :)
I have a favour to ask of you... I am currently doing my Year 12 HSC (Australian: Higher School Certificate, ie. Last year of high school) Information Processes and Technology major project, Which is to be a website on photography and cameras.

I saw your tutorial and was wondering if I would able to feature it on the site I make. Of course, You will be fully credited with links to your deviantart profile and deviation page.

I will also send you a link at the completion of the project if you would wish to see.
I would really appreciate if you agreed, but if you donít, no hard feelings :aww:

petrova Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010  Hobbyist
Thank you so much, helped a little bit on the way :hug:
ouipas Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2009
Muito bom! Não é fácil tornar o "complicado" mais "simples".

diginstock Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2009
too much beneficial for beginners like me,

thanks for the great work.
Stereofidelica Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2009
Oh my gosh, thank you so much! I couldn't figure out depth of field at all until I read this, thank you so much!

I looked through your gallery but I didn't see anything relating to shutterspeed. What does shutterspeed do and what should I know about it?
jayxbriar4ever Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Shutter speed is how fast the shutter opens and closes when you press the button. What you need to know about it is that depending on what you want to take a picture of, you may (probably) need to change your shutter speed. Slow shutter speed for pictures taken at night or in other dark environments and fast for bright or motion photographs. I hope this was helpful!!!
yleighne Featured By Owner May 25, 2009
cool. i'm really confused about how to adjust the aperture.
Picture-Bandit Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
just awesome Tutorial...

thanks a lot!
Justicex Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2008
Will definitely find this useful! Thank you for your hard work!
ImaginaryCloud Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Great tutorial! =D
This is definatly going to come in handy for me. ^^
Drifter11 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2008
Thanks.. very helpful :)
savvykat Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2008
That was brilliant. I'd never even heard of this before. I read this with a notebook in front of me. Thanks!
webworm Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2008
Thank you so much! :wave::sing:
parisky Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2008  Professional Photographer
great! Now I understand a little bit more ;)
znow-white Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2008
Your wonderful tutorial has been featured here.[link]

Thank you for providing the gallery with such awesome Resources.:heart:
likwidoxigen Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2008
Wow, this is gonna save me so much time of trying to explain depth of field. Thanks so much!
The-Elven-Priestess Featured By Owner May 21, 2008
Thank you for posting such an informative piece.
mariocassar Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2008  Professional Photographer
Thankx for sharing your knowledge :) very helpful tutorial
uin Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you for the Tut! The best explanation I've come across.

I'm no pro, so when I read the last part I thought of when I got a little confused previously.

When it talks about sharpness relative to aperture. It says that when using a wider aperture, you may not get as sharp a picture as desired. I know what you mean by this, but I might have experimented in the extremes after reading this and thought the narrower the aperture, the sharper the pic?
It may over-complicate things, but. Is it worth pointing out this is within reason? As you also lose sharpness with a very narrow aperture (e.g. I used f:22's and alike for a while and wondered why my sunsets weren't sharp).

Just a thought :)
Silver-Dew-Drop Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks a lot for sharing this information. I learned a lot :) :+fav:
psykedeliko-andro Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2008
tnx a lot..
berkarat666 Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2008
yeahh very heplful to understanding about DOF ..thank you so muchh
clusty1 Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2008
Great guide, Specially the illustrations.
Would be even greater if you included hyperfocal focus as well
euphorix3 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
thnx for sharing ...this is invaluable to me.....i'm sooooo NOT technical or mathematical.....:cookie:
C-Williams Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I originally fav'd this as :iconshuttermuse: but since I'm combining that account into this one, I'm moving my favorite favs over... and this one is going with me. :D
buhu Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2008
one problem: subject ditance - your diagramm has a small flaw those focus markers are not acutally parralel lines , but circle sectors...yes , they can be approximated to lines at longer focal lengths ..

but what will the outcome look like if you have this diagramm in your head when using a 24mm/1.8 prime at its widest aperture ?
crazykira Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2007
Hi ,you've been featured in this news article

thanks a lot for sharing
Radioactive-LoVe Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2007
Does this go for the compact digital cameras (aka amateur cameras)
sedtcs Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2007   Photographer
This provides a great understanding of depth of field, however, DOF is not effected by focal length, DOF MYTH EXPLAINED

"A Hands-On Manual for Cinematographers", David Samuelson states at the conclusion of his section on depth of field : "Depth of field remains the same, regardless of lens focal length, so long as the image size (and f-stop) is the same. There is no point in changing to a shorter focal length lens and moving closer, because if the image size remains the same so will the depth of field." (Focal Press, London, second edition, 1998, p.218)

apart from that this is really good!
Scentofdarkness Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2007
Thank you very much for the simple and still precious explanation! +fav
jumare Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2007
It's so easy to understand DOF,
even though I don't know English very well.
vaxvms Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2007
great site :)
Slawin Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2007
:+fav: Well written and helpful! :)
zehntes Featured By Owner May 25, 2007  Student General Artist
Thank you so much.
Is this printer-friendly? :)
Affraid Featured By Owner May 25, 2007
i love this article it was very helpful and clear.. please keep up the outstanding work =)
imajina Featured By Owner May 24, 2007
Great article!!! Keep like this.

I have only one thing to say: It doesn't stays clear how the aperture affects the DOF, you only explain what aperture is.

I haven't googled it, but I think it is because of the cuality of the rays of light passing through the diaphragm. While the aperture is wide (i.e. F/1.8), out of focus rays of light pass through the diaphragm, and in the other hand when the F number is higher (F/16) only in focus light can pass through the diaphragm
RedRamo Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes - that could be right and it reminds me of something my doctor told me when I was younger:
I'm very short-sighted and without my glasses nearly everything is blurry - but when you nearly close the eyes the edges get sharper
jamesilluminare Featured By Owner May 23, 2007  Professional General Artist
This is very helpful, thanks! :)
chowlover99 Featured By Owner May 18, 2007
hi, i just signed up today & wanted to read your article on understanding depth of field. Everytime I click on the download button it says that the file is not found. Any idea why? Thanks.
photo-class Featured By Owner May 22, 2007
It's working now!

Have fun! ;)
euphorix3 Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2007  Hobbyist Photographer
link aint workin proper!!
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Submitted on
April 1, 2004
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