How to understand and use the depth of field

The 29/07/2020 at 09:16

How to understand and use the depth of field

Depth of field is critical for the aesthetic of your pictures when showcasing your subject or environment. A priori complex, this notion is, however, easy to understand.



Defining the depth of field means controlling the areas that are blurred and the one that aren’t. It is the area between the further point and the closest to what appears as sharp. 


If you focus on a subject, the sharp area will expand to a third ahead of it and to two thirds behind it. Now that we have defined the depth of field, let’s see how to master it. 


The opening of the shutter

The manual mode or “shutter priority”, a low value of the kind F2.8 (great opening) will result in a low depth of field, meaning that there will be a small sharp area: this is ideal to isolate your model (portraits, bokeh effects…)

For a greater depth of field and a wider sharp area, you need to select a greater value  of the kind F22 (small opening).


Keep in mind that the aperture values are, in reality, a ratio of the kind 1/X.



Focus range

The distance between your eye and the subject has an impact on the sharpness of your shot: the closer you are from the subject, the lower the depth of field. You will be able to exploit three image planes of the kind blurred/sharp/blurred.



The size of the sensor

A small sensor will result in a greater sharp area; nevertheless, you don’t have the power to change this parameter (unless you switch cameras).


Other factor: the focal length

A long focal length will enable you to obtain a low depth of field, even with a small opening, which is useful for animal photography.

On the contrary, a short focal length or a wide-angle lens will enable you to obtain wide sharp areas. The longer the focal length, the lower the depth of field for a same aperture value.



You are now ready to shoot portraits, nature photos or animal ones like professionals. Select your favorits creations and print it in gallery quality with Zeinberg, in the format and finish of your choice.
© 2020 Justine Grosset