Advanced Techniques

Depth of field quick guide

Written by Gail Bjork

A quick and easy guide to increasing or decreasing depth of field in a photo using a digital camera.

Depth of field (DOF) is primarily controlled by aperture size. Other factors also come into play such as the focal length of the lens and the distance the background is from the subject.

Deep depth of fieldTo increase Depth of field

Increased depth- of-field, known as “deep” depth-of field, means a greater amount of area is a photo is in sharp focus. Useful for landscape and similar scenes.

For distant subjects

♦ Higher F-stop numbers (smaller apertures)

♦ Shorter focal lengths (wide angle)

♦ Get further away from the subject

Shallow depth of fieldTo decrease Depth of field

Decreased depth-of-field, known as “shallow” depth-of-field,  means less of the area is in sharp focus from where you focus upon a subject. Use to obtain a blurred background when you want the subject to stand out, especially for macro and portrait shots.

For close-ups

♦ Lower F-stop numbers (larger apertures)

♦ Longer focal lengths (zoomed in)

♦ Get closer to the subject

Please note that, because of their small sensors, most compact digital cameras do not produce shallow depth-of-field like cameras with larger sensors.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.