Know In-Depth About It For Quality Pictures

Depth Of Field

The lens in the digital camera provides a sharp image of the subject only at a fixed definite point along the lens axis. If the lens is moved from this particular point on the lens axis the sharpness of the subject’s image deteriorates. The reasons for losing the sharpness of the image may be many like atmospheric conditions, shaking of the camera while clicking, dirty lens and other optical defects in lens. But here the reason for the subject of the photograph not being sharp because of the subject being out of the focused distance of the lens will be discussed.

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The depth of field (DOF) is the distance allowed between the most focused point on the lens axis and points of acceptable sharpness in front & behind of that focused point along the lens axis. Technically speaking DOF is the zone in which the sharpness of the image is acceptable. Mostly, all the things in the frame are required to be as sharp as possible. This applies to vacation, family, architecture, landscape and documentary snapshots. However, a more creative approach is to have the main subject sharp with the background out of focus.

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The main subject is very clear and sharp as compared to the surrounding provides more impact. This is possible when you reduce the depth of field. The extent of acceptable un-sharpness decides the range of depth of field. More acceptable un-sharpness is the extent of depth of field. A point subject will have a point image only at a single given distance. At any other distance, a point subject will have an image in the form of a circular spot which is called the circle of confusion.

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The main controls used in the depth of field are aperture, focal length, distance from the subject and magnification. Here are the different combinations that can be used to get variation in depth of field. For the same image frame size,

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  • Keeping focal length constant, there is an increase in depth of field if you close the lens i.e. decrease the aperture.
  • Keeping lens aperture and subject distance same; there is an increase in depth of field for a lens with short focal lengths as compared to the ones with long focal lengths.
  • Keeping image magnification and lens aperture same, there is no appreciable change in depth of field (remains almost same) for different focal lengths of the lens used.
  • Keeping aperture and focal length same, there is an increase in depth of field as the subject distance increases.

In short, the depth of field increases with a small aperture, short focal length lens and smaller magnification while the depth of field decreases with an increase in aperture, longer focal length lens and moving close to the subject.

It’s very important to understand that the quality of a photograph is not only determined by the sharpness you can produce in it but also by the way you effectively use un-sharpness and blur.

Further, you will know all about quality settings to be done to get extraordinary photographs in the next part of the tutorials. Does the next part cover how digital noise and ISO settings affect the picture quality?

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Dave P
Dave P
Be a little better today than yesterday.


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