There are several determining factors that you should keep in mind when you want to control depth of field: the focal length of your lens, your distance from the subject, and of course, your lens aperture. Many people think that the aperture is most important when creating shallow or great depth of field, but in order to control DOF, you must consider all three of these elements simultaneously.
- Generally, if all other things are equal, the smaller your aperture (f/8, f/11, f/16 or smaller), the wider your lens focal length (around 24mm or wider), and the farther you are from your subject, the greater the depth of field you’ll achieve. Great depth of field is ideal for photographing landscapes, city skylines, and any other scene in which you want sharpness near and far.
- Conversely, the wider your aperture (e.g., f/2.8, f/3.5, f/4.5, etc.), the longer your lens focal length (50mm and longer on most digital cameras), and the closer you get to your subject, the shallower the depth of field you’ll get. This is a desirable effect for when you shoot portraits, close-ups, and other subjects that you want to separate from a blurred background.
Notes from the Editor:
Don't miss Lynne Eodice's excellent courses at BetterPhoto's digital photography school online: