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Learn Digital Photography with Sandro Dzneladze

Depth of field (DOF)

Written on Jan 28, 2008 by Sandro Dzneladze
Depth of field (DOF)

Depth of field (aka DOF) is a technical term referring to how much of the picture is in focus. A large depth of field has lots in focus, while a shallow depth of field only has the main subject in focus.

The depth of field is controlled by the lens aperture, described by its f-number. Smaller f-numbers (f/1.8 for example) mean shallower depths of field; larger f-numbers (f/8 for example) mean larger depths of field.

So now, lets see how it works:

This portrait was shot @ f/2.0 with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Mk I. As you can see main subject is perfectly in focus, while the background is blurred. (shallow depth of field)

Mari Dzneladze
This night scene on the other hand was shot @ f/8 with Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. Note, the whole scene appears perfectly sharp and there are no blurred parts (large depth of field).

Budapest, Hungary
Mastering DOF is very important for a starting photographer, it allows greater control over the final outcome, and considerably increases creative scope. So put your camera in AV (aperture priority) mode and experiment with different numbers.

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