Near / Far Depth Of Field

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In landscape photography, it’s essential to record all elements in focus. From the point closest to the camera extending to infinity, everything should be sharp. This requires the maximum amount of depth of field. Depth of field is controlled by three fundamentals: the working aperture, the focal length of the lens, and the subject distance from the camera. Knowing how these fundamentals interact is critical to maximizing depth of field.

Aperture The smaller the aperture (ƒ/16, ƒ/22, ƒ/32), the greater the depth of field. Photographers A and B shoot the same subject from 10 feet away with the same-focal-length lenses. Photographer A sets his lens opening to ƒ/4 while Photographer B sets his to ƒ/22. There will be more depth of field in Photographer B’s image because of the smaller lens opening.

Lenses The wider the angle of the lens, the more inherent depth of field. Photographers A and B shoot the same subject from 10 feet away and use an aperture of ƒ/8. Photographer A uses a 28mm lens while Photographer B uses a 70mm lens. Photographer A’s image will have more apparent depth of field because he’s using a lens with a wider angle.

Subject Distance The closer the subject is to the camera, the less depth of field. Photographers A and B both use an 80mm lens set to ƒ/11. Photographer A is four feet from the subject while Photographer B is 15 feet from the subject. More of the background in Photographer B’s image will be in focus because the camera is farther away.

With a combination of all the above in mind, to achieve the greatest amount of depth of field, use your widest-angle lens, stop it down to its smallest aperture, and place the camera as close to the nearest subject that will allow it and infinity to be in focus.


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