What Is Depth Of Field In Photography?

in this video I’m gonna talk about depth
of field after watching this video you know everything about depth of field
that’s a promise hi there I am Peter Forsgård, an Olympus
visionary and a professional photographer from Helsinki Finland and
before we start talking about the depth of field please consider subscribing to
my channel and hit that Bell so get notified when there is a new video
online I post two videos a week usually on Tuesdays and on Fridays and remember
my channel is all about you getting to be a better at photography and of course
about a little post gear but let’s start talk about depth of field there will be
lots and lots of info about depth of field and there will be time stamped
links in the description of this video so if there is something that you
specifically, want to know just click the time stamp and you will
be in that part of the video but of course watching the whole video is
always nice but let’s start with the definition of depth of field and I quote
Wikipedia depth of field is the distance between the nearest and farthest object
that are in acceptable sharp focus in an image that’s how it is in Wikipedia
about depth of field and the key word is acceptable sharp though everything
doesn’t have to be really really sharp because actually the only thing that is
sharp is the point where you have been setting the focus point everything else
is less sharp so we’re talking about acceptable sharp and by the way it’s
quite windy out there so if there is some wind noise that comes from the you
know the windows of the balcony where I’m at right now
and there are three things that affect depth of field those three things are
aperture focal length and the focusing distance I need not mention sensor size
and the reason is that it does not affect the depth of field I will talk
about this exercise in the later part of this video where I compare the depth of
field of micro four-thirds and full frame but let’s start talk
about the first one the first one is aperture usually aperture is controlled
from the body there are also lenses that have
so-called aperture ring where you set your aperture that you want but nowadays
in digital world the most common way is to
use the dials in your body the smaller the aperture is the bigger the depth of
field is and a smaller aperture means a large F number and if you have a small
aperture number then the aperture is big and the depth of field is narrower or
smaller so that means that f16 gives you more depth of field than f2.8 for
example and here are two examples of that the first picture is taken with the
aperture f2.0 and the second one is f16 and I used the Olympus E-M5 MarkIII with the 12 millimeter f2.8 lens and you can clearly see that the depth of field is
much bigger with the f-16 than it is with f2.0 and also remember that if you
stop down too much diffraction will start to ruin your sharpness of your
image usually in general photography it
doesn’t really matter you really don’t see unless you’re a pixel paper but in
macro photography this thing is very crucial there you can see more clearly
that your image sharpness is getting worse if you stop down too much but I
will talk about macro photography a bit later in this video and then the second
thing is the focal length the longer your focal length is the less depth of
field you get and then the shorter lens will give you more depth of field so
this means that with telephoto lens you get less depth of field than you get
with the wide-angle lens and here are some examples the focusing distance is
the same the aperture is the same only thing that is different is the focal
length of the lens and you can see there’s a clear difference and then the
third thing is focusing distance the closer you are to your subject the less
depth of field you get and if you go further away the depth of field
increases and as you can see on these two examples the aperture is same the
lens is same the only difference is the focusing distance and here’s a tip if
you don’t get enough depth of field to your image then back up a bit and
go further from the object and then crop your image in post and you will have
more depth of field of course this applies only for example to a small
object this does not work when you do landscape or something like that but
when you’re photographing a small thing or object or maybe even a portrait this
wave works well what about macro photography then if you stop down to
f22 you will have diffraction in your image and it will loop and you will lose
sharpness your macro images so other any solutions to this even because even with
f22 you will get very very shallow depth of field in macro photography and
of course there is you can use focus bracketing and even some Olympus cameras you can stack those images and I have a video about focus stacking and focus
bracketing in my channel so if you’re interested in macro photography and have
been having trouble with depth of field you might want to watch that video I
will put a link in the description of this video to that video and of course
there will be an end screen to that video also so be sure to watch that if
that’s something that concerns you but remember also focus stacking can be done
manually but it’s a lot lot harder to do well how do I know how much depth of
field I get you have a few options but of course if you’re really experienced
then your experience will tell you you you just know but we all we all are not
that experienced so there are as I said a few things you can jump but that’s not
always the best way because you might not be able to repeat the shot you –
most cameras have so-called depth of field preview button and pressing that
will show you the amount of depth of field you will see the image as it will
be recorded to your memory card you know the post cameras like in many other
cameras actually most cameras have the preview button right next to the lens in
front of the camera then in some Olympus cameras when you’re using the pro lenses
which has the lfn button that can be customized to be the preview button for
depth of field also so that might be one place to set it and if
your camera has focus peaking like most Olympus cameras have that’s also a good
way of checking how much depth of field you will get but of course this is not
the most accurate way but it gives you an estimate and you can you know as
especially in in close-ups you can have a rough idea how much depth of field you
will get so that’s also a handy way and remember that you can also customize the
color of the focus peaking and all the Olympus cameras and of course then there
are calculators online and also apps for for calculating how much depth of field
you will get then there is one thing that has to be mentioned about depth of
field there’s always less depth of field in
front of the focusing point and there is behind the focusing point the rough area
is that two-thirds of the depth of field is behind the focusing point and
one-third is in front and that is really important thing to understand because
that is a crucial information to know when you are focusing like in these
three cups if I focus in the first one I will have some of the depth of field in
front of the first object where there is nothing I don’t need to be sharp in
front of the object because there’s nothing if I focus to the next object
then I will have some of the depth of field in front of the second object and
some of behind the second object so all these three object will be sharp by
focusing to the second object I also move the depth of field backwards a bit
so that the depth of field in front is also covering the area where the objects
are I hope I said it clearly I don’t know this it’s a it’s a bit hard for me
to explain this in English but I hope you understand that but does you see it
is it very important to understand so that you can kind of get most out of
your depth of field and then there is a thing called hyperfocal distance and I
quote Wikipedia again: “Hyperfocal distance is a distance beyond which all
object can be brought into acceptable focus.” What it means that at the
hyperfocal distance is the focus distance that gives the maximum depth of
field let’s say that you have a 17 millimeter lens on a micro four-thirds
body you set the aperture to f5.6 and then you set the focusing distance
about 3.5 meters what it means you will have everything sharp from 1.7 meters to
infinity. You don’t need to focus at all we’re very good method in street
photography and the hyperfocal distance method is also used or widely used among
landscape photographers and before we go into the reasons why depth of field is
so important to understand let’s talk about the sensor size for a while for
this one I asked my good friend Matt this one to a fellow Youtuber to help me
because he has a Panasonic S1 which is a full-frame digital camera from Panasonic
alright now we’re here with Matt how are you doing long time no see a long time
no see it’s I’m doing good I’m doing – good thanks it’s it’s cold it’s cold
yeah it’s getting windy winter is coming as they say now we’re here testing the
depth of field and as I said at the beginning of the video that the sensor
size or the film size does not matter it’s all about something else and we’ll
test and multi had to put his big bulky lumix s1 on a tripod because s1r is one
R sorry he can’t because he cannot hold it in his hand it’s too heavy for him so
that’s why I don’t have it on a tripod but we have this scene where we gonna
test and I’m gonna show you that it’s not the center size that matters but
let’s start so it’s 50 millimetres right 50 millimetres we both have if you have
what lens do you have there I have the 24 205 F okay I’ll have 12 200
millimetres so they’re pretty good and we use in f/4 and we have the same scene
and I will take a picture after you with the exact same spot with the same focal
length and we will see that there won’t be any difference in okay I’m now at
focal length okay I’m now at 50 millimetres f4 is ISO 100 yeah go ahead
and I manually focused to add on that exact spot we agreed yeah all right and
let’s see then I will have the same then we’ll take the image
I wonder why I had the self-timer on I don’t know what doesn’t matter just to
make sure and here you can see the image is no difference in the depth of field
because we had the same focal length and that what matters of course
my crop is tighter because it’s it’s more wide lens on a full-frame the 15
millimeter yes and this is more a telephoto lens on this one so that is
that’s the difference depth of field is the same yeah and let’s take the next
one and the next one will be so that you have the camera exactly the same spot
and then I will go and take with the same focal length I will make a same
crop so I have to go way back there so that we’re gonna get the same crop like
we take another short no you don’t happen of course it’s going to be
different well I will take the shot from here all right now I have the shot here
you can see the images in my image the depth of field is bigger or there’s more
depth of field because I was further away so it was the focusing distance
that matters not the sensor and let’s take one more shot I will take the same
image as Muttley has taken with his camera and now I need to take my camera
away from the 50 millimetres and need to make a wider shot let’s see how it goes
so you dragged me all the way here just to make one picture oh man and here are
the last two images as you can see my image has more depth of field than
musti’s because I had a wire focal length yeah so it’s 25 25 and you had 50
so it’s not the sensor it’s the focal link on this one so that’s why the
sensor size is not the thing it’s the focal length and the focusing distance
as I’ve been at the f-stop and the f-stop of course but hey thanks Marty
for helping me with this my pleasure with this bulky camera and be sure to
check out my channel also he’s a Youtuber too hidden he normal
makes more of micro four-thirds videos right micro four-thirds and lumix
related videos yeah yeah cuz he’s Lumix Ambassador so now I’m
gonna kick him out at the video then after this part I will give you an
assignment so be sure to watch the whole video and then do the question why it is
really important to understand depth of field the simple answer is that it’s a
very powerful tool in creativity because with shallow depth of field you can hide
things and with more depth of field you can reveal things so it’s a very very
important thing in composition and with narrow depth or shallow depth of field
you can lift up your subject from the background it will be the sharp thing
because the human eye works so that we see light a lighter part of the image
first and then and also we see the sharpest areas in the image first so
with the proper sharpness the sharper or proper focusing and proper use of depth
of field you will guide the viewers eye to the places that you want so that’s
why it’s really important to understand the concept of depth of field nowadays
we talk a lot about bokeh and shallow depth of field and in some conversations
with I think that it’s the most important thing in the world about
photography but no there isn’t the right amount of depth of field in general or
there isn’t that if somebody asks how much depth of field I need well it’s up
to you how much you need it’s it’s it’s your creative decision and that’s why
the the idea that only shallow depth of field is right is totally wrong and the
funny thing is that actually the word bokeh is quite new in photography I only
heard it in when we got into the digital photography nobody was talking about
bokeh in the film era I don’t know why it just wasn’t the thing and also
shallow depth of field as a creative element is quite new back in the days as
I said in street photography they used the hyperfocal method so that everything
was sharp and it’s actually a lot harder to photograph
so that everything is sharp and and and of course we it’s easier to come make
composition with shallow depth-of-field because you can hide things you don’t
have to take the background into consideration that much you don’t need
to worry about the background because you can just throw it out out of focus
no problem but then you kind of separate the the subject from the surroundings
which okay sometimes might be good but to get more of a story in your image you
might want to have more depth of field and then things get harder and that’s
that’s something that I think everybody every one of us should practice and when
you have more depth of field you need to think about the relationship between
different objects in your image you have something in the foreground something in
the background you need to think about in two ways how does the object add that
into your story and how is it composite or or how you have made the composition
of your image so that the viewers I go the way that you want it to go in so
that the story goes on in the image this is very one of those things that are
really hard to understand but when you start looking at images try to think
when you first see an image what are you looking first and when and what are you
looking at next sometimes you don’t realize because your eyes are moving so
fast but try to think images like that and and then the assignment in November
choose your widest lens it doesn’t matter how wide it is it can be no well
maybe not a fisheye if you have a fisheye don’t do that but let’s say 12
millimeter 40 millimeter or any field full-frame you use 24 millimeter or 35
millimeter the classical street photography and landscape and focal
lengths and set your camera to f8 and your focus to 4 meters and use that for
the whole November and see what you learn and see how the experience is I’m
going to do that are you in if you are please let me know in the comments down
below I hope this video made any sense it’s hot it’s actually a
very interesting and easy concept about depth of field but to be honest it’s
quite hard to explain so that you really understand it if you don’t but but this
I think it’s one of the basic things that if you don’t know the concept then
it’s really hard to make good images intentionally maybe you can you know
strike a few lucky ones but to be consistent making good images you need
to know how to control depth of field and how does it affect to your images
and and and how you can vary the depth of field in different images the way you
want them to be and next you might want to watch these tutorial videos about
photography and then there is the other one is about the focus bracketing and
focus stacking okay thanks for watching and bye for now

Posts created 3637

31 thoughts on “What Is Depth Of Field In Photography?

  1. Thx for the Video👍 A little hint. The Number of Aperture is like on your shirt f/1.2 and not f1.2. Therefore has the smaller Aperture also a smaller number because 1/4 ist bigger than 1/16. Greetings from Germany Alex

  2. Very informative and helpful video Peter! You and Matti are great together – two funny Finnish guys 😁. I liked your comment about his S1R being too heavy to hold up. Most of my photo taking is outdoor landscapes ( I live in a very rural area) using my new G9 and 8-18 lens. I haven't noticed much if any difference between f5.6 and f8.0. I'll try focussing at 4 meters and see what happens.

  3. Easily the best DoF video I have ever seen; nothing else comes close. The clarity comes from you knowing exactly what this stuff means; I cant say that much about many YouTube photographers. I have given up correcting drivel such as sensor size (in the past you used a small polaroid to proof exposure for a large format transparency; they both had teh same DoF and exposure!!!) as you get no thanks for pointing out this stuff. Back in the days of film everybody understood this stuff, it wasn't hard, the DoF scale was engraved on every lens barrel and photographers used it. Now we have electronic sensors and lazy photographers (yes shooting constantly at open aperture is lazy and talentless, you heard right) seem to believe in fairies and magic moonbeams; an electronic sensor is just a photocell and the image is still made the same way as exposure to a light sensitive film grain. I will be blunt, DoF is a lens aberration; scanning systems, and the human eye is actually a scanning system, have infinite DoF. We do not see DoF in reality. DoF is a creative tool best used sparingly. I now take hyperfocal panaramic street photos where everything is pin sharp. Photographers now do not seem to understand that the background is part of the image and just as important. If you blur a mess using DoF then its still there and still a mess; a big red blob is just as distracting as a sharp red beach ball. DoF is not a magic background eraser, it's a tool for enhancing mood in an image. Go practice people forget american celebrity drivel and take back control of the volume in your image; the real world isn't 2cms thick. Have fun 😉

  4. Everything about depth of field in 19 minutes! Peter — I am surprised that you can't squeeze it into 15 minutes!!! 🙂

  5. Great video Peter. I actually got a oly 9-18mm four thirds lens(not the mft),so i will try it with that lens on f4.A bit heavy,but will do it.

  6. So your assignment is to shoot with deep depth of field — for the whole month (or a whole roll of film for us film shooters) — right? I'll pick one of my many film cameras and do that. How about an assignment to shoot for a month/roll-of-film with as narrow depth of field possible with a standard or short-telephoto lens (say 50mm-to-105mm full-frame)? Sometimes very narrow depth of field can be a challenge.

  7. You mention that the sensor size don't matter for DOF, but I wonder if this will need a qualification? Most of us when we take a picture, we "fill the frame". To fill the frame on a bigger sensor means you need to get closer or to zoom in (because of the wider field of view). This decreases DOF, but indirectly and not directly. The indirect relation is still important though. Many casual photographers hear that sensor size doesn't affect DOF and then get confused why a full frame camera produces dramatically blurry results than their smartphone. IMO any discussion about DOF and sensor size must include "filling the frame". A big sensor can only take advantage of that extra real estate if the light rays are coming into focus from a sharper angle which can be a liability. This is why for things like macro, smaller sensors can work better for DOF. Yes, in theory you can crop a full frame, but often the results don't look that good in practice.

  8. Great explanation. Spent free time during last few weeks shooting Fall Colors around the Great Lakes USA. Mostly at f/4 to f/8, whether they were distant shots (a clump of trees) or close-ups of a few leaves. Used Pany 14mm, Oly 45mm*, and Oly 40-150mm. ( * Used most often).

  9. Great video, Peter. So if understand correctly when I use f5.6 on a 17 mm m43 lens pretty much everything between 2 m and infinity is in focus. I will not need to use the camera’s AF.

  10. Peter great video and good job describing a subject that is very difficult for many to understand. But I think you forgot to mention the compression that happens when shooting a "long" lens regardless of the Aperture setting. This in effect bring objects in the distance closer to the focal point in the image.

    For example shooting a portrait with mountains in the background will show the mountains much closer to the subject when shot with a 200mm lens than a 50mm lens even when the subject is framed the same.

    Here is a link to a Matt Granger video explaining this phenomenon:


  11. Another very informative video – thank you! You are a great teacher.

    A question a bit off topic. In the outdoor video with Matti, I think you indicated that you were using the new OMD 5MIII and the 12-100 f4. I also saw you had an additional grip attached to the camera. Do you think that lens without the grip on that new 5MIII would be ergonomically ok? Is that lens too heavy for the smaller OMD camera?

    Thanks again.

  12. Thanks Peter for another great video! Thanks for a very good explanation of DOF and for asking Matti to collaborate with you. Please keep up the fine work!

  13. I'm in, also the way I remembered D.O.F. is the smaller the f-number I.E. 2.8 the smaller the dof. The larger the number I.E. f22 the larger the dof. Simples. Your vlog is so easy to understand. I Thankyou.

  14. Nice video.
    Why is it that most discussions I have seen about DoF say a smaller sensor has more DoF than a larger one.
    For Mu-43 this is often stated as an advantage.

  15. Great video Peter. This was by far the best explanation of depth of field I have seen to date. Thank you for your great videos.

  16. My set for street photography: mzuiko 12/f2 at f4.0, ISO 400 or 800 depending on light conditions, silent L serial shutter and C-AF with central point. I direct camera to the subject and shot blindly.

  17. Thanks a lot for this in-depth tutorial about DOF and your continuous efforts for making us better photographers. As always highly appreciated.

  18. Your promise of me knowing everything about depth of field of focus was right in every way – except, I learned it all back in the late 60's and early 70's and at the end of your video I knew as much about it as I did at the beginning of the video ….. 🙂 film or digital, doesn't change how it works………. I just with the newer gear had the hyper focus scale on each lens like we had back in " the good old days " ……

  19. Love the video. I wish you would give us more time to study the examples Pausing them isn’t always convenient.

  20. Hi Peter, I have a question if I may. How can you calibrate Olympus Lenses? I note Canon and Nikon cameras have menu settings to fine tune the focus of their lenses. I own a OMD EM5 MKII. Your assistance is appreciated.

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