5 Fabulous Tips on Depth of Field

In the previous article, ‘Understanding Depth of Field’, we talked about the meaning of depth of field and how it affects our images. Here are some helpful tips on how to make the most out of this feature:

Try to avoid using too much of depth of field – Bringing the whole scene of a photograph into focus and keeping it sharp would require a small aperture. Just be cautious when making it too small. If this happens, the lens sharpness will lose its effect on the smallest apertures. Make sure you use just enough to get the effect you want. Trial and error is needed to get the perfect shot in using different apertures, but the end result will be well worth it.

Set the focal point – The depth of field stretches from the rear and in front of the center of focus. At times it may go further from behind than from the front. When choosing a particular focal point, give an allowance of 1/3 from the actual point instead of only ½ from the point.

Use a tripod – when a larger depth of field is used, less light enters the camera. To counterbalance this, and for your shot to still have correct exposure, you have to use a higher ISO or longer shutter speeds. The ISO still has a limited capacity before the problem with noise in the image will start to affect your photograph. To avoid this, lengthen the shutter speed to a point. This will require you to use a tripod to stabilize the camera for a clearer shot.

Depth of field preview –A trained eye can easily distinguish point of focus and resulting compositions. However, more often than not, the depth of field can be tricky. DSLR cameras have the option for a depth of field preview that is most handy. You can use the aperture priority mode, which will allow you to stop the lens to the aperture that you have chosen. This will give you a more accurate view of the outcome of a particular shot in terms of depth of field. What is seen, however, has the tendency to be darker due to less light coming through the aperture, but everything else should look the same (unless your surroundings are dim and the aperture is really small).

Focal length – this is largely determined by the choice in the photographer’s composition. Every one gives a different effect on the depth of field. The longer the focal lengths, the less depth of field compared to using shorter focal lengths. Always remember, in achieving a desired depth of field, try adjusting the focal length aside from the aperture.

In getting the most from your depth of field, always set your camera to aperture priority mode, try to photograph the same model or subject several times while using different settings on aperture, point of focus, and focal length. Jot down the settings you’ve tried for each shot so you can notice and compare distinct differences in the images. This is the best way to find out how various depths of field settings can create different yet wonderful results.

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