Shoot compelling photos with dramatic effect using these seven tips for conquering depth of field and aperture. Plus, instantly download Craftsy’s FREE Guide to Depth of Field & Aperture here for helpful tips on aperture, and a visual view of each f-setting on your camera and how it impacts depth of field.
Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored post by Craftsy.
It is common for photographers to shoot as wide open as their lenses will allow. For some this is pretty wide, like f/1.2, f/1.4, or f/1.8. Many high-quality lenses shoot as wide as f/2.8. Mid-range and lower-end lenses have a wide aperture at f/3.5 to f/5.6. Each of these lenses will stop down to somewhere around f/22 or f/32 to let in a minimal amount of light.
Some of the most expensive lenses are the ones that have extremely wide apertures. These are typically prime lenses, like a 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and so on. The wider the aperture, the more light is let in and the shallower the depth of field. Going from f/2.8 to f/1.4 is two stops of light, while going from f/1.4 to f1.2 is only a ½ a stop, but the price difference is huge, also due to the quality of the glass. The wider apertures and better glass yield higher quality images and sharper pictures.
The focal length of your lens also affects the depth of field. A longer lens will have a shallower depth of field than a shorter one at the same aperture. For example, the depth of field of a 200mm lens at f/2.8 will be much shallower than a 50mm lens at f/2.8.
Distance from subject
How far away you are from your subject will change your depth of field. If the subject is close, your depth of field will be shallower than if they were far away. For example an image of a person standing 2 feet away from you will have less depth of field than an image of a person standing 20 feet away from you, providing you are using the same lens.
Your camera sensor affects depth of field as well. Larger sensors provide shallower depth of field. So a 50mm f/1.2 lens will have great background blur on a full-frame sensor camera over a cropped sensor camera.
Everyone loves bokeh—from the Japanese word for “blur quality”—because it gives images a surreal and dream-like quality. Bokeh is the way the points of light in the background render themselves, most ideally as bubbles.
Keep the important stuff in focus
We all love shooting at wide open apertures for dreamy background blur and crisp subjects. Make sure that your aperture is small enough that everything you want in focus is in focus. For a portrait of a single person (with a 50mm lens), f/1.2 – f/2.8 tends to look really nice, for two or three people, f/2.8-f/4 looks pretty good, and for four or more people, make sure to use f/5.6 and up, to ensure everyone is in focus. Different focal lengths have different depth of field, so try each of your lenses out to see what works best.
Now that you’ve learned the basics, take the next step towards getting the best shots every time! Get Craftsy’s FREE Guide to Depth of Field & Aperture For Better Photos Fast here and enjoy a visual, downloadable overview of depth of field and much more.
What are your go-to depth of field tips?
This has been a sponsored post kindly brought to us by Craftsy.