Understanding Depth of Field for Beginners

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You may have heard the term depth of field (DoF), but if you are new to photography you may not yet be taking advantage of how DoF can enhance your photos.

A basic definition of depth of field is: the zone of acceptable sharpness within a photo that will appear in focus. In every picture there is a certain area of your image in front of, and behind the subject that will appear in focus.


This zone will vary from photo to photo. Some images may have very small zones of focus which is called shallow depth of field.

Here’s a series of images with very shallow depth of field.

Others may have a very large zone of focus which is called deep depth of field.

Here’s a collection of images with much deeper depths of field.

Three main factors that will affect how you control the depth of field of your images are: aperture (f-stop), distance from the subject to the camera, and focal length of the lens on your camera. Here are some explanations and answers to other common questions concerning depth of field.

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