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Poksoh by ‘Rzley’. The background is blurred in this image, which is achieved by using a wide aperture.
Depth of field, or ability to control which parts of your pictures are sharp, is one of the main advantages of owning an SLR camera. Look at a scene with your own eyes, and everything from your feet to the horizon is usually in focus. But your pictures do not need to look like this.
Our latest photography cheat sheet examines three common ways you can affect depth of field. Our infographic looks at how aperture, focus distance and focal length will affect what appears sharp in your images.
Controlling depth of field is the key to successful photography. Managing what is in focus (and out of focus) is strongly linked to the enjoyment of the image and this varies greatly with relation to subject matter. Landscape photography, for example, uses a large depth of field, keeping the entire image in sharp focus from corner to corner. This invites the eye to explore fine detail and truly experience distances, from distant cloud shapes to the wet sand at your feet.
If you use a point-and-shoot camera or cameraphone, it’s often almost impossible not to get everything from your feet to the distant horizon in focus. But the large sensors built into DSLRs means it can be surprisingly difficult to get everything in the frame looking sharp.
That’s because the bigger sensors used on DSLR cameras mean less depth of field (DOF). While blurred backgrounds can be a real bonus for subjects such as portraits, the limited zone of sharpness can be a problem for other types of photography.
Set the right combination of aperture and shutter speed and you’ll notice an immediate difference in your photography