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Depth of Field

The biggest difference between an image captured with a point-and-shoot and one shot with a DSLR is that in the first one everything is in focus, whereas in the second you can choose to get stuff in the foreground and/or background out of focus, so that it doesn't call the viewer's attention (and often getting good images requires getting stuff out of them, for which a very effective trick is to get them out of focus) and so that the image gets some perceived depth.




Two identical images, except for their depth of field
  





A shallow depth of field allows us to do selective focus: just the subject of interest will appear focused; everything else will be blurry, and will not call attention away from the subject of interest.

As a general rule (extremely simplified), we usually want a shallow depth of field for portraits (only the subject is in focus), but we want deep depth of field in landscapes (everything appears focused, from foreground to background).




Shallow DoF




Deep DoF





Depth of field depends on aperture of the lens and sensor size. Focal length also has related impact, through perspective. We'll see all of that in the following sections.





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