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Depth of field

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The distance between the nearest and furthest parts of a subject that are acceptably sharp. For more information, see this Depth-of-field article in the Techniques section.

Related Terms

A button or lever on the camera that either stops the lens aperture down manually or electronically. This enables you to view the image at the aperture that will be used to take the picture. The view will be darker, but you will be able to see exactly what will and won't be sharp or in focus. See "Using the depth of field button" in the Techniques section.
Program mode on some Canon cameras that sets the optimum aperture to ensure enough depth of field to make the whole of the subject sharp.
A scale on the lens that indicates how much of the subject, from the nearest to furthest point from the camera, will be in focus.
An optical effect which can soften photographs and make them less sharp. As long as light travels in straight lines, this phenomenon will not occur, but as soon as it starts to bend - disperse or "diffract" - when it has to travel through a hole so small that it has to squeeze through, it will begin to interfere with the quality of the final result. Although a negligible effect in most situations, it actually increases with smaller apertures. There is a break-even point at which the disadvantage of the diffraction of the light captured is still compensated by the advantage of extra sharpness due to greater depth of field. But beyond that point the softening effect of the diffracted light is only partly compensated by the sharpness due to the greater depth of field. Finding the break-even point can help prevent any negative effects of diffraction. And as a bonus it will limit the length of the exposure or the ISO needed to take a photo with a very small aperture. The difficulty is that the effect isn't the same for different cameras and lenses. The aperture isn't the only critical factor - the size of the film or sensor recording the photo counts as well, and so does the quality and the focal length of the lens. For those who don't want to get into complicated mathematical calculations in order to find the ideal aperture, it is good to remember that the sharpest results for most lenses are found around two or three stops below their maximum aperture. Especially cheaper lenses can give very bad results at full aperture.
A mechanical lever or electronic button used to close the lens aperture down to the actual exposure setting so depth of field can be previewed.
An auto-exposure mode where you select the required lens aperture and the camera sets the necessary shutter speed, to give the correct exposure based on the auto meter reading. This mode is ideal for landscape and still-life photography where maximum depth-of-field is required. It's either indicated on the camera as AP (aperture priority) or AV (aperture value).
Another name for a shift lens that has a sliding front panel so the lens can be raised or lowered from its normal position to correct for verticals when shooting from high or low angles. Some also have a swing facility to control depth of field using the Scheimpflug rule.
MPO, or Multiple File Format, is a camera image format, first used on Fujifilm's Real 3D W1 camera. A file contains two or more separate jpeg images. On the Fujifilm camera it's a stereo pair that gives the realistic 3D effect when combined at the viewing stage.

On some Ricoh cameras MPOs are created from the Multi-Target AF mode, where seven photos are taken in quick succession, each at slightly different focus points. The files can then be merged to create a focus stack, with incredible depth-of-field.
A low-cost lens that doesn't have a focusing ring. Found in very basic cameras. The lens is set to a distance of around three meters and relies on the depth of field to bring everything from about one and a half meters to infinity. The quality is always a compromise over a lens with adjustable focusing.
Decreasing the size of the lens opening (aperture); for example, from f/8 to f/11. This increases the depth of field in a photograph, but a longer exposure is required.
With focus stacking (also simply called 'stacking') one combines multiple images in a software program, each image with a slightly different focus, in order to increase the depth of field or the sharpness of an image. It is mainly used for astronomy, macro or micro photography.
With stacking (also called focus stacking) one combines multiple images in a software program, each image with a slightly different focus, in order to increase the depth of field or the sharpness of an image. It is mainly used for astronomy, macro or micro photography.
The lens focal length divided by effective diameter of the aperture gives the f/number that's used to indicate the aperture value. Each full f/number, also called a stop or f-stop, halves or doubles image brightness and some lenses can also be controlled in half or third steps. The most common f/numbers are 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16 and 22. They are usually preceded by an "f". The larger the f-number, the smaller the lens opening. In the aforementioned series of numbers, f/1.4 is the largest opening and f/22 the smallest. The smaller stops (larger f numbers) give the greater depth of field in a photograph, and vice versa.
A method of focusing using a wide aperture to ensure shallow depth of field and put emphasis on an individual area of a scene.