Depth of Field

Depth of field is the distance between the nearest and the farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image. Not be confused with focusing modes. Depth of field simply focusses on a certain distance; a certain image plane. Depth of field allows the sharpness of the entire image to be controlled. Depth of field depends on focal length, distance, diaphragm and film format.

The term "depth of focus" is also commonly used. For years now photographers have disputed about whether the correct term is "depth of field" or "depth of focus". Depth of focus means the same thing.


  • The longer the focal length is, the shallower the depth of field is.
  • The more f-stops (i.e. the smaller the diaphragm opening) is, the deeper the depth of field is.
  • The shorter the distance between camera and subject is, the shallower the depth of field is.

On most cameras the change of depth in field isn't visible before the image is captured. The reasons for this and possible solutions can be found in chapter Depth of Field preview button.

More on how diaphragm, exposure time and ISO rates are connected to one another can be found in the respective article.

The following images illustrate what effect different diaphragms have on the depth of field. Note that under the same lighting conditions the length of exposure must change in order to achieve uniform brightness.

Image using diaphragm 1:4

Blende 4

Image using diaphragm 1:8

Blende 8

Image using diaphragm 1:22
Blende 22

The diaphragm opening, i.e. the setting of a larger diaphragm opening is also known as "fade-in" and the diaphragm closing is known as "fade-out".

More information on depth of field can be in found in the articleDepth of Field preview button.

The depth of field can also be calculated. An online calculating tool can be found here:

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