Full frame = more DOF just a myth?

Started Sep 12, 2009 | Discussions thread
Kabe Luna
Kabe Luna Veteran Member • Posts: 9,493
Yes, if you test or read tests of photo gear more than you actually use it...

...it's all just a myth. But for folks who take pictures, there's more to it. You see, no one uses the same lenses to achieve a give result on all formats. For example, 50mm can be used for portraits on APS-C/DX, but most would agree its too short on full frame, and a wide angle on medium format, so in practice the technicality of DOF being the same for a give focal length and subject distance is trivial–nobody works that way. For a full frame portrait, I grab at least an 85mm, and for medium format it's at least 110mm. Now we have significantly different DOF characteristics for across the different formats at the same subject distance. That is the way photographers think and work.

I shoot people and I like to work from a distance that is comfortable for my subject, but also allows for communication as we work together. I'm not going to shoot from the other room with an 85mm on APS-C just to get sufficiently narrow DOF, I'm going to use a shorter lens and have to accept the additional DOF at the working distance I prefer. Landscape and architectural shooters are a bit difference as they seem to universally prefer more depth of field, so the smaller format may actually be preferred...except that many specialty lenses are designed for the 35mm/full frame digital format, and again provide impractical working distances or too-narrow fields of view on 1.6x cameras.

One's frame of reference also influences one's aesthetic and expectations. Having shot (and developed a love for the look of images shot on) medium format, 35mm defines the lower limit of what I consider attractive depth of field characteristics when f/2.8-and-faster lenses are used. APS-and-smaller film formats; APS-C and 4/3 DSLRs and compact digicams, to varying degrees, deliver too much depth of field in practical applications to be of broad interest to me.

On the other hand, had I never touched film and my photographic experience begun with APS-C DSLRs, I'd probably feel larger formats give too little DOF in practice.

greenLite wrote:

Some pretty convincing evidence here..


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