Depth of Field Question

Started Feb 13, 2013 | Questions thread
jrtrent Veteran Member • Posts: 4,474
Re: Depth of Field Question

ssiegler wrote: Typically, when you think of landscape, people would say to use a small aperture to get that large depth of field.

Sometimes the small aperture advice can go a bit too far, with people thinking they need F/16 or smaller all the time.  My favorite landscape book is Brian Bower's Lens, Light and Landscape, and in it the author wrote that he regularly used F/4 or F/5.6 to accomodate the slow Kodachrome 25 film he preferred and to maximize the sharpness of his Leica lenses, and that he rarely closed down past F/11 even with medium format equipment.  This is from an author who also wrote, "although there may be occasions when some softening of the image or some out-of-focus elements are appropriate for a particular effect, the normal requirement in scenic photography is for maximum sharpness throughout the image area," so he was definitely not going after a shallow depth of field look to his pictures.

I did a quick survey of the 35mm images in the book, and found that out of about 97 images, with lenses ranging from 16mm to 180mm, he never used an aperture smaller than midway between F/8 and F/11. 60 of the pictures were at F/4 or F/5.6, 26 were at F/8 (16 of these were with the 21mm lens, by far his most favored aperture with that lens), and there were 9 shots at F/2 or F/2.8.  Many landscape pictures can get all the depth of field they need at surprisingly wide apertures.

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