Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?

Started Mar 5, 2014 | Discussions thread
GeraldW Veteran Member • Posts: 8,335
Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?

Erik Magnuson wrote:

GeraldW wrote:

Back when I started this hobby in 1955; a lot more was being written about how to increase DOF, than there was about limiting it.

Films were slow and precision focus aids were relatively expensive.

I'm not sure what you meant by that.  Films were quite slow, although Ektachrome 160 was around, and Agfa had a usable ASA 200 slide film.    My first good camera was the Argus C4 with a pretty decent rangefinder.  Lens was a 50 mm f/2.8, and I used a lot of Kodak Tri-X at ASA 400.  Back then I had a darkroom.

Then, sometime in the 80's something called selective focus came into vogue.

It always depended on what you shot:  if the situation involves isolating a subject against a busy background (i.e. sports, outdoor fashion or portraiture, etc.) then shallow DOF makes a difference.  It's also about what's practical or affordable: how well could you have even used a 135mm f/2 lens in 1955?

Lenses on the C4 were not interchangeable; but my next camera, a Miranda F SLR did have a 55 f/1.9 & a Soligor 135 f/2.8 by the late 60's, and Agfa ASA 200 was of pretty good quality by then.

My point was that while isolation of the subject was discussed in magazines & photography books, it was always in a limited context - portraiture being the most prominent.  For most other subjects the discussions seemed to be more about how to increase DOF.  Now, the pendulum seems to have swung too far the other way with isolation of the subject being of paramount importance for a much wider range of subjects.

I've always regarded DOF as just another tool to be used when needed.  I suppose the great DOF on small sensor cameras has lead to a kind of frustration on the part of those who value subject isolation, so they keep harping on it.  Making a big point of the deep DOF in compact cameras has what value?  To try and get prospective buyers to get a FF DSLR instead?  The buyers of those kinds of cameras could care less; and to a lot of people, having everything in focus is a benefit.  Further, if you're looking at travel zooms, the ever longer focal lengths are leading to smaller maximum apertures.  Only in the better enthusiast cameras are we seeing larger apertures and therefore, some opportunity to limit DOF.

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