Help a novice: sharp or unsharp images? Should I return my X-T30?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 16,978
Smartphone depth of field
1

If you want to match the depth of field of a typical smartphone, you'll have to set your aperture to something between f/8 or f/11. Then, you'll have a large depth of field and more of your scene will be sharp. But you may want to add some more sharpening at the larger f/stop settings.

Your camera likely has moderate-to-low sharpening set as default, and you may have to increase it to counteract diffraction softening which may become apparent when using f/8 and larger. Basically, the degree of diffraction softening is proportional to the f/stop, so f/16 will have double the softening as does f/8.

Your problem is very common with people who first get a large-sensor camera. You have deep scenes with lots of detail both near and far, and the only stuff that is sharply rendered is a tiny, maybe unnoticeable, part of the image.

But experienced photographers will use a shallow depth of field—like using your lens at f/2—for good benefit, where they want to strongly separate their subject from the background. But this requires a distinct subject and distinct background, without a lot of stuff in-between or in front of the subject. The classic use of shallow depth of field is portraiture, where a person is in the foreground and the background is distant, without anything else visible in the image: the subject will be clearly sharp, and the rest of the image will be blurred.

It helps if you choose a subject that is rather flat, or if you shoot it head-on, so that there isn't much depth to the subject, and you use a camera position that avoids showing too much ground or extraneous items. Of course, out-of-focus blur can be used creatively, such as framing an in-focus subject with nearby out-of-focus flowers or vegetation.

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