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Thread: Technique for increasing depth of field

  1. #1

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    Technique for increasing depth of field

    Recently I was photographing detail on a tree trunk on 5x4 with a 150 mm lens.
    Predictably, close in, depth of field was very small. I had thought that increasing the distance of object to lens, moving the camera back and using a longer focal length, might give me extra depth of field whilst framing the composition as before. Checking depth of field tables reveals the same depth of field in both scenarios i.e. the gain in depth of field from doubling object distance is negated by the smaller depth of field of a lens of twice the focal length.
    So it seems the only way to achieve greater depth of field is by a shorter lens or by moving the camera further away, and in both cases cropping to arrive at the same composition. But does not cropping result in a smaller perceived depth of field?
    Grateful for any comments.

  2. #2

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    Re: Technique for increasing depth of field

    If you back up and use a longer lens -- or backup and use the same lens and then crop -- you end up with the same result.

    Your best option is to stop down. Is that a problem?

    On some subjects you can't get all you want in focus by stopping down. Sometimes you can change the field (or angle) of the DOF by swinging and/or tilting the lens, but that depends on the subject.

  3. #3

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    Re: Technique for increasing depth of field

    Everything xkaes said, plus sometimes you just need to choose what's in sharp focus and what you're going to let go a little. Stopping down will certainly help, but then you run into diffraction issues. It's all a trade-off, really.

  4. #4

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    Re: Technique for increasing depth of field

    If you scan digitally, focus stacking might be another way to get more depth of field without stopping down. Although you would need to make likely at least 3 exposures for that to work.

  5. #5

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    Re: Technique for increasing depth of field

    Cropping also decreases depth of field because in the end depth of field depends on the your chosen circle of confusion, which depends on magnification/viewing distance.

    So… basically the easiest way to increase depth of field is to view a print from further away .

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnF View Post
    Recently I was photographing detail on a tree trunk on 5x4 with a 150 mm lens.
    Predictably, close in, depth of field was very small. I had thought that increasing the distance of object to lens, moving the camera back and using a longer focal length, might give me extra depth of field whilst framing the composition as before. Checking depth of field tables reveals the same depth of field in both scenarios i.e. the gain in depth of field from doubling object distance is negated by the smaller depth of field of a lens of twice the focal length.
    So it seems the only way to achieve greater depth of field is by a shorter lens or by moving the camera further away, and in both cases cropping to arrive at the same composition. But does not cropping result in a smaller perceived depth of field?
    Grateful for any comments.

  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Technique for increasing depth of field

    “The” technique to increase the impression of more depth of field with a view camera is to align the focal plane with the subject. If the subject is a complex shape or space, then align front and rear standards parallel and stop down to the limits of diffraction.

  7. #7

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    Re: Technique for increasing depth of field

    ic-racer's advice is good. While repositioning the plane of sharp focus in the subject doesn't really increase depth of field (a common misconception here, I'm afraid), it can result in getting all the important parts of the subject closer to that plane of sharp focus, which can then allow you to use a more optimal f-stop to get the DoF you want.

    The way to check is to choose "near" and "far" focus points, focus on them and then note the spread (the distance on the rail/camera bed between sharp focus on the two points). Now, apply your movements to reposition the plane of sharp focus and do the same thing. If the spread is smaller, you've made an improvement.

    FWIW, there's a great article on finding the optimum f-stop on the LF home page here: https://www.largeformatphotography.info/fstop.html that may be helpful in your situation.

    Also, don't hesitate to stop down when doing close up work. You're likely not planning on making a huge print anyway, so diffraction won't be a huge issue. Using f/64 with a 4x5 camera still will get you a really nice 8x10 print.

    Best,

    Doremus

  8. #8

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    Re: Technique for increasing depth of field

    Thanks for the thought provoking responses with ideas for me to try.
    I was exposing at f32 with f45 available to me but avoided because of diffraction, so might be worth trying to assess any benefit. I will also try with some movements.
    I shared my image with club members. Some found the soft focus areas distracting, others felt the soft areas enhanced the sharply focussed textured areas in the image! I fell in with the latter but was curious enough to seek advice. Thanks again

  9. #9

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    Re: Technique for increasing depth of field

    Doremus,
    Thanks for the link. Some bedtime reading!

  10. #10

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    Re: Technique for increasing depth of field

    Hey, just a thought. Try a pinhole -- f300 or there about.

    http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/pinhole.htm

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