Depth of field causes more confusion among photographers — beginners and otherwise — than nearly any other topic out there. Many “common knowledge” tips about depth of field have some flaws, or are at least partially inaccurate. At a personal level, it took me far too long to separate the good suggestions from the bad, and I eventually realized that I had been relying upon some erroneous information for years without knowing better. My goal with this article is not to make the most controversial possible statements, or needlessly poke holes in things that are almost entirely true. Instead, my hope is to cover some of the basic, common inaccuracies that you may have heard about depth of field, in case you’ve been relying on faulty information for your own photography.
The past few months I have fallen victim to a creative slump, a rut, a lack of enthusiasm around my photography. Call it what you want, I felt uninspired. Although I love nature and bird photography, I found myself struggling to make time to get out and shoot. We live on the gulf coast of southern Mississippi. There is an abundance of wonderful birdlife, beautiful sunsets and unique cypress swamps full of wildlife begging to be photographed. When I did get out, I found I was not very motivated to download my images, let alone take the time to process them. I needed a change. What I really needed was a challenge. I decided to try something I had heard of, but have never tried before, in the hopes that it would relight my photographic passion.
Your choice of focal length will affect what you see. Would you agree with that? What if I also said that your choice of focal length will affect how you see? That’s a whole different story, now isn’t it? Instead of discussing how focal length affects your view when you look into the viewfinder, I want to talk about how focal length can affect how you look at everything around you before you ever even see it in the viewfinder.
Macro, Landscapes and Seascapes are my favorite genres in photography, but as I don’t travel much, I tend to shoot more macro in my backyard. Last time, I wrote an article on high magnification macro photography on a budget, where I pointed out the fact that I use the reverse lens technique in order to achieve high magnification macro shots. The technique really works great if you give it a try and the good news is that you do not need expensive gear to yield beautiful macro shots – a cheap kit lens will do wonders!
One of the biggest challenges that many photographers face is yielding sharp photos when hand-holding a camera. Many end up with blurry images without understanding the source of the problem, which is usually camera shake. Unfortunately, camera shake can come from a variety of different sources – from basic improper hand-holding techniques to mirror and shutter-induced vibrations that can be truly challenging and sometimes even impossible to deal with. While I will go over the latter topics in a separate article, I would like to talk about the most common cause of camera shake: lower-than-acceptable shutter speed when hand-holding the camera. I will introduce and explain the reciprocal rule, which can help in greatly increasing the chances of getting sharp photos when you do not have a tripod around.
A few months ago we wrote an extensive article on sensor crop factors and equivalence. In that post we covered several topics: the history of the cropped-sensor formats, brightness of the scene, perspective, depth of field, noise and diffraction. In today’s post I want to focus on (if you’ll excuse the pun) and expand on two of these topics:
Whether you are just getting into photography or have been shooting for a while, you have probably heard the term “crop factor”. With so many different cameras and camera systems available today, this particular term comes up very often in product specifications, marketing materials, articles, books and you might even hear it in conversations between photographers. If you do not know what it really means or want to get a better understanding of crop factor, this article will hopefully make it easier for you to understand it better. Please keep in mind that this article was written for beginners, so many of the terms and explanations are over-simplified.
The subject of sensor crop factors and equivalence has become rather controversial between photographers, sparking heated debates on photography sites and forums. So much has been posted on this topic, that it almost feels redundant to write about it again. Sadly, with all the great and not-so-great information out there on equivalence, many photographers are only left more puzzled and confused. Thanks to so many different formats available today, including 1″/CX, Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, 35mm/Full Frame, Medium Format (in different sizes), photographers are comparing these systems by calculating their equivalent focal lengths, apertures, depth of field, camera to subject distances, hyperfocal distances and other technical jargon, to prove the inferiority or the superiority of one system over another. In this article, I want to bring up some of these points and express my subjective opinion on the matter. Recognizing that this topic is one of the never-ending debates with strong arguments from all sides, I do realize that some of our readers may disagree with my statements and arguments. So if you do disagree with what I say, please provide your opinion in a civilized manner in the comments section below.
I am a big supporter of the “get to know your gear” opinion. I strongly believe that the more you use something, the better you learn to take full advantage of the strengths of that particular piece of equipment, and the better you learn to manage its shortcomings without even thinking about it. To a point where they just disappear, in fact, and make the statement that gear does not matter as truthful as it is. Gear does not matter (to an extent), but knowing it and liking it does. This, I think, it the crucial link between equipment and photography itself.
What’s the BEST Lens for Wildlife Photography? If I had a nickel for every time I was asked this question, I could retire. It’s a very common and extremely valid question to ask. And to cut right to the chase, there is no one or right answer to this question. And that’s for many reasons from you, the photographer to the subject and most importantly, to the story you want to tell with your photograph. But there is a focal length that gets used over and over again and I feel is the best one to start with.