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What Is a Deep Depth of Field? (Easy Guide and Examples)

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 4 min read
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Today, we define what deep depth of field is and show you how to use it to your advantage. Deep depth of field is an essential photography term that references a stylistic decision you make in any photograph. Read on to find out what it is.

The Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest with its reflection in the frozen Danube river shot with a deep depth of field
Travel photo shot with a deep depth of field. © Joshua Dunlop

What Is Deep Depth of Field?

A deep depth of field is a term describing a range of focus where most of the elements are in focus. This is the opposite of a shallow depth of focus, where much less of the scene or subject is in focus. A deep depth of field is also known as having a narrow aperture.

A travel photo with a deep depth of field of a motorcylist driving through a countryside with karsts
Another travel photo with a deep depth of field. © Joshua Dunlop

How Do You Get a Deep Depth of Field?

You create a deep depth of field using a higher aperture number (smaller aperture size). A smaller aperture size means less light gets let in through the lens. To counter this reduction in light, you have to use a slower shutter speed or higher ISO.

Aperture numbers between f/16 and f/22 are considered to have a deep depth of field. Some analog cameras can go up to f/64 and even higher!

Infographic showing different apertures and how this effects depth of field


When Should You Use a Deep Depth of Field?

A deep depth of focus is best for landscape photography, as you get the whole landscape in focus. It is also good for product or real estate photography, where you want to see the entirety of the subject or scene.

a landscape image of a lake with a people in a small boat in the foreground and mountains in the background with a deep depth of field
A deep depth of focus is great for landscapes. You can see the boat just as clear as the mountains. © Pietro De Grandi

You also want to use a deep depth of field for photojournalism or reportage photography. This is because the surrounding areas of your subject provide more context to the photograph.

an image of a man washing a boys feet on a wooden porch with a deep depth of field
For photojournalism or travel, a deep depth of focus allows a full view of our subject and its context. © Quang Nguyen Vinh

A deep depth of field is also a stylistic choice, just like a shallow depth of field. A photograph with the same frame but a different depth of field looks completely different. Try this for yourself.

You shouldn’t use one technique the entire time. But you should be able to change your approach depending on your subject. Which parts of your image do you want in focus? Which parts do you want to remain out of focus?

an interior shot of a house showing a modern dinner table and open backdoor with a deep depth of field
A deep depth of focus lets us see every detail of this interior, even the exterior! © Infinite Views

What Is Depth of Field in General?

Depth of field is the range of distance that is in focus when your desired subject is in focus. It spans a distance in front of and behind your selected focal point.

an Infographic demonstrating the different forms of depth of field


What Is Shallow Depth of Field?

A shallow depth of field has a short range of focus distance. Some professional lenses only have a range of a couple of centimeters! Read our article about the difference between deep and shallow depth of field to learn more.

Conclusion: Deep Depth of Field

After reading these short sections, you will understand how a deep depth of field works. Understanding depth of field is a great step toward mastering a camera’s manual settings. If you grasp this concept, you are on your way to becoming a confident photographer.

Check out our Photography Unlocked eBook to learn more about manual camera settings. If you try all the techniques it outlines, you will shoot in manual settings in no time! This will give you the freedom and creative expression you want from photography.