A Foolproof Way to Understand Depth of Field in DSLRs

Joel Lee 03-12-2015

Depth of Field is a topic that every camera user must learn Basics: Aperture and Shutter Speeds for Beginning Photographers Read More at some point or another — that is, if said user wants to produce photos that look sharp, intentional, and even professional. Unfortunately, the topic can be difficult to grasp.


Simply put, depth of field describes how much area will be in focus when a photo is taken. You can think of it as a pair of invisible walls — one closer to the camera and one further from the camera — that are infinitely tall. The area in between the walls is the “field”.

When you focus on a subject, the walls surround the subject and everything in the field comes out sharp while everything outside the field comes out blurry. The distance between the two “walls” is determined by the camera’s aperture size — the bigger the f-number, the bigger the field size (and thus, more will be in focus).


But this is all theoretical and abstract, which is why so many people find it confusing. If you still don’t get it, don’t worry. We haven’t gotten to the foolproof method yet. In fact, let me present the method right now: using an online virtual DSLR camera 3 Steps To Learning The Basics Of Photography With A Virtual DSLR Rather than learning your photography from books and tutorials, this web application from Canon Canada is the most fun yet. Outside of Auto from Canon is a gentle introduction to the basics of photography. Read More .

The Outside of Auto tool by Canon lets you play around with settings on a virtual DSLR to see how changes impact photo results in real-time. After fiddling with the aperture setting, you’ll instantly understand how depth of field works.


If you need extra assistance, or you just want to continue your photography education, check out these free YouTube photography channels Learning Photography: 5 YouTube Channels to Become a Pro There are hundreds of channels dedicated to photography lessons. The good ones are buried in the noise. We picked five of the best for you. Read More as well as these excellent photography courses How to Improve Your Photography Overnight with is great for online learning. Of the 546 photography courses available, here are some of the best ones for sharpening your skills in just a few hours. Read More .

Which photography topics did you find hard to grasp? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Retro Aperture by Triff via Shutterstock

Related topics: Digital Camera, DSLR, Photography.

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  1. Koren Schmedith
    August 20, 2017 at 5:57 am

    Wow!!! what a wonderful article it is. This article and raise a hope of income for the mobile photographers. Thanks a lot for posting this article.

  2. Saikat Basu
    December 3, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Here's another excellent one --

    A very good interactivve simulator/calculator as well.

    • Joel Lee
      December 5, 2015 at 8:27 pm

      Wow, that tool is incredibly cool! I wish I had it when I was a total noob, it would've helped so much. Still useful even now. Definitely going to bookmark it. Thanks Saikat! :D