Lessons Learned: Depth of field too shallow

The following photo features two male dragonflies spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Shown from left to right: Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis); Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta). The dragonflies were perching on different sticks located relatively close together. I hoped both dragonflies would be in focus when I shot the photo. Obviously the Slaty Skimmer, the dragonfly that is closer to me and the one on which I focused the camera, is the only one clearly in focus. The problem is the depth of field is too shallow for the camera settings used to take this photo.

P1130086-rw2-ver2_aperture-bfx

According to the Online Depth of Field Calculator, the total depth of field is 0.25 feet (3.0 inches) for a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera with a focal length of 57.2mm (318mm, 35mm equivalent), an aperture of f/8, and a subject distance of approximately six feet. That means the near- and far limits of acceptable sharpness are 5.88 feet and 6.13 feet respectively. As a result, most of the Slaty Skimmer appears to be focused sharply, while the Blue Dasher is slightly out of focus.

The simplest way to increase depth of field is to select a smaller aperture, e.g., f/16 or smaller. f/8 is the smallest aperture on the DMC-FZ150, so the only solution for this problem may be to use another camera/lens combo.

Tech Tips: Be sure to “use the actual focal length of the lens for depth of field calculations,” rather than the 35mm equivalent. Source Credit: Online Depth of Field Calculator.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

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