DOF-scale changes with format?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Emil, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Emil

    Emil Member

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    Weirdest thing. I passed the website dpreview.com, and saw a mention of a lens. Now, I don't remember the exact wording, but it said something like "This lens has a Depth-of-Field Scale, but it is calibrated for fullframe, so it will be of no use to most users."

    NB: the above was written by an editor in a review. This was not a random user comment. I am so sorry I can't link to it, but I don't remember which review it was.

    Now... I am not an optics expert, but I do belive that a given lens at a given aperture and focused at a given point, will have exactly the same depth of field no matter the type or size of photosensitive material behind it.

    What am I missing?
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    The different formats will have correspondingly different enlargement factors and hence different circles of confusion.
     
  3. Emil

    Emil Member

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    Alright, I looked up "circles of confusion" on wikipedia.

    Does the difference in depth of field relate to enlargement?

    If one enlarges not to the same final size for two images of different formats, but by a set factor of for instance 15, would the depth of field then be the same of the two images?

    I'm sorry about asking so many questions, I am just really curious

    Thanks you,

    Emil
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    What it means is that a digisnapper that does not have a focal plane that covers 24mm x36mm [full frame] will find that the Depth-of-Field Scale might not be calibrated to their digisnaps.

    Steve
     
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    The circle of confusion varies with the format. If the enlargement factor which is what I interpret as "set factor" is the same, the the depth of field would be the same.

    Steve
     
  6. Emil

    Emil Member

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    Steve,

    What then, if I enlarge the same negative to two different sizes? Will the depth of field be different between the two prints? And if that is the case, what image size is the dof-scale on my lenses calibrated for? This has now made me very curious!!!

    Emil
     
  7. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Yes, technically, the definition of DOF is very much related to much you will enlarge. More aesthetically, it's about how smoothly the in-focus/out-of-focus transitions will be rendered.

    A major peeve I had with the APS digitals, especially the lower resolution ones, was that the focus transitions were much too edgy. The annoying thing is that all manner of novices were saying, "gee look how sharp my APS digital image is, isn't this great, I have a lot more DOF. I can do macro..." Well duh, they were simply not resolving the transitions very well. If you don't resolve something at all then who cares whether it's in or out of focus!!! <end of ramble...>

    Anyway, overall, it is important to learn where the definitions come from: you'll see that these are based on some standard assumptions about what the typical eye will perceive at standard distances & enlargements. But much more important, aesthetically, is how (or whether) you will use focus transitions... i.e. whether you will aim for front-to-back sharpness or whether you will use the transitions, artistically.
     
  8. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    Check the DOF thread under Macro which has some useful information.
     
  9. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    Yes, depth of field depends on the format (i.e. film or sensor size).

    To be a clear about this, assume you have perfect lenses on two cameras.

    One is a large format camera and one is a small format camera.

    Assume the two systems have the same field of view. (The field of view assumption is not really necessary, but it makes it conceptually easier.)

    Assume the two lenses are set to the same f-number.

    What the heck, might as well assume we have perfect film as well.

    Assume that two identical shots are taken with the two cameras.

    Assume the two shots are enlarged to the same final size, say 8x10.

    The depth of field in the two shots will be different. The small format camera will have greater depth of field than the large format camera.
     
  10. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    By the way, it is not too hard to prove this with simple lens formulas and a little geometry, but I won't bore you with the details right now.
     
  11. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    In basic photo, we [unfortunately] learn that D of F is directly affected by three things: 1) aperture, 2) distance from subject, and 3) focal length of lens. Additionally, we also learn sometimes that film format affects it. Actually, it is only 1) f stop, and 2) magnification. Distance from subject and focal length of the lens can affect magnification, and thus affect D of F. Given the same angle of view/composition, film format also affects it indirectly by affecting magnification. However, they do not do it directly, as we learn in the basic photo classes and books. Changing either distance or focal length or film format will have no effect on D of F *unless* doing so also changes the magnification. The higher the magnification, the less D of F there is.

    The idea that D of F is defined as the front-to-back area that "is acceptably sharp" in the print has never set well with me as a useful definition. This means that in a large enough blowup, there could be absolutely no D of F, since even the plane of critical focus can fail to be "sharp", due to "overenlargement". I personally define it as the area in the image that is apparently *just as* sharp as the plane of critical focus. Thus, I view it as a comparison of the plane of critical focus to the rest of the image, rather than a simple definition of what is sharp on the print. Viewing it this way, something can be unsharp, yet still fall within the D of F if it is apparently just as unsharp as the plane of critical focus. Thus, it again comes down to magnification, not just print size. Viewing distance and size of print simply affect magnification (only this time it is your eyes/brain, not a lens/film), which affects D of F.
     
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  12. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Distance and focal length combined are magnification.
    :wink:


    The most important thing about DOF, by far, is that it is a perceptual thing. Not an 'autonomous' entity with an absolute dimension. (Despite all the formulae and calculators people like to let loose on it).

    The best definition is that as "acceptable unsharpness".
    Very clear about that it is a judgement, a perception, and not a measurement or dimension.
    Still pretty vague, since it provides no clue about what sharpness is.

    You can increase DOF dramatically, not by changing magnification or f-stop, but by changing how 'sharp' the sharp bit is. A good film and good lens produce shallower DOF than a bad lens on bad film. And vice versa. Simply by changing the difference, the visual contrast between realy sharp and not so sharp.

    Another undefined thing is viewing distance.
    The final magnification counts, so DOF gets less if you blow a negative up more.
    But only if you do not increase viewing distance accordingly.
    So a giant print can appear to have greater DOF than a small print of the same negative, if only you view the giant print from relatively further away than the small print.
     
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  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    That's my point exactly. It is explained to beginning students that FL and distance from subject are two of the main things that affect D of F, and not explained that they are actually things that affect magnification, which in turn affects D of F. It is rarely explained that moving to a longer lens alone does not give one less depth of field if you move back from the subject and keep aperture and subject size the same in the composition. It affects perspective (thus affects how depth is rendered; how closer objects appear in relationship to farther-away objects), but not D of F. In order for a change in focal length alone to affect D of F, the size of the subject in the viewfinder must also change. Same with simply changing distance. It only affects D of F if the change in distance also affects magnification; for instance, if you move closer to your subject while keeping the same lens on the camera. If you change to a wider lens when you move closer, such that you keep the size of the subject the same, however, D of F does not change. If it was simply explained that magnification is what is really controlling D of F, and that FL and distance are what is affecting magnification, I think it would be easier to understand and to apply.

    I also agree about the other paragraphs, most importantly the part about D of F not being an absolute.

    I view D of F as the area which for ones intents and purposes appears as sharp as the plane of critical focus, not simply as the area which appears acceptably sharp. To use your term: the "acceptable unsharpness" matches between the plane of focus and the areas that simply appear sharp.

    Like you said, in the same way that FL and distance from subject indirectly affect D of F in the camera by affecting magnification, print size and viewing distance indirectly affect D of F by affecting magnification when looking at the pix. A tiny print has less D of F under a loupe. A big print has more D of F from across the room.
     
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  15. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    BTW, if you want to get into depth of field scales, there are some informative Internet (and print) articles, and forum discussions. In short, they are often, if not always, "incorrect" for "critical work". My favorite article is the Ken Rockwell one, in which he briefly covers D of F and diffraction, and then explains how to get the sharpest shot possible for a given situation, considering both issues. It is especially helpful for medium and large formats.
     
  16. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    As pointed out above, there is no doubt that depth of field is based (to a significant degree) on a perceptual judgment.

    However, it is possible to define an objective scale. Here is an example of how one might do it.

    First, define a normal viewing distance. There are lots of choices. Pick one.

    Then define a size for the print. There are lots of choices. Pick one.

    Then define an amount of allowed "blurriness." There are a number of choices. Pick one. For example, one might base the choice on what amount of blur is barely perceptible by a person with good vision when viewing and the object at normal viewing distance. This amount of blur would correspond to a certain spot size for a slightly out-of-focus point.

    Then, calculate the distance fore can and aft of a well focused object that would produce an out-of-focus point of the diameter determined above. This involves a chain of calculations or measurements. In the best case one could do this by a theoretical calculation, assuming a perfect lens. An imperfect lens will always perform worse than this.

    That will give you a depth of field.

    Is this the only possible approach to defining depth of field? No!

    Another approach would be to base the calculation on the minimum spot size of the lens in question. This spot size is limited by aberrations and diffraction. Then, one would arbitrarily pick a factor, let us say 1.4 or so. (Don't like that factor? Then pick another one.) The depth of field would be determined by determining how far fore and aft of an object would allow an object point to be imaged to a size of 1.4 times the well-focused limit.

    Both of these approaches can use objective criteria. The criteria may be arbitrary, but they can be well defined.

    The first will produce a result that depends, among other things, on the ratio of the photo size (linear dimension) to the viewing distance. If you decide to change that distance (strictly speaking, that ratio), then the depth of field changes.

    The second method is independent of factors such as magnification, viewing distance, photo size, etc. I figure that in most cases the second method will give a shallower depth of field than the first method.

    By the way, I am not claiming that these methods are those in common use. I only give them to show that one can define depth of field in more than one way, but that the definition can be based on objective criteria. I suspect that most depth of field calculations are based on something closer to the first method than the second.
     
  17. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    It's important to realize that the DOF's being a function of format size, is only an artifact of the way apertures are expressed in photography. The f/ratio is a complicated way to express aperture that is used in photography because it results in uniform exposure between all format sizes. The rest of the optics world (microscopy and photolithography are what I have experience with) uses Numerical Aperture to define aperture.

    When defined in this more geometrically simple way, DOF-per-given-aperture is not a function of format size. However if cameras expressed aperture in Numerical Aperture, different apertures would not give the same exposure value across different format sizes. A given aperture number would be slower on larger cameras, but would give the same DOF across all format sizes. The F/ratio system is used because, it is felt, that it is more important that a given aperture number give consistent exposure across format sizes than it is that it give consistent DOF across format sizes.

    In microscopy exposure isn't as important because you can just turn the light up a bit, but being able to calculate DOF for any possible magnification is very simplifying. Since exposure is important in photography, photography uses the F/ratio to express aperture, which takes into account the combined effect of aperture area and the inverse way that light falls off as the focal length increases. Using this system, f/8 gives the same exposure on 8x10 as on 35mm, but the DOF is much different between the formats.

    Now, the way that DOF itself is quantified using certain criteria of unsharpness and so on, is another matter, but I hope that explains a bit about why DOF varies with format size in photography.
     
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  18. GJA

    GJA Member

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    What the dpreview guy says is true! The smaller the format the larger the depth of field at a given aperture.
     
  19. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    I agree with what BetterSense says, except for one quibble, which is that the term "Numerical Aperture" is not correctly used by BetterSense in this context. Numerical Aperture is essentially equivalent to f-number in the sense that both numbers are ways of expressing the angular aperture of a lens.

    The f-number is twice the cotangent of the half angle that defines the angular aperture of the lens. (This is strictly true only if the principal surfaces are planes.) The Numerical Aperture is the sine of the half angle.

    In the small angle approximation sin(angle)=~1/cot(angle), hence 2*f-number=~1/numerical aperture.

    At lower f-numbers this approximation breaks down.

    Someone can check my math, to make sure I have the factors of 2 placed correctly, but in any case I believe the functional relationships are correct.

    I think what BetterSense meant to say was that the depth of field depends on the lens diameter, not the numerical aperture. (I'm overlooking some subtleties here, such as telephoto or retro-focus designs, in which the physical lens diameter does not equal the effective optical diameter.)
     
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  20. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Now here's a rare opportunity to reply to something, saying that it is just semantics, and be correct (and not in disagreement, by the way).
    :wink:
     
  21. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    "Lots of choices. Pick one." "Define" (in the "pick one" sense). "[...] perceptible by a person"
    And still "an objective scale"?

    Doesn't work.

    The second approach, based on arbitrarily chosen ("let us say") dimensions, does no better.

    As you say: "The criteria may be arbitrary"
    And there the whole things come falling down. DOF is not an objective thing.


    A statement like "The second method is independent of factors such as magnification, viewing distance, photo size, etc." even cannot be a thing related in any way to DOF.
    DOF, in essence, is dependent on factors such as magnification, [etc.]
     
  22. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Well, no!
    Only if (! Here comes the beginning of long list of assumptions again. I'll keep it short, and not unravel the tangle of different "ifs") you try to put the same scene in the smaller frame the way you did in a larger format's frame.
    And even then...
     
  23. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    DOF is a computed distance range of acceptable sharpness based on focal length, aperture, subject distance, and the value for acceptable circle of confusion for a given format. The "acceptable" part is somewhat subjective, but the typical values used to compute DOF tables and scales are based on things like typical enlargement factors and viewing distances for the format and the average limits of human vision. There is no way to calculate DOF without making those assumptions.

    It is also perfectly reasonable to deviate from those assumptions, based on one's personal standards for sharpness or planned enlargement factor. In other words, you may decide that you are planning to make a big print, so the value used as the acceptable circle of confusion should be smaller in that particular case. Most people don't actually make that computation, but just stop down one or two stops from the aperture recommended by the DOF scale on the lens or DOF table, which is the result you would get by computing the DOF with a smaller than typical value for acceptable circle of confusion for that format.

    You may also decide to stop down for other reasons, like reducing falloff of illumination with a wide lens or reducing spherical aberration or field curvature, since DOF isn't the only component of sharpness.
     
  24. Larry.Manuel

    Larry.Manuel Member

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    Manufacturers make the depth of field scale based on the size of the circle of confusion. If I recall correctly, Leica uses 0.003". The D.O.F. scale is a only guide, not a true indication for all possible uses of the camera and film.

    If you consider the blur caused by the shallow D.O.F. to be a flaw, of course it will be magnified as you enlarge the negative to a bigger print size. Someone else may consider that same effect a bonus [search for "bokeh"].

    There's an article on depth of field on Wikipedia.

    If you find, by experience, that the depth of field guide gives negatives [and therefore prints at the end-size] with too shallow D.O.F., take appropriate measures to remedy that [stop down]. If setting the focus by hyperfocal technique, use one stop smaller to increase depth of field to your liking. Suppose exposing at f/5.6. Use the near/far marks for f/8 instead. Or even f/11.

    Again, the D.O.F. scale is only a convenient guide that will satisfy most [not all] users. It is not a universal cure-all.
     
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  25. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    No, that is a gross assumption based on as Q. G. said a long string of assumptions. If you really want to understand this, you need to get a good book on optics. Once you fully understand the optics, you will see why so many here are telling you that the dpreview article is not correct.

    Steve
     
  26. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    Correction: I'm not sure the statement is correct about the physical lens diameter not equaling the effective diameter for certain types of lenses. This will take a bit more thought.

    Regardless, it is a fine point that doesn't significantly affect the rest of what I said.