About apertures and depth of field

A question from a reader of my Lightroom 2 book:

“Dear Mr. Coalson,
I just recently purchased your book, Lightroom2. I notice that many of your beautifully printed images are done with small aperture settings.

For years, I have shot many landscapes at f22. This seem to go against the grain of conventional wisdom. Many serious photographers refer to a sweet spot in the lens, about f8 or f11.

I shoot with Minolta professional glass; all of my lenses are 2.8s. now I’m using them digitally with a Sony A700 body.

What is your opinion?

As I develop a work flow, I find myself unsure of how much to stop down my exposures on landscapes. I want to keep as much as possible in any given scene in sharp focus.”

My reply:

“Thank you very much for your email, and for purchasing my Lightroom book.

I will be happy to answer your questions re: apertures.

What we’re dealing with here is depth-of-field (DOF). DOF refers to the range of “acceptable” sharpness (or maybe better said “perceptible” sharpness) within the photo. The lens settings for focal length and aperture determine the DOF, based on the distance at which the lens is focused. (more…)

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