Penn State University - School of Visual Arts
Professor: Eduardo Navas (
206 Arts Cottage

Depth of Field General

The following notes should give you a better understanding of Depth of Field and image quality. Note that this is for still images, but it is still relevant for video cameras, such as the ones available at the Equipment Center.

Find the Shutter Speed option and the F Stop options in the camera you checked out.

The cameras available at the Student Center should offer f stops from F1 to F6, and shutter speeds from 1/60 to 1/2000.

To experiment with depth of field and the amount of light coming into the lens, move the fstop up or down and adjust the shutter speed.¨›To note the differences¨›make sure to focus on the same subject for each take. When you readjust the fstop and shutter speed you are adjusting for a larger or smaller Depth of Field. You may open up the lens (smaller fstop) and let more light in, while choosing a slower shutter speed depending on the type of emphasis you wish to offer in your image.

A bigger aperture (smaller fstop) and a slower shutter speed equal a larger depth of field, but this means that your image could be blurry if the subject and/or its surroundings are moving.

Here is an example of adjusted fstops and shutters speeds that provide photographs with ranging depth of field, note that the first two are likely to be blurry.¨›You can make similar adjustments on the video camera according to the f stops and shutter speeds available to see how your DF changes:

f 16 - 1/30
f 11 - 1/60
f 8 - 1/125
f 5.6 - 1/250
f 4 - 1/500

There is no right or wrong when choosing a depth of field; your choice has to do with what you want to say with your images.

Experiment with manual fstop and shutter speed adjustments until you feel comfortable with them and are able to envision the outcome before you take actual footage.

This will help you in the future when you have to t22hink quick on your feet.

Here is a good resource that explains DF for video directly: