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Category: Photography

Bokeh and Sensor Size

Pogue discusses bokeh and depth of field in his updated article and it’s quite interesting. It finally explains how sensor size actually does have a real (not just irrelevant relative) impact on depth of field and bokeh:

He refers to an article on Cambridge in Colour:
“As sensor size increases, the depth of field will decrease for a given aperture (when filling the frame with a subject of the same size and distance). This is because larger sensors require one to get closer to their subject, or to use a longer focal length in order to fill the frame with that subject. This means that one has to use progressively smaller aperture sizes in order to maintain the same depth of field on larger sensors. The following calculator predicts the required aperture and focal length in order to achieve the same depth of field (while maintaining perspective).

As an example calculation, if one wanted to reproduce the same perspective and depth of field on a full frame sensor as that attained using a 10 mm lens at f/11 on a camera with a 1.6X crop factor, one would need to use a 16 mm lens and an aperture of roughly f/18. Alternatively, if one used a 50 mm f/1.4 lens on a full frame sensor, this would produce a depth of field so shallow it would require an aperture of 0.9 on a camera with a 1.6X crop factor — not possible with consumer lenses!
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