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Many of the creative options available to a photographer hinge on an in-depth understanding of lenses. In Foundations of Photography: Lenses, Ben Long shows how to choose lenses and take full advantage of their creative options. The course covers fundamental concepts that apply to any camera, such as focal length and camera position, and shows how to evaluate and shop for DSLR lenses. The second half of the course focuses on shooting techniques: controlling autofocus, working with different focal lengths, and managing distortion and flare. The course also examines various filters and contains tips on cleaning and maintaining lenses.
We've already talked about how some cameras have smaller sensors than others, and how sensor size impacts field of view. But sensor size also has an effect on depth of field. Smaller sensors inherently have more depth of field than larger sensors. That means that you cannot achieve as shallow a depth of field with a camera with a smaller sensor as you can with a camera with a larger sensor. Here's an image shot with a full frame digital SLR using an f/1.2 lens. It has extremely shallow depth of field.
By comparison, here is an image shot with a typical point-and-shoot camera. While the background is a little soft, it's not nearly as soft as the image from the SLR was. This is about as shallow as you can hope to go with a point-and-shoot camera. Now, there are advantages to the inherent deep depth of field of smaller sensors. If I am shooting with a point-and- shoot camera, I don't have to worry as much about everything being in focus. This is great for landscape shooting. It's great for times when my subject is moving in and out relative to my camera position.
So for quick shooting, for landscape stuff, having a smaller sensor can be a good thing. If I am wanting to shoot portraits with really soft buttery backgrounds, this isn't going to be the best choice. With SLR, we've already looked at how some SLRs have smaller sensors than others. The cropped sensor cameras that have a sensor that's the size of a piece of APS film, those have inherently deeper depth of field than a camera with a full frame sensor, that is one that has a sensor that's the size of a piece of 35 millimeter film. So, again if you're really finding that shallow depth of field is something that you would like to regularly use, then you may need to consider your camera choice.
If you're an all in focus all the time type person, then a smaller sensor is great for you. If you want the ability for shallower depth of field, you're going to want to consider a camera with a bigger sensor.
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