Shallow vs. Deep Depth of Field: The Ultimate Comparison

Depth of field is a key element in many photographs. In most cases, using it can mean the difference between a basic image and a work of art. There are two common types of depth of field, each with the potential to increase the aesthetics of your image dramatically.

We'll get to that shortly, but first:

What is depth of field?

In any image, there is a zone that appears sharp and in focus. That region is referred to as the depth of field (DoF). DoF allows you to determine the areas you want to focus on in your image. You can either draw a viewer's attention to or away from certain areas within the image.

There are two common types of depth of field; shallow depth of field and deep depth of field. Both types bring out different aspects in your image and, therefore, have different benefits.

In shallow depth of field, the distance between the nearest and the furthest elements in focus is very short. This puts only a small portion of your image in focus. You can achieve a shallow DoF by using a large aperture.

That being said, you should remember that using a large aperture puts your image at risk of overexposure. So, to avoid this, try using a fast shutter speed and low ISO.

In deep depth of field (also known as large depth of field), both the background and foreground are sharp and clear. The viewer can also see all the details in the frame. This can make it quite challenging to create a well-balanced composition, but with proper graphics design software like CorelDraw, you can bring the image to life.

You can achieve a deep DoF by setting the aperture to f/16 or lower. And, if you want to make your image even clearer, try placing the camera as far away from the image as possible.

Benefits of shallow depth of field

In shallow DoF, only a small part of your image is visible. Viewers are inherently attracted to the area in focus and will ignore everything else, thus making the subject of the image stand out. This technique is especially suitable for taking commercial photographs since the subject of the ad gets all the attention.

Other benefits of shallow depth of view include:

  • It blurs out the background. Let's face it, not all backgrounds are particularly picturesque, and if left in focus, they have the potential to damage an otherwise beautiful image. Using shallow DoF allows you to blur out the disturbing background, leaving you with the visually appealing parts of the image.
  • It creates a 3D object impression. Everyone loves a good 3D image. We just can't resist how the objects seem to pop out of the screen and reach out to us. The 3D impression also does wonders in making your image look more artistic.
  • Shallow DoF makes objects look closer than they are. Say, for example, you're taking pictures of a large, open landscape with an interesting feature like a wild animal or a tree. Using shallow DoF allows you to focus on the feature without limiting the size of the area captured.

Benefits of deep depth of field

Sometimes you get such awesome scenery that you want everything to be in focus in your image. Say, for example, you're taking pictures of a landscape, an architectural scene, or even a simple family photo, you want everything to be seen in order to give your image more context, and that's what you get with deep DoF.

Other benefits of deep DoF include:

  • It flattens the scene, thus making objects seem closer together. This is especially useful when taking pictures of a landscape where you want the image to look complete.
  • It emphasizes the geographical elements in your image, such as lines and patterns. This is especially useful when dealing with pictures of art and architectural designs because it draws the viewers' attention to all the important details.
  • It creates visual narratives and gives life to more than one interesting area in your image. Apart from being visually appealing, an image should also be able to tell a story. Creating an image that focuses on more than one point gives the viewer a chance to use their imagination and form their own narratives.


Using the proper depth of field can go a long way in creating the perfect image for that ad or website icon you're designing. But, to get more fulfilling results, you'll need to combine your expertise with an efficient graphics design software like CorelDRAW.

Need to Download CorelDRAW?

Download a Free 15-Day Trial Now!