Where to Focus in Landscape Photography to Get a Sharp Shot

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Great Depth of Field Rule of Thumb

A rule of thumb for achieving great depth of field in landscape photography is:

  • Use an f/stop ranging from f/11 to f/16.
  • The closer the foreground is to the front of your lens, the higher the f/number should be.

For example, if the closest thing in the picture is about 4 feet away from the front of your lens, you can usually get away with an aperture of f/11 and get a great depth of field. If the closest thing in the picture is about 2 feet away from the front of your lens, you probably need to change to f/16.

Define Wide Angle vs. Telephoto

Let’s define the difference between wide angle lenses and telephoto lenses. This is important, because when you use these rules of thumb, you change the way you focus based on the type of lens that you’re using.
  • Wide angle: anything wider than 35 mm-e. Or wider than 24mm on a APS-C sensor size camera. A wider lens takes in a larger angle of view. That means that when you look through the lens you see more of the scene. A 14mm lens is wider than a 24mm lens. The shorter the focal length the wider the lens. Tangent: if you’re just learning to shoot wide consider using a focal length of 24mm-e (16mm on APS-C). It’s wide, but not too wide. Learning on anything wider is more difficult, because it sees too much of the scene. That makes composition much more difficult.
  • Telephoto: anything longer than 60mm-e. Or longer than 40mm on a APS-C sensor size camera. As you increase the number of millimeters of a lens, your lens sees less; a 200mm lens is longer and you see a narrower view than a 100mm lens. Basically, you zoom in.
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