Monday, November 11, 2013

Quickly Switching Between Shallow and Deep DOF

f/8, 1/320, ISO 100.  Aperture priority.

I love using shallow depth of field, but sometimes I want a deep depth of field.  Here is one way I switch between shallow and deep depth of field quickly in bright conditions without having to rapidly rotate the aperture dial:

In aperture priority mode, I set the aperture for deep depth of field like f/8 or f/11.  In shutter priority mode, I set it to the highest shutter speed available.  I set the ISO to the base ISO but I also activate Auto ISO.

When I want a deep depth of field, I switch to aperture priority.  When I want shallow depth of field, I switch to shutter priority.  With the shutter speed at maximum, the camera will choose the widest available aperture that would not result in overexposure.  If the conditions are not bright enough, the camera will still usually choose the widest aperture and then because of Auto ISO, it will increase ISO as needed to get a proper exposure.  Compared to simply selecting the widest available aperture, you're assured that you're not going to overexpose the shot, and you're automatically selecting the widest possible aperture under the circumstances.

This approach is what I used with the shots here.  Both were taken with a Nikon D600 and Sigma 35 1.4.

f/2.2, 1/4000, ISO 100. Shutter priority.
Take note that this only works in bright conditions.  In darker ambient light, choosing the highest shutter speed is not feasible because you'll end up using an unnecessarily high ISO.  I would either use a lower (though still fast) shutter speed to force the camera to use a wide aperture, or I would have to do it the normal way by rotating the aperture command dial very quickly.


  1. Lovely pic and nifty tip. How do you do this?
    " I set the ISO to the base ISO but I also activate Auto ISO."

    1. Thanks. On my cameras, I just choose the lowest ISO (in the case of the D600, it's 100 ISO). Then I turn on Auto ISO. The camera will try to stay in ISO 100 (the chosen ISO) but increase the ISO as needed to provide a "correct" exposure (i.e. the camera's guess of the exposure).

      Best regards,


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