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Format-Equivalent Depth of Field and F-Stop

The “look” of medium format images vs 35mm DSLR images is often cited as a reason to shoot medium format. But with respect to geometric parameters of optics there is no difference attributable to format size in the “look” of an image.

When the entrance pupil diameter and position (distance to the subject) remain the same, there is no difference in the “look” of an image by format size. The entrance pupil thus fixed in diameter and position determines the depth of field and the “look”, not the format size. The corollary is that focal length must change (for the same field of view on the format), and therefore the f-stop also changes by the definition of f-stop (entrance pupil diameter / focal length).

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  • Technique section discusses every aspect of making a sharp image handheld or on a tripod.
  • Depth of field and how to bypass depth of field limitations via focus stacking.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • MTF, field curvature, focus shift: insight into the limitations of lab tests and why imaging performance is far more complex than it appears.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • How to test a lens for a “bad sample”.

Intrigued? See Focusing Zeiss DSLR Lenses For Peak Performance, PART ONE: The Challenges, or (one topic of many) field curvature.

Lens diaphragm: the entrance and exit pupils can be seen by looking through the front or rear of the lens

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