Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lens aperture, zone of focus and focal length relationships

Photography is some what unique in that it can be defined by its application, equipment or user. Film photography, wedding photography or photojournalist would be examples of this. Photography also has undergone an enormous transformation from Analog [film] technology to digital beginning in 1990 when the Apple QuickTake was released. In 1994 I began making serious photographs using digital cameras and the process was very cumbersome. RIT purchased a Kodak DCS 460 camera for $28,000 in 1997. It had 1600 pixels I seem to recall. It was very exciting and complicated with SCSI addresses and centronix ports, etc.

One thing that has not changed during this transitions is the physics and process for using optics and apertures effectively. Many practitioners of science photography are misinformed about the role of aperture and focal length in the creation of the zone of focus or depth of field. The following is an example I made reproducing the seminal work of Henry Lou Gibson in which the zone of focus using a 60mm, 100mm and 200mm lens does not change when compared other images produced with a similar aperture across the lenses. What does change is the working distance - the distance between the object and the lens.

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