Best Lens for Shallow Depth of Field Reviewed

Shallow depth of field (making the entire image in focus) allows you to create a bokeh effect that is unique and compelling.

You can achieve subtle, dreamy illustrations that are different from those captured with a wide aperture and a good lens. 

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The Best Sony Lenses for Product Photography

A good background, a subject in focus, and the ability to shoot without AF allow a photographer freedom from automatic or program modes.

Different kinds of photography do require different types of cameras and lenses.

However, shallow depth-of-field is one style that delivers fantastic results on all mid-range wide aperture/APS format SLR cameras.

best aperture for shallow depth of field

What is the Shallow Depth of Field Photography?

A shallow depth of field is achieved when the photo is taken with a low f-number or f-stop. And this lets more light into your photograph, between 1.4 to about 5.6. 

5 Easy Ways on How to Get the Shallow Depth of Field in your Photos

#1. Get a Wide-Aperture Lens

A wide aperture will produce a background blurred for an outstanding shallow depth of field.

Although expensive, fast lenses can also be worth the investment because they allow you to capture details in less time.

A prime lens like a 50mm f/1.8 is an example of this, as it provides an affordable, fast lens capable of touching up your photos.

#2. Get Closer to the Subject

The closer you are to your subject, the better the blur and shallow depth of field will be.

You can create a blurred background by using a long lens or physically getting closer to your subject.

A 70-200 mm lens takes the best portraits. A longer focal length helps you get closer to your subject.

You can still create a shallow depth of field if you only own a 35mm lens.

Instead of standing far away from your subject, get close to your subject by moving in front of them.

Longer lenses beat shorter lenses by being able to compress the background.

This allows a smooth blur, which creates the appearance of an image with a shallow depth of field.

For shooting portraits:

  1. Avoid lenses that are too wide-angle or telephoto and need to be used up too close.
  2. For general purposes, go for something in the 60mm range.

#3. Widen your Lens Aperture

Top camera lenses for Shallow Depth of Field photos

Wide apertures are more aggressive, which can also result in great photos.

To create the perfect image, you must understand how the gap affects your blur and what type of photography to use each time.

The portrait mode will enhance the focus in your photo.

The shallow Depth of Field (DOF) is also more significant if used as Aperture Priority & Manual Modes, allowing more possibilities to choose from. 

Having a more comprehensive gap (f/1.8-f/2.8) allows more light into your scene, focusing it away from background distractions and letting you take perfect pictures.

#4. Use the Portrait Mode in your Camera

When looking for a camera, research the top of the lens for a small dial with different settings.

The Mode dial displays your camera’s scene modes. In most cases, portrait mode is the default setting.

It sets a large aperture, making the depth of field only shrink slightly.

However, the portrait mode doesn’t allow you to adjust for depth of field.

So, only try using this mode if you feel lost and have no intention of learning the basics of photography.

#5. Increase the Distance between the Subject and the Background

This is one of the most straightforward methods for a shallow depth of field effect.

However, it will be a lot hazier if they stand 100 meters in front of the same division. This allows for additional blur in the backdrop.

7 Best Lens for Shallow Depth of Field Photography

How do I get depth of field on my DSLR?

#1. Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D

Nikon’s AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D is a tiny, normal-length prime lens that is both simple and flexible.

Additionally, its maximum aperture of f/1.8 gives photographers more control over the depth of field.

And this makes it ideal for photographing in low-light situations.

The Super Integrated Coating eliminates lens flare and ghosting when working in bright or backlit circumstances.

Consequently, this improves contrast and color accuracy. The bokeh effect is enhanced by a rounded seven-blade diaphragm, which also helps.

Other features of the Nikon AF FX Nikkor 50mm f/1.8d include:

Autofocus System

Nikon DSLRs that accept D-type lenses are compatible with the autofocus system, which provides quick and precise focusing.

DSLRs without an autofocus motor, such as the D3000-series, D5000-series, D40, D40X, and D60, do not support autofocus. Hence, the lens can only be used for manual focus.

Super Integrated Coating

This increases light transmission and raises resolution, especially for backlit images. 

Pros & Cons of Nikon’s AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D

Pros
  • Good Portability – Easy to Carry Around: The lens is light and small enough, so you won’t feel weighed down when carrying it in your bag. 
  • Sharp Smiles and Expressions – Outstanding Macro Close-Up Capability: When at its most close, though, this manual focus Nikkor lens allows you to capture photos of tiny objects. It has a built-in close-up feature, so you don’t need to carry one!
  • Good Value Pack: The package includes everything you’ll possibly ever have to use with this manual focus.
Cons
  • Misleading Point of View/Soft Images at Wide-Angle: If you shoot with a full-frame Nikkor DSLR, be sure to blend the post-processing of your photos so that the images come out with an aperture of around f/16. This may mean additional work and isn’t necessary if you’re shooting the image in JPEG format using raw exposure settings.

#2. OLYMPUS M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO is a 24-80mm equivalent lens for Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras.

Its high refractive index, aspherical, and low dispersion glass improve clarity, sharpness, and color fidelity during zooming. 

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED lens’ f/2.8 aperture and weather-sealed design are versatile.

The autofocus systems suitable for movies and photographs provide fast, silent focusing, and a manual focus clutch lets you move between the two.

Some unique features of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro include:

Focal Length & Aperture

It has a zoom range of 12-40mm and an aperture range of f/2.8-5.6.

A maximum aperture of f/2.8 allows you to take stunning close-up photos. The shortest distance at which you can focus is 7.87 inches.

Construction

The lens architecture includes two aspherical ED elements, one DSA (Dual Super Aspherical) element, two extra-low dispersion elements, and one HD (high-refractive index) element.

Usability

The Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2. 8 Pro is a complement to the top-end OM-D E-M1 digital camera.

It is dust, splash, and freeze-proof, with an equivalent focal length of 24-80mm. In addition, it uses the focus clutch like the 12mm F2 and the 17mm F2.

Pros & Cons of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro

Pros
  • Steady manual focus: It has a Motor Drive to achieve fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus during video recording.
  • Has a satisfying background blur: The blur doesn’t require any focus adjustment. The image quality is excellent, especially when shooting in the dark or in blurry situations like fireworks displays and concerts!
  • Advanced IS (Image Stabilization): Your photos won’t be shaky for hands-free handheld photography!
Cons
  • Smaller focal length distance.
  • It does not have the power of fisheye lenses like 15mm F1.8 lens and another wide-angle zoom.

#3. NIKON Z 58mm for S Noct Ultra

While it’s the priciest model, it’s a beautiful lens for getting a shallow depth of field.

We can infer from the price tag that it’s aimed at business users. However, understanding the external depth technique shouldn’t cost so much for beginners!

Distinguishing features of the Nikon Z 58 mm for S Noct Ultra include:

Depth Control

This is for you if you own a Nikon Z mirrorless camera! Your depth of field can be ultra-shallow, thanks to the maximum aperture of f/0.95.

Because of the zooming ability, more light is let through faster. It has a total focal length of 58 millimeters, too.

Even in low light, you’ll be able to get more creative with your images because you have more control over the depth of field.

Focus & Resolution

The use of focus and resolution enhances the sharpness and clarity of the image.

You can take high-resolution pictures of the unknown world when your aperture is set to its maximum.

Output Quality

Nikon’s Noct standard is the best shallow depth of field Nikon lens.

From the Z mount, this is a ground-breaking kit. In other words, you receive the kind of fine detail that human eyes see. Precision is evident in the final product.

The depth of field in both video and picture images is drastically reduced.

Pros & Cons of the Nikon Z 58mm for S Noct Ultra

Pros
  • Fastest lens for Nikon: This practical f/0.95 maximum aperture lets in more light than the one with a lower number, enabling quicker and better focusing.
  • Find details & sharp images: It is possible to shoot more information with the Nikon Z 58mm for Noct Ultra lens, as you can adjust it between infinity and close up for a greater depth of field.
  • Soft background blur effect: The lens aperture is effective to f/2.8, giving a soothing background blur effect for your pictures and videos.
Cons
  • Expensive lens, more than the majority of other lenses on the market.

#4. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

This is our favorite Canon lens for close-ups.

The Canon EF 50MM F/1.8 STM lens’ F/1.8 aperture and 50mm focal length are great for shallow depth of field.

Outstanding features of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens include:

Focus

It has 0.21x magnification. Also, the most significant focusing distance is 0.35m. It’s better than a regular zoom lens.

The lens’s focal length allows for high-quality portrait photos.

Usability

This package can capture close-ups, nighttime views, and moving things. You can make it horizontal, vertical, or diagonal.

Big holes speed light so you can get close-ups of your subject.

Output quality

A quiet action is required to generate a professional video documentary. Exactly!

Stepping motor autofocus is silent. With the Canon EF 50mmf/1.8 STM lens stunning & still image quality, you receive a sharp, detailed image in low light.

Pros & Cons of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens

Pros
  • Less noisy focusing motor: It has a stepping engine. Which is silent and fast focusing, making it a great low-light lens for your videos.
  • Outstanding picture quality: It could capture exquisite details with its F/1.8 aperture, which is sharp and well-defined when used with a full-frame digital SLR camera.
  • Faster capturing: Fewer shutter clicks and time are needed to capture a picture. Less exposure noise than that of Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 Image Stabilization II lens.
  • Affordable pricing: A good purchase for low-light shooting.

Con

  • Not practical for capturing fast-moving objects or sporting outdoor pictures: The rim of the Canon EF 50MM F/1.8 STM lens is not wide enough to keep up with your subject unless you are using a tripod.

#5. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens

A little more pricey than most models, but the customization is still impressive. You’ll love the outcomes.

Features of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens include:

Aperture/Focus

With an F/1.4, you can get near your target without moving closer physically. The shallow depth of field allows for clear photos even in low light.

It has a smaller aperture. This feature helps you get closer to your target.

Lens Construction

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens has eight elements in six groups.

New Gaussian optical elements eliminate astigmatism. You can effectively focus on a closer object at 17.8 inches.

Usability

Same focus distance as the old Canon lens.

The 50mm lens captures high-quality footage dependably every day. You can take more than portraits and night photos.

Output quality

This package helps you create high-quality work. When running, the Hypersonic Motor is silent. As long as your autofocus is smooth, you can make great films.

Still, shots offer artistic freedom by focusing on the subject and obscuring the backdrop.

Pros & Cons of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens

Pros
  • A fast aperture is good for taking low-light pictures, even at night.
  • It is possible to get a flatter perspective and operate at a more manageable distance from your subject with this 85mm telephoto lens.
  • Has good flare resistance.
  • Exceptionally little vignetting while using the widest aperture.
Cons
  • Only available for Canon SLRs cameras.
  • The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens has no image stabilization.

#6. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens

If you have a Canon SLR, try this. Before deciding, though, weigh the pros and cons.

Distinguishing features of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens include:

Focus

Ultrasonic motor brings objects closer in seconds. With an f/1.8, you can focus on things 2.8 feet away.

Efficiency

The  Canon EF 85mm f/1.8USM lens gets the right angle and keeps the subject in focus for viral images.

Relative concentration requires careful attention to the topic. Regardless, it’s a must-have for any Canon user.

Length of the Aperture

You may go as close as 85 millimeters to your subject with the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens.

With an f/1.8 maximum aperture, you can also take telephoto shots of your subject. Also, the Canon EF 85MM f/1.8 USM lens is fixed-focus.

Output Quality

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens helps blur backgrounds.

Any aperture setting creates precise, sharp photos. Because the front compartments are fixed during focusing, filter effects are unaffected.

Pros & Cons of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens

Pros
  • Lightweight & portable
  • Maximum aperture allows shallower DOF
  • Perfect background blur
Cons
  • The closest focusing distance is far (2.8 feet).

#7. Canon RF 50mm F/1.8 STM

The Canon RF 50MM f/1.8 STM lens is tiny and lightweight enough to carry daily. Unique features of the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM include:

Focal Length & Aperture

With an aperture of f1/8-f22, you can go much closer while utilizing the most significant gap. Reduce blur and noise with shutter speed.

Usability

The Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens is for Canon RF-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras. Amazon lists compatible models.

You can photograph incredible vistas and portraits even in low light with it.

Output Quality

It becomes better with use. Smooth and appealing blurring boosts your photography skills.

A 7-blade aperture can do this. Shallower portraits offer more creativity.

Pros & Cons of the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Pros
  • Precise shots in low lights
  • Durable construction
  • Portable
  • Perfect autofocus
Cons
  • Only available for Canon’s full-frame mirrorless RF mount.

FAQs

How do you photograph shallow depth of field?

To photograph a shallow depth of field, you need to allow more light in. To achieve this, shoot photographs using the low f-number.

Alternatively, the f-stop. Normally, this ranges between 1.4 to approximately 5.6. 

What is the best aperture for shallow depth of field?

A wide aperture is the best and it ranges between 1.4 to approximately 5.6. For best results, ensure that you use the lowest f-stop.

For example, for a softer DoF, consider using an aperture of about ¼. This also gives you the best shallow depth of field. 

What lens is best for deep depth of field? 

A wide focal length lens is excellent for DoF. For best results, therefore, use a shooting of about 35mm and 24 for deeper DoF.

However, when using a wide aperture, you can use 14mm, and keeping the whole scene sharp will be incredibly easy.  

Final Thoughts

The seven lenses above meet the list of the best lenses for shallow depth of field because they all meet the criteria.

The best lens includes good focal length, aperture, and construction.

When buying a shallow field lens, always check for minimum depth of field, aperture f/ratio, and focal length. 

Go on and have fun taking beautiful photos!