Nikon Z6 Depth Of Field Preview

By | 21/08/2022

If you apply a DSLR camera, you lot likely have a couple of buttons on the front end of the camera aslope the lens mountain that seem a little mysterious, and as such, they tin be hands ignored.

These buttons are typically programmable and are often called the custom functions or Fn buttons.  They are pretty handy because yous can utilize them as a shortcut to certain photographic camera settings or functions.  This way you can avoid having to paw through the menu organisation to get to a function that y’all apply often.

I role that I like to use when doing outdoor photography is the depth of field (DOF) preview,
and so I have one of these programmable buttons on my DSLR fix as the DOF preview push.  On many photographic camera models, this function is symbolized by an aperture icon and simply called “preview”.

Mysterious buttons on front end of photographic camera.

Depth of Field, Aperture, and Optical Viewfinders

Depth of field is the surface area or region between two points before and after your focus point that is considered acceptably sharp.

If you lot want to try to get equally much of the scene every bit possible acceptably sharp, as with many grand landscape images, then y’all would desire to use a
deep depth of field.

However, if you would like to separate or isolate your discipline from the background, as with intimate landscape scenes or wildlife portraits, then ane way to achieve that is to use a
shallow depth of field.

Aperture is one setting that affects the depth of field, and if y’all desire to learn more near how aperture controls DOF, then exist sure to read this OPS commodity,
What is Aperture in Photography: Key Concept Explained.

If you utilize a DSLR with an optical viewfinder,
so what y’all see through the viewfinder is oft not what you lot go
when you shoot in either of the priority modes or in manual mode.  This tin exist very frustrating to some budding photographers trying to move across motorcar or programmed mode.

What some photographers don’t realize is that
the camera doesn’t really utilize your chosen aperture until the shutter is released.  Until that moment of shutter release, the aperture is set to the widest or maximum aperture (everyman f-finish number)
of the lens you are using.

Then, let’s say for example, you are using a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens in manual or aperture priority mode.  You ready the aperture to f/sixteen or f/18 because you would like to reach a deep depth of field to include a nearby foreground element in focus with some mountains off in the distance.

What you run across through the optical viewfinder is actually the scene at f/2.8, and and then
it’s impossible to judge what the DOF would be
at f/18 and whether information technology gives you the DOF y’all want unless you have the shot kickoff and assess it on the LCD.

Example of the DOF Preview Button in Use
Here is an example of the DOF preview push button in use and what the scene looks like through the optical viewfinder. On the left is the normal view you would see of the tree and sugar shack through the viewfinder. Although the camera is set to f/18 for a deep DOF, the carbohydrate shack is exterior of the DOF and appears fuzzy. This is because the camera keeps the aperture at the maximum discontinuity (f/2.viii) until the shutter is released (lower left). On the right is what the viewfinder looks similar when the DOF preview push button is pressed. The lens is stopped downward to f/18 (as shown on the lower right), and the sugar shack and tree are now both within the DOF.

Why Do Cameras Do This?

The reason the cameras do this
is because the more than the aperture is stopped down, the smaller the opening, and thus, less lite is let into the camera.  This tin make the scene announced very night in the optical viewfinder, which can make it difficult to properly focus on your focus signal.  By keeping the aperture wide open, more light is allow in, and
so focusing is a lot easier.

So there are obvious advantages to this setup.  Yet,
1 disadvantage is
that when you look through the viewfinder,
the scene you lot come across has a very shallow depth of field
considering the lens stays at the maximum aperture regardless of your settings.

If yous want to test this on your camera, ready information technology to transmission manner and but play around with your exposure settings of discontinuity, shutter speed, and ISO (not auto ISO), yous’ll notice that
the brightness of the scene in the viewfinder does not modify as you modify exposure settings.

At present, let’s go back to our mountain example for a moment.  What if for that mountain scene, f/11 would have been sufficient to get a similar depth of field given your focal length and distance to your foreground element?  If f/eleven gives us the DOF we desire, and so we have the option to utilize faster shutter speeds and a lower ISO, which tin can sometimes consequence in sharper and cleaner images.

© Brenda Petrella Photography; 1/800 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100.

Wouldn’t it exist nice to be able to know that ahead of time instead of taking a ton of test shots at different apertures?

Similarly, let’s say yous were trying to make an image of a minor, intimate nature scene, like colorful fall leaves on the forest floor.  What discontinuity would give you the depth of field you desire to create the paradigm you have in heed – wide or narrow?  How shut should your camera be to the leaves?
The DOF preview button can help you lot make those decisions.

© Brenda Petrella Photography; ⅓ sec,  f/11, ISO 100.

What Does the Depth of Field Preview Push button Do?

Yous can program 1 of those mystery buttons on the front of the camera to work as the depth of field preview push button.  When y’all printing it, it will
stop down the aperture to the f/terminate you have chosen

for that scene.

Note, if you are already shooting wide open (using the lowest f-stop number on your lens), so the DOF preview button won’t have any event.

If there is plenty light when yous printing the push, you will be able to preview the area in focus through the viewfinder and brand any settings adjustments before taking the shot.

If at that place isn’t sufficient low-cal to preview the DOF through the viewfinder, and then you will have to either use live view or just take test shots and review them on the LCD.

On many DSLR cameras, live view behaves differently than the optical viewfinder because what yous meet *is* what you lot get.

The reason for this is because the reflex mirror flips upwardly and y’all come across whatever the CMOS sensor is measuring from the lens.  So in live view, your selected aperture (and shutter speed and ISO) is displayed in real time, and yous are able to see the furnishings of aperture on depth of field.

Ane advantage of mirrorless photographic camera systems
is that the electronic viewfinder (EVF) and live view on the LCD are i and the same, and you lot can view the depth of field and changes to exposure in both cases.

Cameras With DOF Preview Button

Wondering whether your camera has the depth of field preview function?  Here’s a list of widely used DSLRs that have the adequacy.

If your photographic camera is not on the list, bank check with the manufacturer or the user manual before you give upwardly on the idea of using it.

  Catechism 1D X Mark Two, 1D Ten Mark III
5D Mark IV
6D Mark II
7D Marker II
5DS, 5DS R
70D, 77D, 80D, 90D
Rebel SL2, SL3
Rebel T6i, T6s, T7
  Leica S3
  Nikon D4S, D5 CF, D5 XQD, D6
D750, D780
D810, D810A, D850
D7100, D7200, D7500
  Pentax 645Z
K-1, Chiliad-one Mark II
Chiliad-3 Ii
  Sigma SD1 Merrill
Information source:

How to Plan the Fn Button to DOF Preview

Each camera manufacturer has their own method for programming the customizable buttons on the front end of the camera bodies, so the best arroyo is to wait it up in your photographic camera’s manual.

That said, if you want to play effectually with the menus and see if you lot tin can find it, the custom functions settings are
usually constitute in the menus under the Custom Settings
Bill of fare
→ Controls (or Custom Functions).

If you lot scroll through those, you lot should see an option similar to “Assign preview button” or  “Assign Fn button”, or something along those lines.

If you select this, you lot should exist given a handful of options of what function you tin can assign to these programmable buttons, including DOF preview – sometimes merely chosen “Preview” and symbolized by an aperture icon.

My Trick for Focusing in Low Light Using the DOF Preview Push

What I’thousand about to describe is a
trivial trick that I utilize to boom focus in low low-cal situations

that takes advantage of live view and the DOF preview button.

for viewing depth of field, equally y’all’ll meet in a moment.  I’m not suggesting that y’all apply the DOF preview push in live view to assess the DOF (considering it won’t work that way), but rather to utilize this equally a tool for focusing.

I’ve used this approach with mid-level and pro-level Nikon cameras, and then delight annotation that this play a joke on
may or may not apply to your DSLR camera.  It’s still worth a shot (pun intended…) to see if it might work for you.

In live view, one might expect that the DOF preview button wouldn’t be needed because the camera is already applying your called aperture setting in real time.

Yet, on some cameras, the DOF preview button still “works”, but instead of stopping down to your called aperture (since you’re already there), it opens the aperture up to the maximum aperture and lets in more light.

This is handy for focusing in low light situations where information technology may be hard to focus using live view, and autofocus may struggle and hunt around.

Sometimes, when y’all use longer shutter speeds or college ISOs to business relationship for the low calorie-free, the view on the LCD screen can get noisy.  By opening upwardly the aperture all the way, the DOF preview button lets in more light, and the view on the LCD screen is cleaner, and so information technology is easier to prepare focus.

Hither is how I utilise the DOF preview button for focusing in live view:

  1. Switch to alive view
  2. Put your camera’s focus point on your chosen focal bespeak (which could be at the hyperfocal altitude)
  3. Zoom in 1:1
  4. Press the DOF preview push button – the aperture opens up to the widest setting (on certain cameras)
  5. Set focus using manual focus (autofocus turns off the DOF preview)
  6. Press the DOF preview push button again to return to your chosen aperture
  7. Zoom dorsum out
  8. Take the shot

Now, not all DSLRs with live view and the DOF preview office volition work this way.

For example, my entry level Canon Rebel SL2 has both alive view and DOF preview functions.  When in live view, the exposure settings are practical every bit expected and viewable in real time.

Even so, when you press the DOF preview button, the aperture opens up to the maximum discontinuity (as described above), but it doesn’t change how the exposure appears in existent time on the LCD (it doesn’t become any brighter or cleaner).  So, in that location must be a mode that the camera is compensating for the modify in exposure settings, but I’g not sure how (possibly through the ISO).

Besides, some entry level DSLRs exercise non accept a programmable Fn button in the forepart of the camera, simply some do still have the DOF preview part equally a carte du jour setting, so exist sure to check your transmission to find out.

I hope knowing about this handy function opens upward some new artistic opportunities for you on your next photography outing!