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How can I get dramatic shallow DOF with a kit lens?

I am trying to create the kind of photos seen photographyblogger with a kit lens on the Nikon d3000 and I currently can't seem to get anywhere near the depth of field. The lowest F-Stop number i can get to is 3.5 but this only softens the background. Is there a different approach or am I at the limit of what the camera lens can do?

  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a great discussion of this already at photo.stackexchange.com/questions/2/… \$\endgroup\$
    – D. Lambert
    Jan 25, 2013 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this question for you or someone else? I ask because most of your other questions on the site are around selling, business, fine-art, licensing, etc. but this question is about a kit lens. Also, I don't believe it is possible with a kit lens to achieve as narrow of a depth of field as in the examples. You could try the brenizer method or similar. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Jan 25, 2013 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


There are 4 factors that effect depth of field, 3 of them are under your control, here they are, with the biggest effect first:

  1. Subject distance - if you get closer to your subject the background will be more blurred, also if the background is far away from your subject it will be more blurred.

  2. Focal length - longer focal length will blur the background more.

  3. Aperture value - as you already know larger aperture will create more blur - but the other factors are "stronger" 55mm at f/5.6 will get you much more blur than 18mm at f/3.5

So, try to get the subject to be far away from the background, get as close as possible, zoom in as much as you can ans choose the largest aperture possible for your for you focal length


I don't have a Nikon kit lens, but I know that the Canon kit lenses are rated as F3.5-5.6, and what that doesn't say is that they are F3.5 for only a tiny fraction of their zoom range, they quickly change to F5.6 as you zoom out. Its very hard to get the short depth of field that you want when you are at F5.6. Its nearly impossible to get the short depth of field at portrait distances.

The good news is that both Nikon and Canon sell 50mm F1.8 lenses that are very inexpensive, as in about $100 retail.


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