Point & Shoot Limitations

The following is an item that I buried at the bottom of my most recent “Path less Traveled” piece. I decided also to publish it separately since it addresses an issue that is important for those trying to follow this course. Specifically, it explains that users of Point and Shoot cameras are severely limited when it comes to creating a shallow depth of field. This limitation makes it almost impossible for a P&S camera to use selective focus even for important uses such as blurring a background in order to eliminate distractions – much less more extreme creative uses of selective focus.

Here is the piece in its entirety.


A note to Point & Shoot users (and users of cameras with small sensors in general). A big limitation of your camera is that the smaller the sensor, the more difficult it is to create a shallow depth of field and achieve selective focus. NOTE – I’m talking about the area of your sensor and NOT how many pixels it contains! There’s little that you can do about this short of using a camera with a larger sensor. If selective focus is a priority, you see where you need to go. Without using a D-SLR, many of the images in this post and the previous tip-toe through the tulip post are not possible.

Sensor size comparison – Point & Shoots are in the bottom row and typical D-SLR’s are in the 2nd row. A huge size difference. (The good news is that it’s easier for you to keep things in focus from near to far than it is for the “big boys”.) The potential for limiting depth of field is proportional to sensor size – larger sensors allow shallower depth of field. Just a glance at these relative sizes tells the story.

(Chart source – Wikipedia)