What is the Plane of Focus in a Digital Camera?

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Updated July 27, 2022

If you have been messing around with a digicam lately, you may be wondering what is the plane of focus in a digital camera. It is a common term used with the best digital cameras, after all. Well, wonder no more. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the focal plane.


  • The plane of focus refers to the sharpest part of the image, typically the subject and the surrounding area.
  • Any portion of the image that is not near the subject will be out of focus or blurry.
  • You can adjust the focus manually or by entering a digital camera’s autofocus mode.

What is the Plane of Focus?

The plane of focus, which is different from the live view mode, is the section of a digital image that is the sharpest. Typically, this is the subject of the photo, though there are many creative approaches to the focal plane. Any other object that is near the plane of focus is said to be in focus. Objects far away from the plane of focus tend to be blurry or simply out of focus. The focus apparatus differs from other digital camera functions. In other words, if you are wondering what is the function of a Bayer filter in a digital camera, it will have no bearing on focus.

Insider Tip

Generally speaking, the easiest way to control the depth of field is by adjusting the aperture setting.

Tips on How to Focus Properly

Each camera and lens will differ regarding the process of getting a good focal plane. Although, if your digital camera freezes up after taking a photo, you won’t be able to use focus at all. In that spirit, we have arranged some universal tips and guidelines.

Enable Autofocus

If you don’t want to mess around with the nuts and bolts of focusing, you can always enable autofocus in your camera’s settings menu. Autofocus handles all of the heavy focal lifting, automatically adjusting not just the plane of focus, but exposure settings such as shutter speed, ISO speed, and aperture size. As such, autofocus is a great tool for the new and aspiring shutterbug. Autofocus is used in nearly all digital cameras and some of the leading video cameras. If you are wondering what is the smallest digital camera and if it has autofocus, chances are that it does.

Manual Focus Tips

If you want to use the plane of focus for creative effect, you will have to use manual focus. With manual focus, you will have to adjust the focus manually and make any other necessary adjustments via the camera’s settings menu. These other adjustments include setting for a shallow depth to create various depth of field effects, setting the depth of field, and more. Most mirrorless cameras and modern cameras have robust settings menus and a good image sensor for sharp images.


Get to know the maximum focal length of your lenses before taking any shots, or you could end up with blurry photos.


When does the closest focusing distance matter?

When you are talking focal lengths and the closest focusing distance, you are really discussing macro photography. This type of photography involves a sharp focus and a shallow depth on ultra-close-up subjects.

How does the depth of field help to improve my shots?

Depth of field will create a window of focus around your subject, thus increasing the overall sharpness of your shots.

Why does the focal plane matter?

The focal plane matters because it refers to how sharp the subject of your image is. Anything out of range of the focal plane will be out of focus.

STAT: Most modern DSLRs use a smaller sensor that is APS-C sized, which is approximately 22×15 mm, slightly smaller than the size of an APS-C film frame, or about 40% of the area of a full-frame sensor. (source)

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