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Thread: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

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    Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    I have been reading in a camera magazine about depth of field and the benefits of using this technique to improve focussing in the foreground to infinity but I am not sure what setting to use for the focus in my landscape shots. For example, I always use a tripod when shooting landscapes but do I tilt the camera to the required hyperfocal distance and lock my focus before re-composing my shot and also what is the best focus to use. For stationary subjects I have set my Nikon camera to AF-S Single-servo AF for landscapes and set the AF-Area Mode to Single point and moved the focus point to approximately a third of the way into the scene and used this setting to take my shot. Is this the correct way to use the hyperfocal technique or should I simply compose my shot and use the Auto-area setting for landscapes.
    Any help on this subject would be gratefully appreciated!!
    Regards
    Gary novice Nikon D3000 user

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Gary

    I don't understand all the language of Nikon, but I believe what you described as your workflow in setting up the shot is the same as my approach with my Canon.

    Where we might differ is in relation to the detail of thinking about hyperfocal distance. You write that you point your camera at the Hyperfocal distance and lock the focusing. But, later, you write that you focus approximately a third of the way into the scene.

    Now, these two points might be at the same place and fro a lot of general shots, using the 'a third into the scene' gets you into the ballpark and is good enough. If you really want to get into using Hyperfocal distance (which a lot of people poo-poo as nonsensical rubbish, but of which I am a devoted adherent), then there's a very good tutorial on here. The other article on the subject to which I'd always refer people, is this. Very sensible and straightforward.

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    It is easy; put on manual and set to infinity; that is by far the best solution except for greater than 35mm which don't figure since it is landscape right.

    DOF is something different used on close ups I think.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    that is by far the best solution except for greater than 35mm which don't figure since it is landscape right.
    Steve

    Can't agree with you on that one. There's no rule to say that landscapes have to be shot with lenses under 35mm focal length. I find the 70-200 ideal for landscapes.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Gary

    As an afterthought, and without wishing to suggest that my own images are the ideal example, this one is an example where measurement of hyperfocal distance was precise.

    I have a little table made up for the Tokina 11-16 of all the Focal Length/Aperture combinations and the hyperfocal distance of each. So, having decided, in this case that I was going to shoot at 12mm and at f16, a quick check of my table (which I keep in my bag) told me the hyperfocal distance was 17.7 inches. So I focused on a point 17 inches from the lens.

  6. #6

    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Hi Donald,
    Thank you for the link to Hyperfocal Distancing Technique I read it with great interest. Sorry about the confusion in my message about the focussing. What I meant to say was which is the best way to focus on the hyperfocal distance do I use the multi selector focussing points or do I use manual focus also would I need to use the focus lock button? This may seem a stupid question to ask but I have to learn somewhere.
    Regards
    Gary

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Hi Gary,

    Using a tripod the only was to focus on the hyperfocal point is to move the multi-selector. I generally shoot hand held in which case I find it easier to leave the multi-selector in the centre and point to where I want to focus, hold the focus lock, re-compose and shoot. I think your shooting set is fine and I do use hyperfocal focusing a lot.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    As I understand it, the 'default' position for cameras is that you press the shutter half way down to focus, lock the focus, re-compose and then shoot. But you only get so long, do you not, when the lock remains in place (I might be wrong on that). Anyway, I have my Canon 40D set up so that focusing is operated from one of the buttons on the back of the camera. In that way, I don't have to worry about focus locking etc, because it doesn't matter what I do when I press the shutter. I found focusing using the shutter a bit of a nuisance.

    Manual Focus or Auto Focus?

    Horse for courses. I use both. It all depends on the circumstances. When, for instance, I'm using Canon's Liveview and, particularly the Tokina Ultra-wide angle, I tend to go for Manual focusing. I suppose that's just a personal preference thing, but I find it easier.

    I think if you can train yourself to use the multi-focusing points so that you can move the focusing points easily from one point to another as required, then I'd go for it. It's a good skill to have.

  9. #9

    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Hi Peter,
    Thank you for your reply it is much appreciated
    Regards
    Gary

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    I haven't come across a problem with timeout but maybe I shot too quickly. The button on the back of Nikons can be used to lock focus, exposure or both. Personally I find it more important to be able to lock exposure and use the shutter release to lock focus.

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    I should add I just took a 10 shot panorama, hand held, in which case I took a focus reading with autofocus one third in to the image I wanted to use for my base exposure then changed to manual focus to lock in the setting for all the other shots. As Donald says, horse for courses.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Personally I find it more important to be able to lock exposure and use the shutter release to lock focus.
    Yes, that's a good point that Peter makes and that I forgot to take account of because I shoot in Manual (again, just a personal preference thing). So, exposure locking doesn't come in to play for me, as I'm setting both shutter speed and aperture independently.

  13. #13

    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Thank you for your help on this topic I will bear all this in mind next time I get the chance to take somemore pictures. One of my pictures in my album named Lytham St Annes was used with the multi selector feature but I roughly set it to a third of the way into the scene which didn't seem too bad for a first attempt, but next time I get out in the field I will have to take my hyperfocal distance table with me to be more precise with my focussing.
    Much appreciated
    Regards
    Gary

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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Guessing the hyperfocus by guessing where a point a third into the scene is is kind of pointless, you may as well just focus where you need to. The hyperfocus technique needs a lens with the scale on it as focal length and aperture have a dramatic effect on the results.....you could buy one of these (I have one) but you will still need to be able to set the distance on your lens and that again needs a lens with the scale on it.

    Here's the chart without having to buy the t-shirt.

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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    I used to use hyperfocal distance focusing quite a bit when taking photos using manual focus predigital gear, and was initially baflled how this was achieved on a digital camera with autofocus. With a manual focus lens it was easy as the lens barrel had it all marked out for you. The hyperfocal distance was the closest distance in your scene that was in focus when everything from that point to infinity was also in focus. In other words the hyperfocal distance gave the maximum depth of field at a given aperture. Now I note my Canon DSLR has a A-dep setting which I think achieves the same effect, but it needs electronics and computing rather than a simple manual setting of a screw ring. So I am not sure about what people are talking about 'focusing at the hyperfocal distance' as this will depend on the lens and aperture and changes for each aperture with the HD being greater the smaller the aperture and the shorter the lens. Someone correct me if my predigital meanderings dont translate into digital logic.

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    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Quote Originally Posted by Malcgeorge View Post
    I used to use hyperfocal distance focusing quite a bit when taking photos using manual focus predigital gear, and was initially baflled how this was achieved on a digital camera with autofocus. With a manual focus lens it was easy as the lens barrel had it all marked out for you. The hyperfocal distance was the closest distance in your scene that was in focus when everything from that point to infinity was also in focus. In other words the hyperfocal distance gave the maximum depth of field at a given aperture. Now I note my Canon DSLR has a A-dep setting which I think achieves the same effect, but it needs electronics and computing rather than a simple manual setting of a screw ring. So I am not sure about what people are talking about 'focusing at the hyperfocal distance' as this will depend on the lens and aperture and changes for each aperture with the HD being greater the smaller the aperture and the shorter the lens. Someone correct me if my predigital meanderings dont translate into digital logic.
    You're entirely correct, without the scale on the lens it is nigh on impossible. You need the markers for each aperture so you can align the ∞ mark.

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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    Try www.dofmaster.com. They have a neat little calculator for calculating DOF & hyperfocal distance for any FL of lens and aperture. It doesnt take into consideration the crop factor of the camera sensor but gives you a good indication to what things are.

    Delboy.

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    Re: Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    First of all, I totally agree with Donald regarding the compatability of longer lenses for landscape photography. The 70-200mm f/4L IS can make a really great landscape lens, even on a 1.6x format camera, because it can compress distances and because you can select interesting portions of any scene such as this shot of Yosemite's Bridal Veil Falls...

    Hyperfocal Distance and Focus Technique Help Required

    I have not had any problems with focusing when shooting landscapes with long focal length lenses primarily because I usually am shooting portions of the scene which are fairly far distant and I will almost always be shooting at a smaller f/stop, usually around f/8 to f/11 with the camera tripod mounted.

    On the other hand, I am very careful regarding focus when I am using a wide or UWA lens. That is because I don't use the wider focal lengths unless I am including a significant close up object (like an interesting rock formation) in my frame. Just using a UWA lens to get a broad left to right coverage, without including some close up subject, results in a very boring image most times.

    When I am shooting for the UWA imagery with a significant object near the camera, I will most often use my depth of field preview button to ensure what is in focus and what is not. You will view the image at the f/stop at which you will shoot; showing the image like it will be captured. The DOF preview button is, I suspect, a feature that is seldom used by today's digital photographers. I know that Canon provides this capability but, I only assume that other cameras also have DOF preview buttons.

    In the days of manual focus lenses, it was very easy to focus on the hyperfocal distance and therefore get the maximum DOF. Each lens had a double set of f/numbers, one set on each side of the point of focus. Simply select the f/number you are using and place that number (in the group to the right of the point of focus as you are looking from the rear of the camera) on the infinity mark of your focus scale. You will then be focused at the hyperfocal diatance and be in acceptable focus from infinity to the distance over the f/number in the left grouping.

    That is the way we old-time photographers often pre-focused our bulky cameras for the quickest shooting.

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