Beginner Shooting at the hyperfocal distance.

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Dave
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#1
Back in the day I played with MF film cameras, it was very important to set up a suitable focus distance to capture a scene from the subject to the most distant point required to be in focus. With these film cameras and also with most 35mm lenses, there was a handy scale on the lens which gave a range over which focus was good for any given aperture.
These things tend not to be present on consumer level kit these days. For small sensor cameras like my P&S, it was not a concern as nearly everything would be in focus anyway. Now that I would like to use my M43 kit for landscape work a little more, on the lens I like to use, there is no scale and on one lens, no MF control. Is there a rule of thumb that can be used when setting up a landscape shot to get the best focus range?
( In my 35mm days, I recall being told that if I focussed one third of the distance between my two limits beyond the nearer point, this would work. Maybe it's not even an issue with an f2.8 lens on 4/3).

Dave
 
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Chris
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#2
A third of the way in still works as a basic rule of thumb.

Obviously if you have some really close foreground element you may have to adapt to that.
 
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Alan
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#3
f2.8 on MFT is only the equivalent of f5.6 on FF and that could lead to quite shallow DoF even with a 24/28/35mm lens defending upon your point of focus and what's in the frame at what distance. These days partly because we can pixel peep very easily we can see that when using hyperfocal the thing we're looking at probably isn't the point of focus.

If you can resist pixel peeping and instead look at a picture the size the DoF/hyperfocal table specifies (or smaller) and do that at the distance the table specifies (or stay further away) then I suppose hyperfocal technique is a valid as it ever was although I normally stop down past what DoF tables would suggest would be the aperture to use but maybe a simpler way of doing this is to think about abandoning hyperfocal and using Merklinger method instead as no lens markings are required, just some mental arithmetic. Just in case anyone isn't familiar here's an explanation...

http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/TIAOOFe.pdf

I sometimes find zone focus more useful than hyperfocal.
 
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Dave
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#4
Have a play with this sort of calculator and you'll soon get the idea... https://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/dof-calculator.htm

I've never used the "third way in' 'rule' as the way I like to shoot its rarely good enough. That said, I'm not big on HUGE amounts of DoF throughout a scene, but when I do want sharp from my toes to the distant hills I'd rather focus stack than guess how much DoF I really have

Enjoy :)

Dave
 
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Lee
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#5
I very rarely use the hyperfocus method.

Most of the time I tend to focus on the main subject and pick an aperture depending on how much DOF I want in the image.

On the odd occasion I shoot wider and want a lot of DOF, I'll set the aperture smaller and check for adequate focus depth through the scene using magnification and the LCD.
 
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#6
I find that focusing to infinity (the furthest thing from the lens) and stopping down has less risk of misjudgement and leaving parts of the image (the background) soft. If you have foreground which is soft using this method due to being too close to the lens, you can always focus stack which is very easy in Photoshop.
 
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Richard
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#7
Strictly speaking the hyperfocal distance setting is for maximum depth of field, and as such it must always include infinity as the most distant point, eg landscapes. For closer subjects, where the furthest distance is much closer than infinity like maybe a group shot, focusing one-third-in to the DoF zone (33/66% fore and aft) works pretty well though it's important to note that at very close distances (eg macro) the DoF zone becomes close to 50/50% and for very distant subjects it's more like 1/99% Therefore, if you use the one-third-in technique for landscapes you will usually end up focusing too far away and miss out on potential foreground sharpness.

There are several reasons why modern lenses don't have good DoF scales so you need a DoF table or calculator. There are lots of those around if you google (eg www.DoFmaster.com ) and quite a few smartphone apps that are very handy in the field.

Easy way to set hyperfocal distance, bearing in mind that the actual HFD focusing point is always exactly double the distance of the nearest subject you want to be sharp. So, decide on the nearest thing you want sharp, double that distance visually and focus on something at that distance using the centre AF point. Estimate that distance in feet/metres and find it on the HFD table for the focal length of lens you're using and read off the lens aperture required. Done.

Also note the comments above about viewing distance of the final image. All DoF tables and calculators assume that the viewing distance will be approximately equal to the diagonal of the finished image, eg a 10in print viewed from about 12in. This holds good for any size image, including things like street posters when viewed from across the road, but it all goes wrong when you blow something up to 100% on screen without moving your chair. DoF calcs also go astray when you crop an image.

Edit: HFD technique only really works with wide-angles and shorter focal lengths. It's not much use with telephotos, unless you want to shoot at f/64 or something equally impractical.
 
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Phil
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#8
Is there not a focus scale in the viewfinder?

On the Fuji mirrorless I used to have, there was a focus scale with DoF info too, haven’t checked the Canon as I never use MF with it
 
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Richard
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#9
Is there not a focus scale in the viewfinder?

On the Fuji mirrorless I used to have, there was a focus scale with DoF info too, haven’t checked the Canon as I never use MF with it
I recall a focus and DoF scale in the viewfinder of the Fuji X100 but it was hopelessly inaccurate.

This is such an obvious and useful feature and so easy to implement on a modern camera that I'm amazed more don't have it. I can only assume that it's omitted because of accuracy issues as while both focus and focal length info appear to be transmitted to the camera correctly (and are reported in EXIF) they're actually only approximate because with so many lenses (varifocal internal focusing zooms) things move around so much.
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
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Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
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#10
I find that (even in landscapes) there's usually one point of more interest than most of the rest of the scene so I try to make sure that that object/area is as sharp as possible. I try to stay at f/8-f/11 if possible to avoid diffraction softness, although I'll go smaller if I don't think I'll be printing large enough for the softness to show (too much!)
 
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Steven
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#11
I use a ROT that starts with the HFD being equal to the FL as a percentage of itself i.e. 50% of 50mm = 25ft HFD, and 10% of 10mm = 1ft HFD.
That's at f/11 for a FF , f/16 for 1.5x APS-C, and f/22 for m4/3. And every time you open the aperture by 2 stops the HFD doubles... so 50mm @ f/11 on 4/3 = 50ft HFD, at f/5.6 it is 100ft, and f/8 is about in the middle of those.
These are just close approximations, and you're also probably going to have to approximate/estimate the focus distance across the ground... If you focus short you loose a lot of DOF at the far end and gain a little at the near end; and if you focus long you loose a little at the near end and gain nothing at the far end.

IMO, unless you need maximum DOF starting very near the camera it is generally best to just focus on whatever is most important w/in the scene. And if maximum DOF with real sharpness is required then you are better off focus stacking.
 
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droj
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#13
It might be a common wisdom in conventional perception that a landscape has to be taken with a wide angle lens and that absolutely as much as possible has to be sharp.

But in many cases if there's too much to look at, the poor innocent viewer can't be very sure what they're meant to be taking note of.

Also, reduced dof is a prime compositional tool that can accentuate the image maker's intention, and the oof blur of parts of the image can provide a certain alluring mystery. Not everything has to be sharp all the time.
 
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#14
Is there not a focus scale in the viewfinder?

On the Fuji mirrorless I used to have, there was a focus scale with DoF info too, haven’t checked the Canon as I never use MF with it
On the Canon EOS 30 film camera I have there's an auto depth of field mode. You auto focus on the point you want furthest away from you and select that, then focus on the nearest point that you want and select that, and the camera works out the aperture you need automatically so everything between the two points will be in focus. I've never felt the need to use that feature but, according to the camera review I read, it worked rather well. Not bad for 20 year old technology.
 
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Phil
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#15
On the Canon EOS 30 film camera I have there's an auto depth of field mode. You auto focus on the point you want furthest away from you and select that, then focus on the nearest point that you want and select that, and the camera works out the aperture you need automatically so everything between the two points will be in focus. I've never felt the need to use that feature but, according to the camera review I read, it worked rather well. Not bad for 20 year old technology.
(I had an EOS30 too) they dumbed it down on some later cameras and it never worked - also what happened to eye control focus.
 
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Mike
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#16
A third of the way in still works as a basic rule of thumb.

Obviously if you have some really close foreground element you may have to adapt to that.
This rule of thumb is terribly inaccurate. If you're tacking a scene with mountains 3 miles away in the background, 1/3 of the way in is 1 mile away. With most lenses this is typically the same as infinity.
At macro distances the DOF is pretty much split evenly in front & behind the point of focus. By the hyperfocal distance the DOF behind the point of focus goes out to infinity while the DOF in front of the point of focus only reaches half way to the point of focus. Mathematically the DOF is effectively all behind the point of focus (infinity divided by any distance is still infinity)

There are loads of apps that will calculate the front & rear extents of your DOF given focal length, aperture, focus distance & sensor size (or more accurately Circle of confusion needed for your output). However I generally find just eyeballing it using the enlarged view in the EVF is good enough.
 
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Dave
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#17
Thanks for your advice... I was trying to find an easy and quick way to gauge where my focus point should be to get the DOF that I wanted. This might not always include infinity (the pratical infinity in terms of the lens). I'll play with it, where it is important to me, I will use MF and as has been suggested, I'll check the image after the event, hoping that the differences are easily visible on the small screen.
 
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