Author Topic: Taking landscapes using the hyperfocal distance. For beginners.  (Read 6491 times)

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Offline AScot

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Taking a landscape comprising distant hills, a middle ground and a rock about ten feet from you, requires a very deep depth of field. Just blindly taking the photo without taking the DOF into account can result in the hills or the rock being out of focus. reducing the aperture is no guarantee of success either. What you need to do is to focus on a point in the photo called the Hyperfocal (HD) distance.

To find the HD distance you must calculate it. This calculation involves using the f/stop, and the lens focal length, together with a strange photographic term called the circle of confusion (CoC). Can you imagine standing in the middle of a field with a calculator trying to solve a complex equation, assuming you can remember the equation. Well fortunately we do not have to go to that extreme. You can go to this website here and use their calculator, or you can print out a table.

I like the calculator method but I'm not in love with the thought of standing in the field with a laptop together with my camera gear. So what to do? Printing out a table from this website may be the answer for some, but I have a habit of losing printed tables and other assorted pieces of paper.

If you own an iPhone or an Android phone (Heaven forbid) :D you can download an app which does it all for you. Most of us carry a phone around all the time, so why not use it. Download the app called DOFMaster for $1.99 and install it.

To use the app it may help to know that the CoC for all Minolta/Sony APS-C DSLR cameras is 0.02 and for full frame is 0.03. As you can see from the photo of my iPhone below you enter the Camera (or the CoC) in the top line (Sony A900). Next enter the focal length of the lens (28mm). Then enter the f/stop (f8). The list includes full, half, and one-third f/stops. The next line 'Focus' can be left blank or leave whats in there as it will be overwritten. On the same line choose feet, inches, meters or CM. Now touch the HD button and all the information will update to as shown.

Note that the Hyperfocal distance is shown and is inserted in the Focus field, that is where you focus the camera, (10.8 ft). You will also notice that the depth of field will be 5.4 ft to infinity. So our hypothetical photo with a rock at 10 feet from the camera will be acceptably sharp and the hills in the distance will be sharp. You may have to focus on the rock and recompose. This little app will also calculate for almost every camera on the market including Point and shoots and all Canikons.


« Last Edit: March 11, 2011, 08:42:30 PM by AScot »
Sony A7, A850, A77, A700 || Sony>> 70-300G, 28-75 f2.8 SAM, 16-80CZ, 50 f1.4, FE 28-70 OSS, FE 24-70CZ f4 OSS, LA-EA4 || Minolta>> 300 f4 G HS, 200 f2.8 G HS, 100 f2.8 (D) Macro, 50 f1.7, 28 f2.8, 28-135 f4-4.5, 70-210 f4, 500 f8 Reflex, TC x 1.4 HS, TC x 2 HS. || Sigma 21-35 f3.5-4.2. || Tamron SP 24-135.

Offline GoochyB

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Re: Taking landscapes using the hyperfocal distance. For beginners.
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2011, 09:41:58 AM »
For those with more sense than money ;-) the free Android apps can be found here: https://market.android.com/search?q=depth+of+field&c=apps
There are also free apps for ipod touch/iphone - try "field tools" and "idof calc"
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Offline Rob aka [minolta mad]

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Re: Taking landscapes using the hyperfocal distance. For beginners.
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2011, 08:12:06 PM »
I use the hyperfocal distance for 95% of my landscape images.
Once you have used the calculators a few times, the distances and appetures become second nature and i can instantly know what the required distances are for the main appetures i shoot with, namely f/8-f/11-f/13.


Rob

Offline AScot

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Re: Taking landscapes using the hyperfocal distance. For beginners.
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2011, 08:38:14 PM »
Rob, this post is for beginners, I would hardly call you a beginner. :D You are correct in this respect, as you use the calculator you will begin to find that the distances and apertures will become second nature and will no longer be required.

My post was meant to introduce beginners to a concept that they may not have heard of or be reluctant to try due to its highly technical nature, when in fact it is really quite simple. The calculator is simply a means to make the initial use of Hyperfocal distance easier for them.
Sony A7, A850, A77, A700 || Sony>> 70-300G, 28-75 f2.8 SAM, 16-80CZ, 50 f1.4, FE 28-70 OSS, FE 24-70CZ f4 OSS, LA-EA4 || Minolta>> 300 f4 G HS, 200 f2.8 G HS, 100 f2.8 (D) Macro, 50 f1.7, 28 f2.8, 28-135 f4-4.5, 70-210 f4, 500 f8 Reflex, TC x 1.4 HS, TC x 2 HS. || Sigma 21-35 f3.5-4.2. || Tamron SP 24-135.

Offline Clive

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Re: Taking landscapes using the hyperfocal distance. For beginners.
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2011, 07:08:23 PM »
Thanks AScot. I tend to use general concepts of DOF and should be more critical in my approach. Will make reference to this.

Thanks

Clive
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Offline chappo1

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Re: Taking landscapes using the hyperfocal distance. For beginners.
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2011, 09:20:40 PM »
Thanks for the post AScot.  I struggle with those commercial tables and have made one for myself in Excel by plugging variants into Dofmaster as you suggest.  Then I interpolate the distances in the table.  john
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Offline Numpty

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Re: Taking landscapes using the hyperfocal distance. For beginners.
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2011, 07:50:52 PM »
Is the hyperfocal distance the same for each focal length and Fno no matter the distance subject. As no matter how much I move the focal point at say 17mm f22 it is 2.15 feet.
If so all I need to jot down is a few length's for my favorite focal lengths and appertures.
Sony A300, Sony A550, Sony 18-70mm,18-55mm, 50mm SAM, 35mm SAM, 70-300 SSM G Tamron 90mm Macro, 17-50mm, Sony HVL-36FM 2xYonguno 460 Flash, Delta Macro FLash
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Offline Numpty

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Re: Taking landscapes using the hyperfocal distance. For beginners.
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2011, 09:33:59 PM »
Just realised that was a stupid question as hyperfocal is the maximum so it wont change in that respect.
How do you guys measure the point at which to focus as the focus scale will be a bit vague if the lens has one or do you just roughly guestimate it?
Sony A300, Sony A550, Sony 18-70mm,18-55mm, 50mm SAM, 35mm SAM, 70-300 SSM G Tamron 90mm Macro, 17-50mm, Sony HVL-36FM 2xYonguno 460 Flash, Delta Macro FLash
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Offline AScot

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Re: Taking landscapes using the hyperfocal distance. For beginners.
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2011, 06:49:07 AM »
Is the hyperfocal distance the same for each focal length and Fno no matter the distance subject. As no matter how much I move the focal point at say 17mm f22 it is 2.15 feet.
If so all I need to jot down is a few length's for my favorite focal lengths and appertures.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean Numpty. I assume you are using an A300 or A550. If you set the lens focal length to 17mm and the f/stop to f22, hit the HD button and you will indeed have a Hyperfocal distance (HD) of 2.15 feet. Leaving everything the same, except change the f/stop or aperture to f8 you will then get a HD of 5.98 feet. Change it again to f4 and you will get a HD of 11.9 feet. The HD will always change with a change of f/stop and/or a change of focal length. For instance if you now change the lens to 30mm and keep the f/stop at f4 the HD will jump to 37 feet.

It is accurate enough to gage the HD by eye and to the nearest foot. No need for tape measures. :D

A slight change of subject.
It is not a good idea to go down to f22 as that may/will introduce diffraction, making your landscape less sharp throughout it's range. The f/stop that diffraction occurs at depends on the lens used. As a general rule, diffraction sets in at or slightly smaller than f16. Going down to f22 or smaller may also cause points of light to take on a star like effect (which can be pleasing in some cases). Diffraction can be defined as the bending of light waves with a specific wave length, as they pass through an aperture that is similar in size to the size of the light waves, a bit like water passing through a hose. As you reduce the hose opening, the water changes from a cohesive jet to a disorganized spray.


Sony A7, A850, A77, A700 || Sony>> 70-300G, 28-75 f2.8 SAM, 16-80CZ, 50 f1.4, FE 28-70 OSS, FE 24-70CZ f4 OSS, LA-EA4 || Minolta>> 300 f4 G HS, 200 f2.8 G HS, 100 f2.8 (D) Macro, 50 f1.7, 28 f2.8, 28-135 f4-4.5, 70-210 f4, 500 f8 Reflex, TC x 1.4 HS, TC x 2 HS. || Sigma 21-35 f3.5-4.2. || Tamron SP 24-135.

Offline Numpty

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Re: Taking landscapes using the hyperfocal distance. For beginners.
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2011, 05:49:27 PM »
I first thought it may change depending on the distance of the closest subject.
I often stop down passed f22 to get a decent blurring effect of slowly moving water (wind on lake) I have never really noticed diffraction but thats probably because Im unsure what effect it has on the pics. I rarely print my landscapes because im no good at them really mostly just use them on my fishing forum.
Does anyone have any pics suffering from diffraction they could show me?
Sony A300, Sony A550, Sony 18-70mm,18-55mm, 50mm SAM, 35mm SAM, 70-300 SSM G Tamron 90mm Macro, 17-50mm, Sony HVL-36FM 2xYonguno 460 Flash, Delta Macro FLash
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