27 Feb

Where to focus in landscape photography. Setting the hyperfocal distance without calculations.

One of the most important concepts in landscape photography is the hyperfocal distance. Sometimes photographer hasn’t neither calculator depth of field nor table of hyperfocal distances. It is a typical situation for beginners, and our students often asked us how to deal with it.

Landscape

Heretofore we advised the classic way “to divide the space in the frame into three parts, and focus on the first third,” but this method is very rough and we do not like it at all. This forced us to invent new method of finding hyperfocal distance. We haven’t met this method in books or Internet yet, that is why we decide to describe it for you now.

Few words for those who don’t know what it means – hyperfocal distance. We will not give here a formal definition of this term : we formulate the definition from practical point of view:

Hyperfocal distance –  distance, focused on which, you get a maximum depth of field (with given aperture and focal length).

Now let’s look at our method  (it is assumed that the camera is already on a tripod and shutter speed, aperture and sensitivity are set correctly, the focus mode “Manual”):

1. Turn on Live View

LiveView

2. Magnify the part of frame, where the most distant object is (as much as possible).

Magnification

3. Set up the lens at minimum focusing distance

Minimum-focusing-distance

(picture become unsharp).

Blurred

4. Push the button “preview depth of field”. This button closes aperture, imitating sharpness of future photo.

Depth-of-Field-Preview

5. Slowly focus lens

Focusing

until distant object becomes sharp. It is important to stop immediately and not to rotate focus ring further.

Hyperfocal-distance

And it is all! Now depth of field for selected aperture is maximum. If it is not enough, just close aperture a little and repeat this procedure.

We made video for you where we show all the steps (english subtitles available):

Important additional comments:

  • Our method can not completely replace the hyperfocal distance table, so it does not allow to estimate the distance, so the aperture is chosen either using your own experience, or at random.
  • The method works only when the camera has function of a depth of field preview.
  • Remember that maximum closed  aperture worsen the quality of picture. So don’t close aperture if it isn’t necessary.

Diffraction