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08-11-2012, 06:34 AM   #1
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Landscapes - what focussing method do you use

Hello I've been reading up so much about how to sort out my focussing so that I can take good crisp, sharp from back to front landscape shots that I think I'm getting myself into a fankle . I'm trying autofocus using spot focussing , autofocus using Auto and and auto focus using select , I've also been trying to figure out hyperfocal distance using tables and then manually focussing using the distance setting on my lens . However it 's really frustrating as it seems like a hit or a miss most of time . I would be really interested to know how others on the forum go about shooting landscapes

08-11-2012, 08:26 AM   #2
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I just use the viewfinder which is not totally ideal but I get reasonably good idea of what is in focus and what is not. After that I change the aperture or what I'm focussing on if necessary. And I use the focussing spot with autofocus in the middle and recompose.
08-11-2012, 08:42 AM   #3
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I shoot between f11 and f16 and so focusing isn't much of an issue. That being said, I usually switch on LV and zoom in on on the main focus point in the scene just to be sure. Though in many cases I use focus confirm(beep) given the amount of latitude due to aperture.
08-11-2012, 09:05 AM   #4
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This is one area where today's auto-aperture dSLR lenses make this harder. The Leica M9 is one of the bast landscape cameras around, and you can't even judge DOF in the viewfinder. Yet you can predict it very well, because you select the aperture manually and read the DOF from the scale on the lens. Then you adjust focus so the distance range in the scene falls within the indicated DOF.
Of course, Pentax manual film cameras/lenses have the same capability, so you could pick up a Pentax-M lens quite inexpensively and use it in manual mode selecting the aperture you need. Of course, this would work much better if Pentax came out with a full-frame dSLR so you wouldn't need a lens below 20mm, and the DOF would correlate to the field intended by that lens..

Last edited by TomB_tx; 08-13-2012 at 06:09 AM.
08-11-2012, 09:47 AM   #5
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This seems to work for me...
  • Manual focus, trust your eyes not the camera. Remember that infinity is not always when the lens is cranked as far as it will go
  • Manually set aperture and ISO (Aperture F8 or 11 and ISO to 80 or 100)
  • Let shutter speed be the variable for exposure
  • Use a tripod, remote and set the camera to "remote with the 3 second timer". Don't underestimate this step as vibration / motion blur may be making more of an impact on sharpness than lens focus.
  • Unsharp mask in Photoshop...zoom in and watch that the edges don't become unnatural. Photo needs to be reasonably sharp to start with as sharpening can only do so much.
08-11-2012, 10:56 AM   #6
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+1 to the excellent advice given by SteveM
To that I would add, the rule of thumb is to stop down and focus about one third of the way in to take advantage of DOF.
Stopping down too far will cause diffraction which reduces sharpness so f/8 or maybe f/11 is the place to be.
08-11-2012, 01:50 PM   #7
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You have to start by identifying what parts of the landscape need to be sharpest, right after deciding what to include (framing). Start thinking about exposure, especially an aperture setting for the right depth of field.

Because of the way ordinary (phase-detect) AF works, those parts might not be right for AF (too small, not close to an AF point, not enough contrast). I nearly always give up here and go to manual focus, but you might get it to work better by knowing how AF works with your camera. If you have a camera capable of live-view, that uses a separate type of AF, contrast-detect AF. It's slower, no big deal for landscape. You can zoom in to check details. It's useful with manual focus too. If your camera supports this feature, try it out and see if it works for you.

If you have time to practice, focus bracketing may help. Take one shot however you've done it before, then switch to manual focus or use Quick-shift if your lens has it. Turn the focus ring a little to one side and take another shot, then go a bit the opposite way and take a third shot. "A little" depends on the lens and subject distance; you want to take shots at slightly different points of focus. On the computer, you can look for differences in the point of focus.

One important tip is never to have someone you know pull out a small-sensor P&S and take the same shot in full Auto. With the physics of the sensor size, AF is much easier, they can use a very high f-stop, and fake a pretty decent photo with in-camera JPG processing.
08-12-2012, 04:23 PM   #8
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Thanks for your advice everyone, much appreciated. I think the thing for me to do is get out there and keep on practising

08-12-2012, 07:39 PM   #9

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You might get more helpful responses if you explain how your existing pictures are missing focus. Focus too close? Too far? Nothing sharp at all? Focus similar across the frame? What lenses and apertures are you using?

08-17-2012, 06:14 AM   #10
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Focus at hyperfocal distance.. This is easy if you have a lens with a dof scale, if not a general rule someone told me is to focus 1/3 into the scene and use f8 - f11. This stops diffraction caused by using max aperture.

Last edited by Verglace; 08-17-2012 at 07:39 AM.
08-17-2012, 07:19 AM   #11
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Mostly MF focus using lens istance scale(numbers in scales are mostly incorrect so it is needed to check lenses first). I have those hyperfocal charts and i memorize few points from there and then little creative guessing and mostly result is what i wanted. And i also use same distances (2,3,4,7 meters) and aperture values (like f8,f11) much.Sometimes i just AF where i want if i not care front being sharp or i know that even what i do front will be blurred.
08-17-2012, 08:13 AM   #12
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Where a great depth of field is important I focus just behind the closest object changing the focus point several times and take several frames

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