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09-03-2009, 11:54 AM   #1
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Hyperfocal Distance....i still can't "get" it.

I've read numerous online articles/references/etc. about achieving hyperfocal distance, but i still haven't had that "aha" moment yet.

I understand the thinking behind it, but when i'm out in the field, i don't quite know what to do.

Can someone give me a step-by-step approach of exactly what they do to achieve a successful shot using Hyperfocal Distance?

(I've got lenses both with and without the calculator on it)

09-03-2009, 12:08 PM   #2
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Depends on how you want to use it. If you're shooting landscapes, in which case you'd definitely want focus @ infinity, then just set your aperture and make sure the infinity mark on the lens comes within the bracket you have for that aperture. E.g, let's say you're shooting @ F8, in order to get maximum amount of things inside your frame in focus AND get infinity, the Dof scale and distance scales should line up like so:



Distance scale on lens--------> 0.5m 1m 3m 7m 10m ∞
DoF scale-----------------> 22 11 8 5.6 4 2.8 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 22



In case that's not showing up the way it's supposed to, the Infinity mark should be just above the second (right) "8". This will insure that infinity is still in focus while accomadating as much as possible the distances closer to the camera (in this case 0.5m).



On the other hand, if you're doing street photography and you want to use hyperfocal for candid shots, you would put your best guess distance to your subjects (say 3m) smack in the middle and hope that your DoF will take care of any mistakes on your part. Obviously the smaller the aperture, the better chance you have.
09-03-2009, 12:11 PM   #3
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One of the best ways to visualize the hyperfocal distance while shooting is to use the optical depth of field preview. It will stop down the lens while you watch through the viewfinder allowing you to see the effect of the aperture you have selected.
09-03-2009, 12:13 PM   #4
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I'll try...
Say, you want to take picture of the mountains that are somewhat far from you - infinity distance, for the lens. But, you also want a tree that's somewhat close to you (say, 15 feet) to be sharp.
Say, you're using a 50mm lens at f/8.
When you focus your lens at infinity, the objects that are in focus (i.e. sharp) are the ones of distance equal to, or more, than hyperfocal distance. There's a mark at f/8 on the scale, and it points to 25ft. So, 25ft is the hyperfocal distance for a 50mm lens at f/8, and if you focus at infinity with that lens, you will get everything sharp from 25ft and on; everything that's closer to you than 25ft, will be not in focus. That also means the tree, at 15ft, will be out of focus.
So, to make both subjects in focus, you use hyperfocal distance as the focus opoint (i.e. you focus your lens at 25ft). Then everything from hyperfocal distance/2 (i.e. 25/2=12.5), that is 12.5 feet, up to infinity, will be in focus. Since the tree is at 15ft, it will also be in focus.

That's pretty much it. To summarize, if you have something far in the background that you want to photograph, but also have a subject relatively close to you that you want sharp as well, you use hyperfocal distance.

09-03-2009, 12:14 PM   #5
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RawheaD has a more visualized example But just to note, those distances differ with focal lengths - the longer the lens, the less DOF you get.
09-03-2009, 12:40 PM   #6
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Thanks...that helps!
09-03-2009, 12:58 PM   #7
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Really simple explanation:

Lenses arn't just in focus/sharp at the point you've focused on, but also a 'little bit' either side of that point. The smaller the lens you're using, the larger that 'little bit' is. The larger the aperture, the larger that little bit is. So, as a hypothetical example, if you are using a 22mm lens at f22, then the 'little bit' is very wide. If you are using a 220mm at f2.2, the little bit is small.

So in other words you have a tiny bit of room to manouver, a 'little bit'. So if you have 2 things that you want to be sharp, if you can get them on either end of that 'little bit' (ie one in the bit in front and the other in the bit behind), Bob's your uncle.
09-03-2009, 01:23 PM   #8
emr
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nass Quote
...The larger the aperture, the larger that little bit is.
Ehm. Isn't that actually on the contrary?

09-03-2009, 01:41 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by emr Quote
Ehm. Isn't that actually on the contrary?
He means a larger number f22 is a larger number but the lens is closed down. The larger the number, the smaller the aperture and the larger the depth of field. Most lenses have more dof behind than in front.
09-03-2009, 01:49 PM   #10
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Yeah, I figured that's probably what he meant but not what he wrote.
09-03-2009, 02:10 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nass Quote
The larger the aperture, the larger that little bit is.
Oops - I was trying to explain it in really simple terms. That should have said "the larger the aperture NUMBER". My bad.

Aperture - it's a bit counterintuitive but a simplified way to think of it would be "amount of obstruction to light reaching the sensor". So F22 is a large number, it means a lot of obstruction (ie smaller actual hole). F22 lets less light through than F5.6, which is a low number, not that much obstruction (ie a larger actual hole). There's a good illustration of what I'm clumsily trying to explain here. On that link, 1. might represent F5.6 and 2. might represent F22. You can see there are some thin metal 'leaves' inside a lens that open and close according to which aperture is used.

I guess I'll shut up now

Last edited by Nass; 09-03-2009 at 02:33 PM.
09-03-2009, 02:19 PM   #12
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Still not quite right.
The larger the aperture number, the smaller the lens opening.
09-03-2009, 02:29 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Still not quite right.
The larger the aperture number, the smaller the lens opening.
huh? That's what I wrote?
09-03-2009, 02:38 PM   #14
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I'm sorry - I just saw: "The larger the aperture number, the larger that little bit is".
I assumed that 'little bit' you're referring to is the size of the opening to the lens.
Perhaps that's not what you meant.
09-03-2009, 02:43 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
I'm sorry - I just saw: "The larger the aperture number, the larger that little bit is".
I assumed that 'little bit' you're referring to is the size of the opening to the lens.
Perhaps that's not what you meant.
Sigh, I really shouldn't try and help people if my explanations are that unclear/bad I meant the 'little bit' alluded to in this sentence "Lenses arn't just in focus/sharp at the point you've focused on, but also a 'little bit' either side of that point." ie what some of us think of as the depth of field

Argh

Bedtime I think.
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