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03-10-2010, 12:28 PM   #1
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Zone Focus and Hyperfocal Scale

Hello everyone! I was wondering if anyone can help me figure out the best ways to do the zone focus and the hyperfocal scale on my Pentax K-m.

I bought this camera just before Christmas because I'm going to school online at the Art Institute to get my Bachelors in Photography. I'm currently taking a Digital Photography class and my assignment for this weekend is to complete 7 photos of each depth-of-field items listed above, and I'm lost. I've read my book, which seems to give a great explanation, but I'm just confused. I also checked some websites online but they all show photos of types of lenses that I do not have. I have the Pentax 18-55mm lens on there right now. If anyone can give me the "layman's terms" of these two exercises, I would definitely appreciate it!

Thanks in advance!

03-10-2010, 12:31 PM   #2
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You need a lens that has an aperture ring and a depth of field scale. The 18-55 does not.
03-10-2010, 01:01 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by lavascript Quote
You need a lens that has an aperture ring and a depth of field scale. The 18-55 does not.
Modern twist-zoom don't have DOF scales because they CAN'T, the design doesn't allow for that. Many older push-pull zooms do have such scales, but they're not always very useful. The only modern prime I have, a FA50/1.5, does have a scale, but IMHO it's only marginally usable. Virtually all (AFAIK) older manual primes do have scales, and they can be very useful, especially for lenses between 20-100mm, or longer if the lens has a fat body. [One thin 135/2.8 only shows DOF for f/11-22 while a fatter 200/3.5 shows readable DOF for its whole range, f/3.5-22.]

The solution? Buy old manual primes! Takumar, of course. Or Mamiya-Sekor, Vivitar, Meyer, Sears, Zeiss, etc.
03-10-2010, 02:12 PM   #4
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Ok, thanks for the information! I'm basically screwed as far as the hyperfocal scale goes I suppose. No wonder I was so confused, I can't do it! lol I may check some local pawn shops to see if I can find a lens that would work that has the aperture ring and dof scale. I'd look online but I'm sure it wouldn't get here in time for me to complete my assignment.

03-10-2010, 02:19 PM   #5
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for my 10-24 wideangle lens, i just used dofmaster.com to calculate the DOF for 10mm for different apertures and memorized them. Far from a hyperfocal scale, but better than nothing
03-10-2010, 06:54 PM   #6
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Build the DOF scales

QuoteOriginally posted by LinXitoW Quote
for my 10-24 wideangle lens, i just used dofmaster.com to calculate the DOF for 10mm for different apertures and memorized them. Far from a hyperfocal scale, but better than nothing
Better yet, go to Hyperfocal Distance and Depth of Field Calculator - DOFMaster and use the application to build your own DOF scales per the program. Next - de-couple AF from the shutter button, so when you get ready to shoot, the d*mn camera does not decide on something to focus. Set the f/stop you want to use - after setting the distance scale to the focus point and focal length on your lens. When the subject is within the desired DOF - shoot. Easy Smeesy.

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
03-11-2010, 03:03 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by whimperingcat Quote
Ok, thanks for the information! I'm basically screwed as far as the hyperfocal scale goes I suppose. No wonder I was so confused, I can't do it! lol I may check some local pawn shops to see if I can find a lens that would work that has the aperture ring and dof scale. I'd look online but I'm sure it wouldn't get here in time for me to complete my assignment.
You don't need an aperture ring on the lens, just the distance scale with the DOF markings. You can adjust the aperture with the camera, so the aperture ring is redundant.
03-11-2010, 03:05 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by PDL Quote
Better yet, go to Hyperfocal Distance and Depth of Field Calculator - DOFMaster and use the application to build your own DOF scales per the program. Next - de-couple AF from the shutter button, so when you get ready to shoot, the d*mn camera does not decide on something to focus. Set the f/stop you want to use - after setting the distance scale to the focus point and focal length on your lens. When the subject is within the desired DOF - shoot. Easy Smeesy.

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
If he's got the DA-L lens, which is likely with the K-X, it doesn't have a distance scale, so it is next to impossible to set for hyperfocal.

03-16-2010, 04:24 PM   #9
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Hyperfocal alternatives for unmarked lenses

WhimperingCat:

Let me offer a couple alternatives. A trick that landscape photographers often use is to set aperture to a reasonably high number for good depth-of-field (I rarely go above f/11 to avoid lens diffraction, but you can push some APS-C lenses as high as f/22 for even greater depth-of-field albeit a slightly fuzzier look for distant objects). Focus your lens approximately 1/3 into the frame - whatever area you want to have in sharp focus. Once focus is set, switch to manual focus mode to prevent the lens from refocusing. Compose and shoot. This method usually works (and no lens markings are needed), but I prefer using a second method offered by George Lepp, a widely know landscape photographer:

Select the closest foreground object you want in focus and then set the lens focus to twice that distance. For example, let's say there's a good-looking foreground rock you want in focus that's 3 feet away. Set aperture to f/11 or higher and focus on any object that's 6 feet away. Switch to manual mode so the lens doesn't refocus. Compose and shoot. For lenses without distance markings, you'll need to guess/approximate the 6 feet. Maybe aim at some tree or have a friend stand 6 feet away. Set your focus.

The reasoning behind this method is that the hyperfocal focus point provides 1/2 the distance in front of it as being in focus. So, if your lens is adequately stopped down and focused at 6 feet, everything from 3 feet to infinity will (theoretically) be in focus.

You may not have lens markings that let you use one of the dozens of depth-of-field calculators and charts available on the internet (I spent literally DAYS going through them all to find one that worked for me and my circle of confusion) but I found George Lepp's method worked just as well for my K-7 + Sigma 17-70. Using simple numbers like 2,3, and 4 feet for close objects matched up well with the calculators/charts. And I have several Columbia River Gorge waterfall pictures to prove it, LOL.

While you won't be able to provide your teacher the exact assignment they asked for, do some name-dropping (George Lepp) and how much you now know about landscape techniques. Maybe you can still impress them. (Or baffle them ).

Regards,
Uncle Lew
03-18-2010, 07:15 AM   #10
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You don't need a distance ring on your lens if you can even reasonably guestimate distance. It's a skill that doesn't take too long to learn. Either use manual focus, or prefocus on your estimated hyperfocal distance point with auto-focus and flip the camera/lens switch to manual to lock the distance. If you're using hyperfocal distance for focal point, you aren't taking snapshots so the extra second or two this takes isn't important.

You can use a website like DOFMaster to print out a hyperfocal distance chart for a couple of focal lengths and laminate it. I carried one of those for years. I now have an iPhone program that calculates the hyperfocal point. Works with an iPod Touch, too. An iPhone is an incredibly helpful tool for photography. Besides focus with the hyperfocal distance calculator app, I have an ephemeris for sunset/sunrise, a light meter program, and can sync its GPS coordinate readings to photos. I also have a couple of bird guides loaded into it.

For rough and ready hyperfocal work, you can get a good approximation by picking a point about a third of the distance to your farthest point and use that with at least f8 or smaller aperture.

michael mckee
My Port Townsend – A City in Photographs – 365

Last edited by mysticcowboy; 03-18-2010 at 07:22 AM.
03-18-2010, 07:43 AM   #11
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In addition to all of the above, I have added a twist. For the lens that I am using (12-24 for example), I go to

Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 AL ED [IF] - Review / Test Report - Analysis

Note - there are other websites too if photozone does not list the lens you are using. Just google your lens description and the words resolution test. Or when in doubt default to f8.

There I take a look at the MTF resolution section, looking for the best aperature for the resolution. For this lens I use f5.6 to f8, depending if I want to emphasis the center or the entire frame (f8 gives up a bit of resolution in the center, in order to add resolution on the edges). That gives me the f stop. Then going to the DOF tools, using the desired f stop, I pull the hyperfocal distance, then apply all the above listed processes. It works very well.

I also take some test shots, then use the back panel to zoom in on some areas of the image to see if I was able to capture the desired sharpness.

Good Luck on your assignment!
03-18-2010, 10:50 PM   #12
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Hey, I do that too!

Interested Observer,

LOL, I also check my lenses on photozone for their best MTF areas and set my f-stops accordingly. It really works well!

And not to 'dis' any DOF calculators and charts recommended in the other excellent responses in this thread, there are times when I, too, resort to using a DOF table/calculator, especially when using a telephoto lens like my DA* 60-250.

BTW, my current fav DOF calculator (I don't own an iPhone although I love them) is an Excel spreadsheet downloaded from Vivid Light Photography Magazine (What is Hyperfocal Distance and Why Should I Care?) which allows me to easily change my Circle of Confusion constant to .02 and lists the hyperfocal point in feet as well as meters. I just carry a printed copy around with my favorite distances (17mm, 24mm, 70mm, 100mm, etc.) and f-stops between 5.6 and 11 pre-calculated.

-Lew
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