Distance Scale
I was reading understanding exposure and the author wrote about the distance scale and hyper focusing. With today's dslrs, I noticed most kit lenses don't have a distance scale on them. Is a distance scale needed to do hyperfocusing?..

Comments (6)

I presume that you are referring to the depth of field scales that are sometimes available on prime lenses, and the hyperfocal distance..

The reason depth of field scales are not available on zoom lenses is that the depth of field varies with the focal lens, so a DoF scale on a zoom would be very complicated..

You can calculate the hyperfocal distance using a DoF calculator, e.g.: R..

Comment #1

RE>Is a distance scale needed to do hyperfocusing?<.

Yes and no, and it depends..

You can usually set your lens on manual focusing, and then turn it so it focuses at infinity..

Then, without moving your fingers, focus it at the closest important thing, changing the lens position by twisting your wrist..

Without removing your fingers, turn the lens back so it is half way back towards the infiinity position, and you will have, sort of, created your own hyperfocal setting..

At the same time, of course, you're not being very precise..

As for the "real" hyperfocal settings, you reallly do need a distance scale and a depth of fieldscale..


Comment #2

Is there a way to hyperfocus wiithout a distance scale? My kit lens doesnt have any scale on it..

What about lenses like, it doesnt have a dof scale but rather a distance one. if I had this one, how would I hyperfocus?..

Comment #3

You can take off your lens cap and place it 3-5 feet in front of you and focus on the lens cap. Once you are done, take it away and you should be all set..


Comment #4


Well, my little Panasonic P&S has a sort of distance scale on it - as a little picture on the screen and my Leica Digilux 2 has a distance scale on the lens barrel. You can even focus the Leica Digilux and set the zoom up before switching the thing on. And, just for the record, a lot of zoom lenses had distance scales and DoF lines for the various focal lengths. Most were easy to understand and very straight forward. setting the hyperfocal distance was very easy and fast then..

Today, however, things are a bit more complex as we use a lot of different formats (due to all the different sizes of CCD) and we seldom know what focal length the thing is zoomed to/at as they don't give us a clue - with a few exceptions. As it's shown in the EXIF data I assume they are being bloody minded, or else don't want to complicate things for us morons..

Luckily, you can find a bit of software using Google that will tell you the DoF for your camera at various focal lengths and it also tells you the hyperfocal distances. So you can draw up a little table and carry it around. As there's no way of knowing the focal length, except for the wide and narrow ends this seems a bit useless but as it's mainly used for landscape it doesn't matter..

So Google it and find the software, then work out the hyperfocal distance for each aperture (full, half or third stops) but only for the zoom at wide angle. This is usually the position of the zoom when you switch on and is what most people use for landscapes. Write down the distance to be focused on for each aperture and then use the camera to focus on something that far away..

Example, with my old dSLR camera the wide end of the zoom and f/4 meant that if I focused on 4 m everything from very near to infinity was in focus. Easy to remember once know and I seldom use the tele end for landscapes, luckily, and so have never bothered. I locked the focus on 4m using the half press technique on the shutter - most cameras will do this. For P&S users the widest setting of the zoom is about f = 5 or 6 mm. DoF is so extreme at that focal length that it probably doesn't matter much but the technique is there..

This is one of those areas where old fashioned non-zoom lenses and film excelled. It's something we lost when they started re-designing cameras for digital. The hyperfocal distances etc could easily be built into the cameras CPU with an "H" setting but they can't be bothered. OTOH, it gives pro's something to understand, sell and baffle the rest of us with - until we crack it..

Regards, David..

Comment #5

Given that all Nikon AF-D lenses have a distance scale on them and communicate with the body about that distance I can see no good reason why a Nikon DSLR (and probably other makes) could not display focus distance and depth of field either on the LCD or in the VF as an option at the press of a button. The processing power needed would be small beer. The hyperfocal distance could be there as well..

It would also be useful with manual focus and small DX viewfinders to have a focus distance readout in the VF to help confirm your manual focus..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.


Comment #6

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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