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Hyperfocal photography
Surely this doesn't have to be as difficult as it is made out to be does it? Using a hyperfocal chart and say a nikon 18-55 with has no scale on it would one focus on an object at the stated distance and then shoot the landscape?http://garybunk.zenfolio.com..

Comments (8)

GaryB55 wrote:.

Surely this doesn't have to be as difficult as it is made out to bedoes it?.

If you're referring to hyperfocal focusing for landscape photography, the answer is "no, it doesn't have to be hard. Just forget about it.".

Hyperfocal focusing for landscapes is a technique that never delivered on it's promises. That's because it is based on a number of incorrect assumptions. Back in the film days it was possible to use a modified hyperfocal technique where one used the hyperfocal distance for about two stops more open than what one was really using, and get reasonably good results. Of course, at that point most of the depth of field (DoF) advantage of hyperfocal focusing was lostthe main advantage that the technique had was being able to use a single focus distance for a wide variety of subjects..

In today's digital world, almost all of the remaining assumptions have become incorrect. In a world where images are broken up into fixed-size pixels on a rectangular grid, where the image component at each pixel is determined by mathematical computations involving a number of neighboring pixels, where sharpness is a variable commodity depending on your skills with Unsharp Mask and deconvolution, and where 8x10 is considered a "small" print, there's no rational basis for hyperfocal focusing of landscapes..

If you're serious about high DoF in landscapes, a tilt lens is the way to go. If you're not that serious, then here's what you do. Go take a series of test pictures of a scene at various f-stops, starting at maybe f/10 and working up. Now apply your best sharpening technique to each of them, and print as large as you expect you'll need. See how far you can stop down before diffraction becomes a problem..

Now when you want a high DoF landscape, set your aperture to that setting and focus on the most distant object that you want to be sharp. Or if the foreground is the important bit, focus on that. That's all there is to it. (If you want to use a fixed focus distance, focus at infinity.)..

Comment #1

Previous poster covered it in detail. All I'd say is two things. First is that unless it's a one chance grab shot, you can always shoot a spread of aperture settings and check what worked best later. Other thing is that if need seriuos DOF and I'm in a hole, out comes my 4mp Fuji compact.Shay son of Che..

Comment #2

GaryB55 wrote:.

Surely this doesn't have to be as difficult as it is made out to bedoes it? Using a hyperfocal chart and say a nikon 18-55 with has noscale on it would one focus on an object at the stated distance andthen shoot the landscape?.

The simple answer to your question is yes. If you can identify a point in the scene at the correct distance, focus there, then if necessary recompose to frame the scene as required before releasing the shutter..

I've used the technique in the past with film cameras having proper focus and depth of field scales marked on the lens..

But nowadays I'm starting to think it might be a flawed concept. My thinking is like this: what is most important in my picture? If it is a distant landscape, then that's where I want to focus. The hyperfocal setting implies that focus is set in front of the distant subject and DOF is relied upon to get the scene "acceptably sharp". Which is why it may be flawed, as nothing in the scene may be truly sharp, merely "good enough"..

Often my landscapes feature some important subject, such as a tree, a wall, fence or bridge, in the middle distance. I tend to focus there directly, not as a pure application of hyperfocal setting, but more simply because that is an important and detailed feature that I want to be sharp..

Occasionally I've taken pictures that include flowers a few inches away in the foreground and a landscape reaching out to infinity behind. In these cases I use the smallest aperture available and judge the focus as a compromise, since it is probably impossible to get the entire scene sharp. I need to decide which is worst, having the background unsharp, or some foreground details unsharp. Possibly I may allow the very closest flowers to be a little out of focus, as the best compromise.Just my personal opinion, and still subject to change.Regards,Peter..

Comment #3

Sherwoodpete wrote:.

But nowadays I'm starting to think it might be a flawed concept. Mythinking is like this: what is most important in my picture? If it isa distant landscape, then that's where I want to focus. Thehyperfocal setting implies that focus is set in front of the distantsubject and DOF is relied upon to get the scene "acceptably sharp".Which is why it may be flawed, as nothing in the scene may be trulysharp, merely "good enough"..

Agree. I also find that when taking landscape shots that distant things are generally less tolerant to focus blur than near things which are larger in scale. It often seems best to focus at the distant things in a scene to bet a better balance after proper PP.Leonhttp://homepage.mac.com/leonwittwer/landscapes.htm..

Comment #4

Doug Pardee wrote:.

GaryB55 wrote:If you're serious about high DoF in landscapes, a tilt lens is theway to go..

What does this lens do as far as maximizing DOF?..

Comment #5

MaryGierth wrote:.

Doug Pardee wrote:.

GaryB55 wrote:If you're serious about high DoF in landscapes, a tilt lens is theway to go..

What does this lens do as far as maximizing DOF?.

Assume the camera is aimed horizontally, a normal lens focussed at a specific distance will actually give sharp focus to everything in the vertical plane at that distance (like for example the wall of a building, viewed square on)..

When the lens is tilted downwards, the plane of sharp focus also tilts. With enough tilt, the sharp focus will be on a horizontal plane. And of course the surface of the Earth may be regarded as a horizontal plane. So without needing to stop down the aperture, it is possible to focus all the way from close up to the far distance sharply..

See the "Scheimpflug principle" for more explanation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheimpflug_principle.

Regards,Peter..

Comment #6

Sherwoodpete wrote:.

MaryGierth wrote:.

Doug Pardee wrote:.

GaryB55 wrote:If you're serious about high DoF in landscapes, a tilt lens is theway to go..

What does this lens do as far as maximizing DOF?.

Assume the camera is aimed horizontally, a normal lens focussed at aspecific distance will actually give sharp focus to everything in thevertical plane at that distance (like for example the wall of abuilding, viewed square on).When the lens is tilted downwards, the plane of sharp focus alsotilts. With enough tilt, the sharp focus will be on a horizontalplane. And of course the surface of the Earth may be regarded as ahorizontal plane. So without needing to stop down the aperture, it ispossible to focus all the way from close up to the far distancesharply.See the "Scheimpflug principle" for more explanation.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheimpflug_principle.

Regards,Peter.

Thanks for the explanation and link. From the link I also learned what a lensbaby is...

Comment #7

The problem with hyperfocal is the object of importance is usually not in critical focus and it shows a lot of the time. I don't use anymore.Sincerely.

Ron J..

Comment #8

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