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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Hyperfocal Focusing...Hi, I'm now the proud owner of a Sigma 10-20mm (thanks Dabhand!) and have come across something called hyperfocal focusing. ...
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Old 11-11-2008, 13:43   #1 (permalink)
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Hyperfocal Focusing

Hi,

I'm now the proud owner of a Sigma 10-20mm (thanks Dabhand!) and have come across something called hyperfocal focusing.

It would be very much appreciated if anyone could please explain in laymans terms what this is and how I use it with my lens, or point me in the direction of some decent reference material?

Many thanks,

Ian
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Old 11-11-2008, 14:06   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

To start with you need a lens with an aperture scale on the barrel. Set exposure manually (say f5.6) and if the closest part of the image you want in focus is 3ft away adjust the focus ring until 3m is inline with the f5.6 mark. The other f5.6 mark on the opposite side of the lens will give the distance of the farthest part of the image infocus.

This link probably explains better.

Hyperfocal Focusing For Better Landscape Photographs
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Old 11-11-2008, 17:45   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Or, closer to home, Orangepeel sparked an excellent discussion on this subject here.
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Old 12-11-2008, 12:03   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

which i will sumarise much to the annoyance of wotsisface...

set your aperture to f16/f19 and focus (manually) at infinity and get on with shooting.

Should be noted that I was wrong - waaaaaaay wrong - on that thread but given I was talking about wide angle lenses the amount of depth of filed i lost through to being wrong is measured in mere cm's...

I've redone the tut detailing the right way and wrong way, which u can read 'ere
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Old 12-11-2008, 12:21   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Thank you very much guys for help. OP - excellent tutorial. Printed it off to read again op the train home tonight!

Very much appreciated.
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Old 12-11-2008, 14:12   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Quote:
Originally Posted by orangepeel View Post
which i will sumarise much to the annoyance of wotsisface...

set your aperture to f16/f19 and focus (manually) at infinity and get on with shooting.

Should be noted that I was wrong - waaaaaaay wrong - on that thread but given I was talking about wide angle lenses the amount of depth of filed i lost through to being wrong is measured in mere cm's...

I've redone the tut detailing the right way and wrong way, which u can read 'ere
Cheers OP.
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Old 12-11-2008, 15:06   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Your zoom lens will not have the required markings on the lens barrel but for fixed focal length length lenses, for which they are present, I use the following method which is based on hyperfocal distance.
1. Set the camera to manual focusing.
2. Focus on the nearest object which you require to be in sharp focus.
3. Read the distance off the distance scale on the lens and then focus on double that distance.
4. Read the stop opposite the infinity mark on the barrel markings and set the aperture to this value.

Everything will now be in focus from the nearest object you chose up to infinity.

Actually the near object and infinity will only just be in focus. For critical work it is best to choose one stop smaller than the stop opposite infinity ie f11 instead of f8.

Last edited by John F; 12-11-2008 at 15:56. Reason: Add las paragraph
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Old 12-11-2008, 15:48   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Quote:
Originally Posted by orangepeel View Post
which i will sumarise much to the annoyance of wotsisface...

set your aperture to f16/f19 and focus (manually) at infinity and get on with shooting.
Sorry, I'm having trouble getting my head round this.

Do you mean set the aperture f16/f19, set the lens to infinity and focus on the subject matter at whatever distance then shoot?
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Old 12-11-2008, 16:52   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

no. set the focus to manual. focus @ infinity (the 8 that got drunk and fell over) and set your aperture to f/16 or f/19.

Once you've setup your camera settings just compose and shoot. There's no refocussing involved.





Remember that I'm talking about a DIFFERENT method from everyone else. My way isn't right but it works and is much quicker and simpler. The downside of my way is your nearest objects in frame have to be further away to be in focus.

Sorry it's so general but everything depends on the focal length and aperture so it's hard to give exact numbers...

But as a taster,

1) 10mm / F16 when focussing at the hyperfocal distance the nearest object that is acceptably in focus is 20cm away from the camera (i believe it's measured from near the front of the lens)

2) 10mm / F16 when focussing at infinity the nearest object that is acceptably in focus is 40cm away

Now given you'll be on a tripod there's a good chance that the nearest object will be far enough away in either case... hence the shortcut is usually just quicker and easier.
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Old 12-11-2008, 22:21   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Trouble with using f16/f19 you are working near the limits of resolution of the sensor.
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Old 12-11-2008, 23:16   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Quote:
Originally Posted by John F View Post
Trouble with using f16/f19 you are working near the limits of resolution of the sensor.
huh?

If u mean the softening of the image, that's caused by diffraction. My sigger is bad at F/22 but is acceptable at F/19 and fine at F/16 although I grant other samples may vary - only trial and error with each individual lens would tell.
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Old 13-11-2008, 01:46   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

OMG another can of worms! I should really keep out of this but I'm feeling reckless...

Think of it this way... Imagine you want a photo where as much as possible is in focus - from infinity to as close as you can achieve - then you need to (manually) set the lens focus to the hyperfocal distance.

That's where it starts to get tricky, because it depends on the Depth of Field which in turn depends on the focal length of the lens, the aperture and the sensor size. There are ways of calculating all this (I posted a spreadsheet a while ago), but none of this helps much if your camera doesn't have a built-in PC. (It's only a matter of time. )

For wide-angle shots, the DoF is large and you can get away with quite a lot. I'm typing this on my new netbook toy and I haven't copied the fancy spreadsheet to it, but I'll guess that at 12mm focal length on an APS-C camera at around f/8, you could set the focus at around 3 metres and everything will be in reasonable focus from 1.5 metres to infinity. (I'll check that tomorrow and apologise for being way out. )

In the real world, with W/A shots you can usually notch the focus back quite a way from infinity and still have infinity in focus, whilst also having more of the foreground in focus than if you had set the lens at infinity. But it may not make a huge difference, so I'm not arguing with O-P.

Whatever you (manually) set the focus distance to, the DoF will extend about 2/3 in front of that point and about 1/3 behind it, but of course the total DoF depends on all the things I mentioned at the start.

As for the best aperture, all lenses have their 'sweet spot' where they give the best results. Typically this is around f/8 or f/11. If you stop the lens down to f/16 or smaller, you may get diffraction effects (as mentioned in earlier posts) which degrade quality. This is a completely separate issue from hyperfocal distance and depth of field.

And finally... I apologise for muddying the waters!
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Old 13-11-2008, 03:13   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Hyperfocal Focusing. Yeah. Right.
This is the kind of stuff that can spoil one's enjoyment of a fine hobby.
I dare say if you are a pro you need to worry about it....
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Old 13-11-2008, 08:56   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

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Originally Posted by 2legtripod View Post
Hyperfocal Focusing. Yeah. Right.
This is the kind of stuff that can spoil one's enjoyment of a fine hobby.
I dare say if you are a pro you need to worry about it....
Or add to it depending on what attracts you to photography!
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Old 13-11-2008, 09:26   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

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Originally Posted by John F View Post
Or add to it depending on what attracts you to photography!
Point taken! (I think....)
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Old 13-11-2008, 14:21   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

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Originally Posted by orangepeel View Post
no. set the focus to manual. focus @ infinity (the 8 that got drunk and fell over) and set your aperture to f/16 or f/19.

Once you've setup your camera settings just compose and shoot. There's no refocussing involved.





Remember that I'm talking about a DIFFERENT method from everyone else. My way isn't right but it works and is much quicker and simpler. The downside of my way is your nearest objects in frame have to be further away to be in focus.

Sorry it's so general but everything depends on the focal length and aperture so it's hard to give exact numbers...

But as a taster,

1) 10mm / F16 when focussing at the hyperfocal distance the nearest object that is acceptably in focus is 20cm away from the camera (i believe it's measured from near the front of the lens)

2) 10mm / F16 when focussing at infinity the nearest object that is acceptably in focus is 40cm away

Now given you'll be on a tripod there's a good chance that the nearest object will be far enough away in either case... hence the shortcut is usually just quicker and easier.
I do it this way thanx to OP & it works for me ,nice & easy does it.
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Old 13-11-2008, 15:44   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

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Originally Posted by simpbow View Post
I do it this way thanx to OP & it works for me ,nice & easy does it.
And I'm trying to do it the proper way now.

It's just so bloody complicated and not helped by the crappy markings on lenses these days or the lack of an aperture ring OR the fact that the camera body gets upset if you change the aperture using a lens with a ring (except in M mode - and who uses that except masochists? Geddit? M for masochist!)

I've resorted to using a measuring tape and auto-focusing on some object at that the hyper-focal distance then switching to manual focus. Complete palarva let me tell u!
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Old 13-11-2008, 15:45   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

To put it really simply:

1. Focus on the nearest point of the image you want in focus, and note the reading on the distance scale (in this example 3ft)
2. Focus on the farthest point of the image that you want in focus, and note the reading on the distance scale (in this example 10ft)
3. Adjust the focusing ring until both the 3ft mark and the 10ft mark are aligned with the same aperture marks on the lens barrel (in this example f5.6)
4. DO NOT RE-FOCUS
5. Set your aperture to f5.6 manually
6. Set your shutter speed to give correct exposure
7. Take the picture

Please note: the figures I have used here are for demonstration purposes only, and may not necessarily reflect what you will get with your lens.

Depending on how much depth of field you require, the closest and farthest focusing points will differ from the example I given, but the process is exactly the same.

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Old 13-11-2008, 15:48   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Quote:
Originally Posted by john crossley View Post
3. Adjust the focusing ring until both the 3ft mark and the 10ft mark are aligned with the same aperture marks on the lens barrel (in this example f5.6)
lovely... except the sigma 10-20 doesn't have an aperture ring
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Old 13-11-2008, 16:27   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

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Originally Posted by orangepeel View Post
lovely... except the sigma 10-20 doesn't have an aperture ring
In that case set the nearest and farthest focusing distances equidistant from the central lens mark.
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Old 13-11-2008, 16:51   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

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Old 13-11-2008, 19:04   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Quote:
Originally Posted by silkstone View Post

Whatever you (manually) set the focus distance to, the DoF will extend about 2/3 in front of that point and about 1/3 behind it, but of course the total DoF depends on all the things I mentioned at the start.

I think you'll find it's the other way round Silky, DoF extends approx 1/3rd in front of and 2/3rds behind the focal point.

However, when talking about the hyperfocal distance (near point to infinity) then acceptable sharpness is achieved from half the hyperfocal distance to infinity.

Most fixed focal length (prime) lenses will have the hyperfocal distances in a small table somewhere in the accompanying literature/instruction book. Once you know the hyperfocal distance for any aperture, a simple rule of thumb is this:

Multiply the diameter of your aperture by 1000. If the result is longer than your hyperfocal distance then everything from that focal point onwards to infinity will be sharp.

How do you know the diameter of the aperture? Well, the f stop will soon tell you. The aperture f stop is the focal length of the lens divided by its diameter so that can be written as f=F/d and therefore using basic maths, d=F/f so the diameter of your aperture is the focal length divided by the f stop.

e.g. 50mm lens at f16 = aperture diameter of 50/16= 3.125mm

So, if the hyperfocal distance is 3000mm, then an aperture of f16 will put everything from half that distance (1500mm) to infinite into focus

Big subject, especially when you start thinking about circles of confusion (CoC) and stuff but it is fascinating and definiely not just for pros. It is never bad to have a bit more information about anything but yes, a lot of people will live their lives more than happily in blissful ignorance of what a hyperfocal distance is

And for those who are desperately keen to work out their own hyperfocal distance scale for a given lens (instead of just looking it up on the internet which is MUCH easier!) the simplest working formula is this:

H = F2 (squared)
-------
___ fc

Where:

H = Hyperfocal distance
F = Focal length of lens
f = aperture
c = Circle of Confusion limit (for an APS-C sensor this is generally taken to be 0.019mm but some will say 0.018 or 0.02 but it affects the final result very little)

So the hyperfocal distance for a 50mm lens at f16 on an APS-C sensor dSLR is 8223mm, this being:

50x50 = 2500
-------------------- = 8223
16x0.019 = 0.304


And if you really want to do that then you have got wayyyyyy too much free time on your hands so go out and shoot something! (with your camera of course!)

I love this kind of stuff but am more than happy to let a clever little dickie sit down with his calculator and work it all out for me. If you are the same, these might help:

Online Depth of Field Calculator
or this one which also gives you the hyperfocal distance:
Depth of Field and Hyperfocal distance - Calculator and Explanation

Ok, I am off to buy another box of Anadin

Cheers,
Rob
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Last edited by Rob Barron; 13-11-2008 at 20:17.
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Old 13-11-2008, 19:07   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

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Originally Posted by Rob Barron View Post
I think you'll find it's the other way round Silky, DoF extends approx 1/3rd in front of and 2/3rds behind the focal point.
That's what I thought too.

Thanks for the info Rob (I think)
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Old 13-11-2008, 20:34   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Hi Jag

I've got the the Sigma 10-20mm on a Canon 400D. Previous advice given to put settings on f16 and focused to infinity is very good and will give great IQ on 90% of your shots. I think the only time you need to consider 'Hyper-focal' is in poor lighting situations where you need to use a large aperture and focus on a point in the far distance. Not sure how much of a techy you are but you can download a 'Hyper-focal' calculator to put on a mobile phone.

Paul
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Old 13-11-2008, 21:12   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

If I can chuck my two bit in (for what it is worth) I take quite a few shots at wide and close to a foreground object. Tend to set my focus pont to just below infinity so that the close foreground object is in focus. The whole thing is easier to work out on a prime lens with distance markings though.

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Old 13-11-2008, 21:42   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

by the time you try to all this its all over & you've missed the shot.
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Old 13-11-2008, 21:43   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Well done Rob. Just one thing though, two thirds of what equals infinity?
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Old 14-11-2008, 08:36   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Take all the guesswork out of it and use this free tool

Hyperfocal Distance and Depth of Field Calculator - DOFMaster
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Old 14-11-2008, 13:00   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Take all the guesswork out of it and use this free tool

Hyperfocal Distance and Depth of Field Calculator - DOFMaster
Now this is the best solution I think Steve,thanks very much.
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Old 14-11-2008, 13:27   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Hyperfocal Focusing

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Originally Posted by brian wright22 View Post
Now this is the best solution I think Steve,thanks very much.
Ok this has got me thinking and I remebered where I had seen an already made version of Steve's reference of making one.Here's the Link

ExpoDisc Depth of Field Guide Standard (Imperial) (EXPOA02NT) - Warehouse Express

If you could master a Slide Rule at college in the old days then this is magic it comes complete with a printable manual.
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