Hyperfocal Focussing

Discussion in 'Inspirational Stuff' started by Rob MacKillop, Aug 11, 2019.

  1. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    I just stumbled across this video a few minutes ago, and found it very interesting. It very simply shows a memorable method for focussing so that everything beyond a few feet will be in focus. I'd never seen this technique before, but it is very simple.

    Now, I haven't had a chance to try it in daylight, and it's nearly midnight here. So...

    First the video, then an image I just made to test the technique.




    hyperfocal.jpg


    I put a chair back within the foreground out-of-focus distance, and it is indeed out of focus. The rest is softly in focus - there's something attractive about its not being hyper focussed.

    I set aperture to f/8, put the infinity sign on 8 meters on the Depth of Field scale - as in the video - which should make everything from c. 1.7m to infinity in focus.

    I'll try again when there is more light, and a greater distance to infinity.

    Anyone else used or use this technique?
     
  2. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Active Member

    Yes, I use it quite a bit when prowling around the streets with a vintage manual lens on whatever camera I am using. With a normalish lens, I generally set the focus point to 4 or 5 metres and the aperture to 8 or 11 and that takes me out to about 10 metres, which is usually plenty in a crowded street. I never need infinity and anything closer than my zone, I can estimate pretty well (under 3 metres). The depth increases as you move towards wider angle lenses. I like 35mm best but with 28mm or wider, it's hard to be out of focus!

    An example: You may remember the images I took of some huge soap bubbles being floated across a pedestrian street and the reactions of the passers by. The Bubble. I wàs there for about an hour and a half and took a lot of photos but never touched the focus ring. The action was taking place both near and far. My Takumar 55mm 1.8 was set to f11, as it was a very bright day. A German gent with a modern lensed Canon dslr tugged my sleeve and asked me about the model number of my camera body, which was very similar to his. Next, he wanted to know if my photos looked OK as he couldn't get a single decent shot. I suspected his auto focus mechanism was having kittens trying to fix on a deep, shimmering ball of transparent wobbliness! I showed him a couple of mine, mentioning that he might try switching to manual focus.
    Then he saw my rickety old Pentax lens and looked at me with wild, staring eyes!
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019 at 7:25 AM
    Rob MacKillop likes this.
  3. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore Moderator

    I used to have to use the hyperfocal when I was shooting a lot with my Olympus XA. It was/is impossible to see the rangefinder focus patch on that camera, so the hyperfocal was essential to me. If you have the light it works a treat.
     
    Rob MacKillop likes this.
  4. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    Cheers, Chris. So, hyperfocal focussing is concerned with infinity, but zone focussing is what you are talking about - is that right? I can see how in general street photography, infinity doesn't amount to much.
     
  5. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner New Member

    As I understand it Hyper focal distance focusing and zone focusing work on the same principle in that they apply the "acceptable sharpness" philosophy. Hyper Focal is widely used by landscape photographers to get the mots in focus that they can where as Zone Focus is more used by street/reportage photographers concentrating on a specific area where they need sharpness but affording a margin of error where they will still get sharp enough detail. I think. I've tried both in the past but more often than not I now identify that area in my composition that I want critical focus then work out which end of the DoF I can accept being out of focus (usually the far end) at my given aperture. A mix of both I guess.
     
    Rob MacKillop likes this.
  6. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Active Member

    I think that would be correct, Rob.
    There is overlap between the two concept though, I think.
    With a 28mm lens, I can go to f8 and set focus to 3 metres and at that point, infinity falls on the f8 mark on the depth of field scale. If hyperfocal distance is the closest point at which something is in focus, then 1.5 metres is my hyperfocus point. And right enough, the 1.5 mark hits f8 on the other side of the depth of field scale. With the old Pentax lenses, the f8, 3 metre mark and focus point are all marked in red, making it simple to line them up without too much thought. With the 35mm lens, the red marks are at 5 metres.
     
    Rob MacKillop likes this.
  7. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    Cheers, Brian, Paul and Chris. After half an hour with the camera this sunny morning, I think I understand it all, and it is quite simple, even for my non-technical brain. I suppose for "the decisive moment" it would be quicker than the quickest autofocus, but we're talking milliseconds. The possible problem one could encounter with autofocus is that when the decisive moment arrives, the camera might well focus on the wrong thing in the frame, whereas zone focussing will have the essentials in focus. Therefore, it is still a valuable technique in street photography at least.
     
    Pete Askew likes this.
  8. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner New Member

    Hi Rob, I think today's autofocus is so good that Zone Focusing is becoming a forgotten art. I don't use cameras with such blistering fast AF the fastest I have is my Fujifilm X-T2 for landscapes I use Fuji's GFX 50S (DoF shallower than FF or APSC) but my main everyday shooter is Leica M9. I think even with the X-T2 it will miss focus occasionally it sometimes selects an area to focus on that is not my intended subject, in quick shooting situations a smaller aperture will save me APSC is very forgiving in this way. ;)
     
    Rob MacKillop likes this.
  9. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    Well, I'm going to dedicate a week to zone focussing, weigh up the pros and cons.
     
    Chris Bennett likes this.
  10. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner New Member

    Hyper Focal Focusing might be useful with your Bronica in the landscape?
     
  11. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    Indeed. As I've just had the Leica Q for two weeks, it's getting priority over everything else. But I certainly intend to get back to the Bronica.
    There might be a Fotodiox adapter for your Zenzanon lenses on your Leica M9, should you be interested. I have one for my Sigma SD Quattro.
     
  12. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner New Member

    Thanks for the suggestion but I'm not really into adapting lenses. I tried it with my Canon FD lenses on my first Fuji the X-Pro1 didn't like the experience. I know loads of folks love to experiment but I'm a bit set in my ways. Horses for courses no one is any more right than anyone else in this.
     
    Rob MacKillop likes this.
  13. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    Here, here!
     
    Paul Turner likes this.
  14. Chris Bennett

    Chris Bennett Active Member

    Horses for courses, for sure!

    Rob, my photo HERE was taken today with my 35mm Takumar. It was set at f11, 5 metres, which happens also to be the hyperfocal setting on that lens. It was an absolute 'in the moment' shot: I look up to see a sign, have a slightly humorous thought about an old cop show on the TV, eyes draw away and there is a police car there. Fire the camera from chest height.
     
    Rob MacKillop likes this.

Share This Page