Mark Richards Techniques Hyperfocal Focusing
Hyperfocal Focusing
Hyperfocal FocusingHyperfocal focusing is one of the functions of wide-angle lenses. With it you can get a good "near-far" relationship. Remember, that you won't be able to achieve deep depth of field with longer lenses since they are not designed for this purpose. They are designed rather for a shallow depth of field and fast fall-off after the point of focus. That's why 400mm and longer lenses are shot wide-open most of the time. In the 20mm to 35mm range wide-angle lenses are great tools for hyperfocal focusing.

Some photographers may think that setting to "infinity" will make everything on their picture sharp. It may seem logical to focus your lens at infinity In order to get the sharpest pictures possible expecting automatic infinite sharpness. However, you will then see that the foreground material on your images is out of focus. Why does this happen?

This "infinity" theory is not completely correct. What will actually happen is that 1/3 in front of your point of focus and 2/3 behind your point of focus will be sharp at f/22, in the full frame. It can be considered a variation of the well-known "Rule of Thirds." What you should do is focus at the lower third "line" of the frame (but not the scene) instead of using the auto-focus and focusing in the center part or using the "infinity" focus and aiming at the furthermost element in the scene.

Let's look at an example. If focus at "infinity," 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind (which is actually beyond the frame) will be sharp, therefore you'll get a very soft foreground. If you focus with auto-focus feature, 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind the point of focus will be sharp, and you will still get a soft foreground, although not as soft as with the "infinity" focus.

It's a good thing if your lens has a depth of field scale. Set the focusing the lens' focusing mark to the distance indicated below the selected f/stop. Remember not to not re-focus the lens after the hyper-focal distance is set, because it will make it out of focus. If you have a depth of field preview button, press it and the entire image will be displayed at a sharp view. Sharp focus will be possible from 1/2 the distance from the lens to the hyper-focal distance into infinity. It may sound a little complicated, but actually it is not.

Below there's a reference chart: And if your lens doesn't have a "depth of field" scale, to get the maximum depth of field just focus 1/3 from the bottom of the frame.

Lens

f/11

f/16

f/22

20mm

Set focusing mark
on lens to 5.6 ft.

Set focusing mark
on lens to 4 ft.

Set focusing mark
on lens to 2.8 ft.

24mm

Set to 8 ft.

Set to 5.6 ft.

Set to 4 ft.

28mm

Set to 11 ft.

Set to 8 ft.

Set to 5.6 ft.

35mm

Set to 16 ft.

Set to 11 ft.

Set to 8 ft.

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