Introduction: Using Hyperfocal Distance

The idea of hyperfocal distance is relatively simple. Basically, if a lens is focused at the hyperfocal distance, everything in the resulting photograph is in focus, from the foreground to the middle ground to the background.

This is a common technique used in most landscape photography.

You will need:
  • a camera that allows you to manually adjust settings

**NOTE: All photographs used in this tutorial were shot and retouched by myself

Step 1: Calculating Hyperfocal Distance

Some lenses come with a depth of field scale in them already, but for those that don't, the hyperfocal distance equation would come into play. The hyperfocal distance equation involves the focal length, f-stop and circle of confusion.

*The circle of confusion is just that: confusing. There is much debate over the "proper" circle of confusion among different cameras and lenses, listed on www.dofmaster.com, including a circle of confusion calculator, which you can view by clicking the link below.

http://www.dofmaster.com/digital_coc.html#coccalculator

Once the hyperfocal distance is calculated, the depth of field will extend from half the hyperfocal distance to infinity, making the whole image focused, producing a great depth of field.

The second image is a more visual example of the equation, and much easier to understand.

Step 2: Practical Use

Now, you might be wondering, why should I do all this math to figure out where to focus when I can just shoot at the smallest aperture to get everything in focus?

Well, here's why: Generally, if you're using a small aperture, you're limiting yourself to a number of lenses.  In this example, I used a 15mm fisheye lens that is fixed at f2.8, so I didn't have the option of using a higher aperture.  On top of that, I was able to get extremely close to my subject, (the flowers), and still capture the majority of the field.  While taking this photo, I was actually laying on the edge of the flowers with my head just above the closest group. 

Using the hyperfocal distance of your lens gives you more opportunities to be creative with your angles to capture a great shot.  Though it can be a bit complicated, it's completely worth the effort if you want to explore your creative options.

To simplify: focus where the red square is rather than the foreground or background. :)  If you want to simplify even more, they have depth of field/hyperfocal distance apps for smartphones now too.

Comments

author
ChaNattapol (author)2015-07-06

I have got familiar with this formula. But how +F come?

Instead of H = F^2/Nc

author
rimar2000 (author)2012-11-13

Interesting info, I did not know that.
You can get a very large depth of field setting the diaphragm at its minimum (largest number). This is valid when you have enough light to catch the photo, and there are not fast movements in the scene. The field depth is directly proportional to the distance of the main object, too. It is to say: if the object is near, the field depth will be littler than if it is far. Hence, you should set the focus (and the main object) not too near.

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