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Photography DiscussionHyperfocal distance in landscape photography

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Matt Quinn
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Hyperfocal distance in landscape photography

Post by Matt Quinn » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:22 pm

I never get the dof I want in landscapes. I found this today and will try it when I have a chance. Wanted to share it with others. (Cyber-challenged: I don't know how to copy the site's address.) I have been using bbf for years. Matt


A Landscape Shooter’s Guide to Back Button Focus and Hyperfocal Distance
MAR 29, 2018 MICHAEL ZHANG
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Post by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:56 pm

Back in the film days Matt and when using a prime lens (not zoom lens) shooting landscapes or even with street photography I would set my lens at that hyperfocal point on the lens.
Now a days because I use mostly zoom lens I will focus at something that is a third of the way in my image to gain more depth of field.
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Post by Matt Quinn » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:53 am

Ernst-Ulrich Schafer wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:56 pm
Back in the film days Matt and when using a prime lens (not zoom lens) shooting landscapes or even with street photography I would set my lens at that hyperfocal point on the lens.
Now a days because I use mostly zoom lens I will focus at something that is a third of the way in my image to gain more depth of field.
I have used that for a while but wondered whether there was a more "scientific" approach. I think I may try this one as an experiment but will probably go back to your method. Thanks. Matt
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Post by Ernst-Ulrich Schafer » Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:15 am

I use to photograph at the hip and using the hyperfocal mark on my 35mm (Nikon FM2) never fail me. f11, f16.
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Post by Charles Haacker » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:09 pm

Yep, when in doubt, about a third of the way in will usually suffice, especially if you can stop down, f/11 or more. But haven't I read there's an app for that? <== The one hotlinked here has almost 5 stars from 7,000 users. But what if you have no smartphone (I didn't until a little more than a year ago)? <== This links to a site that helps you hack using your live view. :D :thumbup:
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Post by Matt Quinn » Sun Apr 01, 2018 12:57 am

Ernst-Ulrich Schafer wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:15 am
I use to photograph at the hip and using the hyperfocal mark on my 35mm (Nikon FM2) never fail me. f11, f16.
I will try this, Ernst, on my Nikon D800e with my 50mm f1.4 lens. I have almost always used f/8; now I will try f11 and f16 to see what results. Thanks. Matt
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Post by Matt Quinn » Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:47 am

Charles Haacker wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:09 pm
Yep, when in doubt, about a third of the way in will usually suffice, especially if you can stop down, f/11 or more. But haven't I read there's an app for that? <== The one hotlinked here has almost 5 stars from 7,000 users. But what if you have no smartphone (I didn't until a little more than a year ago)? <== This links to a site that helps you hack using your live view. :D :thumbup:
I think I will stick with the 1/3 approach. I read some of the comments, pro and con, and I would probably swear a big, big D trying to use app. But I will stop down to f/11 or f/16 as Ernst has recommended. Matt
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Post by Charles Haacker » Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:41 pm

Matt Quinn wrote:
Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:47 am
Charles Haacker wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:09 pm
Yep, when in doubt, about a third of the way in will usually suffice, especially if you can stop down, f/11 or more. But haven't I read there's an app for that? <== The one hotlinked here has almost 5 stars from 7,000 users. But what if you have no smartphone (I didn't until a little more than a year ago)? <== This links to a site that helps you hack using your live view. :D :thumbup:
I think I will stick with the 1/3 approach. I read some of the comments, pro and con, and I would probably swear a big, big D trying to use app. But I will stop down to f/11 or f/16 as Ernst has recommended. Matt
Something else to bear in mind is that DOF is also variable with distance, and focal length, NOT only aperture. All three have an affect. DOF is actually illusory. When I was in school (again with the when-he-was-in-school thing) we were reminded to say "apparent" depth-of-field. Very generally the smaller something is in a picture the sharper it looks. Short focal lengths tend to make everything small, therefore everything tends to look sharp(er). This is why point-and-shoots and phone cameras have apparently unlimited DOF. It's not the size of the sensor, it's the very short focal lengths needed to cover a very small sensor. As the sensor gets bigger the focal lengths have to get relatively longer. That's why bigger sensors allow for more and better, "creamier" bokeh in the backgrounds at wider apertures, but the converse is that the bokeh is due to there being little apparent DOF at that focal length. To increase the DOF at a specific distance and focal length the only thing you can do is stop down.
  • It's easy to demonstrate this for yourself: take your "normal" focal length (on a full frame it's somewhere around 50 mm) and put, say, 3 apples in a row parallel with the lens on a table. (I've done a demo below using soda bottles.)
  • The camera must be on a support to prevent it moving.
  • Place the camera where the nearest apple is reasonably large in the frame and focus on it.
  • The next apple in line needs to be shifted so that it is also visible in the frame, and the same with the third (farthest) apple; they are maybe 12(ish) inches distant from each other. (The soda bottles are 18 inches apart)
  • Now shoot a series. Do not move the camera or the apples. Do not refocus. Start with the lens wide open (say f/1.8 or 2.8-ish), ISO 100-ish, shutter consistent with the light.
  • Next frame stop down one full stop, adjust the shutter in the "other direction" (slower shutter by 1 stop), and keep doing this sequentially all the way down to your minimum aperture whatever it is, f/16, f/22, whatever.
  • Important that the camera, subjects, and focus point not move.
When you view the sequential frames large on the computer, the first shot should show the nearest apple sharp (because you focused on it), the second apple less sharp (depending on how far it is from the first), and the third less sharp again. In each subsequent frame the first apple should not appear to change, but the second and third apples will gradually appear sharper. I won't get all technical as to why, but the apparent depth of field visibly increases as you stop down. I decided to add my own demo using soda bottles. I'm in close with the equivalent of a 50mm on a full frame (mine is an APS-C crop sensor, crop factor 1.5, big, but not full). The bottles are all the same distance apart, about 12-inches, but perspective compression appears to put the last one closer to the middle one; it is the same distance. My short zoom lens at "normal" focal length opens only to f/5.6 so I started the series at f/8 and went down to f/32. You can see the results. Because I have my camera in quite close to the nearest bottle with my lens at 36mm (equiv to 54mm) the overall DOF is already pretty shallow. Remember that DOF also varies with range; distance to plane of sharpest focus. The further away you are focused the greater the apparent DOF regardless of aperture. :cheers:
Attachments
DSC02300.EMlr.jpg
f/8
DSC02301.EMlr.jpg
f/11
DSC02302.EMlr.jpg
f/16
DSC02303.EMlr.jpg
f/22
DSC02304.EMlr.jpg
f/32
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Post by Charles Haacker » Mon Apr 02, 2018 5:13 pm

I've discovered something else in a my demo series: evidence of diffraction. I don't own a prime lens (yet). It's well known that zoom lenses are generally not as sharp overall as primes. It makes perfect sense when you factor in all those elements shifting back and forth. But also, all lenses, zooms and primes, tend to have a "sweet spot," usually somewhere in the middle of their range of apertures but not necessarily (many sports lenses are formulated to be at their sharpest at or near wide open).

I opened all 5 of my tests in separate tabs, clicked to enlarge all of them to the biggest they will go, and began toggling among them. Absolutely you can see the last bottle is much sharper-appearing (and never really sharp-sharp) as the lens is stopped down, but if you look at the first bottle, at f/8 it is wire sharp. It stays wire sharp at f/11 and f/16----- but it falls apart at f/22 and worse at f/32! There are several reasons why this could happen, but the most likely is diffraction. Not only lenses bend light. Water can act as a lens. Our atmosphere acts as a lens. And solid objects! When light encounters a solid object it bends slightly toward the object as it passes. That's because light is both a particle (photon) and a wave. When you see waves breaking on a shore, it's caused by the bottom of the wave (that you cannot see) encountering the bottom of the shoreline before the top of the wave. The friction between the water on the bottom of the wave and the shore itself causes the bottom of the wave to slow down, but the top of the wave is still going at its original speed. Basically, the rising shore "trips" the wave so it tumbles over itself--- breaks.

The exact same thing happens to a light wave. The waves of light from the sun during an eclipse bend slightly around the moon. Starlight bends around other stars and planets. And image-forming "actinic" light bends, very, very slightly when it passes over the blades of the iris diaphragm in your camera. Normally you never see it, but at very small apertures the bending, sometimes called "lensing," becomes visible as slight unsharpness overall. It's not a huge deal but it is something to be aware of. The famed f/64 school may or may not have been aware of the phenomenon but on cameras making 8x10 and 11x14 and 16/20 INCH negatives the effect would never have been seen. But on smaller and smaller films and sensors, it can be a factor. Most workers will at least suggest avoiding stopping to your minimum stop (in my case f/32 and even f/22). It's all a dance of compromise. ;)
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Post by Matt Quinn » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:20 pm

Wow, Chuck, these are two great posts. I will bookmark them and return to get the info ingrained into my head. And I will experiment with the apples and post them. I feel I am going to school without having to pay tuition--a need-based scholarship. Thanks. Matt
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