DoF and hyperfocal distance calculators and charts

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Kulvinder Singh Matharu, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. There will be some situations out in the middle of nowhere when I may
    need to calculate the hyperfocal distance. But despite all the smarts
    built into my Nikon D700, and with the lenses that I have, there does
    not appear to be any way of calculating the hyperfocal distance using
    the D700. That's a real pity.

    I'd have thought it would be elementary to set the required circle of
    confusion and save this in the camera, and then when required
    activate a "hyperfocal lock" function (let's call it "HF-L") and then
    point the camera at the closest feature that you want in focus and
    the camera then locks focus to the hyperfocal distance. But the D700
    doesn't do this. So…

    I've looked at software. I currently use a BlackBerry Curve device
    which I nearly always have with me so I could use that using suitable
    DoF software. Can you advice which is the best software to use?
    Preferably free!

    But even so, sometimes I might not have the BlackBerry device with
    me. So I'm thinking of some kind of small mechanical calculator kinda
    like a slide-rule or disc which I can attach to my camera or lenses.
    I've seen this but it's limited in the number of focal lengths that
    it can use so some guesswork may be required for zooms:

    What I think may be better (but bowing to your superior experience
    and knowledge!) is using some charts. Again, at the same site I came
    across this:

    I think that I can print one or two of these charts to cover my
    lenses that I can then print very small and then laminate. I'd really
    like to attach these to my camera strap. What do you think of this
    idea? Or do you think that I should be approaching this differently?

    Thanks for reading this far. Hope to get some valuable feedback from
    everyone but with the holidays I know that some of you may be a bit
    distracted over the next few days.

    Happy holidays!
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Website :
    Contact :

    Brain! Brain! What is brain?!
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu, Dec 24, 2008
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  2. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    A quick but dirty way to set hyperfocal distance is to run your lens to
    infinity focus; then, after pressing your DOF preview gbutton, slowly back
    the focusing ring until the horizon starts to go blurry. Bringing the
    horizon back into focus will establish the hyperfocal range of your lens for
    whatever aperture you are stopping down to.

    Just curious why you're trying to hyperfocal an autofocus camera...

    "In the old days," hyperfocusing was done to save time and eliminate the
    need for having to manually focus the lens in extreme situations -- i.e.
    very low light, fast action, shooting over crowds, etc.

    Using modern cameras, it seems to me that most situations can be covered
    with modes like aperture priority, shutter priority, or scene modes.

    Are you working with subjects which are hard to autofocus on? Or, is it
    that you are just into manual shooting?

    Take Care,
    Dudley Hanks, Dec 25, 2008
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  3. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Paul Furman Guest

    Trial & error with an educated guess. Live view could be your shortcut
    with the D700, zoom in & scroll around while focusing & stopping down.
    Hmm, a quick check shows I must have something set funny because I can't
    scroll around once zoomed in live view... I'm sure that can be changed

    Paul Furman

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    Paul Furman, Dec 25, 2008
  4. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    frank Guest

    I agree with this. Note digital is just a box to put on the back of
    the lens. Nothing more. Ditto with a film camera. Hey, this IS a 35mm

    The hyperfocal distance cards were pretty standard and pretty much
    didn't change at all as its a function of focal length.

    Most of the time when you did this was you knew you were going to be
    from 20 to 50 feet from the lead singer or whatever and were using
    flash. Or not. Sort of like using old manual flash where you had to
    look up coverage at a given distance and f stop.

    IF you didn't have an SLR, this was a great way to shoot. Rangefinders
    were really quiet.

    If you have distance markings on your lenses, I'd almost do the old
    markings for f stop on the barrel. Mark say, infinity, 50 feet, 20
    feet if you don't have it on the focus. whatever you shoot at, then do
    the f stop with the hyperfocus and go that way. You could use AF, look
    at the barrel and see whats a more optimal f stop if needed and change
    settings accordingly. Sort of like we did it in the old days.

    Small bits of Dymo label tape would probably work well. different
    colors for say f8, f11, f16.
    frank, Dec 25, 2008
  5. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Paul Furman Guest

    This procedure should work with live view. Stop down, zoom into
    something at infinity & turn the focus ring closer till it softens.

    Paul Furman

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    Paul Furman, Dec 25, 2008
  6. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Colin.D Guest

    DOF is not simply a function of lens and focus distances. It includes
    also the circle of confusion, the diameter of which is chosen to be
    'almost' a point taken to be acceptably sharp in the final image or
    print. Therefore, CoC is not a fixed size, but varies with the
    magnification ratio between the camera image and the print size, and
    complicated by the intended viewing distance of the final print. It is
    said that smaller images like those from P&S or cropped sensor cameras
    have greater DoF than larger images, but this is offset to some degree
    by the need for greater magnification to give a similar-sized print to
    that from a larger sensor.

    The original concept of DoF was Leica's, calculated for a 35mm negative
    enlarged to 10x8, and viewed at a distance equal to the print diagonal.
    Other sizes of film/sensor, print size, and viewing distance require a
    different CoC diameter. Some digital camera makers assume a CoC based
    on their sensor size, and a print viewing distance equal to the print
    diagonal, which tends to cancel the magnification factor (but is by no
    means guaranteed with very small or very large prints).

    Canon uses these assumptions with their DEP function on their dslrs,
    whereby placing one focus area on a near object and another on the
    farthest object and taking a half-pressure allows the camera to
    instantly calculate the required aperture, which can then be set using
    Av, a very handy function that I use frequently.

    The older lenses with DoF scales were calibrated more or less according
    to the Leica standard, and if used on cropped-sensor cameras will not
    be accurate unless allowance is made.

    BTW, viewing an image at 100% gives no idea at all of the DoF, since it
    applies only to a print at screen resolution, 72 ppi, which implies an
    image more than a metre across with most dslrs.

    Colin D.
    Colin.D, Dec 25, 2008
  7. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Paul Furman Guest

    Wouldn't it be the same numbers for any size print at a viewing distance
    equal to the diagonal of the print? (assuming full frame sensor in this
    Ah, OK, yep (generally).

    I'm amazed how much nasty pixely stuff disappears in a print, even at
    200dpi or more magnification.

    Paul Furman

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    Paul Furman, Dec 26, 2008
  8. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Colin.D Guest

    Yes, for a FF sensor, maybe, but the Leica standard was for film, and I
    think that a higher standard may be desired for a high-megapixel camera,
    which means a smaller DoF. I was trying to make the point that DoF and
    COC pertain to particular setups, and are by no means universal.
    Compared with 100% view on a monitor, yes. At 200 ppi the image is only
    a third as much enlarged as at 100%.

    Actually, I don't know where this 100% idiom came from. What it means
    is simply that the image is enlarged to give a 1:1 relationship between
    the image and the monitor ppi, i.e. each image pixel is displayed by one
    monitor pixel.

    This also means that comparisons of camera and lens performance judged
    by 100% images is false, since the magnification is a function of pixel
    density. A true comparison can only be made when the images are the
    same size, which doesn't happen with 100% crops.

    Colin D.
    Colin.D, Dec 26, 2008
  9. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Paul Furman Guest

    Yes, probably the fair way to compare on-screen is to enlarge the low-MP
    shots to match the high-MP image. Or make prints & scan those :)

    Paul Furman

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    Paul Furman, Dec 26, 2008
  10. On Thu, 25 Dec 2008 00:30:02 GMT, "Dudley Hanks"

    Sometimes I've got an object near to me and I want to maintain
    acceptable focus all the way out to the horizon.

    See above. Not likely to be used in many occasions, but when I need
    to it's nice to know that I can!
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Website :
    Contact :

    Brain! Brain! What is brain?!
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu, Dec 26, 2008
  11. [snip]

    Yes, exactly. That's why I stated that the required circle of
    confusion value should be a parameter that is a user-entry into the
    camera. The photographer's knowledge and experience should enable a
    judgment to be made on a suitable value for circle of confusion.
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Website :
    Contact :

    Brain! Brain! What is brain?!
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu, Dec 26, 2008
  12. On Fri, 26 Dec 2008 10:54:54 -0500, Alan Browne

    Not sure what level of precision you think I'm aiming for!

    Whatever is or isn't done in the future, in-camera features for this
    do not exist in the D700. So...

    ....I'm really more interested in knowing how other photographers
    handle this in the field (if at all). Received a couple of
    interesting suggestions.

    I'll probably print some charts out or load some software on the
    BlackBerry and test these in the field, and see what CoC values are
    acceptable. That was always my intention.
    Maybe they will, maybe they won't. I'll not be holding my breadth on
    this. I know Canon had DEP and A-DEP which kinda worked but the level
    of acceptable focus for far-end and near-end objects was not really
    user configurable except maybe by changing the aperture.
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Website :
    Contact :

    Brain! Brain! What is brain?!
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu, Dec 26, 2008
  13. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    Scene modes, such as landscape mode, tend to default to a hyperfocal type
    default. Have you run into problems with the standard implementation in
    such modes?

    Take Care,
    Dudley Hanks, Dec 26, 2008
  14. On Fri, 26 Dec 2008 23:09:10 GMT, "Dudley Hanks"

    "scene modes" pulling my leg? If you're me, it isn't
    just about getting the image, but about the process that takes you
    there, the creativity behind it.

    Anyway, I've decided. I'll likely use some charts, and test in the
    field to determine acceptable CoC values and the practicality of
    using these methods.
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Website :
    Contact :

    Brain! Brain! What is brain?!
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu, Dec 27, 2008
  15. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    J. Clarke Guest

    Don't be pedantic. A craftsman knows his tools. Learn what the scene
    modes do and use them when appropriate, don't just ignore them out of
    J. Clarke, Dec 27, 2008
  16. On Sat, 27 Dec 2008 06:14:01 -0500, "J. Clarke"

    "pedantic"? "snobbery"?

    There're no such thing as "scene modes" on a D700.

    Is this thread dead yet?
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Website :
    Contact :

    Brain! Brain! What is brain?!
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu, Dec 27, 2008
  17. Kulvinder Singh Matharu, Dec 28, 2008
  18. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Dudley Hanks Guest

    Sorry, didn't realize you are one of the poor, deprived artistic photogs
    using a professional cam that can't do some of the simpler things like

    Although, a little creative thinking might resolve your problem. By
    selecting all the AF areas and setting your autofocusing system to
    continuous tracking, I'd bet the camera defaults to a hyperfocus
    configuration. After all, what better way to keep a fast moving subject in
    focus is there than to maximize the amount of picture that is actually in

    Besides, I'm guessing that, while your camera may not have a scene mode, the
    Nikon's scene recognition firmware is sophisticated enough to figure out
    when a hyperfocus setting will be appropriate.

    But, of course, if all of the resources Nikon has built into that camera
    can't keep it all in focus, have fun with those tables...

    Take Care,
    Dudley Hanks, Dec 29, 2008
  19. "poor"? "deprived"? I'm having fun :)

    And "artistic"? No, not really. I shoot to have fun. It's not about
    "point and shoot", but learning about the processes and
    techniques...I'd like to say "creative" ;)

    Everyone has their reasons for photography! I can still remember the
    pungent smell of chemicals from the darkroom when I was about 13
    years old and being interested in the development processes rather
    than in the act of taking a photograph.
    Don't see it as a problem! It's more of an interesting area of
    photography that I thought I'd look into. It certainly isn't a

    Your suggestion...I don't think that it will work, as the camera will
    focus on the nearest object or at least to the tracked object (of
    course with G or D lenses face recognition can be utilised but that
    doesn't help). DoF I can control with the aperture. So what aperture
    value should I choose? Certainly I don't want diffraction to start
    raising it's ugly head.
    I don't see how it can. It will focus on the nearest object in it's
    AF points or at least to a tracked object (see above). I remember
    having the hardest time with seagulls and albatrosses using focus
    tracking on my Canon 12 months ago. In hindsight I should have
    increased my DoF to give me a bit more focusing leeway but I was
    afraid of diffraction...better a less than ideal photo than no photo
    I suppose! But I did get a shot that I was reasonably happy with:

    This was taken just as we're heading into the Drake Passage off

    My Canon (40D) had A-DEP which tried to keep in focus everything in
    it's AF points but was fiddly to use. I'm not sure if newer Canon's
    still have may have gone the way of the Dodo like DEP.
    "Charts" my friend, "charts"!
    You too.
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Website :
    Contact :

    Brain! Brain! What is brain?!
    Kulvinder Singh Matharu, Dec 30, 2008
  20. Kulvinder Singh Matharu

    Dudley Hanks Guest


    Sorry, Kulvinder, I got a bit too snippy on that one. Frigid temps and lack
    of light makes me a little edgy, sometimes...

    Regarding the process of photography, I'm with you on that one. I think
    it's safe to say I'm a little more cognisant of process than most
    You too? I got hooked on photography at a summer camp that used photography
    as an activity. Shot my first BW pics there with an old rangefinder and
    processed the film / pics in a temporary darkroom.

    Loved every second of it...
    I'm not so sure. AF systems don't always focus on the nearest object,
    especially with multi-point systems.

    Unless you tell the cam to focus on a specific point, I think most AF
    systems will try to get everything under all the points in focus. Now, if
    the camera is looking for a moving subject to track, but there isn't
    anything moving, I'd bet your system will give you a fairly good DOF,
    probably even revert to hyperfocusing...

    While the hyperfocus tactic isn't going to work very well with a large
    aperture, many sporting events are held out in the open, during the day, and
    I've found my cams tend to set smaller apertures in "action mode" as long as
    there is sufficient light to get a shutter speed up in the plus 1/250 -
    1/500 range. By maximizing the DOF, the AF system isn't as likely to yield
    a fuzzy picture as the subject moves around. Without being specifically
    placed in an action, or sports, mode I'd guess that a similar assumption is
    built into the logic of most servo mode AF systems...

    I'm a fairly patient, systematic photographer, so I tend to do a lot of
    experimentation. I'd probably approach this challenge by doing a series of
    test pics, starting at the small end of the aperture range. With a suitable
    scene in front of my lens, I'd shoot some pics at each aperture setting from
    the small end and increasing the aperture size three or four stops. The
    resulting images should give you a good idea of both DOF and IQ...
    Once again, are you sure? Could not the logic of the firmware be
    sophisticated enough to know that a subject with large amounts of green
    (foliage) and blue (sky) is a landscape? Especially if there is no moving
    subject? I've heard the D700 can be set to AF on a moving subject of a
    specified colour. If that is correct, why can the programming not make
    assumptions about what type of scene is present based on colour recognition?

    I remember
    My XSi has A-dep, but I've always used this type of auto DOF system for less
    active subjects. Using the action mode on my XSi would probably yield a
    better bird pic than this mode.

    Over the years, I've developed a few thumb rules that have worked well for
    me. One of those rules is to choose an auto shutter speed mode for fast
    moving subjects and an auto aperture mode for low-light or more still
    subjects. When shooting fast moving subjects, I know I won't be happy with
    a blurred shot (in most cases), so I set the speed to 1/250 - 1/500 or
    better, and I work with whatever aperture it gives me. The resulting
    aperture is often small enough to give me a nice DOF that is forgiving when
    the subject moves around. If I were to choose an arbitrary aperture, I'd
    probably make my job more difficult because the DOF might be excessively
    shallow, and the extra shutter speed much quicker than is actually needed to
    stop the action.

    With still subjects, I'm more interested in playing with DOF, so I like to
    pick the aperture there, and the shutter speed isn't critical since I can
    drag out the tripod, if necessary.
    Ooops, my bad... To a blind guy, everything sounds like a table... :)

    Take Care,
    Dudley Hanks, Dec 30, 2008
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