HYPERFOCAL DISTANCE EXPLAINED (AS GOD COMMANDS)

We have all encountered a wonderful landscape that we want to portray. You may be more of portrait, architecture, or gastronomic photography. But if you like photography, surely the camera often accompanies you on your walks around the world. And surely from time to time you find yourself facing a landscape that you would like to retain in the most precise, correct and memorable way.

In that case, you can not miss this very useful “tool” that we know with the name of hyperfocal distance .

But before entering the hyperfocal distance, let’s refresh some concepts in case we have them somewhat forgotten or we have not just understood them, since they will be useful to understand what it is, how it works, and what the hyperfocal distance is used for.

DIAPHRAGM

It is the one that controls the entry of light through the objective. Normally, with more light we can work with more closed diaphragms (F / 16, F / 22, etc.) and less light , with more open diaphragms (F / 1.4, F / 2.8, etc.).

To make it clearer, the diaphragm works exactly like the human iris . Surely you have looked many times the operation of your pupils when you illuminate them (they “shrink”) or when the light is scarce (they “open”).

Through the control of access to the amount of light the sensor receives, we dominate or decide on another variable: Speed.

The speed allows us to play with the movement or with the absence of it , at higher speeds, we freeze any type of movement. At low speeds, the movement is “printed” on the sensor. 

 

DEPTH OF FIELD

Linked to the diaphragm , we find the concept of depth of field , since it is not only light that the aperture controls, it is also the one that controls how much of the focused area we will have in the image.

A greater aperture of the diaphragm (f / 2 for example), more light, but also less area focused on the image, that is, less depth of field. And less opening, greater depth of field, and therefore, greater area focused on the image.

SHARPNESS

When we think of sharpness  we think of focus . And we are right, in part, because we lack another variable, what we call acutance or contrast. The approach you know what it is; let’s see what is the acutancia.

ACUTANCIA

It is the degree of contrast between details . The more contrasted the limit between these details, the more we perceive the sensation of sharpness, since they are more differentiated by their luminance. That is, the more contrast there is between the edges of the elements embodied in the image, the more difference we will see between them, and therefore sharper we will see those “lines” that draw any silhouette.

THE SWEET SPOT OF THE TARGET

All objectives have an ideal aperture in which their degree of sharpness is maximum . This sweet spot is usually located in the middle of the diaphragm openings; that is, if it has a maximum aperture of F / 22, its sweet spot will be approximately F / 11.

Now, after this brief review of basic concepts, let’s finally see what hyperfocal distance is and how you can, as a photographer, benefit from it.

Hyperfocal distance is used primarily to achieve maximum depth of field in landscapes

WHAT IS HYPERFOCAL DISTANCE?

Hyperfocal Distance is the distance at which we get the largest area focused on the image; that is, greater depth of field in the scene. This is one of its classic definitions:

“It is the distance between the target and the nearest point of focus that is acceptably sharp, when the target is focusing towards infinity. When it is for hyperfocal distance, the depth of field extends from half of this distance to infinity. ”

Michael J. Langford “Basic Photography

HOW IS IT CALCULATED?

This is the formula to calculate it, since it depends on multiple factors:

H = (F * F) / (F * D)

Where H is the hyperfocal distance , F is the focal length of your target, f the aperture of the diaphragm , and d the diameter of the circle of confusion .

Have you been speechless? Don’t panic, did you think we were going to leave you with this so confusing explanation after we got here?

REALISTICALLY … SIMPLY AND STEP BY STEP

It may not be the most orthodox way to calculate the hyperfocal distance, but I assure you that it is the most comfortable, since there is a great application called Dofmaster that you can consult here  and that for free, calculate the hyperfocal distance with identical parameters to the previous formula

BEFORE ENTERING THE VALUES ​​YOU HAVE DECIDED, DO NOT FORGET THAT …

Not only are you looking for the largest area of ​​focused field , but as clearly as possible in the image. Using the hyperfocal distance will already increase that focused area of ​​your image, but do not forget that the objectives retain the highest degree of sharpness in intermediate diaphragms, which in the introduction I called ” sweet spot of the objective “.

Therefore, the best way to obtain not only the largest field area but the sharpest, is to combine both factors .

Here is an example of the calculation of the focal length through Dofmaster . In which I have added the parameters of my scene and equipment: The model and brand of my camera, the focal length of my lens, the aperture of the diaphragm chosen, and the approximate meters to which is what I want to focus on. As a result I will obtain an automatic hyperfocal distance value, in this case of 0.69m.

Hyperfocal Distance Calculation

After obtaining the magic number that will indicate the distance you have to focus on, this is what you will get:

  1. Depth of field or area focused from the place where you place the focus to infinity . In this case the formula tells me that I should place it at approximately 0.69m. That is, 0.69m. until infinity everything will remain in focus.
  2. But not only that, the use of hyperfocal distance, also increases the depth of field in front of the focused area . Exactly in the middle of the hyperfocal distance. That is, in my case, the hyperfocal distance is 0.69m. This means that its half is 0.34m. And that therefore, I will add depth of field in that distance ahead of the area that I have previously focused on; From 0.34m. To infinity, my whole image will be in focus. A wonder for lovers of infinite depths of field, right?
Using Hyperfocal distance we gain depth of field both in front and behind the focused area.

To make it even clearer, I show you by comparison what would happen in this same example, if you did not use hyperfocal distance , and simply focus at 15m. We have used to elaborate this “exercise”:

Without using the hyperfocal distance we lose a lot of depth of field or area focused on the image both in front and behind the focus

From the previous image we can easily and graphically deduce that without using the hyperfocal distance we lose a large and valuable area in focus both behind the focused place and in front of it.

AND A FEW MORE TIPS FOR YOU TO TOUCH PERFECTION

  • Use the live view mode if you have it to adjust the focus live and direct.
  • Always work with a tripod to avoid movements that can make you lose your sharpness or focus on the scene.
  • Work at high speeds .
  • A remote trigger is not over.
  • Complement this article with the many that we have in the landscape blog. Here are some examples.
  1. 11 + 1 Resources to Master Landscape Photography
  2. 11 Typical Composition Errors in Landscape Photography
  3. 10 Ingredients that all landscape photography needs
  • If you still want more, you have everything you need to know about landscapes in this fantastic ebook that you can download and take everywhere

And that’s it, I really hope that I have helped the hyperfocal distance cease to be an abstract word for you and become your best ally when you look for images with infinite focus And you know, if you liked it, it seemed useful and Do you think someone else could benefit from this article, do not hesitate to share on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Thank you


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