Hyperfocal Distance

Hyperfocal distance in photography is an important consideration in focusing the camera lens. When we have to push the depth of field to its limits, we must take hyperfocal focusing distance into account.

This is a distance, beyond which, all other objects are also acceptably, sharp focused. This distance depends on the focal length and aperture of the lens we use. Here the depth of field plays its role and when we have to maximize it, we must shift the focusing.

Let us take an example. In landscape photography, we focus at infinity to capture the entire scene sharp. Now, on 35 mm camera, if we are using a 28 mm lens at f 16, the depth of field starts from 5.5 feet to infinite, (when the lens is focused on infinite), and, the depth of field scale will show everything from 5.5 feet till infinite and beyond infinity on the other side of the scale, where everything is sharp.



This is where hyperfocal focusing distance is to be taken into consideration. In this case, everything at infinity is focused. However, everything beyond infinity also is focused! This is what, is not possible, as we cannot have any use of focus beyond infinity.

So instead of focusing the lens at infinity, if we focus at 5.5 feet, the extended depth of field at f 16 will take care of the object at infinity and our depth of field will start from 2.75 feet to infinity.

This is how we can push the depth of field to its maximum with the help of hyper-focal focusing. Wide angle lenses are more useful than tele lens for this application. Smaller aperture will reduce the minimum focusing distance and extend the range. (However, smaller aperture will increase the diffraction fault of the lens, so use it with care.)

This technique can readily be applied in landscape and architectural photography. It can also be used in other outdoor photo shoots like night photography and street photography. In other genre of photography, where objects are at close distance, (food and products) hyperfocal distance settings will not be applicable.

Read more about depth of field

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