Tutorial #8: Calculating Hyperfocal Distance

posted in: Reference, Tutorials | 0

Shooting at your camera’s Hyperfocal Distance will allow you to capturing the maximum depth of field possible for any given aperture. This is most useful for shooting landscapes or any scene where you want as much of the foreground and background in focus as possible in one shot. For every camera film or sensor size and aperture combination, there is a distance at which you must focus your lens on to achieve this maximum depth of field. It is the closest distance at which you can focus while still keeping objects at infinity appearing to be in acceptable focus.
🙁 The Math Stuff:
Of course there are all sorts of calculators and apps that will do the math for you, but in case you’re ever stuck in a position where that kind of tech isn’t available it’s always good to know how to do it yourself – even for someone who hates math as much as I do…
The formula is fairly simple:

Let’s use the example of shooting at a focal length of 17mm with an aperture/f-stop of f/8 on a Canon with an APS-C sized sensor. Take the focal length and multiply it by itself [square it] then divide it by the product of the f-stop number and the circle of confusion number and add the number of the focal length. The circle of confusion depends of the cameras sensor size The chart above contains the most common sensor types, but with a bit of research you can find the circle of confusion for even point and shoots and phone cameras. The result that you get will be in millimeters so you will need to convert that to something that is usable such as meters or feet. Just move the decimal 3 spaces to the left and round it off. You will get about 2 meters as your hyperfocal distance.That’s about 6 1/2 ft.

((17 x 17) /( 8 x 0.018)) + 17 = 2023.94mm = 2.02m = 6.63ft

Shooting Tip 01:
Some lenses have markers for showing focus distance (many Sigmas lenses). However, these markings can become unreliable under different temperature conditions that can cause the parts of the lens to expand and contract. A quick trick you can use is to either measure (if you want to be very precise…) or make an educated guess of the hyperfocal distance you’ve calculated and find an object to auto focus on at that same distance. Once focused, switch the lens to manual focus to lock it.

Shooting Tip 02:
Keep in mind that shorter focal lengths and smaller apertures increase depth of field so using these can get you shots that appear in focus from close in the foreground all the way to the farthest parts of the background.

The Results:

Notice how the stuff up close is just as sharp as the stuff furthest in the back.

…mainly religious imagery not intentional lol…I just found these to be the best examples because the statues are close in the foreground…and I’ve shot quite a lot of local landmarks for work…i guess there are not really many non-religious statues around here now that I think of it…

Leave a Reply