digital and zone focusing

I love my for its ease-of-use and the feel of a great engineered piece of equipment – everything is just broken down to the bare necessities and the camera is built to last… also, I love the look of a photograph taken with black and white film. Nonetheless, I really like the convenience that my digital camera offers -by now, an outperformed Canon 10D.

Forget about the film vs. digital discussions I read every day on the web, opinions differ. My side of the fence – I hate the time consuming process of scanning every single negative. It takes me two hours or so to scan a roll of film – I preview every frame and scan what I like… With the hit and miss rate within my shooting style it IS a pain in the ass, especially since my time for street shooting is very restricted. I’m working 9 to 5, remember?


Finally, I’ve discovered adapters that allows me to mount old school manual lenses with decent distance scales on my Canon EOS camera. If this works out, I’m in heaven… no film developing, scanning and all that time consuming stuff… processing will be (almost) the same in Photoshop…
Reliable on the DSLR!! downside – “real” focusing using the squinty viewfinder sucks big time (I mean BIG TIME & impractical) I ordered a 3rd party split screen, we’ll see how that goes… Well, one more tidbit… I happen to keep my color shots in color, but love b/w. WTF?

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Infinity vs. Hyperfocal Distance


In the example above, the focus point is simply set to infinity – the photographer gives away extra Depth Of Field, since the DOF goes way past infinity at f16 with these settings. With the hyperfocal distance setting, the photographer gets the greatest depth of field out of the lens…


Here the photographer uses the hyperfocal distance to get the most possible DOF in his shot: the focus is set in a way, that the distance scale lines up at infinity and f16. Note, how the DOF increases by almost 100% to the left with this setting.

the hyperfocal setting makes a lot of sense when infinity focus and maximum foreground focus are desired, i.e. landscape

zone focusing (also called scale focusing) is much more practical for , as the photographer works at a close range and infinity focus is not as important

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Zone focusing

With zone focusing can be a life-saver between the decisive moment and a hit-and-miss-shot – toss the autofocus camera and get a manual lens instead…

Zone focusing is pretty straightforward, the photographer simply uses the DOF (Depth Of Field) effect to have the desired object(s) at working distance in focus. Zone focussing comes in handy, when there is no time to fiddle with the camera controls, or when the photographer wants to be extra unconspicious – without using the viewfinder to focus (aka. shooting from the hip).

Once you know what an f-stop is, and how to set it on your camera, you’re good to go. After some time you will get better at guessing distances and you’ll be a master of in no time…
In the illustration above, the aperture (f-stop) is set to f8 and the focus is set to 2m (~7ft). The focus ring also shows f-stop markings to either side of the focus point (DOF scale).

Every f-stop shows a line directly related to a number on the distance scale. In this example everything from 1.5m to 3m (5ft to 12 ft.) will be in focus. This works at any distance and with any lens with DOF markings.

zone focusing is much more practical for than the hyperfocal distance, which simply extends DOF from infinity into the foreground, which is great for landscape. rarely needs to rely on infinity focus and smaller apertures like f8 or f5.6 are more common and a close working distance (hence, also called scale focusing) are more practical.

Another great technique is to learn how to guess distances and using muscle memory in combination with a tabbed lens.

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