Hyperfocal distance and depth of field

Hyperfocal distance Is the distance the lens is focused when the back edge of the field of focus lies at 'infinity' for a given geometric aperture.

Hyperfocal distance. Article from Radozhiva

Hyperfocal distance. Article from Radozhiva

When the lens focuses on infinity, not only objects located at infinite distance from the lens, but also many objects that are closer to the conditional infinity of the lens are sharp. In this case the concept of infinity is conditional, you do not need to think that the lens should focus on real infinity, which is located far beyond the moon and stars, near the far boundary of our universe. For many lenses, a focusing span of several meters is already called infinity. Each lens has your own hyperfocal distance, which means its own distance with which all objects will be sharp in the image.

Lens indicators

Lens indicators

Now many users of digital and digital-mirror, mirrorless and interchangeable lens cameras are hard to understand the meaning of the width of the field of focus, which is commonly called DOF - гbast рkeenly иimaged пrostranstva. On modern cameras and lenses, important indicators of focus distance and depth of field are often removed. Old lenses, and some modern ones, have special scales by which you can determine at what focus distance the lens is mounted. The focusing distance, for example, at a value of 2 meters, means that only those objects that are 2 meters away from the camera will be sharp. However, due to the fact that the sharpness zone has a certain length, the depth of field scale shows the distance to the object and behind the object, which will also be sharp.

DOF depends heavily on:

  • Aperture F, because DOF is indicated only for certain aperture values. In the example above, the aperture is set to F / 11 using the aperture control ring. The lens is focused on about 1.5 meters, the depth of field scale shows that all objects that are at a distance of 1 to 2 meters will be sharp. If we set the value of F / 22 we will get the depth of field from 0.7m to infinity.
  • Focusing distances... The shorter the focusing distance, the thinner the DOF. Conversely, the larger the focusing distance, the wider the DOF.
  • Influenza indirectly affects matrix size camera (photosensitive element). More than matrix size, the wider the viewing angle and the closer you need to get to the subject, which, in fact, rests on the second point. Therefore, they claim that full-format cameras blur the background more strongly than cropped ones. Speaking rudely, the more crop factor, the more DOF.

Important: focal length has very little effect on the depth of field, but due to the strong visual effect, it seems that the focal length, too, greatly affects the depth of field. I would say that focal length affects on the strength of the blur foreground / background (its visual perception), but it affects the width of the depth of field very little (with the same layout of the same frame with lenses with different focal lengths). At a constant shooting scale, the depth of field does not change when using lenses with different focal lengths.

Very important: DOF is a relative concept. It is connected with what is considered sharp and what is considered not sharp, and therefore the boundaries of depth of field are conditional, just like the marks for depth of field on the lens scale.

The main concept of IPIG

The main concept of IPIG

Due to the fact that when focusing at distances less than the conditional infinity, only some of the objects in the frame will be sharp, the rest will not be sharp, in which case they say that the foreground (near) and far (background) planes are blurred. If you focus on the hyperfocal distance, then only the foreground may not be sharp, and the background 'rests' against the infinity of the lens and becomes sharp.

Hyperfocal distance

Hyperfocal distance when the lens is focused at infinity - all objects beyond a certain border become sharp. This is the essence of hyperfocal distance

The hyperfocal distance has one feature - if you set the focus of the lens not to infinity, but to the hyperfocal distance, then you can get maximum depth of field from a certain value in the foreground to infinity. This is a very important property when photographing landscapes and more.

Field of sharpness

Field of sharpness

It is easy to imagine the depth of field in the form of two planes that form a volume in which everything becomes sharp. We live in a three-dimensional world, and therefore it is easier to imagine a real 3-dimensional situation. The depth of field forms such a sharp area, enclosed between vertical planes, not only the snow, but also the clock (not only grass, but also the raven in previous photographs) become sharp.

Important feature: when we focus on extremely close distances (on MDF), then the depth of field decreases. It is easy to imagine a narrowing of the distance between the planes shown in the picture above. When we begin to focus the lens at distances close to infinity, the depth of field increases. This is easy to imagine by expanding the distance between the planes. When we get to the hyperfocal distance, the plane farthest from us will disappear, go to infinity, and the image will be sharp from the hyperfocal distance to infinity.

Important feature: in order to get a picture of objects at infinity, it is not always necessary to set the focus value on the lens to the limit value of infinity. You can do with a hyperfocal distance. With closed apertures, the hyperfocal distance can be greatly reduced.

Important feature: many lenses, both new and old, have a flight beyond infinity, which means that the lens can focus on infinity, and if you twist the focus ring further, infinity will not be sharp. This is a special idea in the design of the lens, which is designed to compensate for the stretching of the helicoid at different temperatures and will focus on infinity in both winter and summer. Also, many lenses have infinity so that they can be used without problems on different cameras with different working lengths, and also because of the design features of some zoom lenses.

90mm lens

The GR at the 90mm lens starts at about 40m, in this case, even on a closed aperture, the background with trees remains slightly blurry.

Some features of lenses

  • The larger the telephoto lens, the greater the hyperfocal distance. For example, telephoto Nikon ED AF Nikkor 300mm 1: 2.8 It has GR for F / 2.8, equal to several hundred meters.
  • The smaller the focal length of the lens, the less GR. For example, a super wide angle lens Zenithar 16mm F2.8 MC Fisheye It has GR for F / 2.8 equal to approximately 1,5m.
  • The closer the aperture is, the smaller GR. Roughly speaking, on covered apertures using super wide-angle lenses, you can generally forget about focusing.
  • Get a small telephoto lens GR pretty hard.
The practical application of hyperfocal distance

Practical application of hyperfocal distance - in this landscape shot, both the foreground with a flowering tree and the background with mountains are sharp. The lens is adjusted so that everything behind the tree is sharp.

Personal experience

The hyperfocal distance can be easily felt when working with wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle optics. The wider the field of view of the lens, the shorter its hyperfocal distance. This effect can be seen even when using the kit 18mm lens. At the 18mm position, the autofocus only rotates the focusing ring slightly, since in most cases the lens works 'at hyperfocal' and everything beyond a few meters is already sharp, and the camera does not need to refocus. I don't use grip calculators, it's easier for me to figure out by eye or from personal experience how the lens will behave. Due to the short hyperfocal distance of ultra-wide angles, it is very convenient to work with the latter in manual focus mode.


Understanding how focusing, depth of field and hyperfocal distance work can help create the desired effect in photographs, improve volume transfer, and help in choosing a lens. In general, with infinity you need to conduct your own experiments in order to 'probe' and understand everything.

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Material prepared Arkady Shapoval. Training/Consultations | Youtube | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Telegram.

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Comments: 144, on the topic: Hyperfocal distance and depth of field

  • alenfeeling

    excellent, I have long been waiting for a similar article.

  • Lera pavlov

    Great article explains a lot thanks a lot!

  • Kostya

    Dyakuyu for a story, doughe bagato tsikavogo.

  • Ivan

    Yes, the article is clear and understandable. At one time, for a long time I could not understand what kind of hyperfocal distance it was. Then in practice I finished it.

    From personal speculation about hyperfocal on televisions: it seems to me that is why on almost all lenses in which focal lengths greater than 100 mm have an aperture of 22 and higher, but on fifty-fifty lenses only 16, such as 16, are already sharp.

    But if you shoot small objects, such as macro, at fifty dollars, then you think, but it is a pity that the aperture is only 16.

    Therefore, the question arises: for the majority of fifty dollars aperture 16 because it is already enough, or is it due to diffraction? Like to make the lens look decent, is it better not to let the aperture close to large numbers?

    Arkady, what do you think?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      In fifty kopecks, the diffraction limit can come early, most likely because of this.

  • Konstantin

    Thank you for clarifying the situation with the flight of infinity, otherwise when using Jupiter 37 I often came across that the range was twisted to the limit (which in my opinion corresponded to infinity), and the distant objects are still not very sharp. Now everything is clear.

  • Michael

    Thank you very much for the article, very relevant)

    “Zenitar 16mm F2.8 MC Fisheye has a HF for f / 2.8 of approximately 1,5m.”

    and if after focusing on 1,5 m continue to twist the focus ring towards infinity, then, accordingly, the foreground sharpness zone will move away? and already objects located at a distance of 1,5 m will be unsharp?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      The logic is correct, but due to the small focal length, sharp / unsharp on covered apertures will be difficult to distinguish.

  • Michael

    Thanks for the answer. I'm planning to buy a Zenitar 16 mm for myself, that's why I decided to deal with the hyperfocal distance, so that landscapes are sharp in their entire depth ... now I believe that there will be no problems with focusing)

    • anonym

      IMHO no one takes landscapes for fish, distortions will be monstrous, even on crop

  • Jury

    Lucidly ... I learned a lot of useful things.
    Thank you!


    Yes, I have long been waiting for this article. To be completely honest, I didn’t understand everything, I would have to re-read the article again, I never tried to photograph for infinity, I’m not sure I wrote it right, but I always wanted to try it.
    But how can you still make sure that the foreground is blurred, for example, and everything behind the focus object is sharp !?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It is necessary that the object being photographed should be in the farther away from the GR, and this is not always easy to do because of the focal length of the lens.


    I knew that I don’t understand what GR is, it already takes evil. Okay, I will re-read until I memorize the article by heart :) and meanwhile I will ask stupid questions :)))

  • Vasil

    Gorgeous statty i druzh potrіbna. I, from the butt of tilka at once, really rose, but also hyperfocal (:
    PS It's been a while since I wrote comments (:

  • Ivan

    Good evening Arkady. I liked the article very much, but I can’t like it. The question is where did the button go (I like it in the contact), is it just me or is there a problem on the network?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      There is a button. The site sometimes slows down.

  • PSTD

    “The more closed the diaphragm, the less GR” is there a typo and more GR? or am I mistaken in something, then please explain :)

    • Jury

      The stronger the aperture is closed, the closer the sharpness to infinity begins.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      GR is less when the aperture is clamped, since the sharpness zone starts closer to the camera, but the depth of field is larger.

  • Ayrat

    Thanks. As always, clearly. You should, Arkady, publish a book in a couple of dozen articles.

    • Anton

      I agree! The book will definitely need to be made and released by Arkady in a wide circulation.

      • Arkady Shapoval

        The book costs money and is difficult to upgrade, the site is accessible to everyone and the materials are constantly updated.


    I read the article again, anyway I can’t enter how to achieve GR. I turned my Nikon 35 1.8 and twisted it and nothing comes out clearly shows the depth of field, and GR does not even smell.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      it is near infinity at 35mm and 1.8, therefore, it is really difficult to notice with such parameters.

    • Amatich

      The patient is hopeless ...


    there is an error in the title of the article "What is the perfocal distance and depth of field"
    Where is the letter G lost?

  • Elena

    Thank you, Arkady! Finally, I figured out this hyperfocal distance, everything is very intelligible. In general, if you buy shirik, you can use non-autofocus

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Yes, over-widths are almost always focused on infinity.

  • Jury

    I would like to know if it will be possible to use the depth of field scale when using Helios 44-2 on the canon 1100d

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Yes, it will be possible, but there will be a little shift depending on the adapter.

  • anonym

    Arkady, good afternoon.
    Please answer my stupid question.
    When shooting with a nikkor af-s 50 mm 1.8 g lens in autofocus mode, does it matter what value is set on the focus distance scale?
    Thank you very much.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      In automatic mode it does not matter.

  • Gennady

    Thanks for the article. It's interesting to experiment with GR, but for some reason the manufacturers think that it is not necessary to apply focusing markings in front of the focus ring on the lenses. I met a friend of Nikonovites 18-105 f \ 3.5-5.6 vr and whale 18-55 were not “painted” (((

    • Denis

      On whale zooms, the focusing distance scale is not made due to the fact that when zooming, the focus is lost. Those. if you make a scale for one focal length, then it will be unsuitable for another. This is easy to notice by focusing on one extreme position (even in autofocus mode), then moving the zoom to another extreme position (in this case, even in the viewfinder, the image usually becomes blurry, especially noticeable when transferring from a wide-angle in the body) and refocusing on the same object - the focus ring rotates.
      In more expensive lenses (usually with internal focusing) they try to make sure that the focusing is not lost when zooming, so you can make a focus scale there.

  • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

    Thank you for the article. Please tell me, I have Nikon 3000, 18-55, the experience is 2 months. Question: in the viewfinder there is a range finder scale, I always either blink, or skew to the right / left. The instructions say something, but not clearly (as for me, probably). With what eat it? Do you have a topic about this? Thank you in advance!

  • Novel

    Good evening Arkady, quite an interesting article, I read it several times ... That is the question, I have a Samyang 85mm lens (I use it with D7000), this is how he has a focusing distance scale from 1m to 15m and then to infinity, I can wash from about 10 meters the background of the object, but it is very difficult for them to focus and I looked closely at Tokina 100mm 2.8 macro (he will arrive on April 4, there is still time to refuse), but I am confused by the fact that Tokina has a focusing scale from 0.30m to 3 meters, and damn it, I'm worried about hyperfocal distance, that after 3 meters there will be just a sharp picture. I would like you to help me. The goal is to shoot full-length portraits. I live in a city where there is not a single shop specializing in photos and there is no opportunity to come and fix it. To help your site, I can offer Samyang 85 mm 1.4 for a review, since I read in some of your reviews that you do not mind making an article, only the nuances of how long it will take, I understand that sending back and forth will take about 6 days.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Portraits will be fine. 3m - maybe just a rough approximation, since there is 2.8, not 1.4. If in Ukraine, we can review Samyang.

  • Novel

    Here is a photo taken at Samyang http://vk.com/photo54510095_299825407, a hole somewhere 2-2.5, can I make such a plan with blur by Tokina? Yes, in Ukraine, Kryvyi Rih, about 7 days is enough for an article along with forwarding?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Yes, there will be a similar effect, but how much it is difficult for me to say.

  • Andrei

    Good day! Arkkady, thanks to your reviews, bought himself and did not regret a Canon EOS 600D and two lenses, Jupiter 37A and Zenitar-M 1.7 / 50, and again he almost regretted it! Question! On the depth of field scales, to the right, increasing, there are red divisions, on Zenitar-M 1.7 \ 50 - this is 3.5, and on Jupiter 37A - this is 11! What do they mean?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Infrared shift. infra Red - to compensate for focus when shooting in the infrared spectrum. There is a special film for this, this is done for special purposes, or for pampering. Read for an infrared photo. Modern lenses also have such a little thing.

  • Andrei

    Informative. Thanks! Did not know! Already very interesting!

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